Not sure, if you should get an SSD or HDD for gaming? In this guide, we discuss SSD vs HDD gaming and how SSDs and HDDs compare to each other in terms of game performance and which option would be best for you.
Choosing between a hard disk and a Solid-state disk was once a rather complicated decision. Mainly because SSDs were very expensive and did not offer as much storage capacity. However, thanks to technological advances and a drop in the market price, we can now acquire an SSD for only $ 30. Not bad, right?
But what really gives you $ 30? Isn’t it worth paying a little more for the much larger HDD?
We received questions like this all the time, so we thought it was natural to create an HDD vs. SSD page to explain the obvious and intricate differences between the two storage solutions.
As solid-state drives have declined in price in recent years, more and more players are switching from traditional hard drives to SSD to store their favorite games. However, there seems to be some confusion about whether choosing an SSD or not on a hard drive will have an impact on its performance in the game.
So, in this article, we are going to discuss how SSDs and HDDs compare to each other in terms of game performance and if an SSD will give you better gaming experience.
What’s an HDD?
HDD is the abbreviation for “hard drive” or hard drive. Hard drives are composed of layers of rotating discs, securely packaged in a metal housing and can be written/read from very high speeds. This whole process is sensitive and, because of this, it is vital to keep the units in a safe and cool place where they are not subject to static shocks, strong magnetic forces, spills or drops that can destabilize their internal functioning.
Even slight damage to a hard drive may not work. That said, sometimes units can persist through errors and lost data, but it is always good to be on the safe side.
For many decades, the hard drive has been the main form of storage for desktops and laptops. Even today, hard drives still offer the highest performance of GB / $, which makes the decision of HDD or SSD much more difficult. Well, for some anyway.
Our dedicated team of PC enthusiasts has tested a ton of HDD and SSD over the years. In the HDD category, the Seagate Barracuda (3TB) is our personal favorite.
What’s an SSD?
SSD is the abbreviation for “solid-state drive”. Solid-state units are known as “solid-state” because they have no moving parts. While, obviously, you should avoid dropping them, if possible, this lack of moving parts makes SSDs much less vulnerable to physical damage. A strong magnet can clean a hard drive, but it will have no effect on an SSD unless it manages to conduct an electric current, which is as dangerous for SSDs as it is for HDDs.
SSDs are usually quite small compared to HDDs, with a simple rectangular outer shell and a set of memory chips inside.
Over the past decade or so, SSDs have begun to enter modern consumer electronics with alarming speed. This is because they are capable of, well, alarming speeds. Speeds that offer much faster file transfer and boot times than even the best hard drive.
However, its storage capacity is not as good as that of an HDD: we will go deeper into that below.
For this category, we personally recommend the Samsung 860 Pro 1TB as the best complete SSD.
What about M.2?
An M.2 SSD is a type of solid-state drive, more specifically, a form factor. It is a size and shape that all M.2 brand hardware components must live. However, do not think that all M.2s are the same because that is certainly not the case.
M.2 SSDs have no enclosure and, unlike their generic SSD products, connect directly to the motherboard through the PCI-e slot. This, for the most part, means that an M.2 is much faster than the standard SSD and is more efficient.
There are several M.2 SSDs of different sizes floating. By size, I mean both storage capacity and physical dimensions. Ensuring that your motherboard can support specific M.2 sizes is a crucial step in the purchase process.
Generally speaking, M.2 SSDs are much more expensive than old-school SATA SSDs and HDDs thanks to their high read / write speeds.
For me, the Adata SX8200 NVMe M.2 SSD is up to performance and value.
If true. PCI-e 4.0 SSDs are available. However, offer/realize its full potential is another completely different story.
When AMD launched her new CPU Ryzen 3rd Gen, a lot of hardware offerings were available separately. Included new motherboards X570 PCIe SSD and some 4.0.
It is worth mentioning that base plates X570 are the only ones compatible PCI-e 4.0. And not all of them even have that.
Go back to the real SSD, however. Manufacturers have a minimum of 40% faster read/write speeds than their PCI-e 3.0 SSD brothers.
Naturally, the cost of a PCI-e 4.0 SSD card is not cheap, just take our article on GIGABYTE AORUS Gen4.0 NVMe SSD as a good example.
