SSD VS HDD Gaming Performance

I love to play games and I always wonder what areas of my computer should I focus on to improve the gaming experience. Some people think that buying a super graphics card will make all the difference but for me there is more than one aspect that needs tweaking to ensure good performance like CPU, Memory (RAM), Hard Drive (HDD) and now Solid State Drive (SSD).

Basically, there are two types of Hard Drives; HDD and SSD. HDDs store data on spinning disks while SSDs use microchips, similar to those found in USB drives, for storage.

The big question is, which has a greater effect on your gaming experience – a faster hard drive or a faster graphics card?

Before we look into that let’s have a quick look at the specifications of both HDD and SSD.

Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Specifications

HDDs are manufactured for many years now so it’s not surprising that their specifications are well-established. They have a spinning disk which has to be moved along with the read head in order to access the data. Since the moving parts require more power, they generate more heat. Also, noise comes from vibrations caused by fast movements while accessing data.

Crucial m4 128GB 2.5-Inch

The bigger the hard drive, the higher capacity it can handle but ultimately its performance is limited by spindle rotation speed which might feel slow during loading times in games or when you start up your PC due to heavy load on hard drives. 

Solid State (SSDs) Specifications

SSDs are very much like USB flash drives. Like USBs, SSDs have no moving parts which make them less susceptible to damage due to shock or vibration. They also require less energy because there are no moving components that generate heat or noise. Also, they are more power-efficient.

Samsung 840 PRO Series

However, the downside is that data transfer rate over the SATA interface (which is used in HDDs) is limited at around 550 MBps for the current generation of hard drives and therefore limiting SSD speed performance as well. Moreover, NAND flash memory architecture limits file reads/writing to about 100K IOPS (Input Output Operations Per Second).

YouTube video

Drives tested:

Samsung 840 Series 120 GB SSD  (7 mm height – 2.5 “laptop drive)

Crucial M4 128 GB SSD  (9 mm height – 3.5 ” desktop drive – recommended by web sites when I was searching for a new drive)

How big SSD do I need for gaming?

I was gonna buy the Samsung 840 120 GB model but when I visited my local computer shop they said that it will be too small for gaming and recommended me to buy a bigger drive like Crucial M4 128GB. Problem is, when I went ahead and tested both drives (Samsung 840 120GB vs Crucial M4 128GB) in-game performance benchmarking comparison it turned out that there was practically no difference between them!

Which SSD brand is good for gaming?

In my experience, I found that there is no difference between the brands as long as you stay below 500 GB drive capacity. Performance differences can appear when you go to SSDs with larger storage space. This is because manufacturers have different ways of arranging NAND flash memory chips on their drives. Just look up your favorite brand and check what the other users have to say about it before buying a bigger unit.

Are Samsung SSDs good for gaming?

Samsung 840 Series 120 GB SSD  is one of the most popular drives in the market because it offers high storage space at reasonable prices. It also comes with Samsung Magician software which gives you full control over all aspects of the drive right from installation to optimizing performance for different applications.

Are SSD better than HDD?

As long as your system meets required specifications, an SSD can make a world of difference when it comes to loading times and overall experience while playing games. The only hitch is that they are still more expensive than regular hard drives but if you think about how much time (and money) could be wasted due to slow load times during gameplay then an SSD will definitely pay itself off pretty quickly!

What does an SSD do?

It allows you to access your OS, apps, and games without the need for loading times between them. It does not increase FPS in games or make you play better but it removes barriers that prevent you from using the full power of your hardware while playing games. Normally when an HDD is installed on a gaming computer, there are sequences where the game has to load data from a hard disk causing a delay in gameplay. 

How fast is SSD compared to HDD?

SSD = 100-500MB/s

HDD = 40-100MB/s   ( average )    2x 4TB HDD = 80 MBps    4x 1TB SSD= 400 MBps ( decent mid range SSD’s )

SSD = 5x faster than HDD when loading the game

( based on my experience SSD loads games 2-4 times faster than HDD )

If you are thinking about upgrading your gaming computer to SSD i will recommend you buy at least 120 GB model. This way you will get comparable results in terms of load times without spending too much money. With 120GB model you can install OS, apps and games on it while leaving enough space to backup your important data since most manufacturers offer free cloning software with their drives that makes it really easy to transfer all information from your existing drive to a new one.

How many SSD should I get for gaming?

  1. If you are looking for a speed increase only then 6 GB of RAM is more than enough.
  2. If you are a hardcore gamer and want to get rid of HDD load times then 120 GB SSD will do the trick just fine.  You can always add another drive later on if space becomes an issue.
  3. If you have a bit more money to spare then the 240 GB model might be a better option for you since this way you will have even shorter loading times during gameplay plus twice as much storage for your files and important data. This one should last long enough before making a decision about upgrading to a bigger unit, so keep that in mind when choosing between these two models.

What does SSD stand for?

Solid State Drive ( no moving parts ) Hard Disk Drive ( spinning disks inside )

What are the disadvantages of SSD?

SSDs are expensive.  

Compared to HDD, they have a shorter lifespan. They are much faster than HDDs but their performance drops over time. To make things worse, there is no real way to clean them up and restore lost speed once they start to degrade which could be one of the reasons why Samsung provides free cloning software with all drives sold at retail price.

Can I upgrade my hdd to an ssd?

Yes you can! As long as your motherboard supports SATA III interface then almost any drive should work for you. Just keep in mind that different brands use different types of NAND memory chips on their drives which means that some controller boards will not be able to access full SSD performance.

A good example of this is Samsung 840 Pro which has the world’s best read/write speed at 500 MBps but Crucial M500 with the latest controller can only do 100MBps slower compared to the very first SSD drives released several years ago.

What games are better on SSD?

I wouldn’t recommend buying an SSD just for gaming purposes since even the more expensive models will offer you no difference in actual gameplay experience due to the average FPS range on most titles available! For the majority of players, it would be wiser to invest their money into better GPU, CPU, or more RAM instead of speeding up load times that affect less than 5% of gamers out there. Unstable internet connection could be a different story though considering how often people have issues with that these days.

Even if you are looking for max performance with your games then SSD is still not what you need regarding framerate drops caused by HDD! The only fix here would be adding a second drive to store most of your stuff on it without touching OS partition.