SSD or SSHD; Which is the Best for You?

The hard disk drive (HDD) has been a staple in computers and laptops for decades, but recently, solid state drives (SSDs) have become more and more prevalent. But a third has entered the mix – the solid state hybrid drive (SSHD). But are they really all that? And should you settle for one over an SSD?

Solid state storage has soared over recent years, and it isn’t hard to see why – it has faster read/write speeds and is compact. But the storage capacity and cost-per-gigabyte is lagging way behind the old fashioned mechanical hard disk drive. However, what if you could take the cost-effectiveness of the hard disk drive, and upgrade it with the speed of a solid state drive. Well, solid state hybrid drives are doing just that. In recent years, hard drive manufacturers like Seagate have started to incorporate solid state storage within the traditional mechanical hard disk drive. But how do they work in practice?

If you’ve been considering upgrading your hard disk drive with something a bit punchier, you may have come across the term solid state hybrid drive (SSHD). Coined by Seagate in a marketing ploy to replace what were previously simply called “hybrid drives”, SSHDs combine a traditional mechanical hard disk drives with a small amount of flash storage. Seagate’s tagline is "SSD Performance. HDD Capacity. Affordable Price". But are all of these true?

The way Seagate’s solid state hybrid drives work - notice the “solid state” taking centre stage, with “hard disk” nowhere to be found – is integrating a small amount of NAND flash memory with a traditional, mechanical hard disk drive. Typically, it’s around 8GB of NAND flash integrated with the hard disk drive.

So what should you go for, a solid state drive (SSD) or a solid state hybrid drive (SSHD)? It really depends on what type of machine you’re running. If you have a laptop, it’s likely going to have limited room. Make sure you check the size of your SSHD before you buy it! If you want the optimum performance, you should definitely opt for an SSD or an SSHD. Alternatively, if you’re strapped for cash or speed isn’t an issue, you could always go with a good old-fashioned mechanical hard disk drive (HDD). SSDs are way pricier in terms of cost-per-gigabyte, and while you can now get SSDs with capacities into the terabytes, they’ll cost you hundreds. A 1TB HDD, on the other hand, will barely cost you £50.

But what if you have a PC? Surely, with all that room, you can fit one of these cutting-edge new solid state hybrid drives in? Well, yes you can, but do you need to? PC cases tend to have room for multiple hard disk drives, and besides, many newer PCs tend to have an SSD built in alongside their HDD. What’s more, it’s not difficult for extra solid state storage to be added. Many users store their Windows operating system on an SSD, with key programs so they load swiftly, and use the HDD to store their documents and media files like photos, music and videos.

The one thing the SSHD does have going for it, however, is that it’s simply a case of “plug and go”. But that’s about it. Ultimately, we believe it’s better off sticking to what you know; an HDD, an SSD, or both.

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