We have stated several times now that a solid-state drive (SSD) is, without doubt or exaggeration, the best hardware upgrade you could have done to your computer as far as performance/speed is concerned, and we believe an SSD is really worth it to most computer users (most not all), and that’s for varied valid reasons you’ll learn when you continue reading.
After reading this article/research you are supposed to acquire the basic knowledge on solid-state drives (SSD) and get a clearer picture about what suits you best—is it a modern, optimized high-end mechanical hard drive (HDD), or an SSD is the exactly right fit for you and that it’s the time now to switch over to this new storage technology?
We’ll make no assumptions here and keep this article on a level that anyone can understand. To make it even easier for reading and search there has been included a table of content right below this line to help you quickly browse this material and find the information you are looking for.
|The Emergence of SSDs|
|What is a Solid State Drive (SSD)?|
|The Major Advantages of SSDs over HDDs
|Who is SSD Good For?|
|FAQs on the Worthiness of SSDs
The Emergence of SSDs
There are several technological innovations that have shaped the ICT sector, one of them being the invention of the SSD. The invention of smartphones and tablets has greatly contributed to the decrease in prices of SSDs, something that was once precious to computer users only.
Until recently, PC buyers had very little choice for what kind of file storage they got with their laptop, ultrabook, or desktop. If you bought an ultrabook or ultraportable, you likely had a solid-state drive (SSD) as the primary drive (C: on Windows, Macintosh HD on a Mac). Every other desktop or laptop form factor had a hard disk drive (HDD). Now, you can configure your system with either an HDD, SSD, or in some cases both.
With solid state drives now becoming just as prevalent on the market as hard drives, you’ve probably been wondering if it’s right to go for an SSD now. Before deciding whether an SSD is worth it and matches your needs or not, you need firstly and foremost to understand what a solid state drive (SSD) is and why they have gone viral within their very first years of release to the consumer market (that was in 2008 when Intel released its first consumer SSD with a very steep price tag).
What is a Solid State Drive (SSD)?
You probably don’t know nothing about solid-state drives (SSD) except that they feature a viable and much faster alternative to the traditional hard disk drive (HDD). We will not dive deep into technical details about this amazing storage device as that has its own place, but rather, we’ll have a quick and simplified overview on this kind of technology.
An SSD does much the same job functionally (e.g., saving your data while the system is off, booting your system, etc.) as traditional hard drives (HDD), but instead of a magnetic coating on top of platters, the data is stored on interconnected flash memory chips that retain the data even when there’s no power present.
You’re probably familiar with USB memory sticks – SSD can be thought of as an over-sized and more sophisticated version of the humble USB memory stick. Like a memory stick, there are no moving parts to an SSD. Rather, information is stored in microchips. Conversely, a hard disk drive uses a mechanical arm with a read/write head to move around and read information from the right location on a storage platter. This difference is what makes SSD so much faster. As an analogy, what’s quicker? Having to walk across the room to retrieve a book to get information or simply magically having that book open in front of you when you need it? That’s how an HDD compares to an SSD; it simply requires more physical labor (mechanical movement) to get information.
The Major Advantages of SSDs over HDDs
SSDs are all the rage and have gained huge popularity within a relatively short time since they were available on the consumer market because they provide substantial benefits over their predecessor&mdashthe mechanical hard disk drives (HDD).
Most of the advantages, if not all, of SSDs stem from the fact that, unlike traditional mechanical hard drives, they have no moving parts in their architecture. This immensely improve the performance and reliability of SSDs.
Below is a short list on the major advantages of SSDs over HDDs:
- Blazingly High Speed. While HDDs take longer to access data because of their need for the disks to spin, SSDs can be up to 100 times faster as data can be accessed instantaneously resulting in total system acceleration.
- Solid Reliability. One universally accepted metric for measuring SSD reliability is known as an “annual failure rate.” Exhaustive studies have shown that SSDs have an annual failure rate of tenths of 1%, while the AFRs for HDDs can run as high as 4 to 6 percent.
- Less Power Consumption. Which can lead to up to 30 more minutes of battery life for notebook users.
- Less Heat Generated. Thanks to no moving parts and completing tasks faster, SSDs run at cooler temperatures.
- Shock/Vibration Resistance. Because they have no mechanical parts, SSDs can be way more shockproof than HDDs which interest mostly portable computer users.
