If you’re shopping for a new Laptop then you’ll find two choices for your Storage Drive – the HDD and the SSD.
You’ll get different options like 512 GB SSD or 1 TB HDD, 256 GB SSD or 1 TB HDD, 128 GB SSD or 512 GB HDD, etc. Picking one from these two choices can be difficult if you don’t have the appropriate knowledge.
Well, you don’t have to worry because I am here to make this decision easy for you. In this article, I’ll explain the differences between SSD and HDD based on performance, speed, longevity or lifespan, reliability, and much more.
After reading this article you will get a crystal clear idea on which storage is better for your laptop the HDD or the SSD or a combination of both.
If you have extra cash to spend then you can get a laptop with both HDD and SSD storage which will solve all your problems regarding storage. But, mind you these are costly.
- 1 Difference Between Solid State Drive(SSD) and Hard Disk Drive(HDD)
- 2 SSD vs HDD Read and Write Speeds
- 3 SSD vs HDD Lifespan and Reliability
- 4 SSDs vs HDDs Influence On Performance of Laptop(Load Times, Boot Times, etc)
- 5 SSD or HDD – Which One Should You Buy?
Difference Between Solid State Drive(SSD) and Hard Disk Drive(HDD)
SSDs or Solid State Drives are storage devices that store data in electrical circuit cells called NAND Flash. This NAND Flash is made up of floating gate transistors.
The two main components of the SSDs are the Flash Memory Controller and the NAND memory cells. SSDs use electrical cells and transistors to store data hence they are regarded as the fastest storage devices available for a computer.
SSDs are also known as Solid State Disks or Flash Drives.
Since there are no moving parts in SSDs, they are called Solid State.
Pros Of SSD
SSDs have seven main advantages over HDDs.
(A) Very Fast Data Read and Write Speeds.
(B) Boot Time of Computer is very fast. Launches and Loads Applications and Programs very quickly.
(C) Makes no Noise because there are no moving mechanical parts.
(D) Consumes Less Power.
(E) Occupies Less Space.
(F) SSDs are more reliable because they have lower failure rates.
(G) SSDs have longer lifespan than HDDs under normal use.
Cons Of SSD
SSDs have three major disadvantages.
(a) Data Recovery from SSD storage is very difficult and complex.
(b) SSDs are very expensive.
(c) Lifespan shortens under heavy use due to limited read/write cycles.
HDDs or Hard Disk Drives use a series of spinning Magnetic Discs called Platters to store data and an Actuator arm with heads to read and write data.
Unlike SSDs, the HDDs use mechanical parts instead of electrical. Also, these mechanical parts are constantly moving.
The moving mechanical parts make HDDs more Noisier compared to SSDs. Also, the HDDs are bulkier, heavier, and occupy more space.
HDDs are also known as Hard Disks.
Pros Of HDD
HDDs have four major advantages over SSDs.
(A) HDDs are extremely cheap in comparison to SSDs.
(B) You can easily recover Data from HDDs.
(C) HDDs give you huge storage capacity for the price.
(D) HDDs have longer lifespan when put under heavy use.
Cons Of HDD
HDDs have six major disadvantages.
(a) Slower Data Read and Write Speeds.
(b) Boot Time of Computer is very slow. Launches and Loads Applications and Programs very slowly.
(c) Makes more Noise because of the moving mechanical parts.
(d) Consumes more Power.
(e) Occupies more Space.
(f) Less Reliable due to higher failure rates.
SSD vs HDD Read and Write Speeds
Read Speed is the time taken by a storage device to Open or Read the information stored in that storage device.
Write Speed is the time taken by a storage device to Save or Write the information in that storage device.
Faster the Read and Write Speeds, Quicker the information can be Opened or Saved.
Fast Read and Write speeds mean you’ll get Fast Boot Times, Programs and Applications will Launch very quickly, Games and other Softwares will load very quickly and files can be copied and pasted much faster.
Solid State Drives(SSD) are the fastest storage devices you can get for a computer. They are faster than Hard Disk Drives(HDD) and Solid State Hybrid Drives(SSHD).
Example – Samsung 860 Evo SSD has a Maximum Write Speed of 520 MB/s and a Maximum Read Speed of 550 MB/s.
