If you’re building a custom desktop PC or shopping for a laptop, you’ve probably come across the terms HDD (hard disk drive) and SSD (solid state drive) when reading through hardware specs. However, you may not know much about the difference between these two types of drives. Both offer distinct pros and cons, and the right choice for you will depend on how you typically use your computer. 

While some may advocate for the newer, faster technology of a solid-state drive, you could be overspending by opting for an SSD if you have high-capacity storage needs. Here at Smart Parts PC, we’re always happy to guide you to the right computer hardware for your needs and budget. Our friendly staff is ready to answer your questions. Before you visit us in our store, read up on the basics of HDD vs. SSD below. 

What’s the difference between SSD and HDD?

hdd vs. ssd - solid state drive and hard drive computer parts overhead view

To know which is better between solid-state drives and hard disk drives, it’s important to understand exactly how these devices differ. Both SSDs and HDDs perform the same basic function. They are non-volatile storage where data is permanently housed even when the computer system is off (unlike data stored in RAM). The key difference is how data is written and stored with these types of hardware. 

An HDD features spinning disks where data is stored magnetically. It will also have an arm with several heads to read and write data—this utilizes mechanics like that of a record player with a turntable. Solid-state drives, on the other hand, are so named because they do not have any moving or mechanical parts. Data is stored on interconnected flash memory chips that can hold data even when there’s no power flowing to them. 

Due to their differences in their design, SSDs and HDDs have some other key distinctions to consider: 

Cost  

As a legacy technology, traditional hard drives have an upper hand when it comes to cost. However, SSDs are generally trending cheaper. Still, you can optimize your storage space on a much tighter budget with HDDs. You can currently get a 1TB internal hard disk drive for less than the lowest cost SSDs, which start at about 500GB of storage. 

Speed 

Solid-state drives have gained much of their positive reputation from their speed. With an SSD you can boot your system in just seconds. Conversely, hard disk drives need more time to speed up to their normal operating capacity, and they just can’t keep up with SSDs in terms of running speed. File transfers, apps, and games all run faster with an SSD, making them the clear choice for many gamers. 

Reliability

HDDs present a few reliability and durability issues to be aware of. First is the possibility of fragmentation, which occurs as hard drives begin to reach their data storage capacity. In addition, a hard disk drive may suffer damage and lose essential data if your device is dropped or shaken while it’s operating. This is one reason SSDs have become the hardware of choice for most modern laptops.

Size 

Because SSDs aren’t limited by the need to house a physical disk, they are available in compact sizes—some are a s small as 42mm in length. However, solid state drives are also formatted in standard HDD sizes to make them easily swappable in existing hardware configurations. 

Is it worth replacing HDD with SSD? 

If you’re running out of storage on your laptop or PC that’s currently equipped with an HDD, you might be considering an upgrade to SSD. The upgrade is likely worth the cost if you are hoping for more speed. Some other perks that come with an SSD include noiseless operation (ideal for musicians and audio engineers) and lower energy needs for the drive. However, if your primary goal is to ramp up storage at the lowest cost, you should go for a hard disk drive. For photographers, heavy downloaders, and those with hefty libraries of files and data, it’s hard to beat the availability of paying just cents per gigabyte with HDDs. 

Do you need both HDD and SSD?

Can’t decide which type of drive best suits your needs? For some computer users, a dual-drive system is ideal. For example, a graphic arts professional may enjoy the large capacity of a hard disk drive for photos and videos while still wanting the speed of an SSD for running photo and video editing software. However, as the price of solid-state drives continues to drop over time, it’s unlikely that hybrid drives will stick around in the future.

Which is better SSD or HDD? 

So, which is truly better, SSD or HDD? It all boils down to how you use your computer and how much storage you really need. In many cases, the higher cost of an SSD will be well worth it thanks to benefits like faster speed and durability. Still, splurging for an SSD could put you over budget for your custom PC build without delivering the performance benefits you’re looking for. 

When in doubt, defer to the experts at Smart Parts PC to help you make a wise purchase. With a wide selection of prebuilt PCs, parts, laptops, and accessories in our store, we’re ready to help you find what you need. Give us a call at (520) 468-2320 or visit our shop on Ina Road today!