What to Buy: SSD Vs. Hybrid Drives

As a computer user who is more toward the enthusiast side of things, it’s safe to say that I’ve installed and used my fair share of hard drives before. And when building a computer, hard drives might be the last thing you are thinking about when ordering parts. It used to be you ordered whichever drive had the highest RPM, but now you have a lot more variables to consider, and the traditional HDD is slowly going away. One of the main choices nowadays is between SSD and hybrid, and this choice has become even more difficult as the performance gap between the two has shortened, with some hybrid drives booting up only two seconds slower than SSD drives.

So the question is, should I buy a hybrid drive or an SSD? Before you answer this question, here are a few things you need to ask yourself:

First off, how much am I spending on this build? If you are building a PC on a budget, then springing for something like an SSD might be out of your price range at the moment and you should probably look into just a normal HDD. However, if you know you want a quicker computer with a lot of memory then a hybrid drive might be the best thing for you. This is the first and probably the biggest advantage of going with a hybrid solution. At the time of this writing Newegg has the Samsung 840 EVO SSD on sale for $109. That’s for a 120GB version. For that price Newegg also has two different Seagate hybrid drives for $109.99 that are both 1TB. So for the same price you can get almost 10 times the storage, and after a couple of uses you will have almost the same performance.

The second thing you should ask yourself is do I want the fastest possible boot and load times for everything saved on my computer? If you say yes to this question and price is not a problem then you should definitely go with an SSD. From a sheer performance standpoint nothing is going to be faster. For gamers or anyone who stores a lot of large data files on their PC, Samsung makes a 1TB SSD with their EVO line that is very hard to beat, especially at that capacity. The reason games and large files are emphasized is because hybrid drives have just a small portion of their memory dedicated to flash, and therefore will not gain a noticeable speed boost with larger files because they simply can’t remember them. You can still save games and large files to a hybrid, it will just perform like a standard drive.

The final thing you should consider before buying is how much space you have in your computer for a drive. If you are building a tower or simply upgrading your desktop there is a good chance you have space for an extra drive. However, if you are looking to upgrade your laptop then chances are you will only have one space available to you. Another thing to keep in mind is what size the drive actually is. You can almost always put a 3.5- or 2.5-inch drive in a desktop (though you might need to buy an adapter to go from 3.5 to 2.5), but laptops are a bit more specific. Hybrid drives come in both 3.5- and 2.5-inch sizes, but SSDs come in 2.5 inch or PCI format. So if for whatever reason you don’t have or don’t want to buy a 2.5-inch adapter but you have a PCI slot that’s not being used, you can still install an SSD using that method.

With all this being said, the choice still comes down to what you want to pay for. I, myself, being on the more enthusiast side of the computer world, still use a normal 1TB HDD. Not because I think SSDs or Hybrid drives are bad, but simply because I would rather save on that part and put that savings into a different part of my build. But if you want good value for your money, hybrid drives are going to be your best bet. I will, however, be upgrading to a SSD and it will probably be from Samsung’s EVO series. It will cost a lot of money (and my girlfriend won’t get it), but when every game and program I load starts lightning fast it will be more than worth it.

Here are some links (all from Newegg) to different types of drives you might be interested in. They are well worth the investment if you haven’t used one before, as the days of high RPMs might be coming to a close, and flash storage just keeps on getting cheaper to make.


Example drives:

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