There are five different types of SSDs namely PCIe NVMe, SATA, mini-SATA, M.2, and Intel Optane. All these SSDs have different read/write speeds. Amongst all of them, the fastest SDDs are PCIe NVMe.
SSDs increase the overall performance of your computer because of the fast read and write speeds.
Hard Disk Drives(HDD) are the slowest storage devices you can get for your computer. This is because of the technology used by HDDs to store as well as read/write data.
HDDs use spinning Magnetic Discs called Platters that rotate at high speeds. There is an Actuator arm with read/write heads to read or write data on the magnetic disc.
This actuator arm positions the read/write heads over the correct area of the drive to read or write information. Since the magnetic disc is constantly spinning at high speeds the actuator arm takes some time to position the read/write head over the correct area of the disc. This time delay makes HDDs slower than SSDs.
The speed of an HDD is determined by the Speed of Rotation of the Magnetic Disc. This rotational speed is measured in Rotations Per Minute or RPM.
Example – WD Black Series HDD has a Starting Read/Write Speed of 150 MB/s.
The RPM of a typical Hard Drive varies of 5400 to 15000. This doesn’t mean you can simply buy an HDD with 15,000 RPM.
The highest RPM of an HDD for the consumer market is 10,000. So, for consumers the RPM of HDD varies from 5400 to 10,000.
RPM is one way to measure the speed of an HDD but it is not entirely accurate. The speed of HDDs also depends on Size of Magnetic discs, Actuator Arm Speed, and On-Disk Memory Cache.
If you were to compare the speed of two HDDs using RPM then, an HDD with higher RPM will be faster than an HDD with lower RPM.
Read and Write speeds can be used as a benchmark for the performance of storage devices. A great resource for checking the read and write speeds of 1015 models of HDD is the Userbenchmark website.
SSD vs HDD Lifespan and Reliability
Most buyers consider this as one of the most important factors for determining the perfect storage device for their laptops. Which one has a better life expectancy and which is more reliable?
SSDs are made of electrical circuits and there are no moving mechanical parts. This unavailability of moving mechanical parts makes SSDs less prone to any physical damage like shocks, falls, or bumps.
Also, the absence of moving mechanical parts in SSDs means there is no Wear and Tear due to the friction caused by these moving parts.
Since SSDs are made of electrical circuits they are most susceptible to damage from Water. If water comes in contact with the SSD then it will short circuit the SSD, cause electrical breakdown and your storage device will cease to function. You should always keep your laptop away from water.
HDDs are made of moving mechanical parts which means they are prone to physical damage like shocks, falls, and bumps. The HDDs also have Wear and Tear due to the friction caused by moving parts.
But technology has evolved a lot and the HDDs are now designed to be shock-proof and less susceptible to any physical damage. The wear and tear are also less because of the small size of magnetic discs and read/write heads of actuator arms.
Earlier bringing a magnet close to the laptop could destroy your HDD but that is not the case nowadays. The read/write heads of the actuator arms are made of very Strong Magnets nowadays so bringing a magnet close to the laptop doesn’t have any impact on the HDD and cannot harm your stored data inside the HDD.
Therefore, there is no need to worry about magnets coming in contact with your laptop.
The life expectancy and longevity of SSDs depend on two major factors – the limited number of read/write cycles and the way you use it.
If you use your SSD very roughly and don’t take care of it well then the SSDs won’t last for long. It is very important that you keep your laptop away from water and protect your laptop from any physical impact. You also shouldn’t read/write data frequently because it exhausts the read/write cycles of SSD.
The SSDs have a limited number of read/write cycles before it becomes useless just like Lithium-ion batteries which have a limited charge-discharge cycle before they are of no use. The number of read/write cycles varies with the type of SSD and the manufacturer.
A typical SSD has an average lifespan of around 5-6 years for normal usage. Some SSDs can also last for more than 6 years if used with proper care. If used improperly then your SSD won’t even last for 3 years.
If you read/write data very frequently then this exhausts the number of read/write cycles of the SSD and this reduces the lifespan of the SSD.
The lifespan of SSDs reduce when put under heavy use. Make sure you don’t read/write data too often in order to prolong the life of your SSD.
If you buy a new laptop every four to five years then the life expectancy of SSD shouldn’t pose a problem.
