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SSD vs. HDD (Comparison/Features)

Solid State Drives are all the rage these days. But are they really better than Hard Disk Drives, in every way? Which is the better choice for you?

Solid State Drives are immensely popular, but should you assume that they’re better than Hard Disk Drives across the board? Or are there ways in which Hard Disk Drives are better for your needs? Check out the comparison below to see how they stack up against one another.

Over the past few years, you’ve probably heard more and more about Solid State Drives (SSDs). If you bought a laptop in the past five years, it’s more than likely the salesperson pointed out if it had an SSD or not.

This is, of course, in comparison to a Hard Disk Drive (HDD), the industry standard for storage for years.

If you’re wondering what the difference is, and why it should matter to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

To put it simply, the key difference is in how they work. An HDD has a spinning disk in it, that it uses magnetic strips to read data as it moves.

An SSD has no moving parts. Essentially, it’s like a memory stick.

There’s a little more to it, but so far as how these storage devices work, that’s all you need to know.

Now, for how they stack up against one another…

SSD or HDD – Which is better?

In order to figure out which is better for you and your needs, we’ll break it down into the most important categories:

SSDs are faster.
At the consumer level (in this case, meaning 7,200 RPM HDDs and their SSD counterparts), the sequential read/write speeds are as follows:

  • SSD: 300-500 MB/second
  • HDD: 100-160 MB/second

As you can see, SSDs really are that much faster. They’re the difference between your computer taking 5 minutes to boot up, and twenty seconds.

If you want even more proof, consider another key indicator of speed – Input/Output Operations per Second (IOPS). This is essentially a measure of how well the hard drive can multi-task:

  • SSD: 20,000 – 100,000 IOPS
  • HDD: 75-100 IOPS

It’s not even close. SSDs are much, much faster than HDDs.

HDDs have more storage space.

Of course, speed isn’t the only factor you may be interested in.

Given that this type of hardware is meant for storage just as much as they’re meant for quickly accessing what’s being stored, we should consider their max storage capabilities:

  • SSD: 1 TB
  • HDD: 6 TB

What HDDs lack in speed they make up for in space.

SSDs need less power.

If you’re worried about how much power these drives could draw (especially if you’re buying in bulk for an office), then keep the following power consumption levels in mind (Idle Power Draw/Max Power Draw in watts):

  • SSD: 0.1 – 0.6 W/2.0 – 4.0 W
  • HDD: 4.0 – 6.0 W/ 6.5 – 9.0 W


It’s rather clear cut here – the SSD’s max power draw is the same as the HDD’s idle.

HDDs simply require a lot more power to operate, which is especially important to consider when you rely on a battery for power (i.e. when using a laptop).

HDDs are less expensive.

As with any IT choice, price is a factor. Let’s break down the cost for each type of hard drive, calculated per GB of storage:

  • SSD: US $0.80/GB
  • HDD: US $0.04/GB

While SSDs continue to become less and less expensive, they’ll never reach the cost-effect of traditional HDDs. Storage components will generally become cheaper as time goes by and it becomes easier to produce them, but for the time being, HDDs are far less expensive.

SSD or HDD – which one should you buy?

It depends.

What do you need out of your storage, and what do you have to work with?

You should buy an HDD if you have a limited budget.

That’s really the key consideration when it comes to HDDs. They don’t keep up with SSDs in any meaningful way, but they are much less expensive.

You should buy an SSD if…

  1. You don’t need that much space.
    If you’re mainly using your computer for email, document processing, and web browsing, then an SSD is the best call for you.
  2. You understand computers and how to use them.
    If you have the know-how to limit your hard drive storage needs (i.e. you can install a light operating system like Linux), then you can make the most of an SSD without being held back by the limited space.

It all comes down to what your storage and speed needs are. If you have a good idea of what you primarily use your computer for, then it should be easy to figure out whether an SSD or an HDD is the right choice for you.

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