SSD vs HDD: Performance
Fortunately, there are already many speed comparisons. For the sake of simplicity, we will refer to the 2013 PC World comparison between HDD and SSD. Hard drives have not had any real speed improvements since this benchmarking was done. 7200 RPM was the standard then and is the standard now. SSDs, on the other hand, has only become faster, especially if you are using a PCIe SSD or an M.2 SSD.
Let’s look at one of the most interesting benchmarks: boot time.
The 7200 RPM HDD that PC World tested achieved a boot time of 62.5 seconds, just over a minute in total. Depending on the age of your PC, this is what you are used to or a little faster.
The SSD that is being tested? Well, that started in 23.2 seconds. Much more than twice as fast.
While some Windows 8 and 10 machines added the “Quick Boot” capability on hard drives through UEFI, this is still not enough to close the gap of almost 40 seconds. In general, an SSD will always be significantly faster. Records suggest that the boot speed can be achieved more than six times with SSD.
Anyway, that is only for boot times, which is basically the longest charging time for any PC. What happens to other parts of your system?
Well, applications like your browser or favorite chat program will open almost instantly with an SSD, as long as the rest of your system can keep up. The high responsiveness of an SSD against an HDD makes it one of the best updates you can add to a PC: the difference is immediate and noticeable, and can even help revive old PCs that were delayed by dying hard drives.
Most importantly, for players, loading times will be significantly shortened. For example, getting a new Fortnite game can take up to a minute on older and slower hard drives. In an SSD, this happens in a matter of seconds.
In terms of performance, an SSD completely depletes a hard drive. It is not even a contest.
HDD vs SSD: storage capacity and price
This is where things start to get interesting.
For the most value-oriented hard drives, how much do you think you are paying per gigabyte? Usually about $ .022 per gigabyte. That’s barely more than two cents per gigabyte, and even hard drives with a comparatively worse value don’t tend to exceed three cents per gigabyte. This means you can spend $ 66 or less and get a 3TB hard drive.
Now, how does this work for SSDs? Before the market value of the SSD began to decrease, it would be fortunate to find a Gigabyte / $ value below 25 cents. That’s a dollar for 4 GB, which is ridiculous for desktop storage standards. Today, fortunately, you can find decent SSDs that work in the region of 10 cents per gigabyte. Much more attractive to the consumer.
Still, when you compare this with the old hard drive, it still doesn’t offer that much value. If you spend between $ 35 and $ 50, which is almost the same as you would pay for a hard drive, you will get between 240 and 480 GB at best.
So, in terms of storage and value capabilities, hard drives easily exceed solid-state drives. They are much slower, but if you have a ton of games and media that you want to store in your system, it is difficult to argue against hard drives.
HDD vs SSD: size and noise
A point that is sometimes forgotten when reviewing the difference between HDD and SSD is size and noise. A 7200 RPM hard drive is typically very large and is built for a 3.5-inch disk drive enclosure, while smaller and slower 5400 RPM hard drives are slightly smaller and can fit in a drive bay. 2.5 inch disk SSDs generally also come in 2.5-inch drive cabinets. Don’t worry we will arrive at the M.2 SSD shortly.
So, in terms of size, SSDs win. In fact, if you use an M.2 SSD, SSDs can be approximately the size of your thumb. M.2 SSDs do not even have a housing; Simply connect them directly to your motherboard.
Therefore, SSDs are much smaller than HDDs in general. This makes them perfect for laptops and other smaller devices.
SSDs also win easily in the noise department. Without moving parts means there is no noise. The moving parts of an HDD create noise by nature and can be quite noisy if the disk is aging or degrading. If you want the quietest work environment possible, an HDD can be among the noisiest components of your system.
HDD vs SSD: Lifetime
Last but not least; How long do these units really last?
The short answer is, well, hard drives last longer.
The longest answer is, it depends on multiple factors. For example, most drivers do not die from degradation over time: they usually die from damage or manufacturing defects. In these cases, an SSD will be the best option, since they are much more durable and less vulnerable to forms of damage. When a unit is maintained in ideal conditions, without defects, it is used regularly and is not damaged, the HDD will eventually last longer than the SSD.
