You're building or upgrading your PC, and you get to the business of storage. What should you go for?
Building a PC can be hard enough before you get as far as thinking about what storage you're going to have inside it. But when you do get there, it's one of the most important parts of the build and a crucial thing to get right.
What's the difference between the two?
In its simplest form, an SSD is flash storage and has no moving parts whatsoever. As a result, they're smaller and take up less space in a PC case, in some cases even mounting directly to the motherboard. SSD storage is much faster than its HDD equivalent.
HDD storage is made up of magnetic tape and has mechanical parts inside. They're larger than SSDs and much slower to read and write.
Why use an SSD?
If you're building a PC for any purpose, you're going to want speed. If you only have HDD storage in your machine, then speed isn't something coming your way. Windows will take longer to boot up, applications will take longer to load, files will take longer to open and save.
The beauty of an SSD is that this waiting time is dramatically reduced, even on cheaper drives, when compared to HDD. Anything you load on it will perform actions much quicker.
One of the best uses for an SSD in a PC is as a boot drive. This means installing a small-ish capacity drive on which your Windows 10 operating system will live and boot up from every day. By doing this, your PC will boot up and be ready to go in a flash. You can also put your most frequently used software on there for a similar effect.
The lifespan of an SSD isn't as lengthy as that of a HDD, but you can certainly use an SSD as your only drive in a PC. Many laptops only have SSD storage, for example. You're not looking at a short-term life, but compared to HDD storage it is reduced. SSDs don't handle being written to as well over time, but a boot drive wouldn't suffer this.
SSD prices have come down a lot in recent times, too, with the price per gigabyte much lower than it once was. Large capacity drives are still expensive, as are the highest performing ones, but generally speaking, they're more affordable than ever.
Why use a HDD?
The best case for HDD is mass storage. This type of drive is cheaper than SSD and available in some quite massive sizes. Have a lot of games or media to keep on your PC? No problem, you can get one or more drives over 1TB in size for a fraction of the cost of their SSD equivalents.
PC cases usually have space for more than one drive, meaning you can stack up as much mass storage as you can stash and your budget will allow.
Price per gigabyte is still much less than SSDs, and large capacity drives won't take all your money. An efficient system would have an SSD to boot Windows from and one or more HDDs for mass storage.
The bottom line
Our ultimate recommendation is to opt for a mixed system with HDD mass storage and an SSD boot drive for your Windows 10 install. This way you'll get a balance of price, performance, and space, and you'll have a well-rounded machine for all occasions.
If you've any tips to share, be sure to jump into the comments below!