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Seagate's Firecuda SSHD is a great replacement for traditional hard drives in your PC

Seagate FireCuda
Seagate FireCuda (Image credit: Windows Central)

Traditionally, PC storage is split between the fast and expensive SSD and the super slow but very affordable HDD complete with magnetic tape and needle. The latter is fairly ancient technology nowadays when it comes to PCs and with SSDs continually getting cheaper it's easier than ever to ignore the big old magnetic drives.

But, there are still places for such technology. Mostly when it comes to mass storage because they offer much better value per GB. But there's also a third way: The SSHD, also known as a hybrid drive. This combines a small amount of NAND flash storage, such as you'd find in a regular SSD, with the regular HDD style magnetic tape.

The idea is fairly simple: combine the speed benefits of SSDs with the mass volume of HDDs. The controller in the drive will decide what lives where, caching your most used data on the NAND, but ultimately a hybrid will be faster than a standard HDD.

So I grabbed a Seagate Firecuda 1TB SSHD to see what it's all about.

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Seagate Firecuda SSHD hardware and performance

Seagate Firecuda

Seagate FireCuda (Image credit: Windows Central)

Firstly, some quick specs.

CategorySpec
Capacity500GB, 1TB, 2TB
2.5-inch drive
InterfaceSATA 6Gb/s
Sequential readUp to 140MB/s
Sequential writeUp to 140MB/s
Avg power consumption1.8W
Durability600,000 load/reload cycles
WarrantyFive years

It's also important to note that Seagate employs Multi-tier Caching Technology (MTC) to utilize NAND flash, DRAM and media caching technologies to further squeeze the most from the drive.

One of the target audiences the Firecuda is pushed at is gamers, folks who want faster loading times than their huge HDDs but without sacrificing capacity. Gamers are also the type of user that will transfer large files once then leave them there, which is an ideal condition for best performance from an SSHD.

General file transfers to the mass storage on the drive still chug along the same as they would on a regular HDD. But in benchmarks, it's a little clearer to see some of that performance gain.

In both CrystalDiskMark and ATTO, the Firecuda about matches Seagate's claimed sequential read/write maximums. I've tried this drive in a secondary workstation which currently houses a small Kingston SSD (opens in new tab) as a boot drive.

In both sets of images, the Firecuda is on the left and the Kingston SSD on the right. The Firecuda easily beats the big old HDD in the same system in benchmarks, but it's interesting to see how it compares to an affordable SSD.

The Firecuda is actually around 1/3 of the benchmarked performance of the SSD in sequential tests, which is easily better than I expected. Considering the price between the two, there's a case to be made for the SSHD.

Seagate Firecuda SSHD: Should you buy one?

I'm not about to advocate everyone run out and buy one of these. But there's still reason to. To be clear, any SSD will be faster than this, and for even budget systems you'll have much faster loading and file transfer times on even an affordable SSD.

But here's the kicker. The 1TB Samsung 860 Evo SSD I previously reviewed costs $278. The 1TB Firecuda SSHD costs $60. In any system, you can save some serious money by combining something like this with a small SSD (opens in new tab) to boot Windows and your key apps from. Overall performance will be slower, but you can get capacity on a budget.

The price has always been the most attractive thing about using an HDD in a PC. Combined with an SSD boot drive you get a mixture of mass storage, affordability, and performance. Seagate's own Barracuda 1TB 2.5-inch HDD (opens in new tab) is only about $14 cheaper than the Firecuda, and honestly, that's $14 well spent getting one of these.

Be it a laptop or a desktop, if you're hunting for high-capacity mass storage without the price premium of an SSD, a Firecuda SSHD is worth it.

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Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

11 Comments
  • If you look at the reviews on Amazon, there are quite a few (16%) of one star ratings due to the this drive malfunctioning within the first year. I would wait awhile before purchasing this drive until these issues are worked out.
  • These drives ship in almost all Gaming Laptops base SKUs from manufacturers like ASUS and the like. They're quite reliable, and they're the fastest performing 2.5" Hybrid Drives on the market. They have (for a hard drive) really big Head Cache, great performance, good durability, a decent Algorithm for the SSD portion, and do not run hot. Also a great option for an internal upgrade for devices like PlayStation 4. FireCuda drives have been out for a couple/few years now, so I'm not sure why anyone would want to wait for anything. They're on the second or third generation of these drives.
  • I own 2, 2tb firecuda drives. BOTH work great. they are faster than an HDD by a good margin. NO, they are not as fast as my SSD, but they make a very noticeable improvement in the speed of my deivces. anyone looking to have capacity on their device without blowing the budget, these are 100% worth it. Have a look on YouTube for a few videos comparing the speeds between the three types of drives. It will be even more clear! I am adding a 1tb firecuda to my wifes Dell notebook now as well!
  • Yea, since I don't have "many games" I replaced the FireCuda in my new Gaming Laptop with the 240 GB Intel SATA3 SSD from my Dell Notebook (the Gaming Laptop boots off of NVMe, but I don't install games to that as they are huge and constantly updated), then I moved my User Folder Locations (Documents, Downloads, etc. - not AppData!) to that drive. I think put the FireCuda drive in the Dell, and it performs well even as a boot drive. I'll probably replace this with a 128GB SSD and put the FireCuda in my PS4, though :-P
  • I would personally rather pay the extra price for a Samsung SSD
  • GOOD FOR YOU!....Go buy one. I would rather save 300 bucks and have 2tb of space while still having a faster drive than a regular HDD>
  • SSDs aren't economical when you need tons of storage. You're better off getting the SSHD in that case. Lots of gamers boot off of NVMe drives and use 1-2TB HDDs/SSHDs for gaming. It is simply too expensive to buy huge SSDs, still... even SATA3 1TB+ SSDs are hundreds in cost, and for NVMe you're going to be paying 500-1,000 for a huge SSD.
  • I was looking at this drive last week, but decided to go with a barracuda pro. When looking at the reviews a lot of them mention that to see the real benefit of the drive you have to basically condition the drive by constantly loading the same files. While this is great if you are constantly playing the same games, I tend to play games in short sprints, meaning the game may not ever make it into the cache. Also, the drive is 5400rpm, so in my case, with out the caching, the drive would be the same speed as what I already have.
  • HDD do not use magnetic tape, they use rotating magnetic platters. Magnetic tape storage is still in use, but it's something completely different.
  • This is a weird posting the headline on the main page is "An SSHD is a great shout for mass storage in your PC" What is a "great shout"? The posting then talks about "HDD complete with magnetic tape and needle." What is that? It sounds like a mashup of a cassette tape and a turntable. I don't think I've ever heard the drive head referred to as a needle. Even the post category "It's been a good run" makes little sense to me as far the content of the article. Normally that mean it is a product which is going away. It almost sounds as if Richard is going away? :(
  • I can't take anyone seriously trying to review or give advice about tech when they show they don't know what they're talking about in the process. HDDs do not contain tape, they have never contained tape, actually. Reading this was like reading an article about someone trying to tell me about a car while repeatedly stating the fuel tank was filled with washer fluid.