Deciding between hard drives can be a difficult decision for any kind of PC enthusiast. Luckily, XOTIC PC has more than 20 years of industry experience and the know-how you need to choose your next hard drive wisely. Solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs) are the two primary storage solutions available. Unlike forms of volatile storage such as RAM, drives provide a permanent storage solution. In this article, we explore the differences and similarities between solid-state drives and hard disk drives, as well as the specifications to consider before making your final decision to buy.
SSD vs. HDD Specifications
Storage Capacity: The storage capacity of a drive will play an important role in your decision. With a small storage capacity, you can expect your device to fill up quickly with photos, videos, and other files of data.
Speed: The speed of a drive refers to how quickly it can read and write data. Hard disk drives have sectors located on tracks, which are stored on rotating platters. Each platter has a magnetic head that moves with an actuator arm to read and write data into the drive. The speed at which the platters spin can help you determine the read/write times, but overcrowded disks may write files across multiple sections. This kind of file fragmentation is not a big concern in solid-state storage.
Form Factor: The form factor of a drive refers to its size and how it connects to a computer, but it also determines the drive’s compatibility with the drive bays in an enclosure.
What is a Solid-State Drive?
A solid-state drive (SSD) uses flash memory to store persistent data. These kinds of drives employ memory chips with semiconductors that flip array data structures into different states of electric charge to store code. You might be more familiar with thumb drives and similar devices, which are all forms of solid-state storage. What makes a solid-state drive particularly appealing is that it’s fast, quiet, small, and light. These kinds of drives are ideal for ultrathin laptops, media computers, and gaming PCs.
- Storage Capacity: Capacities typically range from 32 gigabytes (GB) to as many as 1 terabyte (TB). However, SSDs tend to be much smaller in comparison to HDDs and become more expensive over 2TB.
- Speed: SSD cells are designed to read and write data sporadically. With simultaneously access to all cells, solid-state drives can read data much faster than a hard disk drive can.
- Form Factor: Solid-state drives come in traditional HDD form factors, as well as a wide range of shapes and sizes, from 1.8- to 5.25-inch disks.
- Pricing: SSDs are significantly more expensive than their HDD counterparts, and you might pay as much as double for the same amount of storage. Prices are expected to decrease, which will make the case for hard disk drives even more difficult in the coming years.
What is a Hard Disk Drive?
Also known as the “C drive,” a hard disk drive (HDD) is the main source of data storage in a computer. The operating system, software titles, and most files are stored in a computer’s HDD. The hard disk drive of a PC stores data even if the system is powered off. You can connect this type of drive to a computer by using a SATA or PATA cable, but that will depend on the kind of drive you buy. Some of the most important factors in your decision include capacity, speed, form factor, and price. We’ve outlined some of the specifications to keep in mind while you decide.
- Storage Capacity: Capacities range from 16 gigabytes (GB) to as many as 12 terabytes (TB). HDDs have a distinct advantage over SSDs in terms of storage, because they continue to get bigger without much of an increase in cost to consumers like you.
- Speed: The faster those platters with magnetic heads can spin, the faster the hard disk drive can perform.
- Form Factor: The most common HDD form factors include 2.5- and 3.5-inch disks.
- Pricing: HDDs cost close to $500,000 per gigabyte more than 30 years ago, but they cost less than $0.03 per gigabyte today. Hard disk drives are much more affordable than their solid-state counterparts, but price shouldn’t be the determining factor above capacity, speed, or versatility.
In conclusion, one of the only advantages that hard disk drives have over solid-state drives is the amount of storage capacity available to consumers. If you want to store large files long-term, HHDs may be the perfect solution for you. However, solid-state drives allow you to build a system with speed, power, and portability.