As the announcement of the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X switching to an SSD, you may be asking a few questions. Do games run better on SSDs? What even is an SSD? Does this increase the price of the console? This guide will break down why switching to an SSD for gaming will prove there is no going back to mechanical hard drives.
All gamers have been there. Looking at the loading screen for minutes at a time waiting to get into the next zone. It feels like an eternity and sometimes you can even leave, make a snack, and then come back to see you FINALLY have loaded in. This is because of mechanical hard drives limitations. It only can only read data from the game so fast. The reading of data is one of the main drivers in load times.
Compared to mechanical hard drives, which read data at around 195 megabytes a second, a SATA III solid-state drive will write at 540 megabytes a second. This is already over double the read speeds, meaning we are already cutting the load times by over half. But it gets better.
An M.2 NVME SSD can read data at speeds of up to 3.5 gigabytes a second. That’s almost 18 times more efficient at loading games compared to a typical HDD. These are the type of load times you can come to expect with the new systems, as both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are rocking one in them. Watch this video on video game load time comparisons to see why this is a no brainer.
Another plague of mechanical hard drives is the sudden loss of data that can come from failing parts. HDD’s have a spinning disc within them that houses all the data. This requires moving parts that immediately start to degrade over time the moment the HDD comes into use. This is usually what causes textures to stop loading correctly and some areas becoming inaccessible to you specifically.
SSD’s do not have these same moving parts. They use NAND Flash Cells instead to house your data. This means no motor going back, no disc falling apart and cracking, and less overall worry. Thanks to the DRAM node that is found on most SSD’s, you can quickly access your data on the drive and pull it for your gaming experience.
You have a piece of mind as well knowing when an SSD is on its last leg. An SSD can only have data rewritten so many times before it goes completely redundant and needs to have the data transported over. HDD’s have a technical “infinite” lifespan, but it is a guessing game when that end of life will come.
Game Size Increasing
Games are becoming more detailed, more immersive, and overall more enjoyable through the years thanks to the advancement of technology. This evolution of gaming tech comes with the downfall of video games requiring more data than ever before. Call of Duty: Warzone is well over 100GB’s of data. If you’re stuck with an HDD that can only read that 100GB of data at just around 195MB/s, then you might be stuck waiting to drop for a while.
With the release of ray tracing, Unreal Engine 5, and other new and exciting graphic improvements, your gaming drive needs to be able to handle the future. While HDD’s do have the one up in terms of price per data storage, SSD prices are dropping by the day. What used to cost $500 for a 500GB M.2 NVME just 2 years ago, you can now find a 1TB M.2 NVME for just over $100. These small, form factor solutions just make more sense for your gaming consoles.
Thanks to the durability of SSD, gaming with friends on the go can now be made easier. Unfortunately, HDD’s were not meant for road trips and bumpy roads due to their moving parts. Meaning that every time you unplugged your PC or console to bring it to a friend’s house, you were putting that machine in danger.
But SSDs are motionless. The only time they truly move is when you pick it up and move it somewhere else. M.2 NVME SSDs also come with the benefit of plugging straight into the motherboard rather than being attached through a separate cable. This saves space in the PC and console. That extra space can then be used to add protection and thermal cooling to ensure that your console and PC is running at peak performance.
Do Games Run Better on SSDs? Yes.
There is no question on ‘if’ gaming moves completely to SSDs, but rather ‘when’. The increase in gaming size and the form factor shape of a solid-state drive make it too appealing and too practical to ever consider switching back to a mechanical hard drive. An HDD still has its place in bulk storage, like holding your lesser played games or storing pictures and documents that are rarely looked at. But the shift to an SSD is here and the gaming community is ready.