When it comes to PC gaming, performance is everything. There are few other uses for a computer's hard drive, RAM and processor that will be as taxing as running a high-end game on high settings.
In the battle for performance, users continuously debate the merits of SSD vs HDD for gaming, with heating arguments made for both sides.
This means that you need to utilize the best equipment available if you are committed to running the most demanding games as they were intended to be seen by their designers.
Although many of the components of a gaming PC are fixed, one of the key decisions you will have to make involves choosing the type of hard drive to use.
A landscape once dominated by hard disk drives (HDDs) has now been challenged by the new kid in town. Once extremely expensive, solid-state drives (SSDs) are now a viable alternative for your gaming computer.
If you would like to learn all about the advantages and disadvantages of SSD vs HDD for gaming before making your purchasing decision, please continue reading this article.
SSD vs HDD for Gaming: What Are They?
Before we get into the advantages and disadvantages, it makes sense to explain what SSDs and HDDs actually are, as this will provide some useful context into how they differ.
HDDs are the original memory solutions used for computers, laptops and other devices for the storage of large files and operating system data. Even to this day, the vast majority of digital devices sold use HDDs for their storage.
Within an HDD, a physical arm spins up, reading, writing and deleting data onto a 'platter'. This platter is divided into millions of smaller segments.
When you request a specific piece of information, the arm inside the HDD must locate it, which may take some time, depending on the spec of the hard drive.
SSDs, on the other hand, do not have any moving parts inside of them. An SSD can be thought of as being similar to your computers RAM (random access memory).
This type of memory is called flash memory. The key difference between an SSD and RAM is that the SSD can retain so much more memory than the RAM, and it will not be wiped clean like RAM after shutdown.
But Why Does All This Matter?
The result of these different types of memory is that there are some significant performance differences between the HDDs and SSDs.
We will go through these now, and the impact they will have on your gaming experience.
Perhaps one of the areas where SSDs show their biggest advantage compared to their older alternatives is in the sheer speed of how applications run.
Because all of the memory is available instantaneously, and without the need to spin up as HDDs do, a computer that uses an SSD will load programs and run its operating system at a significantly higher speed.
What does this mean in practical terms? You can expect your computer to go from powered down to the home screen within seconds, whereas this can take up to a minute for a slower computer using an HDD.
When running powerful applications, like games and photo editing software, the difference in speed becomes even more obvious. Compared to a traditional hard drive, a game that is installed on the SSD of a computer can boot in half the time.
Staring at loading screens is one of the worst parts of gaming. Luckily, with the use of an SSD, they will largely become a thing of the past.
You may be thinking that installing an SSD will help your games to run higher framerates, but this is not entirely true.
The number of frames per second (FPS) your PC can achieve actually comes down to the graphics card installed within the computer.
A graphics card is considered to be the heart of a gaming computer. It has its own memory set and deals with the main work of running the graphical elements of the games.
We'll call this category a draw, though it is important to squash the myth that hard drives impact on the framerate of a game.
For more information about graphics cards, and which one to choose, click here.
Because SSDs do not have any moving parts, they are less prone to breakdowns than hard drives are. The mechanical parts within hard drives can become worn out over years of hard use, leading to failures.
The loss of a hard drive can be a horrible feeling. Losing old family photos, important documents, and save data from your games is really something to be avoided at all costs.
This means that SSDs are a safer choice in this regard, as there is less that can go wrong with them.
This is an area where hard drives vastly outperform SSDs. You will notice that in our shop, most of the SSDs available on the market do not exceed 1TB in size.
Conversely, there are HDDs available which boast up to 10TBs of storage capacity.
This comes down to the different technologies as well as the relative age difference. HDDs have been available for decades, meaning the technology has had a lot more time to evolve.
It will take some time before solid-state drives are able to catch up, however.
Again, because they are so much newer, solid-state drives tend to be more expensive than HDDs. The technology is more advanced and is still in a fairly early phase of adoption.
This means that you can expect to pay more money for a smaller capacity SSD than you would for a much larger HDD.
It's About Personal Choice
There are a number of compelling reasons why you should purchase an SSD. They will make your computer start and load extremely quickly, which is a major advantage.
However, you should not completely write of HDDs just yet. You must understand that when it comes to choosing either SSD vs HDD for gaming, you must accept a compromise regardless of which decision you make.
Whether the compromise is the performance, storage capacity, or cost is something that you will have to decide.
For more insightful for content please check out our blog in the coming weeks.