SSD vs HDD - Performance difference will shock you




My new laptop (hp) was unbearably slow. HDD performance was below par and was the major culprit for me. I am sure it's for you too....

Your old rig is slowly wearing out or new PC is performing terribly bad?

Your are either tired of your old/new laptop/pc or are looking for a reason to upgrade to SSD.

This SSD vs HDD article will blow your brains off.

Chances are likely, you will run for buying an SSD even before finishing this article. (:P)

Did you know what's one of the slowest component in your laptop/PC? It's your HDD.

HDD full form is Hard Disk drive.

It's also one of the most important limiting factors which is slowing down your work.


 Mechanical Hard Disk Drive

Why are HDD slow?

An HDD (hard disk) uses an arm with a head which moves around and reads/writes information from the specified index at the whole storage.

Sounds tiring? it is in fact.

HDD is available in two speed variant 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm.

Obviously the 7200 rpm ones are better than 5400 but still that's slow by today's margin.

Most laptops come with 5400 rpm (Revolutions Per Minute) default hard disk. 5400 RPM seems a lot, but believe me its slow as a snail.

Be it Windows or Linux, a conventional HDD can ruin your experience completely even if you have lots of ram and more than adequate processing power.

So whats the alternative, how to make PC fast enough - preface to SSD vs HDD?

Lets introduce you to the world of SSD.

SSD full form is Solid State Drives, a comparatively newer tech in the storage world.

They come in two variant M.2 SSD and PCIE SSD (shown below) with the former being superior and faster but the latter is no slouch either.


WD Blue SSD (M.2 and PCIE)

SSD uses microchips to store information much like USB flash storage and so there are no moving parts involved, which makes them blazing fast.

Let me warn you though, once you have used an SSD (either variant) there is no going back.
No chance.

Not over emphasizing, but it almost feels like riding a donkey after driving a Lamborghini and this SSD vs HDD article will prove that.

My Story of a slow PC and the real resolution

Now coming to my story, I recently bought an HP Laptop.

Reviews on amazon proclaimed this one to be slow, although reading the specs stated otherwise.

Specs: Intel i3 7100U CPU 2.4 GHz, 4 GB ram, Mechanical Hard Drive 1 TB and the usual stuff.

Make no mistake, Intel i3 7 gen is still a pretty capable processor especially if you are not into video editing and heavy processor intensive tasks.

What I use it for? I use it for Android Studio and stuff and it works more than fine.
I didn't find 8th gen mobile CPU's (for laptops, especially the U series, H series is still a better choice if available) value for money enough, they terribly lack the much needed improvement when pitted against 7th gen.
Desktop counterparts are a different story though with i3 8th gen being the most value for money CPU.

Initial Impressions of my new Laptop and why i compared SSD vs HDD

It was slow, but it was expected, as it was busy installing all the programs as it was its first boot and also windows 10 keeps updating itself in the background.

So I gave it some time. A day later, this was the observation.



 Disk 100% usage Windows 10



HP Laptop SSD Upgrade

A constant disk usage of 100%, nothing i tried could lower the usage down from 100% and make PC fast.

It was frustrating, I ensured windows updates were installed, no antivirus running, windows defender shut off, windows indexing switched off, disabled all the useless startup programs etc.

I tried every thing i knew, every tips online community shared to make PC fast but nothing seemed to help.

So i decided to do a fresh install of windows 10, and this time not from recovery but ISO direct from Microsoft.

A clean install without any HP bloats.

I was hoping this would solve the issue, i was also suspecting ram as the main culprit as it was 4 GB, thinking that its unable to meet windows 10 demands.

But to my surprise, disk usage was again 100%.

It would come down after some time but any small operation like opening the browser would again trigger it back to 100% and to stay there for loooong time.

My laptop has an M.2 SSD slot but as I already had a spare SSD lying from my older rig, i decided to give it a go before hopping on to Amazon for a Ram upgrade.

 HP Laptop HDD

As you can see from the image above, my laptop had 1 TB WD HDD which i believed was the main culprit. This needed to go for a better user experience.

I did a quick storage swap and there goes SSD in my new Laptop.

Though this is not the top of the line SSD, its WD 240 GB SSD (3300 INR or ~45$), but it works exceptionally well for me at least.

Results - SSD vs HDD

Did a fresh install of Windows 10 post upgrade and viola, i wasn't expecting such a performance boost.

SSD vs HDD speed and performance difference blew my socks away to be honest.

Windows loaded in 3 seconds and the restarts time is hardly 6-7 seconds.

Apps open as if they were minimized in the background, the whole system is so damn fast now, that ram upgrade won't be necessary at all. See for yourself.



 SSD Disk Usage windows 10

Now disk usage is mostly between 0-10% with occasional spikes at heavy workloads.

