Is it truly beneficial to buy a costly Solid State Drive (SSD) for installing games when there is already a large capacity Hard Disk Drive (HDD) running? Will it make any difference to the gaming experience? These are the most common questions that gamers ask. After all, SSDs are among the most debated topics in the gaming world.
It is somewhat bothersome when it comes to selecting an HDD or an SSD for installing games. This is perhaps each of the two options contributes its own pros and cons to the gaming experience. For instance, an HDD is conventionally big in terms of storage capacity and much light in terms of price.
On the other hand, an SSD can be unusually costly as the storage capacity increases but its movement-less design delivers a less noisy and quicker performance. Initially, SSDs were so costly and weighed down with much restricted storage space. This prevented the gamers to think of buying an SSD for their gaming PC.
However, today, the cost of SSDs has reduced, while the storage space has risen. It is now possible to get an SSD of 120 GB at an economical price. Nevertheless, it is also possible to find an affordable HDD with more storage. Thus, the question here is what should you choose or do? To check this out, let us explore the pros and cons of both!
Exploring the Pros and Cons of HDDs and SSDs
No matter which one you choose, both perform the same task of booting your PC and storing files and applications. However, each of the two has its distinct feature set. Let us weigh them out!
It is true that consumer-based SSDs have a capacity of 4 TB but these models are costly and rare. More commonly found ones are 500 GB to 1 TB. The ones with 500 GB are now base hard drives but costing is likely to bring this down to 128 GB for devices with economical SSDs.
It is vital to know that multimedia users shall need 1 to 4 TB drives in case of systems with high-end hardware. Online storage can be good for storing files to share with other mobile users. However, local storage is more economical and that you need to invest it only once.
SSDs tend to win the race here. A desktop gaming PC with an SSD boots in just a few seconds, while an HDD needs time to accelerate up to the functional specs. The latter shall also run slower than the former at the time of normal use. Any computing device with an SSD loads the OS and apps faster and transfers files more quickly than with an HDD.
HDDs have rotary recording mechanism due to which they beat SSDs when it comes to working with bigger files placed in contiguous blocks. This is how the head imitates and ends its read job in a single non-stop motion. When an HDD begins to fill, big files can scatter across the rotating platter. This then results in fragmentation, which is a major issue with the drive.
However, these days, this issue is now minimal due to the improved read/write logic. Still, it is not fully gone. Thus, the risk of fragmentation exists up to some extent. On the other hand, SSDs do not carry this risk due to the absence of physical head for reading. In other words, it stores data randomly anywhere and is, thus, inherently quicker.
Due to lack of moving parts, an SSD is more capable of safely retaining your data in case the laptop bag falls or the system jolts due to sudden tremor at the time of using it. In case of HDDs, the read/write head is parked when the disk is not in use. However, when in use, the hover above the platter. Thus, HDDs need delicate handling. What this indicates is that go for an SSD if you are rough with your hardware.
HDDs are available in plenty even in budget collections as well as for older systems. On the other hand, SSDs are still becoming available in plenty for the modern laptops. In case of Mac and PC, internal HDDs are seriously not going to fade totally, at least for a few more years. However, the usage of SSD models is on the rise, with those slim laptops having a 512GB SSD rather than a hard drive.
No HDD is completely quiet. The one promoted to be the quietest HDD shall emit somewhat noise at the time of using the system. This is because of the spinning arm or back and forth going arm. However, this noise is audible only if the system is completely thudded or if it is not properly installed in its case. HDDs running faster tend to make noise than those running slower. On the other hand, SSDs emit no noise, as they do not work on any rotating or arm mechanism.
Again, SSDs win the race here, as they have no spinning platter that can consume more power. Further, no power goes to waste in the form of noise or friction. As a result, SSDs are more efficient than HDDs. While using an SSD on a desktop gives a lower power bill, its use in a mobile gadget results in increased battery life before the next recharge.
In a nutshell, HDDs win in terms of availability, price, and capacity. SSDs are ideal if speed, durability, and hassle-free performance are the top priorities. Still, how to decide which of the two are ideal for installing games? Let’s read ahead!
What Existing Users of Both Drives Say?
SSDs are superior but are costlier per GB of storage than their platter-running HDDs. They still seem costly to those who are on a strict budget. For them, the middle solution is to have an SSD for the OS and an HDD for the rest of the stuff. Alternatively, it is recommended to install Steam on HDD instead of manually handling game installations.
While games do benefit from being installed on an SSD, it is only in the form of quicker initial or in-between load time. In terms of gaming performance, there is no almost no advantage from an SSD. Moreover, games are optimized for quick reading irrespective of the media.
Truly, it depends on which type of game it is. If it is a lightweight game, an SSD shall not provide any benefit. However, for multiplayer or heavy loaded games, an SSD is a boon. Many latest games for newer systems start preloading information due to which the loading time difference is not significantly noticeable.
On an HDD, movies or games can occupy several sectors instead of being in just a single area. It is also a fact that 4K Blu-ray files perform well on majority of HDDs with some sensible pre-caching. When one such drive is in some kind of difficulty, you end up requesting a series of concurrent read-writes. This may happen if the drive is a low-end one.
A few HDDs can manage to stream two multimedia file at a time, while some can stream four such files. However, at some point, an HDD shall reach its zenith after which it will not be able to fulfill the data request. On the other hand, SSDs are quicker than HDDs due to which they are more preferable for handling media.
What Technology Says about Gaming Performance Difference on HDDs and SSDs
Well, to find out whether there is actually a performance difference, you need to define ‘performance.’ Yes! For example, in case of a framerate problem, an SSD is not a solution at all. Here, the GPU is the primary component due to which buying or upgrading to an SSD is not the solution.
The main reason for keeping games on an SSD is the significant reduction in load time due to the higher transfer speed. Now, this too may not be so overt but can be if the games are too heavy with multiple players, stages, and tools.
Another reason to use an SSD is decreased hitching or brief pauses in open world games. These pauses occur when players cannot withdraw assets quickly from the HDD such as to keep up with the other players.
Some users have come up with improvement suggestions, such as OS on an SSD and games on HDD to shoot up the boot time of desktop PC. If this sounds attractive to you, it is recommended buying a large capacity for installing games and Windows on it and keeping an HDD of bigger size for general storage.
Performance is at its best with a PCIe SSD but it is truly costly at present. Even if the SSD is not the quickest one, it is yet a significant upgrade from a conventional HDD. Thus, it is not wrong to go for an economically rated SSD.
An SSD is worthy of your money if you have upscale hardware, as a typical HDD is a slower option. This affects game load times. An SSD ensures quicker load times with speed of more than 400 Mbps, which is over double of an HDD. SSDs also ensures low access time, less latency, and zero fragmentation issues. Still, find out what you want to play and how frequently you will play to decide whether an SSD shall fit or not.