Hard disk drives (HDD) are increasingly irrelevant in sub-256GB devices according to SanDisk in a recent article.
The old metric of more RAM – 4 went to 8 went to 16GB+ – to give performance, was also demolished by faster SSDs that negated performance gains of extra RAM for typical users.
And while HDD makers kept increasing the size of the hard disks to offer more bang for buck – 500GB to 1TB+ – research shows that the average corporate user seldom stores more than 200GB - 97% of users surveyed use less than 200GB and 55% of those less than 100GB.
Sure, that is for corporate users who may have a server but similar studies show home users typically have about 50-100GB stored on top of the operating system – and make extensive use of external USB flash backup and increasing use of cloud or home network attached storage like WD’s MyCloud.
Research company Gartner noted that SSD had all but replaced HDD in sub-256GB computer devices and with NAND flash prices dropping the next step would be to see this trend in sub-500GB devices.
SanDisk tested using PCMark on performance differences between i5 to i7, 4GB to 8GB and HDD to SSD. The results below show that the major performance difference is via an SSD upgrade.
SanDisk claims that it would be better to drop back on RAM and or processor and add an SDD than add more RAM to a HDD equipped device.
HDD manufacturers have pretty much hit the lowest price point – the physical hardware costs cannot go lower – so capacity has to increase. “The sub-$40 zone for HDDs is impenetrable,” reports SanDIsk.
What this means if that we are likely to see is base computing devices coming with SSD and a reversion to USB 3.0 or USB-C external HDDs for cheap storage.
The 500GB HDD in my i7, 4GB, laptop suddenly and catastrophically died after four years so I replaced it with a 256GB SSD costing around A$100 (compared to a 500GB HDD at $50) and wow – what a difference it made. Boot-up times reduced from minutes to seconds (when HDD and memory use stabilises), and the speed of reading and writing files reduced, particularly when copying files to and from USB flash storage.
Gone are the hoary old issues that SSD does not last as long or is too expensive. I venture that if the laptop lasts another four years that the SSD will still be fine.