A while back, we got a laptop which was still used for all of our editing, up until around the last eight months. When we got it, it came with a traditional one-terabyte mechanical hard drive. A very big chunk of storage. It's not very fast and has kind of been trudging along, so the only clear solution was to go online and see what we can do to improve the performance.

SSDs were a very common solution that we saw online, so we decided to pick one up. And just for our own enjoyment, too.

Of course, we thought it only right to do a rundown of the performance between SSD vs HDD. The former being the newcomer in the pantheon of computer hardware drives and the former being the comfortable staple option, we just had to find out which one would come out on top.

Regardless of the outcome, what we did know was that HDD had already been around for quite some time now, and the possibility of SDD cottoning on to those that were unfamiliar with it (assuming it was the superior option after testing) did not mean everyone would simply get themselves up to speed immediately.

We benchmark-tested by opening programs, booting up Windows before and after, and we recorded all the results. We did a whole testing experiment (because we’re obsessed with testing things). We thought it'd be cool to share the results today and give you guys an idea of how much SSDs make an improvement.

Starting Out Tests For SSD VS HDD


Let's begin with booting up Windows. The hard drive took 38 seconds to fully boot up Windows, whereas the SSD took just 9 seconds. Shutting down Windows took 32 seconds in the hard drive and 15 seconds on the SSD, so just booting up and shutting down alone reveals a huge performance gain.

Next, we opened Chrome, iTunes, and Tor two times, and the second time opened faster on both devices, since Windows optimized opening the program from the first time it booted up.

We thought the biggest things to point out was Chrome and iTunes the first time. It's about 25 seconds on Chrome on the hard drive and less than 5 seconds on the SSD.

One fifth of the time. There's an even bigger gap for iTunes. Opening iTunes for the first time took 32 seconds on the hard drive and a mere 5 seconds on the solid-state drive.

That's a crazy improvement. Tor still showed improvements but not quite as large as Chrome and iTunes. Next, we tested opening Adobe Photoshop and Sony Vegas Pro. Adobe Photoshop did speed up a little bit, but the big thing here is going to be opening Sony Vegas the very first time. It goes from around 70 seconds all the way down to 15 seconds.

It is so much faster on the SSD to open up Sony Vegas, and that carries over to the whole editing process as well. So as you can see, opening programs, booting up Windows, and shutting down Windows saw huge improvements on SSD.

But the other part of having SSD is transferring files, reading, and writing. So here's the last set of benchmarks.

Transferring a simple .iso file from one location to the other saw huge benefits from over 140 seconds down to less than 20 on the SSD. Even bigger over on the .zip file extraction, being over 260 seconds on the traditional hard drive down to a little less than 60 seconds on the SSD.

Both crazy huge improvements. However, compressing a .zip file showed actually around the same time. So the reason that compression times are around the same is that the process is very CPU-intensive and not very reliant on hard drive speed.

This means you're not going to see an improvement with compressing files, but everywhere else, you'll see huge improvements in terms of file transfers. Those are all the benchmarks. To summarize all that, as a whole, the SSD will greatly improve the performance of your computer in nearly every task. It is by far the best, cheapest, and easiest upgrade to do on your computer.

Another thing people say is that solid-state drives are much more expensive than traditional hard drives and it's true – they are more expensive, but the prices have gone down so much to the point where you can pick up a 500GB SSD for $100 if you really look out for one.

What Is The Best SSD To Buy?


The biggest bottleneck in your computer, aside from your internet connection, is probably storage, as disk drives usually function and communicate more slowly than anything else inside a computer.

So it should come as no surprise that many people point out that adding an SSD is often the single best upgrade for making your machine feel faster. Unlike a mechanical hard drive and SSD's complete lack of moving parts, it can both access and write data much more quickly.

But even though nearly any widely available consumer-grade SSD will be a major upgrade over a spinning HDD, there can be a lot of noticeable variation in how different models perform.

And unlike trying to research what graphics card to buy, it isn't hard to look at how many FPS a card will give you in popular games that you play. Both advertised performance numbers and benchmark results for SSDs can be a little bit hard to decipher.

