Looking to upgrade your laptop? One great option is to replace your pokey old mechanical hard drive with a lightning-fast solid-state drive (SSD). However, they carry a much higher price-per-gigabyte: A typical 128GB SSD can run anywhere from $125-200, for example.
Ah, but what about a solid-state hybrid drive (or SSHD)? These clever units combine old-school platters with newfangled flash storage to deliver SSD-level performance along with HDD-level capacity -- and for a lot less than the cost of a pure SSD.
To wit: Amazon has the Seagate ST1000LM014 1TB solid-state hybrid drive for $119.99 shipped. (Out of stock? Try Newegg: they have the same drive for the same price.)
This is a 2.5-inch bare-bones SATA drive designed expressly for laptops, though you could certainly install it in a desktop with a proper mounting kit. It features one terabyte of storage (already an upgrade for most laptops), a 64MB cache, and 8GB of NAND flash storage to deliver SSD-like speed.
Of course, that's the manufacturer's claim. Can an SSHD really compete with an SSD? I haven't put one to the test myself, but check out the user reviews over at Newegg, where several buyers were kind enough to share their own test results. Bottom line: the Seagate may not be quite as fast as a straight-up SSD, but it will definitely improve your boot times and overall performance -- and give you copious amounts of storage as well.
By the way, if you'd rather have an even bigger performance boost and don't need quite so much space, OnSale (via Amazon) has the older, now-discontinued Seagate Momentus XT 750GB hybrid drive for $120, plus $3.67 for shipping. Same idea, but it's a 7,200-rpm drive (albeit with a 32MB cache). And once again the user reviews are pretty stellar.
I'm especially pleased to note Seagate backs the ST1000LM014 with a three-year warranty.
Although you can buy a traditional 1TB laptop hard drive for around $90, there's no question in my mind that this is worth the extra money. If you're looking for an inexpensive and effective system upgrade, this is definitely one to consider.
If you've had any experience with SSHDs, good or bad, tell me about it in the comments!
Bonus deal: Game time! For a limited time, Steam has The Walking Dead (PC/Mac) for $9.99. This is the complete "season" of this widely praised game, with all five episodes. Usually it sells for $24.99. If you prefer more straight-up running and gunning, Newegg has Mass Effect 3 (PC) for $9.99 shipped when you apply coupon code EMCXSXL238 at checkout. The offer is good through April 15, though it could sell out before then. This was one of the marquee games of 2012 (with a highly controversial ending).
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