Should You Use an SSD or HDD for Gaming?

The price of SSD’s continues to drop by the day. What used to cost around $500 dollars for a 500GB solid-state drive from Samsung just 3 years ago, you can now quickly order on Amazon for a 1TB at only $130. Thus the age-old question gets new light, should you use an SSD or HDD for gaming? Well, that depends on the type of gamer you are. Let’s take a look at a few factors to consider:

Price Point

The most important feature in anyone’s mind is the price point. While SSD’s are continuing to fall, they still do not come close to what an HDD has to offer. A decent 2TB HDD from Seagate will run you just about $55 for 7200 RPM. While a 2TB SSD from Seagate will run you closer to $230. So the price per data, HDD takes this round. But if money is not of concern, then your performance is about to amplify with an SSD.

Performance

Performance is indisputable. SSD will always reign supreme over an HDD thanks to its read and write speeds. My Samsung 970 EVO 500GB is able to out read and write data compared to my older Seagate 2TB HDD by 10 times the speed. It cut my load and boot time on Destiny 2 from 2 minutes down to 15 seconds. Bringing it down to ⅛ of the original speeds.

And this is a factor in overall boot times as well for my Windows system. When I was running my operating system on my HDD, the boot times sat at around 5 minutes and 45 seconds just to get to my desktop. After moving the system to my SSD, I saw that boot time drop to just 45 seconds and 1 minute and 15 seconds to get to my first Youtube page.

Longevity

Beyond performance, an SSD will typically outlive its mechanical sibling. An HDD has an 80% chance of having a 4-year lifespan and continues to degrade past that. While there are still HDD’s that run after 30 or so years, these are extremely few and far between. Meaning that you are looking to have to replace your HDD after 5 years or so, so long as you’re one of the 80% that make it that far.

Now comparing that to an SSD, you can expect a typical SSD to work around 10 years without failing or dealing with data loss thanks to its lack of moving parts. An SSD is more likely to succumb to redundancy rather than failing and you can expect to get your money’s worth. So while you may get the short term budget option of an HDD, in the long run, an SSD is a safer option for your data.

Storage

Are you someone like me that only plays one to two games at a time? If so, then an SSD is a better option for you. Since an SSD does not have as much storage space as an HDD, it makes sense if you’re more of a casual gamer that likes to focus on single player games or even a multiplayer game or two. And rewriting data on an SSD does not make the same impact on the drive compared to HDDs which do suffer from disk issues due to rewriting data.

But maybe you’re a gamer that enjoys switching between 10 plus games at any given moment. Jumping between COD: Warzone, which takes up well over 100GB, into Destiny 2 to complete some raids with friends, and then into Star Wars: Fallen Order for a end of day single player game. If you are, an HDD is going to be a much better option. The pure storage of an HDD, like an 8TB Seagate which only costs $160, is going to be much better off. You will have any game you could even need to download. Keep in mind, HDD’s don’t like to rewrite data and can decrease the lifespan by constantly writing and deleting data.

Space in PC

A big consideration is the practical size of HDDs versus SSDs. A typical HDD will run at 3.5 inches, with some variations that come at 2.5 inches. There is limited space in a PC case for these types of drives and they also require a mounting bracket. While you could install the hard drive in a DIY manner, the improper securing of an HDD can lead to vibration damage to the moving parts inside.

An SSD comes in two different portions, a normal SATA drive which comes in at 2.5 inches and an M.2 NVME that plugs straight into the motherboard and is usually only 80 millimeters long. Both do not have any moving parts and do not require any mounting brackets. Just a screw or two and you’re good to do. This allows you to save space in the case and can even let you cable manage to a much greater degree, leading to a much neater looking case.

Deciding on SSDs or HDDS for Gaming in the Coming Years

As the future of gaming evolves, so too does the need for more space on a storage drive. What used to be a single game disk that contained the entirety of a game, has evolved in 10s of 100s of GBs of data and updates. The maps are getting bigger, the data more complex, and the game more immersive. Soon enough the data could be getting into the terabytes as the Xbox Series X and PS5 have pushed out some of the highest end graphics we have ever seen. And we know that the PC gaming world will rise to meet the challenge.

At the end of the day, if you’re a casual gamer looking for speed and performance, an SSD is your best bet. The high speeds, longevity, and compact style make it perfect for almost casual and on the go gamers. If you’re hardcore and love to game on the daily for hours, nothing can beat the storage space that an HDD delivers.

However, with the increase in cloud gaming and personal streaming, we might never even need hard drives in the future. Only time will tell as tech continues to evolve and companies deliver new and exciting technologies.

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