Head to head: SSD vs. HDD
I decided to test two popular 2.5-in. laptop drives — a Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB HDD and an OCZ Vertex Series SATA II SSD — to determine the advantages each offers. I tested their impact on battery life, the read and write speeds, cold boot-ups and restarts, and CPU utilization. I briefly considered pitting the SSD against a higher-end, 10,000-rpm Western Digital VelociRaptor as the test unit for the hard disk drive or using the 2.5-in Intel X25-E for the solid-state drive unit. The VelociRaptor yielded a 105MB/sec average sequential read rate in Computerworld’s testing and the X25-E blew by everything with a 250MB/sec peak read rate. But I wanted to evaluate something more accessible price-wise for the average consumer, someone who generally wouldn’t normally consider a top-end drive for his or her laptop or desktop.

Price: To put it bluntly, SSDs are very expensive in terms of dollar per GB. For the same capacity and form factor 1TB internal 2.5-inch drive, you’ll pay about $75 for an HDD, but as of this writing, an SSD is a whopping $600. That translates into eight-cents-per-GB for the HDD and 60 cents per GB for the SSD. Other capacities are slightly more affordable (250 to 256GB: $150 SSD, $50 HDD), but you get the idea. Since HDDs are older, more established technologies, they will remain less expensive for the near future. Those extra hundreds may push your system price over budget.

Speed: This is where SSDs shine. An SSD-equipped PC will boot in seconds, certainly under a minute. A hard drive requires time to speed up to operating specs, and will continue to be slower than an SSD during normal operation. A PC or Mac with an SSD boots faster, launches apps faster, and has higher overall performance. Witness the higher PCMark scores on laptops and desktops with SSD drives, plus the much higher scores and transfer times for external SSDs vs. HDDs. Whether it’s for fun, school, or business, the extra speed may be the difference between finishing on time or failing.

The SSD drive has no moving parts. It uses flash memory to store data, which provides better performance and reliability over a HDD.

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