- Multitasking. This is the weakest side of mechanical hard drives whereas SSDs can handle it seamlessly allowing you to work on multiple applications at the same time without any conflict
SSD vs HDD – Benchmark Results
The table below features a performance comparison between a mainstream SSD (Samsung 850 EVO) and a high-end Enterprise Hard Disk Drive (WD Black 6TB).
Note two things before looking at the comparison table:
- It’s deliberate to put an enterprise hard drive in comparison with a mainstream SSD, just to show you how that even a mainstream SSD can easily beat the top-notch mechanical HDD in all performance tests.
- The SSD test item (i.e. Samsung 850 EVO) has been launched in the last quarter of 2014 whereas the HDD test item (WD Black 6TB WD6001FZWX) has been launched just a few months ago, particularly in the last quarter of 2015, which indicates that it employs the latest and most advanced mechanical HDD technology
- The benchmark result numbers of both drives have been acquired from storagereview.com
|Features||Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD||WD Black 6TB HDD|
|2MB Seq. Read||490.68 MB/s||214.53 MB/s|
|2MB Seq. Write||448.17 MB/s||214.91 MB/s|
|2MB Ran. Read||479.33 MB/s||78.34 MB/s|
|2MB Ran. Write||455.05 MB/s||107.05 MB/s|
|4K Ran. Read||9,431.30 IOps||83.21 IOps|
|4K Ran. Write||28,817.51 IOps||207.61 IOps|
|4K Ran. Read||36.84 MB/s||0.325 MB/s|
|4K Ran. Write||112.57 MB/s||0.811 MB/s|
|Av. 4K Write Latency||0.0344 ms||4.8 ms|
|Max. 4K Write Latency||1.91 ms||1,248.19 ms|
Now, as you can already observe, a mainstream SSD can easily outperform an Enterprise HDD. For this reason we say that the slowest SSD is faster than the fastest HDD. You may wonder more if you get to know that WD Blck 6TB HDD is considered the fastest desktop hard drive in the world as of 2015, but in front of an SSD it’s just too backward. And you may wonder even more if you know that a regular mainstream HDD is almost 40% SLOWER than top-notch enterprise hard drives. This just makes an SSD the king of speed without any rival in the storage subsystem space.
Any Advantage of HDD over SSD?
In fact yes, and for those advantages of HDDs they are still the most common storage subsystems among all classes of users, ranging from enterprise down to mainstream.
We can boil down the advantages of HDDs into a few points below:
- Much Larger Capacity. While the largest consumer SSD has barely reached 2TB level, the largest consumer HDD has exceeded the 8TB limit. That trait of HDD makes it the most preferred solution for backup purposes.
- Price. Although SSDs are becoming cheaper and affordable, they are still very expensive compared to HDDs. (i.e. The cheapest SSD costs around $45 for 120gb capacity [SanDisk Internal SSD 120GB costs $44.99 on Amazon as of the time of writing] whereas, for a few dollars more you can buy a strong 1TB hard drive [WD Blue 1TB Desktop Hard Disk Drive costs now $49.99 on Amazon as of the time of writing].)
Who is SSD Good For?
For consumers | Transform your system’s performance.
New interfaces and multitasking demands require more from your system than perhaps ever before. From connecting instantly with friends and accessing apps, websites, and playlists online, to simultaneously streaming videos and downloading files, your computer is faced with an entirely new set of performance expectations that a hard drive struggles to meet. That’s where an SSD comes in. With speeds dramatically faster than a hard drive, an SSD isn’t just a storage upgrade – it’s a complete system transformation. From its nearly instantaneous boot times, powerful data transfer speeds, increased multitasking capability, and rock-solid reliability, an SSD delivers dramatic performance gains.
For businesses | Secure your data. Protect your customers’ privacy.
Your data is your competitive advantage. Whether it’s the inside information on your latest product or your customers’ credit card numbers, information in the wrong hands has the potential to devastate your business. The best strategy for protecting your sensitive data is to implement a defense, one that includes top-level hardware-based encryption. A modern SSD is a self-encrypting drive (SED) based on the rigorous standards established by the TCG Opal specification. Combined with applications like Microsoft BitLocker or Wave Systems’ EMBASSY Trust suite, the included AES 256-bit hardware encryption engine (that’s integrated into the controller of the SSD) allows the drive to operate at full speed without the performance loss that’s typically associated with non-SED drives using software-based encryption technology.