SSDs use TRIM Technology which makes Data Recovery very complex and difficult. You can recover the data from SSDs but it will take a lot of time and the process is very expensive.
SSDs have an average failure rate of 0.5%.
HDDs, on the other hand, have mechanical parts like Magnetic Discs that don’t have any read/write cycles. You can use unlimited read/write cycles which makes them a great choice for heavy use.
For normal use, the SSDs are a better option because with time the HDDs become useless due to the excess wear and tear due to friction from moving parts whereas the SSDs can last longer if you don’t exhaust the number of read/write cycles.
The lifespan of a typical HDD is around 4 years for normal use and can go up to 5 years.
Data Recovery from HDD is far easier and cheaper than SSDs. You don’t need complex softwares and tools to recover data from HDD.
The average failure rate of HDDs is around 2% to 5%. This makes HDDs less reliable than SSDs.
If you change your laptop after every 4 to 5 years then getting an HDD storage device is the best option for you.
If you want to buy a laptop for more than 5 years then SSD should be a better choice for you.
SSDs vs HDDs Influence On Performance of Laptop(Load Times, Boot Times, etc)
The read/write speeds of SSDs are much higher than HDDs which means you will get superior performance with an SSD.
SSD influences the performance of laptops in the following way.
(A) Boot Times are Faster. You can boot your computer in less than 10 seconds.
(B) Launches Applications and other Programs very quickly.
(C) Games and other heavy 3D rendering software like Autodesk Maya load very quickly.
(D) You can copy and paste files from one drive to another very quickly. Copying and pasting files from external HDDs to the SSD is also quicker.
SSDs consume very less power and since there are no moving mechanical parts the noise made by SSDs is very less and close to nil.
SSD impacts your performance in a positive way which makes them a better solution for high performance lovers.
All these features come with a price. SSDs are very expensive compared to HDDs and don’t come with an enormous storage capacity.
The price of SSDs also vary with the type you are using. For example – PCIe NVMe and Intel Optane SSDs are much faster and more expensive than other SSD types.
HDDs are slower due to the time delay caused by read/write heads of the actuator arms. The speed of a typical HDD is around half of that of an SSD.
With HDDs, you get slower Boot Times and Application Launch Times. Games and other Software Load slowly and Copying and Pasting files also takes a lot of time.
HDDs also consume more power and the moving parts make more Noise.
With HDDs, you’ll get slower performance but the enormous storage space and price makes up for it. You can get a 1 TB storage for the price you pay for a 256 GB SSD storage.
Laptops with HDD storage will be much cheaper than laptops with SSD storage.
As you go increasing the storage capacity, the price of the laptop will also increase regardless of the storage being an HDD or SSD.
All in all, SSDs show better performance than HDDs.
SSD or HDD – Which One Should You Buy?
Finally it’s time to answer the million dollar question HDD or SSD Which one should you get.
If you want better performance with quick boot time and fast loading times then you should get an SSD. Also, if you are willing to spend more money and are okay with medium to low storage capacity then you’re just fine with an SSD.
However, if you want higher storage capacity for a lower price and don’t mind slower performance then just go and grab a laptop with HDD storage.
You can also find cheap laptops with SSD Storage but they use slower SATA SSD and the storage capacity will be very low around 128 GB or 256 GB.
Nowadays you get a lot of options for storage capacity. You’ll find laptops with multiple SSD storage options as in the case of Lenovo Yoga 730 and most others.
There are also laptops that come with a combination of SSD and HDD. Such a combination provides both faster performance and huge storage capacity. In this case, you will get an HDD of around 1 TB storage capacity and SSD of 128 GB or 256 GB. There are also laptops with 512 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD storage capacity.
In such laptops, the Operating System, important software like Autodesk Maya, Photoshop, Adobe Effects, and some games are stored in the SSD for quick boot times and fast launching and loading times. Other unimportant and rarely used programs and software are stored in the HDD.
Some laptops even have HDD with Intel Optane memory as in the case of HP Spectre x360. These are not too common, unlike the SSD and HDD combo.
Finally, I recommend getting a laptop with a combination of HDD and SSD to enjoy faster performance and huge storage capacity. If you’re short in budget then getting a laptop with HDD storage is the best for you.
If you don’t have the budget for HDD and SSD combo but you still want better performance then you can go for an SSD.