Solid state drive (SSD) or good old Hard disk drive (HDD) or Solid state hybrid drive (SSHD)? Which one is better and which one to buy? Many of us have this question unanswered while selecting a new storage solution for laptop or a faster gaming machine or just a data storage pc. Here is a detailed guide on how to choose the best drive for your device.
Let us know the basics of technologies used in these different types of drives before going for a direct comparison.
Solid state drives
These storage devices use electronic circuits for storing information. They are a little more complex in circuitry than your pendrives and memory cards. Currently they are fastest storage devices in wide use. They come in 2 main form factors: 2.5 inch drives used in laptops and 3.5 inch drives used in desktop computers and servers. Storage capacity ranges from 128 Gb to 1024 Gb (1 Tb), in consumer market during the time of writing of this article. As I told, they are fastest among the storage drives but comes with hefty price tags too. 128 gb drives costs around $80 to $100 USD and the higher capacity drives costs about $220-250 USD. However, when we consider it in price per gb, it costs around 30 cents to $1 per Gb, which is still a bit reasonable considering its performance. With fast read-write speeds of about 120-200 MBps in real test conditions, SSDs offer the best speeds. They are ideal for gaming, rendering 3d videos, file copying and sharing, ultra portable laptops etc. which require speed and nothing else. SSDs are in their beginning stage and so we can expect higher capacity, more reliable, better performing, lower cost drives soon in the market as the competition and brand war increases.
On the down-side, they are prone to performance degradation overtime. If you are a hardcore user, consider replacing your SSD once in at least 3-4 years to get the best in performance. Data recovery from a faulty SSD is also difficult and is dependent on the number of non-functional chips in the drive.
Solid state hybrid drives (SSHD)
They offer the best balance of storage, speed and cost. They have a buffer memory which is purely solid state in nature and a large storage section based on Hard drive technology. Frequently used files are identified using specialised logarithms and are moved to the solid state space to increase speed of access in this type of drives. This ensure fast boot-up. Sizes ideally range between 500 Gb to 2 Tb. Prices are very similar to that of HDDs. The problem with SSHDs now-a-days is that they have only a small storage space in the SSD part, usually 8 to 32 Gb. Go for one with highest solid state space because a standard Windows installation will occupy around 20 Gb and all essential software will eat up another 10 Gb. Storage of songs, movies etc. can be done in HDD part.
Hard disk drives (HDD)
Hard disk drives are devices using traditional technology of magnetic recording of data on to a rotating platter. They offer the highest data capacities available now in the cheapest price, compared to SSDs. Their speed of data transfer is limited by various mechanical factors and so ranges between 30-150 MBps in real life test conditions. Prone to damages due to mechanical shocks, magnetic fields etc., they must be given due care during their life. Unlike SSDs, their performance do not degrade by time and it shows an almost fixed read-write speeds in years of usage. They offer best price to volume ratio and costs about 10 cents to 25 cents per Gb of space available. It is more easier and cheaper to recover data from damaged hard disks than from SSDs.
HDDs are reaching their saturation point where no further data can be stored in a platter. Once this saturation point is reached, we wont be seeing higher capacity HDDs in same form factor.
If you are on a budget but want speed, go for a HDD with 7200 rpm instead of regular 5400 rpm. They offer better speeds in a competitive price tag, compared to SSDs.
Here is a comparison table for the 3 types of drives with their strengths and weaknesses mentioned.
|Fastest read, write, access speeds. (120-200 MBps)||Slowest (30-70 MBps)||Fast access for frequently used files|
|Degrades performance overtime||Performance is almost stable unless affected by physical shocks||Similar to HDD|
|Physical shocks are tolerable due to presence of NO moving parts and less weight||Physical shocks can damage platters and hence, resultant data loss||similar to HDD|
|Loads windows 10 in less than 15 seconds in an average configuration||Takes about 25 seconds in similar configuration||Similar to SSD|
|Highest in cost||least in cost||cost lies between ssd and hdd|
|lowest in capacity||highest in capacity. 4 Tb drives available for $100 or less||similar to HDD|
|Lesser chances to data recovery in mishaps||highest chances of data recovery||similar to HDD if the data is stored in HDD part|
|Best for gaming, fast laptops, rendering works, fast downloads, high-speed servers, ultra-light-weight devices||Best for long term storage solutions, bulk storage servers||best for regular use with OS in solid state part and movie files in HDD part|
|Less weight||heaviest||similar to HDD|
|Least power consumption||most power consumption||In between SSD & HDD|
|Unaffected by magnetic fields||Strong magnetic fields can destroy data||same as with HDDs|
If all you want is speed, low power consumption, light-weight and performance, SSD is the way to go for you. However, maximum storage space available can be a constraint.
If you need better operating speeds of OS (windows 10 & so on) and do not care much about accessing movies, songs etc., go for an SSHD.
If all that matters is money and storage space, buy a HDD device. Opt a higher speed HDD for more performance at a fraction of cost of SSDs. HDDs have good reliability too.
Hope this article was informative enough and worked for you. Feel free to ask your doubts and share your suggestions with us through comments column below. We would be more than happy to hear from you.