For all users | Consistently fast speeds. No exceptions.
No matter what kind of files you’re working with on an SSD, you’ll experience high speeds with no drop in performance across different file types. Unlike older SSDs on the market, modern SSDs treat all files the same, regardless of whether they’re compressed or uncompressed. While many older SSDs on the market achieve faster speeds by using file compression, many of the most common file types can’t be compressed, resulting in SSDs that often deliver slower speeds than advertised. This is important because the files most people use every day – videos, mp3s, advanced graphic files and zip files – are compressed files and thus unable to be compressed any further. With a modern SSD, the specs advertised are the same specs you’ll see in the real world.
Note that “modern SSD” is identified by the year of manufacturing. Generally any SSD manufactured after 2013 is worth this label.
FAQs on the Worthiness of SSDs
Here are several questions frequently asked about the worthiness of an SSD for different environments and purposes. We’ll address the top three questions in this regard.
Is an SSD Worth It for Laptop?
The answer is: Certainly YES. In fact there’s no system can benefit from an SSD like a laptop, and that’s for various reasons:
- The horribly slow standard laptop hard drive due to its compact size and low spindle speed that generally comes at 5400RPM. Even if you get a 7200RPM laptop hard drive you’ll still feel it’s much slower than a standard desktop hard drive spinning at the same rate. This slowness is deliberate by the manufacturers to keep the hard drive’s performance stable and consistent and avoid many potential failures that may occur if speed is raised beyond the limits in this compact design. An SSD, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from any of these problems concerning speed and reliability because they have no moving parts at all.
- The high ability to resist shock/vibration which stems from the fact that an SSD doesn’t employ any mechanical part in its architecture, unlike traditional hard drives that are still weak in this field even after all the precautions the manufacturers took to increase the shockproofness of HDDs. This point is very important if one of your biggest concerns is the safety of your stored data.
- Low power consumption of an SSD compared with HDD which can expand the lifespan of the laptop battery up to 40% more than a traditional hard drive.
These are the top reasons that make an SSD is the BEST internal storage solution for laptops.
The cost of SSDs may be your major drawback at this point, but worry not, you can get a better solution than your standard laptop hard drive by using a hybrid hard drive (SSHD) instead. Just bear in mind that while an SSHD is better than a traditional HDD, it’s by no means equivalent, neither close-to-be like an SSD in terms of performance and reliability. But you will just get a good compromise between performance, capacity and price.
Is an SSD Worth It for gaming?
The answer cannot be an absolute yes or absolute no, it just depends on several factors.
You have to bear in mind that an SSD will NOT increase the graphics performance of your game, but rather it will benefit you in a few ways, which are:
- Decrease the game loading time by about 10 seconds or more compared to traditional desktop hard drive. That means intuitively the saved time compared to a laptop hard drive is more by 5 seconds or more.
- Moving from a stage to another becomes faster due to the fast loading time
- Online gaming experience becomes much smoother and seamless due to the ability of SSD to store and run multiple files simultaneously where a traditional hard drive is deinquent.
If you are a desktop computer user and mostly play alone, I prefer that you get a high-end hard drive instead of an SSD. But if you mostly play online, an SSD is a great choice.
But if you are a laptop user, an SSD is good for you in all cases.
Is an SSD Worth It for PS4?
Well, if you plan to play online most of your times, then YES, on condition that you must endure the limited capacity and store your other preferred games (if run out of capacity) on an external hard drive. But even though, and unlike laptop computers, it’s not compulsory or strongly recommended to use an SSD for PS4, as the benefits of SSDs in PS4 consoles are not too appealing. But if you look for more speed for your PS4, I suggest using a hybrid hard drive instead. It performs less than an SSD, but it features the best option, in my opinion, for PS4.
At the end of the day, SSDs are the absolutely best storage device available today that offers unparalleled performance all levels. But even after the drastic fall of its price to the $50 tag for 120gb models, it’s still considered expensive for most people who can get, for the same price, a strong 1TB traditional hard drive.
On the other hand, a Hybrid Hard Drive (SSHD) features a good compromise between performance, capacity and price, even though they are still far away from being a real viral of an SSD, but they are, with no doubt, much better than traditional hard drives.