How Much Faster Is A SSD Than HDD? (Solid State vs Hard Disk)

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A mid-range HDD can usually read and write at speeds between 60 MB/s – 180 MB/s whilst an average SATA SSD can sprint at speeds of up to 800 MB/s!

The very best SSDs, NVMe solid state drives, can even reach top end transfer speeds of up to 3500 MB/s, making this type of SSD over 35x faster than most HDDs!

How SSDs are able to operate that much faster than HDDs and whether their higher price tag is justified is explored below. 

Tip: Of course saving milliseconds on each and every command is appreciated and creates for a smoother experience when working from a computer. However the application of SSDs are also felt across in the world of gaming.

Drive Type Model Typical Transfer Speed
SSD
NVMe
2,000MB/s - 3,500MB/s
SSD
SATA
500MB/s - 800MB/s
HDD
7200RPM
150MB/s - 220MB/s
HDD
5400RPM
60MB/s - 180MB/s

Why do SSDs and HDDs differ in speed?

SSDs and HDDs store data in two totally different ways, and this has an impact on how fast it can be stored or retrieved.

HDDs or Hard Disk Drives, as the name suggests, use hard disks. These are spinning magnetic disks from which data is written and read. The HDDs have an arm with several heads that read and write data on the magnetic disk. When requesting a particular file to be recalled, or action to be performed, the heads must line up to the correct location on the disks. This creates a slight delay between a command being requested and an action occurring. 

Image of HDD by Sergei Starostin from Pexels

SSDs, on the other hand, use something called NAND Flash Technology. Without getting into the specifics SSDs store data in integrated circuits, meaning there are no moving parts involved. Flash technology is up to 100x faster at storing and reading data because the latency between command and action is greatly reduced.

Performance-wise they can also do smaller read and write operations much faster. Not only does that make your system boot the system almost instantly when  but it also increases the responsiveness of regular tasks like browsing and opening programs, etc.

Image of SSD by VitaliyPozdeyev on Canva Pro

SSD speeds compared

Not all SSDs are created equal. In fact, SSD speeds  greatly vary between different build types.

Let’s go through some of the most common types of SSDs and see where they stand in terms of performance.

NVMe SSDs are the fastest of all

The first type of SSD we will look at is the NVMe, which stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express. NVMe is the latest storage technology and is genuinely  in a league of its own when it comes to speed comparisons with other storage solutions. 

NVMe SSDs can reach speeds of 3,500 MB/s, making them capable of translates to transferring 210GB of data in a single minute!

NVMe use your computer’s PCIe slot to directly connect to the motherboard. This allows them to directly interface with CPU storage and helps your computer become more responsive and faster.

 

SATA SSDs are 20x faster than HDDs

The second most popular type of SSD you will find is the SATA which can easily clock speeds of 500 MB/s – 800 MB/s. While these speeds are not as fast as an NVMe SSD, when compared to an HDD with a speed of 30 MB/s, this is still lightning fast.

SATA SSDs are slightly slower than NVMes because the SATA connector was originally designed with HDDs in mind and so doesn’t fully utilize an SSD’s speed potential.

On the plus side as SATA is older technology, it’s readily available on the market and cheaper than NVMe SSDs.

SATA SSDs are further divided into different types like M.2 SATA or mSATA.

M.2 SATA SSDs are just a smaller and more compact version of the regular SATA SSDs. Normally SATA drives are about 2.5 inches thick, so M.2 SATA technology was developed to make them small enough to be used in laptops.

mSATA or mini-SATA is also a smaller version of SATA. It was also developed to reduce the size of SATA drives, but they don’t see much use these days since M.2 SATA SSD does practically the same thing yet take up even less space.

How much more do SSDs cost vs HDD?

The additional speed offered by SSDs come at a cost far higher  than their HDD equivalent so many people on a budget end up comprising and opting for the later.

But there are circumstances where it makes more sense to shell out the additional funds so it’s worthwhile knowing just how much more you’ll have to pay to bring the latest storage solutions into your set-up. 

Let’s start with the cost of NVMe SSDs as these are the most expensive of the bunch.

You can expect to pay somewhere between 10 – 20 cents per gigabyte of capacity for an NVMe SSD. The larger the drive the less you tend to have to pay per GB (i.e you will be paying more cents per gigabyte for a 256 GG NVMe SSD as compared to a 2 TB NVMe SSD).

SATA SSDs are cheaper than NVMe SSD but they are also slower.

For M.2 SATA SSDs, you can expect to pay about 9 – 14 cents per gigabyte of storage. A 1 TB SATA SSD currently costs somewhere between 90 USD to 130 USD.

While SATA SSDs are not as fast as NVMe SSDs, they are still miles better than regular HDDs. In fact, they are about 10 times faster than your average HDD. So, it is still a pretty significant upgrade.

HDDs are obviously the cheapest option, hands down. They cost around about 1 cent per gigabyte of capacity (or even lower depending on the brand).

This is why HDDs are still popular among a large range of users. HDDs offer huge amounts of storage space for dirt cheap. So, people that handle lots of media or download large games tend to opt for this type of storage. 

Conclusion

In a nutshell, high end NVMe SSDs can be up to 100 times faster than regular HDDs, with SATA SSDs (an older technology) still returning about a five-fold improvement in speed. 

But this speed comes at a price.

If you are willing to foot the bill however, SSDs are without a doubt a better storage solution. 

Huzaifah Muhabat

Huzaifah Muhabat

Tech Writer

STEM Graduate with an engineering background and an insatiable curiosity to understand how things work.

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