High-capacity SSDs Are Becoming More Affordable Every Day

SSDsThe idea of building an affordable PC with an SSD (solid-state drive) as the primary storage drive has long been a difficult task. Anything above 8, 16, or 32 GB in capacity would catapult the price of a PC build well beyond the realm of anything one might consider to be a budget PC. That was then, and this is now.

I recall vividly the days when hard drives started seeing giant leaps in capacity. One year, a 60 GB drive would cost well over $200 US while the same capacity drive would cost roughly $1 per GB the next. Today, hard drives with spinning platters easily surpass two terabytes and cost less than 2 GB drives ran just a dozen years ago. That’s pretty impressive, and the same trend is repeating itself in the world of solid-state drives.

According to a report posted on DealNews.com, high-capacity SSDs were going for roughly $0.86/GB this time last year and can currently be found for around $0.47/GB. That’s a 45% drop in price in the last year alone. If this trend continues for another year, you might be able to pick up a 512 GB SSD for the same price you’d have paid for a 128 GB SSD just one year ago. That’s significant, especially considering it was just a few years ago that spinning hard drives at capacities over 320 GB were considered a perk and not found on many budget laptops.

What Are the Benefits of Using an SSD?

With the price of solid-state drives going down so suddenly, it’s hard not to consider them a good value. The hard drive market was devastated after flooding in Thailand shortened the world’s supply. This brought the prices and availability of hard drives back a few years, allowing solid-state drives to become a more reasonable (and cost-efficient) alternative. Advances made to SSDs over the past few years have significantly increased their long-term stability and speed, which answers concerns commonly cast by fans of the hard drive. SSDs are fast, but until recently, that fact has been overshadowed by speculation that the read/write limits would kill off a drive faster than a traditional drive.

While it’s true that the nature of a solid-state drive includes a limitation on read/write operations for a single drive, that limit is very hard to hit. SSDs are being utilized in data centers around the world and I spoke to an engineer at HP this past June that indicated the failure rate for SSDs was near zero, and hard drives are just as prone to failure as they’ve always been. After two or three years of consumer use (which could translate to a few months of commercial server utilization) the failure rate for traditional hard drives begins to increase dramatically.

SSDs are much tougher. If you drop or even set a laptop down with a traditional hard drive too hard while it’s reading and/or writing, there is a chance that you’ll cause a failure which may corrupt data. Spinning platters and a moving read head create multiple points of failure while SSDs have no moving parts to break or jar out of place. This reduces system vibrations as well, which could prolong the life of other important components.

Heat is a problem for hard drives. Many PC cases have fans that blow directly on drive bays to keep these drives cool. SSDs are cool by comparison because there is no motor to add to the drive’s heating.

Speed is perhaps the biggest advantage to owning an SSD. Read/write speeds on SSDs are roughly about 30% faster than that of spinning drives. There is no read head or wait time for the drive to spin up and get ready to read/write data. If it has power, it does its thing.

Are you considering making the leap from hard drives to SSDs? Which advantage is most important to you in this decision? Are there still reasons you’d want to stick with an HDD?

9 comments On High-capacity SSDs Are Becoming More Affordable Every Day

  • So, I guess it might be better if I wait a bit to build a PC with the price dropping so fast. My need is not that high for this build, and I don’t need it today. It’s good that the price is going down.

    • The price on anything (computers) is always going down. A good rule of thumb is if you can wait comfortably, wait.

    • The problem with that idea is that it’s 100% accurate 100% of the time. Prices are ALWAYS falling like rocks. With this constant scenario in place, it is better to just wait until you really are desperate for that build because until you are, you will be paying more for it no matter what (unless you find something on sale that is dramatically cheaper than it was).

  • I would stronlgy recommend using an ssd, but todays price is way out there, a month ago a bought a macbook pro retina, the damn thing was expensive enough but uppgrading to a 512gb ssd to me was not an option, the more cost effective thing for me was to buy a usb 3.0 external harddrive (go flex slim). Interestingly enough uppgrading from a 256gb to a 512gb cost 4900 kr (745$) in our apple store (Sweden)

  • Honestly I say an SSD or a HDD depends on what you’re doing. SSD is great for system software and gamers, while a HDD would be perfect for a casual user. It’s all a matter of what you do.

  • I definitely notice a speed increase of over 30% on my SSD compared to my HDD. (Is this metric for sequential or random access?) In practice random access is much more import afaik.

  • I think that a good balance should be struck. Some programs will really benefit a lot from an SSD (OS for instance) but others, not so much. Gaming is still primarily about GPU and to a lesser extent, CPU. Having a game on an SSD might decrease load times but generally, once the engine is loaded into memory, a game takes very little data from the drive to keep things going. Faster RAM would speed up a game better than an SSD and even then, it still won’t have the same postive effect that a faster GPU or CPU will in regard to frame rates. The OS will always benefit the most because it’s always caching. I actually got around that problem (even though I have my OS on an SSD) by creating a large RAM disk that I use for system cache. That’s even faster than using the SSD and when you have as much RAM as I do, it makes more sense. I have over 5TB in total storage and I find that for games and other working applications, a 7200RPM hard drive is more than sufficient. For long-term storage of media and data, I use high-capacity green drives to save power. When the SSD is roughly 30% above the price of the platter drive, you’ll see a huge shift towards them. Keep in mind that there are other big drawbacks to SSDs. One that I can think of off the top of my head is their inability to recover deleted data. When you delete something on a flash drive or SSD, it’s GONE and it’s gone for good. The ability to recover lost data on a hard drive is perhaps its greatest strength and that’s not something that I would call insignificant.

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