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How Do I Choose Between Classic HDD or SSD Disk

March 05, 2013

 classic HDD and SSD hard drives

As everything in information technology speeds up, performance of hard disc drives (HDD) as data storage also needs to be quicker. The faster CPUs, graphics cards and RAMs are often tightly interconnected and all their data typically stored on the HDD.

The two basic types of hard disk drives are:

  • SATA – The first one commonly used is the classic ATA hard drives, and the faster SATA interface, which was improved and developed to SATA II and SATA III versions. These latter two are really fast. For example, SATA revision 3.0 (SATA 6 Gbit/s) provides peak throughput of about 600 MB/s (Megabytes per second).
  • SDD - The second type is the SSD data storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently. Think of SSD as a connected memory module that can keep data even if the power is off. There are no moving mechanical components.

It is important to understand that SATA is not a type of hard drive but a data transfer interface and this interface should be used for both types of HDDs.

Additionally, there are hybrid drives, which combine the features of SSD and HDD in the same unit. Hybrids contain a large hard disk and an SSD cache to improve performance of frequently accessed data. These devices may offer near-SSD performance for many applications.

This article focuses on classic HDD and SSD hard drives with information about both storages and what you should consider if want to buy a fast hard drive.

Comparing classic HDD (SATA III) and SSD:

For starters, if a fast hard drive is the goal, be sure all components in your computer are top speed so they are able to process the data writing and reading speed. It is strongly recommended to use the latest drivers and firmware, especially for SSD.

Another important point about SSD is that there are three types, the slowest is TLC, then MLC and the fastest and most expensive is SLC. Comparisons used in this article were taken from data tests using the high-end classic HDDs and SLC SSDs.

  1. Data reading and writing – Real speed will be different in each application because it depends on how effective the software works with the storage. But, if we compare average speed for writing and reading data, the SSD is about two times faster. In some cases, like during boot up or reading small files, SSD is even three times faster.
  2. Space – A large capacity hard drive for storing photos, movies, etc., should definitely eliminate SSDs from your selection. If hundreds of gigabytes are required, definitely choose the classic HDD.
  3. Price – Another parameter that speaks for classic HDD is price. SSD drives are about three times more expensive than classic HDDs.
  4. Multimedia and Processor Arithmetic – Benchmarks focused on the (W)MMX(2), SSE(2/3/4), AVX processor units and ALU and FPU processor units benchmarks were done with almost identical results. But for overall computer and system performance benchmarks, SSDs had better results.
  5. Power consumption – SSDs definitely have lower power consumption (typically 2 watts in load and 1/10 in standby mode), which might be a very important parameter for laptops.
  6. Weight and Vibration – This information is probably important only for laptop users. The SSDs are generally lighter and don’t suffer from errors if shaken during the reading or writing.
  7. Noise If using SSDs in a laptop, noise may be another factor to consider. Of course, it is good to have a silent hard drive in a PC as well, especially if building a silent computer. When it comes to noise, SSDs are the winners. They are almost 100% silent.


Most people think the only benefit from a better hard drive is faster access times. The truth is with a faster hard drive, the entire system will perform much better overall. While it might not be that significant of a difference, there still is one. On the other hand, SSDs cost about three times more and have less data space.

Example of two common discs and their prices*:

Intel® 480 GB SSD 520 Series 2.5" SATA III Price: $1150
Seagate® Constellation.2 1TB 2.5'' SATA III Price: $400
Seagate® Constellation ES 3TB enterprise 3.5" SATA III Price: $500


*prices subject to changes based on location, availability, etc.

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