If you’re planning on purchasing a new gaming PC, you’ve likely wondered whether it’s better to buy a laptop with SSD storage or HDD. This great debate has populated many an internet forum, but we’re here to answer the “SSD vs HDD” question definitively.
The answer may be more straightforward than you think, as SSDs offer a more refined gaming storage space system. In some people’s eyes, HDD is older and has slightly fallen by the wayside in the face of the newer generation of SSDs. However, there are plenty of bonuses that still come with owning an HDD storage space.
We’ll discuss everything you need to know about SSD vs HDD drives and which will work best for your gaming PC. You’ll find a helpful nugget or three even if you’re not planning to use it for a gaming PC but instead want to know which storage is best for photo editing or streaming movies on your 1440p monitor.
Let’s dive right in!
What is SSD?
SSD stands for solid-state drives and is regularly used in most modern-day laptops and computers. SSDs offer more storage space and also are more compact than HDDs. This is because SSD stores information with flash memory chips instead of the magnetic disks that HDD uses.
So while SSD serves the same purpose as HDD, to store data, it has replaced HDD as the premier technology. If you plan to hold and play games, SSD will likely offer more storage than an HDD drive.
Aesthetically, SSD and HDD drives take about the same amount of space on your computer, so if you open your 2-in-1 laptop to look within the machine, it may be hard to tell what your computer uses.
What is HDD?
HDD take the role of the more traditional hard drive for laptop and computers, and their iconic magnetic disk has been in use since the 1950s! HDDs’ mechanism is entirely different from SSDs, and the hard drive disks record information by spinning using a motorised spindle.
When reading and accessing your computer’s data, the head of the disc spins across the platter’s surface, which tracks the data and records it. However, if the head skips the data, it can lead to data loss.
While it may seem obvious to choose HDD instead of SSD, HDDs are still reliable in storage capacity and cheaper than SSD for gaming performance.
Benefits of using SSD for Gaming
As we’ve highlighted a couple of times, SSDs are the more modern choice for gaming PCs. And there’s certainly a reason why they’ve gotten so popular – let’s break them down:
- SSDs are more compact. With time comes innovation, and SSDs are far more streamlined and close regarding size. You can find SSD drives that come in a mere 2.5 inches, while the M.2 SSDs are even smaller and quicker. This size reduction is thanks to SSDs not needing a large, bulky magnetic disk to read data.
- They make less noise. If you owned a laptop in the early 2000s, you were likely familiar with the hum of an HDD drive. SSDs are silent storage devices thanks to their lack of mechanical parts.
- Reduces Overheating. One of the issues with the constant spinning of HDDs was the continuous spinning of platters and parts. When choosing an SSD or HDD for gaming, stopping your laptop from overheating is a priority, and since SSDs produce almost no heat, it is a great option.
- Sturdier SSD Design. Since SSDs lack separate parts, they are less prone to breaking and damage than HDDs. HDDs are more prone to breaking, so SSDs are generally a more reliable form of flash memory for gaming.
- Less Data Fragmentation Issues. An issue that HDDs come across is data fragmentation after they became more and more filled with data. As they do, HDDs separate and fragment their data so it isn’t stored in the same logical place. SSDs solve all these issues by not using a disk, and so don’t tend to have data fragmentation issues.
- SSDs use less power. This is a less noticeable aspect of using an SSD over an HDD, but an SSD drive uses less fuel than an HDD one. SSD offers a far more energy-efficient option and can reduce your electric bill.
Benefits of using HDD for Gaming
There are benefits to using an HDD for your gaming PC, as our previous section highlighted that SSDs are generally the superior choice for your gaming laptop. While modern SSDs are better overall, there are still certain advantages that HDDs offer instead.
- HDDs are more cost-effective. If you want a more cost-effective form of storage for your laptop, then HDDs are still the most inexpensive hard drives you can get on the market. If we’re talking per GB, HDD will set you back $0.02 per GB, while SSDs come in at about $0.10 per GB.
- More Storage Space. While SSDs are the newer models on the market, they are still outpaced in raw storage by Hard disk drives. You can typically buy up to 2 TB of storage for consumer SSDs, while HDDs offer up to 4 TB.
- Reliability with large files. HDDs are great storage systems for large files. These files are stored next to each other in blocks, so HDDs often have an easier time retrieving them. And since the storage space for gaming needs is growing increasingly thanks to large file sizes, HDDs are great for modern games.
- Longer Durability. Nothing beats the durability of old items, and this is especially true for HDDs. And although HDDs are more likely to be damaged than SSDs, if you’re taking care of your storage drive properly, it can last anywhere between 5 – 10 years.
- Easier Data Recovery. If you’ve had bad experiences in the past when it comes to recovering your data, then you’ll be happy to know that rescuing your data is much more straightforward on HDD than SSDs.
An HDD is a reliable piece of tech that still has a place in the gaming laptops of many users, especially if you’re planning to have a specific budget for your device. Moreover, HDDs are a lot easier to repair than SSDs since many tech experts are far more comfortable with HDDs.
Dual Storage Space System
Some gamers use HDD and SSD storage options to prop up their gaming habits, and we can see why combining these two would lead to such a potent combination. Both the solid state drive and the hard disk drive storage drives have their benefits, so using them together can reap plenty of benefits, including:
- Storage Allocation Options. You can use the benefits of each form factor storage to their best capabilities when you store files. For smaller files, you can assign them to the SSD drive, while you can allocate larger files to the HDD. This way, both campaigns will perform with their ideal storage type.
- You’ll have a Backup. You can always use your HDD as a backup for your SSD storage. Since HDD is far easier to read and access data, you can allocate it as a backup for your most important files and a few games.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still undecided on which storage device is preferable for you? Aside from storage performance, there are plenty of other factors that we receive questions about, and we’ve taken some time to answer some of the most frequently asked ones.
So if you’re still in need of some more information about how to decide which storage game drive you should purchase, then check them out! Otherwise, check out our other articles, including our review of the Alienware Aurora 2019 or the best performance testing tools for your laptop!
Does SSD improve gaming FPS?
Installing an SSD won’t necessarily improve your game’s FPS directly, but the additional storage capacity may allow your computer to load terrain assets and open-world elements more easily. Your SSD will be able to access and transfer data faster to your laptop’s monitor, giving you that classic visual look for your computer.
This can cause your FPS to increase, as those bits of the game world may have caused your FPS to drop when they are first loaded in.
How much faster is SSD than HDD?
SSDs are far quicker than HDDs, almost 5 times faster! While an HDD can retrieve data anywhere from 30 – 150 MB/s, the SSD can recover the same data at around 500 MB/s.
With the newest models of SSDs, we’re talking about the NVME SSDs; you can even reach astonishing speeds of 3,5000 MB/s!
Why is HDD still better than SSD?
While this may be controversial, some users believe that HDDs offer a better and more trusted experience, even in the face of newer SSDs. As an internal and external drive, they are far more inexpensive for the gamer who wants to save money.
They also offer higher capacities than SSDs, meaning that you gain the most storage for the least amount of money. More so than an internal or external SSD offers you too.
With all we have given you here, we hope your choice between HDD and SSD has become far easier for your flash-based memory! If not, we recommend rereading or purchasing a laptop with a dual storage system.
And while SSD seems to be the obvious choice, with low load times, more accessible flash storage, and excellent SSD capacity, we also recommend that you don’t discount HDD’s durable, more significant, and mass storage capabilities.
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.