Choosing a storage device for your computer is probably the least fascinating aspect of choosing computer equipment. You will, however, require a storage device to store all of your system’s data, programmes, applications, and games. So, in this article, we’ll go through how to choose between an SSD and a hard disc.
SSD vs. HDD: What’s the Difference?
When buying a storage device for your new (or old) computer, the first thing you should think about is whether you want an SSD, a classic mechanical hard drive, or both.
It’s crucial to understand the differences between SSDs and HDDs before deciding which storage solution is best for you.
To begin with, standard hard drives are mechanical devices, which means they include moving parts. Data is stored on tracks on rotating discs in mechanical hard drives. And, mechanical hard drives can only access a single point of data on the discs at a time.
SSDs (solid state drives) on the other hand, store data on NAND flash modules and have no moving parts. Multiple memory modules are commonly present on a single SSD, and more than one of these modules can be accessed at the same time. SSDs have a significant performance advantage over traditional hard drives as a result of this.
Traditional hard discs, on the other hand, have their own set of benefits. They are significantly less expensive than solid state drives. For a little more than $40, you can get a brand new 1TB hard disc. Only a 120GB SSD would be available at the same price. As a result, for the same price as a 120GB SSD, you might obtain 8x the storage.
As a result, the two storage solutions have drawbacks. And, by acquiring both an SSD and a mechanical hard drive for their PCs, most customers take advantage of both the speed and performance of an SSD as well as the value and storage capacity of a mechanical hard drive.
The concept is that you put your operating system and a handful of your most-used programmes on a smaller solid state drive, then acquire a huge mechanical hard drive to store the rest of your data.
While SSDs surpass traditional hard drives, they nevertheless have a place in current computers as a useful complement to solid state storage.
To summarise, if you have a considerable money to spend on your system (or a storage update for an existing system), you should consider acquiring a large capacity SSD.
If you’re working with a limited budget, your best bet is to acquire a lower-to-medium capacity SSD and then pair it with a large mechanical hard drive.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can either acquire a larger mechanical hard drive right away, or you can start with a modest SSD and upgrade to a larger mechanical hard drive as a secondary drive once you’ve saved up enough money.
Capacity: How Much Storage Do You Need?
The storage requirements of different users will vary.
Gamers that have vast game libraries and want to switch it up between multiple games will need more storage than those who only play one game.
Video editors will be dealing with a significant number of video files (which are larger than regular files) and will require additional storage.
Basic users who are wanting to build an entry-level gaming PC or a casual system for word processing, online surfing, emailing, and other tasks will not require nearly as much storage.
As a result, you’ll have to figure out how much storage you’ll require.
It’s also worth noting that storage devices are usually the most straightforward component to add to your system later. So, if starting out with a lot of storage isn’t in your budget right now, it’s not that difficult to add another drive or two later.
Adding storage is usually as simple as inserting it in your existing computer and formatting it, as long as you aren’t changing your boot drive (the disc where your operating system is installed).
While there isn’t as much to consider when it comes to storage compatibility as there is with other computer components, there are still two things to think about.
- Is your case equipped with the necessary bay(s) for the storage device(s) you’ve chosen?
- Is the storage device you’ve chosen compatible with your motherboard? (Mainly for M.2 drives)
Hard drives and hybrid drives are available in 3.5′′ and 2.5′′ formats, respectively, while SSDs are available in 2.5′′ (for SATA SSDs) or as an M.2 card (for NVME/PCIe SSDs).
While most computer cases have space for both 3.5′′ and 2.5′′ drive bays, there are some cases that only have bays for one of the two sizes.
3.5′′ drive bays are not available in some smaller form-factor enclosures. This does not rule out the possibility of fitting a 3.5′′ drive inside. A 3.5′′ drive can sometimes be slid into a gap in the case. This isn’t the best solution, especially since 2.5-inch SSDs and hard drives are available… However, if you purchase a 3.5′′ hard drive and a case that does not have a 3.5′′ bay, it is possible in some cases.
There may be no specific place for a 2.5′′ drive in some scenarios, particularly in older computer chassis. This is a much easier difficulty to overcome than the one listed above, because 2.5′′ drives are significantly smaller and can still fit within a 3.5′′ drive bay—either with an adapter or by just screwing one side of the 2.5′′ drive into the 3.5′′ drive bay.
M.2 drives are currently the most prevalent storage capacity issue. Not all motherboards feature an M.2 port, which is required to install an M.2 drive. So, before you go out and buy a new NVME M.2 SSD, double-check that your motherboard has an M.2 port.
Durability and Lifespan
A mechanical hard disc will typically outlast a solid state drive as a general rule. An SSD’s memory cells can only be written to a limited number of times, whereas the discs on a conventional hard drive can theoretically be written to an unlimited number of times.
A mechanical drive, on the other hand, contains moving parts that will ultimately fail, rendering the drive unusable. So, neither solution is completely risk-free, but mechanical drives typically outlast SSDs.
This isn’t to argue that SSDs aren’t capable of lasting a long time. SSDs of higher quality will last longer than those with lower quality. Furthermore, because larger SSDs have more modules, individual cells will be written on less frequently, extending their lives.
NVME SSDs: Are They Worth It?
NVME SSDs are highly popular right now, and their specifications frequently make them appear to be much faster than standard SATA SSDs. However, in most real-world settings, NVME SSDs don’t provide a significant performance benefit over SATA SSDs.
However, there are some situations where NVME SSDs are appropriate.
NVME SSDs have a significant edge in terms of sequential read and write performance. Sequential read and write rates don’t provide a significant performance improvement when transferring tiny files, but they do aid with bigger files. An NVME can provide a performance improvement worth paying for for video editors or anyone working with huge files.
Furthermore, because NVME drives aren’t considerably more expensive than their SATA counterparts, purchasing an NVME SSD over a SATA SSD to achieve that performance improvement when transferring huge files won’t be damaging to your budget.
Another minor advantage of NVME SSDs is that they do not require the usage of SATA cables, in my opinion. If aesthetics and cable management are essential to you while building a new computer, choosing an NVME SSD over a regular SATA SSD effectively eliminates the need for two connections inside your system.
For some, this may be a minor consideration, but for others, it, together with the faster sequential read and write rates, may be enough to convince them to choose an NVME SSD.
What Are Hybrid Drives?
A hybrid drive combines the advantages of an SSD with the cost-per-capacity of a mechanical hard disc. A solid state hybrid drive (or SSHD) is a mechanical hard disc with a tiny SSD embedded inside.
Hybrid drives work in the same way that a CPU’s cache and RAM do. The cache of a CPU stores frequently used data so that it can be accessed quickly if the CPU need it. Due to the tiny size of a CPU’s cache, a lot of frequently-used data is kept in a system’s RAM. Accessing data from RAM takes slower, but RAM offers a larger capacity for storing more data.
The idea behind a hybrid drive is that the SSD component of the drive will contain more frequently-used data so that it can be accessed faster, while the hard drive portion will store less-used data.
As a result, the key to a hybrid drive is prioritising what data is kept on the SSD portion of the drive vs what data is stored on the mechanical portion of the drive.
SSHDs aren’t as fast as SSDs, but they’re less expensive per GB. And, SSHDs are faster than traditional mechanical hard drives, but they do cost more per GB.
Which Storage Option/Configuration is Best for Your Needs?
While obtaining an SSD and/or HDD isn’t as difficult as purchasing other PC components, there are still certain things to consider when selecting a storage device for your system. We’ve outlined six key things to examine in this guide to assist you in selecting the best SSD (or hard drive) for your needs.