For this evaluation, we purchased a pair of 3.5 inch 2TB 7200 RPM Seagate FireCuda (ST2000DX002) Gaming Solid State Hybrid Drives (SSHD) for $100 each to replace our two $70 each 2TB Toshiba 7200 RPM Hard Disk Drives (HDD).  Although there are no framerate performance differences between playing or benchmarking games on a HDD versus playing games on a SSD, applications, games, and game levels will load more quickly from a SSD.

SSD stands for Solid-State Drive. It is similar to a USB flash drive and has no moving parts unlike a traditional mechanical Hard Disk Drive (HDD). Flash memory chips provide the SSD’s storage instead of spinning magnetic platters, and data can be accessed much more rapidly.  A big disadvantage for gamers is that high capacity SSDs cost far more than equivalent capacity HDDs, and this evaluation is going to only look at the value of buying and using a $100 2TB SSHD versus spending about $70 for a regular 2TB HDD.

SSHD stands for Solid-State Hybrid Drive. In the case of the FireCuda SSHD, it is a fast 7200 RPM traditional HDD coupled with 8GB of solid-state flash storage built-in that appears as a single device to Windows. A custom Seagate controller chip decides which data is kept on the SSD for fastest access, and what data is stored on the HDD.

It is possible to use a SSD as an up to 64GB caching device together with a HDD on motherboards that support Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology to improve system performance.   We found that regularly played games load nearly as quickly as if they were installed on a SSD even though they remain on the HDD.  However, we prefer an all-in-one storage solution for simplicity and for quickly changing out hardware.  The potential benefits of using a SSHD are that it doesn’t need any software or any special user configuration to function effectively without having to decide where to store files and programs. If Windows isn’t manually configured to store documents on the hard drive, for example, it is easy to quickly overwhelm a SSD’s capacity.

You can pay many hundreds of dollars for a high quality 2TB SSD


The 2TB Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSHD

Seagate has updated their SSHD lineup and now calls their FireCuda drives, “the fastest PC hard drive” and has aimed them at gamers.  In addition, Seagate claims: “Play faster, work smarter. FireCuda drives meld the latest NAND flash technology with a traditional hard drive for a compact blend of capacity and speeds up to 5× faster than typical hard drives, all backed by a 5-year warranty.”  These are some pretty bold claims and we are going to evaluate them compared with a standard fast 2TB Toshiba 7200 RPM hard drive.

The FireCuda SSHD tends to perform best when it comes to caching data/applications and then launching them quickly when needed. This is probably most noticeable when using the FireCuda drive as a boot drive.  After repeated use of an application, one may notice the full performance benefit of the FireCuda SSHD by allowing its adaptive memory feature to determine which applications and data are used most frequently and then storing this data on the 8GB NAND Flash storage portion of the drive.

Seagate FireCuda Gaming 2TB Features & Specifications

Here are the specifications from Seagate’s .pdf.

In addition, average seek and write times are given as 9.5ms which is a little slower than the specifications for the 2TB Toshiba HDD.  Let’s take a close look at unboxing the 2TB Seagate FireCuda drive, setting it up, and finally its performance as a stand alone SSHD.