Solid State Drives Vs. Hard Disk Drives

In the last few years, buyers of PCs and laptops have been faced with the tough decision of whether they should opt for a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or a Solid State Drive (SSD) to go in their new machine.

Selecting an SSD would usually result in a faster machine with less storage, whereas choosing a HDD would result in more storage but a slower machine. Decisions, decisions.

Let’s take a look at the main differences between the two, hopefully helping you to make a more informed decision.

Solid State Drives

With the plummeting price of SSDs, they are fast becoming the drive of choice in all new laptops. With no moving parts, SSDs are perfect for portable devices.

Samsung SSD 850 Pro
Samsung SSD 850 Pro Series, shop.bt.com

That’s not to say that SSDs aren’t popular within Desktop PCs though, many gamers and PC builders are now installing them as their main drive or as a ‘boot’ drive where they would store their operating system in order to speed up their PC.

Historically SSDs have been far more expensive than HDDs which is why manufacturers always opted to pre-install HDD into most of their machines.

An SSD saves your data on interconnected flash memory chips that retain the data even when there’s no power present. The chips can be installed permanently on the systems motherboard or in a box that’s built to fit in a standard 2.5” hard drive slot.

The flash memory within SSDs differs from that found in USB drives, it is much more reliable hence the higher prices.

Hard Disk Drives

Hard disk drives are the most common type of storage found in modern day PCs and laptops. Their low ‘cost per GB’ make them perfect for consumers who have lots of files including music, films & TV shows.

hard drive internals

HDDs use magnetism to store data on a rotating platter. A read/ write head floats above the spinning platter reading and writing data. The faster the platter spins the faster the HDD can operate. You’re likely to see modern laptops feature HDDs that spin at 7200rpm. There are some server-based platters that spin at 15,000rpm.

Hard disk come in various sizes although the most common sizes tend to be 2.5” and 3.5”.

Pros & Cons

SSDs and HDDs do exactly the same job. They boot up your system and store your apps/ personal files. However, as mentioned previously they both have their benefits.

Price

SSD’s are more expensive, there’s no two ways around it. At today’s prices (January 2016) if you want a 1TB HDD you’re looking at around £40-£50 depending on brand. Want the same capacity in an SSD you’re looking at around £250.

480GB SSD’s have just dropped below the £100 price mark which make them a much more accessible proposition for consumers looking to upgrade/ prolong the life of their laptop/ PC.

Capacity

If capacity is one of the key factors in making your decision then HDD win hands down. You can pick up a 2TB HDD for around £100. If you spend the same kind of money on an SSD you’d be getting around 480GB’s in return.

Durability

With no moving parts SSDs are perfect for those that tend to be rough with their equipment. HDDs have been known to lose data when faced with physical damage due to their moving parts.

Availability

Manufacturers are starting to turn their focus towards the production of SSDs, however, HDDs are still more common and you’ll be greeted by a much wider selection of sizes, speeds and different models.

Summary

If it’s price that’s the main deciding factor then HDDs win without question. They’re more readily available, cheaper and have much higher capacities. However, if it wasn’t for price then SSDs would win hands down. SSDs are quicker, more rugged and completely silent.

There is the question that surrounds the longevity of an SSD, however, you’re much more likely to rid of your equipment before you bump into any read/ write errors from your SSD. That being said, HDDs will eventually wear out (after many years of course) over time since they use physical recording methods.

Take a look at our extensive selection of HDDs and SSDs here. 

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