In the past choosing a hard drive was straight forward as there were not a lot of options out there, today the things are a little different. So let’s start with a few tips how to choose the perfect hard drive for you.
- Usually, around 1TB of storage is enough for everything for the casual user.
- If you want to store a lot of movies and games, go for 2TB and expand if needed.
- You should not worry too much about storage space if you’re building a desktop PC as it is easily expandable.
- Don’t look for options under 750GB as hard drives are pretty cheap and the price difference is only a few bucks.
- The best option is a combination of SSD and Mechanical drive.
- You can speed up an old PC a lot by adding an SSD to it.
Today users have a few storage options to choose from. We’re not going to look at RAIDs and NAS, instead, we’ll focus on more common options that work the best for most users. Here they come …
SSD + Mechanical Hard Drive (around 130$)
The most popular storage option today that will work the best for most users is combining an SSD and a mechanical drive. This option provides good speed and big storage capacity for all your media and games. The usual cost of this option is around 130$, 40$ for a 1TB mechanical drive and around 90$ for a 250GB SSD. Here are the things you need to know about this one:
- Place your OS and everyday software on the SSD. This provides a very good speed for your PC’s daily tasks and the hard drive won’t be a weak part anymore.
- Get an SSD with at least 240GB storage – it will be enough for your OS and the software that you need running at full speed. Don’t store your media and games on the SSD, because you will end up without free space very soon. Usually, 120GB is enough for the OS and some software, but you will be on the edge of free space and it’s not cool to worry about everything you install on your SSD.
- Get a mechanical drive as your secondary storage and store all your media and games on it. A 7200RPM drive is preferred, but even 5400RPM will do the job.
Mechanical Drive Only (40$)
This is the cheapest option we’ll look at – a 1TB drive costs only 40$, but it’s one of the worst options too. It is not recommended as the hard drive, in this case, will be the slowest part in your PC and will be a bottleneck for some tasks. If you’re using your PC only for media and surfing the web it’s ok, but still, there are better options without paying much more.
Mechanical Drive – Hybrid (80-100$)
Hybrid mechanical drives are still worse option than using an SSD, but they’re not bad if you don’t have space (in a laptop for example) or if you want to save a few dollars. For around 80$ you can get a 1TB hybrid drive which will be faster than a regular mechanical drive and won’t be a big bottleneck in your PC. Still, an SSD is better, but hybrid drives provide decent performance for their cost and have good capacity compared to SSD’s performance/price ratio.
SSD’s are the perfect drive options when it comes to speed and capacity options, but their prices are quite high when you want bigger capacity.
- A workstation PC will be ok with a 240GB drive, but you won’t fit your games and media on such drive.
- For a normal home PC with some media and games, you’ll need at least 1TB of storage and you’ll have to pay around 300$ for such SSD. Probably it’s not worth it as you don’t need a fast hard drive for your media and most games don’t need it either. Our recommendation is to save 170$ and get a 240GB SSD + mechanical drive.
Intel has developed an M.2 socket chip that acts as an HDD cache and stores the most frequently used information on itself. This option can be used with a mechanical disk in order to speed it up. The technology is new and older motherboards don’t support it and also you’ll need a 7th gen Intel CPU. It’s a bit weird option to get more out of your drives, but if you have a lot of storage, but slow HDD’s you can definitely speed them up with this. Note that this will accelerate only your primary boot drive!
NVMe SSD drives
We won’t go into details here, let’s just point out the basics – NVMe is a protocol which supports very high speeds and manufacturers are now producing hard drives which can use it. Their speeds are around 1500MB/s write and over 2000MB/s read which is 3-5 times faster than normal SSD’s. The difference on paper seems very big, but in the reality, you won’t feel it so much. Those drives are pretty expensive and not every motherboard supports such drives – for example a 240GB NVMe drive costs 130$ which is around 40$ more than normal SSD. Probably soon those drives will become more popular, but only time will tell.