Most people already know that solid-state drives (SSD) are faster than hard disk drives (HDD), and the consistent drops in SSD prices have seen users switch to SSDs.
However, a grey area is regarding gaming. Are SSDs only better at transfers? Do the speed and performance differences matter in gaming? Before we delve right into SSD vs HDD for gaming, let us look at what they are and what makes them different.
SSD vs. HDD for Gaming: Geeky Stuff
An HDD (or Hard-Disk-Drive) is an electro-mechanical storage device used to store and retrieve information. It has one or more rotating disks coated with magnetic material arranged on a moving actuator arm. This arm reads data from it and writes data to it magnetically. The HDD is kind of like a turntable.
An SSD (Solid State Drive), on the other hand, is a non-volatile storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies to store persistent data on solid-state flash memory.
HDDs have moving parts that spin and can lead to mechanical breakdown while SSDs write and read data to flash memory chips that are interconnected. As a result, SSDs are more reliable and generally faster than HDDs because they don’t have mechanical and moving parts.
What differences stick out?
Knowing how both drives work, playing games from an SSD vs HDD actually makes a difference in the performance of the game. This difference can be clearly noticed in games like Grand Theft Auto that constantly stream in new models and everything on the map especially when driving fast through a city.
Unlike with HDDs, the game will be faster on an SSD as files can be accessed quicker and loaded onto the RAM. However, there’s no in-game performance advantage on an SSD (like a much higher FPS). The main difference is that files are loaded faster on SSDs than on HDDs.
A difference you will notice is in the boot times in SSD vs HDD for gaming, as well as similar processes like the time to load menus and in-game videos like a story mode.
On SSDs, the load time for cold boot (load time when the game is played the first time) is always faster than on the HDD by at least 30 seconds and warm boot (load time after the first time) by a significant amount of time.
Although the load time for the menus of a game run on a system on SSD is not much faster than that of the HDD, the difference is noticeable. An SSD is not going to help run today’s game faster, like having a better experience playing games; it will only help your games load more quickly because of its boot times.
SSD vs HDD for gaming: Verdict
So, is the SSD a beacon of light for gamers experiencing low frame rates on old and aging computers? The answer is no. SSDs don’t improve the gaming experience itself; it only reduces the boot and load times.
Overall, SSDs offer a significant improvement when it comes to gaming compared to HDDs. For gamers that do other things than play games; game creators, for instance, an SSD will provide a performance boost in transferring files and launching game engines. However, on demanding games like Unity 3D, gamers will see a clear difference when running them on SSD instead of HDD.
When it comes to SSD vs HDD, one common question is, “Should I put my games on an SSD instead of an HDD?” Well that depends. The difference between an SSD and an HDD is not so much. Installing your games on an SSD, you will experience fast boot times compared to the HDD, and this is the most significant advantage.
Another advantage is the lower power consumption of SSDs. On solid-state drives, your games will not take much toll on the battery of your computer because files and resources can be accessed quickly, unlike on an HDD. Many games today with incredible model graphic quality can take up to 70 GB in file size.
For gamers on a budget, it is not all rosy for SSDs. Hard disks cost significantly less than SSDs per gigabyte, and so, if you need huge storage space, you may be better off sticking to an HDD. However, if you don’t mind the cost and space, it totally makes sense to install your games on an SSD.
Looking at the comparison of SSD and HDD in the gaming field, although you won’t get higher framerates on an SSD, it is worth using this type of storage.
If you are looking to upgrade your computer to a budget-friendly one, using an SSD might not be the best option. However, if you have a moderate budget or you wouldn’t mind the cost, an SSD would be the right choice.
To maximize your budget, you can pair an SSD with an HDD on the same computer, so you take advantage of all the perks of both drive types – the affordable and larger storage of the HDD and the performance levels of the SSD.