The reason behind this?
Well, SSDs use NAND memory. The way in which NAND memory retains data is through electrical charges, rather than written to a disk. This worsens NAND memory for long-term data storage (in the long term, we are talking about decades), and it also means that SSDs cannot handle as many readings / writes as their standard HDD.
As a consumer, this should not make a big difference for you. Most people rule out PCs every six years or so, and this is long before an SSD or HDD fails under normal circumstances. You can also search for software such as CrystalDiskInfo, which will allow you to monitor the status of your units and determine if they are about to fail.
While this should not make a difference for consumers, hard drives win by a technicality in this category.
What the game benchmarks say: SSDs don’t offer higher frame rates
There are many performance advantages when choosing an SSD instead of a traditional mechanical hard drive. The faster read and write times of an SSD help you load large files faster and also reduce boot times both in your operating system and in your computer programs and applications.
However, in terms of in-game performance, an SSD will not provide any significant performance advantage. In the tests, I have done and the benchmarks I have seen, the results show that the difference between a solid-state drive and a hard drive in the games is negligible. The reality is that games that are installed on an SSD will not give you more frames per second than if those games were installed on a hard drive, all other things are the same.
So, if you have an outdated PC for games and planned to upgrade to an SSD because you thought that could help you run your games at a more acceptable frame rate, it would be better to use the money on which you would spend an SSD to get a new one. the graphics card in place.
But, although SSDs will not give you a higher frame rate, that does not mean they are useless for players …
Where SSDs can help Gamers
Although an SSD will not give you a higher frame rate in your favorite games, it will offer players an advantage over traditional hard drives. And that is in boot times.
Games that are installed on an SSD generally start faster than games that are installed on a traditional hard drive. This boot time will vary from one PC to another and from one game to another, but in some cases starting a game from an SSD can take less than half the time it takes to boot it from a hard drive.
In addition, loading times to move from a game menu to the game itself are faster when the game is installed on an SSD than when it is installed on a hard disk. The loading times of a menu in a game are not as important as the difference between the boot times in the game of SSDs and HDDs, but there is also a small advantage for SSDs there.
Therefore, ultimately, while an SSD will not give you an FPS boost, it will significantly decrease the amount of time that passes from the moment you start your game to the moment you are really playing.
Other advantages of SSDs that players will want to take note of
Again, an SSD will not help your PC run today’s best games faster. However, with its longer boot time, your games will load faster. And that means you won’t have to wait that long to play your game.
Another area where SSDs can help is the time it takes for your system to boot. Just as an SSD will help your games load faster, it will also help your system startup faster (as long as your operating system is installed on your SSD).
Therefore, you can further reduce the time you wait to play and use your computer by choosing an SSD instead of a hard drive.
In addition, as most players do other things on their computers in addition to playing, an SSD will provide performance improvements when transferring files and opening other programs and applications. For players who are also video content creators, SSDs can move large video files much faster than video files, so they offer a significant advantage for video editors.
The conclusion is that, while SSDs are not the savior of players with low frame rates, they do offer a good performance boost in all applications and use cases.
Should you put your games on your SSD or HDD?
A common question asked by players who have an SSD and an HDD is whether or not they should install their games on their SSD or on their HDD. And, the answer to that question is, it depends.
Games that are installed in your SSD will load faster than they would if they were installed in your HDD. And, therefore, there is an advantage in installing your games on your SSD instead of your HDD.
Therefore, as long as you have enough available storage space, it definitely makes sense to install your games on an SSD. If you are working with a limited amount of storage on your SSD, the best way to address it would be to prioritize your most played games and used programs and install them on your SSD and then place everything else on your secondary hard drive.
Conclusion: Which one is best for games?
And now, to answer the question you’ve been thinking about since we started: which of these types of storage is best for games? Does the high speed of the SSD make it the best option, or does the incredible storage capacity of the HDD put it on top?
Well, that depends.
If you can only buy one, an SSD will provide a much better overall user experience, but will not allow so much space for your games. If you have a massive Steam library, you can really only include some of your favorite titles in an SSD. Meanwhile, an HDD will be much slower but will allow you to store most, if not all, of your Steam library if you buy a 2TB + hard drive.