SSD vs HDD boot time

Previously

Initially my boot time on HDD was around 2 minutes and sometimes 2.5 minutes.
Occasionally i would get around 1.8 minutes of boot time, but that was pretty rare.
Rising from Hibernation took around 1.8 minutes on an .average

After SSD upgrade

System boot time is max 5~7 seconds. no wait time after boot. PC is completely ready and responsive.
Rising from hibernation now takes 3~5 seconds on average.

Average response time also has dropped drastically from 198 ms to 0.5 ms.

This is a drastic improvement and trust me this converts multi-folds to the raw user experience while using windows. Its just awesome now.

Another noteworthy point is, as the storage itself is so fast now.

Windows has no issues using storage as page file thus compensating for inadequate ram.

In normal HDD a page file is equally slow and thus not providing the required performance boost.
A Small experiment - Reviving the old 
I was so impressed with the results that I tried the same thing on my 12 years old Dell Studio 1555 laptop.

It has Core 2 duo 2.0 GHz with just 3 gigs of ram.

You can't even imagine how badly it holds itself to current era of software's.

The result was pretty similar.

It got huge performance boost, to the extent that I could use it as a daily driver, had its hinges not worn out resulting in compromised portability.

My old laptop revived completely as if it was brand new.

The Disk usage was the same story as with the new laptop.

It can safely be concluded that SSD can revive any old PC up from core 2 duo era (it may revive even older ones, but I can affirm for ones I have tested) and the performance difference in SSD vs HDD is huge.

SSD vs HDD price difference

SSD is costlier than HDD. In the cost of 1 TB HDD you will manage to get your hands on a 240 GB SSD.

So, price difference ratio between SSD vs HDD is 4:1. SSD is 4 times costlier than equivalent HDD.

Average quality (yet million times better than HDD) 240 GB SSD from Western Digital will cost around 2479 INR or 35$.

High Quality Samsung EVO SSD will cost ~ 4k INR or ~56$.

You must have inferred that SSD price varies by their quality.

I will write a separate article demonstrating the actual differences between them.

Whats next:

SSD has done wonders for my laptop, and the performance difference between SSD vs HDD has been tremendously overwhelming.

But 240 GB storage is somewhat limiting.

So my next course of action is to buy a HDD caddy from amazon which can hold a HDD and swap my optical drive with a HDD.

I will post an update with the instructions and results soon.

Steps to try before switching to SSD

There is a possibility that your PC might not need an SSD upgrade, because it may already have a 7200 rpm drive, or an SSHD (a hybrid HDD, not as good as SSD though) or something else.

A 7200 rpm disk is also slow but you can live with it, if you have that level of tolerance and are immune to the performance ratio of SSD vs HDD or haven't used an SSD before.

So, before starting off onto SSD upgrade path ensure you have performed the below steps and still feel you deserve a better performance.

1. Upgrade your Ram.

Memory sticks are available quite cheap now a days and anything lower than 8 GB is going to hurt performance badly.

You might be trying to Ram heavy tasks and have less ram capacity.

In Task manager just check if memory utilization is not 100% mostly.

If so, buy a new ram and run it in dual channel preferably.

2. Are you running on Low performance mode:

Many users inadvertently forget that they have low performance mode turned on by default to conserve battery.

This hurts the system performance pretty badly.

It's so common that people forget it exists and it ruins the whole experience.

Just switch the slider to high performance and see the magic.



 High Performance Mode Windows

3. Troubled by Bloats:

By default laptops with windows comes pre-installed with lots of bloat wares which degrade the system performance even further.

My new laptop boot time was 2 minute.

App opening time was frustratingly slow.

Disk usage was always 100 %.

This was so frustrating.

Either do a clean OS install or manually remove all the bloats installed for the good.

4. Change your thermal paste.

Like other machines laptop needs maintenance as well.

Even little heat buildup can make your machine slow overall.

Thermal paste is applied in your CPU as well as on the GPU.

Thermal paste tends to wear out in couple of years.

Computers starts to lag and become slow when heat builds up and has no where to go.

So, if your rig is older than 2 years,changing the thermal paste periodically would ensure optimum cooling and good performance boost.

5. Clean your CPU fan:

My laptop had tonnes of junk inside the fan chambers.

It was blocking the heat and causing the computer to respond slow.

Just a regular cleanup and you are good to go.

Try not using the laptop on bed (as it attracts the fine threads and dust and accumulates inside causing heat buildup) and you will be fine overall.

6. Heat sink:

Get your heat sink checked and replaced if faulty.

A friend of mine was suffering from a terribly slow laptop, worse part was it was a new machine.

Apparently it turned out that the heat sink was at fault cause immense heat buildup which forced the machine to run super slow and eventually shut down sporadically.

If nothing works, Upgrade your hard disks.

If nothing works, go buy a SSD (either variant which is supported by your machine) for around 50$ (~3600 INR) and thank me later.

Hope this SSD vs HDD comparison has helped you and have enjoyed reading it.

Do leave in your comments about the article and how it has helped you.

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