Samsung 860 EVO 500GB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-76E500B/AM)
  • Innovative V-Nand Technology: Powered by Samsung V-NAND Technology, the 860 EVO SSD offers optimized performance for...
  • Enhanced read write speeds: Sequential read and write performance levels of up to 550MB/s and 520MB/s, respectively

So how are you supposed to know what's important? Today, we're going to look at how to understand specs and benchmarks. It's probably no surprise that the numbers that SSD manufacturers trumpet the most often don't have a ton of relevance to what real-world performance is going to be like.

Usually, sequential, read and write performance, hence how fast an SSD can read or write a continuous large file all in one place on the drive, is listed right at the top of the spec sheet with higher-end drives commonly showing transfer rates above 500 megabytes per second.

But while those numbers do matter, if you're transferring lots of data, one such is if you're a video production company and you transfer a lot of video files around, what often matters more for everyday use is 4k performance.

This is the measure of how quickly an SSD can deal with much smaller chunks of data, stored in random locations all over the drive, which is important because most things that the average user does on a daily basis, whether it's web browsing or running a background antivirus scan, or saving a Word document, require accessing small pieces of data all over the place, rather than large continuous chunks of data.

Performance can also be indicated in IOPS, instead of megabytes per second. This stands for inputs and outputs per second and is a measure of how quickly a drive can deal with read or write requests. Again, unless you're using your SSD mostly for playing that copy-paste game, it's a good idea to check and compare IOPS as it relates to 4k performance.

Another thing to watch out for if you're looking at benchmark results is whether the test was done with compressible or incompressible data. Typically, the compressible result is more important, depending on workload, since many SSDs actually do compress numerous types of commonly used data documents to operating system files in order to keep the SSD from wearing out too quickly and to make it perform better.

Incompressible data, though, does occur in the real world, such as movies and music, which have been compressed already into formats like MP4 or MP3.

So if most of what you're doing is working with uncompressible data, then the uncompressed benchmarks will give you a better idea of what to expect and vice versa. But aside from pure speed, it's also a good idea to do a little bit of research to find out what kind of longevity to expect from an SSD.

Unlike a hard drive, which has magnetic plodders that can be written to, as long as the moving parts don't wear out – that's what we will say.

The memory cells in SSDs can only be written to so many times. Although most modern SSD can handle at least several hundred terabytes of writes before a kick in the bucket, with higher-end models being able to last a fair bit longer.

It can be relevant if you're planning to use your drive for more than a few years, especially as performance will start to degrade over time as the memory cells wear out. A number of websites have done independent testing of just how many write cycles popular SSD models can handle.

Have a look at those, if you want something that will soldier on for a long time. I hope this helps you then in your quest for the perfect SSD. Whether you're building a new system or just trying to breathe some life into an old one.

Just make sure that you temper your expectations because an SSD will make the system feel more responsive, but it won't make that old Packard Bell in the attic able to handle “Crysis 3.”

Which Should You Choose – SSD Or HDD

Both SSD and HDD have their uses. HDD has been the predominant type of hard drive for a long time, and the technology powering it has been used for countless machines for storing and accessing data. However, just like most things, advances are made, and better technology emerges after some time.

That’s not to say that HDD technology is completely useless, or that having a machine with an HDD makes your computer a relic from a bygone age. But rather, modern tasks that are undertaken with HDD drives tend to be a lot slower, and the most recent computers are equipped with SSD drives in order to promote more stable, speedy, and reliable usage when computing, among other benefits.

When choosing a computer however, the performance and efficiency it affords you is down to much more than the hard drive you’ll find inside of it. Criteria such as the computer’s RAM, active memory, and also the intensity of the programs you’re running will have a big effect on how it performs.

SSD technology is currently a staple in computing and it’s not difficult to see why. Going with SSD most certainly is the most logical option for most people buying a computer nowadays, if not the most obvious for some.

Last update on 2022-03-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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