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When you’re looking for a hard drive of SSD for gaming, the choices can be confusing. Of course, your storage drive stores your games and any preloaded files for online gaming. You need enough space to store your games and any other data you want to keep on your computer. Hard drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs) both store data, but the technology between the two is different.

There are many factors to look at when deciding on either SSD or HDD for gaming. Cost, form factor, capacity, speed, durability, and other considerations should all be factored in when making your decision. Let’s look at the differences and compare gaming SSD vs HDD.

Cost

Choosing between a hard drive and an SSD doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. It’s possible to use a combination of internal and external drives in different configurations of hard drives and SSDs to work with both your budget and your need for fast load times. Look for the biggest, fastest drive possible that will keep you within your budget. The Crucial® System Scanner or Advisor™ tool will give you a list of drives that are compatible with your system so you can choose the SSD that fits your budget.

Form Factor

SSDs and HDDs are typically available in three form factors. What SSD form factor best suits you depends on your system specifications.

  • 2.5-Inch

The standard form factor for both HDD and SSD is 2.5-inch such as the Crucial MX500. They fit inside the drive bay of most laptop or desktop computers. Because many users replace their hard drives with solid state drives, the 2.5-inch drive has become a standard for all HDDs and SSDs. They are designed to minimize the need to replace connecting interface cables, making the transition to a higher performance drive as easy as possible.

  • M.2

The smallest form factor for SSDs is called M.2 such as the Crucial P5. M.2 SSDs are about the size of a stick of gum. M.2 SSDs attach to the motherboard via an M.2 socket and are designed for space-constrained tablets and ultrabooks.

  • Portable

Portable drives such as the Crucial X8 SSD allow you to consolidate your games, take them with you, and play them on multiple systems or devices. Instead of deleting games to clear space, move them to a portable drive. With read speeds up to 1,050MB/s, the Crucial X8 portable SSD loads files up to 1.8 times faster than most portable SSDs, 7.5 times faster than portable hard drives, and 100 times faster than USB flash drives1.

Capacity

Modern drives come in a wide range of storage capacities. With the installation requirements of modern games, storage drives on the smaller scale really don’t make sense for gamers. Typically, drives between 500GB and 2TB are chosen based on the cost performance of the drive. SSD capacity is starting to take over HDD. As SSDs expand and grow HDD manufacturers are struggling with increasing aerial density to compete with SSDs.

Speed

HDDs and SSDs both work well for gaming. If the HDD has enough capacity to store your games (modern games range from 20GB up to 180GB for a single installation), and is fast enough to support the graphics, you shouldn’t have troubles. 

Where HDDs do not do as well as SDDs for gaming is in load times. Because SSDs do not have spinning parts, they are ready when you are and have faster load times, as well as many other benefits.  

The video below shows a side-by-side comparison of loading a game using a computer with a hard drive and one with a solid state drive. If you are tired of waiting on your games to load, installing an SSD gets you into your game faster. SSD’s can dramatically improve your systems speed and performance.

Durability

SSDs don’t have small moving parts such as spinning platters and arms like HDDs which are easily susceptible to damage. SSDs can be bounced around and still keep your important files and information safe. Designed to reliably store your data for years, SSDs offer additional shock and vibration resistance for travel-tested durability if you are gaming on a laptop.

Noise

Because SSDs stay cooler than hard drives, your fan doesn’t have to work as hard, which means less fan noise and quieter overall performance. That humming sound you heard when using a hard drive? Gone.

Temperature

Because SSDs access data using flash memory rather than seeking it out on a spinning platter like hard drives, they’re able to maintain more consistent operating temperatures. That can help keep overall system temps down.

Energy Efficiency

Since SSDs don’t have small moving parts, they require less energy to operate. If you game on a laptop, SSDs can increase the life of your battery.

A summary of gaming SSD vs HDD

We hope that’s cleared up whether you should get a hard drive or SSD for gaming needs. If you’ve made your decision and are going with an SSD, the good news is that they are easy to install yourself. There are many reasons to choose an SSD or pair an SSD with an HDD. Speed, capacity, noise, durability, temperature, and efficiency all make SSDs the preferred choice for gaming. See our recommended internal and external SSDs for gaming and get in your game faster with a SSD.

Use the Crucial® System Scanner or Advisor™ tool to determine which drives are compatible with your system. 

1. MB/s speed measured as maximum sequential performance of device as measured by Crucial on a high performance desktop computer with Crystal Disk Mark (version 6.0.2 for x64). Your performance may vary. Comparative speed claims measured as maximum sequential performance of similarly situated portable SSD’s, mainstream portable HDD’s and mainstream USB flash drives from vertically-integrated manufacturers selling under their own brands as at June 2019.