Solid State Drives or SSDs are the same as HDD as they store data, but SSDs have numerous benefits over traditional hard drives, making them expensive. In this article, I am going to go over why SSDs are expensive and what benefits they offer compared to HDDs.
Why Are SSDs So Expensive?
There are numerous reasons why SSDs are more expensive than HDDs. They are new in terms of technology; they have a complex manufacturing process, they are faster, more durable, and require less power to run. The following are the details that you need to know .
SSDs are New Technology
SSDs are based on the new NAND Flash technology and unlike HDDs, they do not have any moving parts. HDDs rely on magnetic disks rotating at a certain speed while SSDs use memory storage microchips or flash storage.
This allows manufacturers to provide storage in a much smaller form factor, just like your smartphone. The flash storage used in SSDs is much faster than a smartphone, hence the higher pricing. Since the individual components of an SSD are priced higher than an HDD, manufacturers will sell it at a higher price to make a profit.
The firmware and the controller need to be configured in a very small space which makes manufacturing SSDs much more complicated than HDDs. Manufacturers need to make sure that the flash memory performs up to the mark and is stable before shipping.
Assembling an SSD is very complicated and different compared to a hard drive. The firmware and the controller have to be configured properly in a tiny space. SSDs have stress tests ensuring the performance is up to the standards or claims that the manufacturer has made, which increases the cost of production. NAND Flash is volatile and has to be thoroughly tested before it is passed on to the consumer.
SSD’s Are Faster
HDDs are capable of 160 MB/s reads and write speeds. A SATA III SSD will do 600 MB/s, a PCIe Gen 3.0 NVMe M.2 SSD can go up to 3500MB/s and a PCIe Gen 4.0 NVMe m.2 SSD can go up to 7000MB/s.
At a glance, you can see how much of a boost in performance you can get by switching to an SSD. There are different form factors and standards to consider, though. A SATA III 2.5-inch SSD will be very similar to an HDD, but it is going to be a bit slimmer and lighter. It does require a power cable and a SATA cable connecting to your motherboard, just like a traditional HDD.
M.2 SSDs, do not require any cables. They are installed in the M.2 slot on the motherboard, making them very easy to install and replace as all you need to do is plug them in and then install a single screw. They do not require any cables.
The difference between Gen 3 and Gen 4 comes down to read and write speeds. Gen3 SSDs can have a read speed of up to 3500MB/s and a write speed of up to 3300MB/s. Gen 4 is a newer standard that is much faster. Gen 4 SSDs can have a read speed of up to 7000MB/s and a write speed of up to 5000MB/s.
Note that these are standards, and the actual SSDs can perform differently. Just because an SSD supports PCIe Gen 4 does not mean that it will hit read speeds of 7000MB/s. You will need to check the actual speed mentioned by the manufacturer or check the SSD reviews online.
In terms of performance, Windows or other operating systems will boot much faster. You might see an increase in FPS in some games, but the most notable difference you will see is in loading times. A game is going to load much faster on an SSD as compared to an HDD, especially if you have a new PCIe Gen 4 SSD.
The difference in reading speed is why modern consoles have all moved to SSD’s, the PS5 read speed is 5,500MB/s whilst the PS4/PS4 read speed is only 100MB/S! making the PS5 SSD 55 times faster than the PS4s HDD!
Lower Power Requirements
SSDs consume less power as compared to HDDs because of their start-up efficiency. SSDs can turn on and turn off very quickly. An SSD can turn on in a few seconds while it takes an HDD 15-30 seconds to re-initialize which means that it is going to consume more power.
If we take a 5V 500mA HDD that runs for 45 minutes every hour of operation then it is going to consume 1.875 watts of power each hour. On the other hand, a 5V 1000mA SSD that runs 10 minutes every hour is going to consume 0.833 watts of power every hour.
How much power your SSD consumes is going to depend on how much you use your device and how you use it, but generally, an SSD is going to be more efficient as compared to an HDD.
I was amazed when I first booted on my Xbox Series S, and it took 20 seconds to go from dead to fully on; you appreciate the speeds modern SSDs give you, and it’s impossible to go back to HDD.
SSDs Are Less Likely To Break
SSDs do not have any moving parts. This makes them more durable and reliable. SSDs can withstand accidental drops and extreme temperatures. Lack of moving parts means that the rate of failure decreases significantly.
An SSD can easily last you a decade if not more. You can find something like a Samsung 850 PRO SSD that comes with a 10-year warranty. This means that you can have your SSD replaced if anything goes wrong. You can also check out this study in which the failure rate of HDDs and SSDs were compared. SSD failure rate was 0.65% while it was much higher at 6.04% for HDDs.
You can check the cycle rating of the SSD that you are interested in to get an idea of how long it is going to last you.
Market Trends (Demand And Supply)
Chia, a relatively new cryptocurrency has become very popular and because it works via allocation of storage, miners are rushing to buy SSDs and HDDs. This is increasing the prices of SSDs and HDDs.
Market trends also have a role to play in the pricing of SSDs or any other product. If there is high demand for a product and the supply is low, then the prices are going to go up as consumers are willing to pay a higher price to get their hands on the product, similar to the shortages of the Xbox Series X and PS5.
While this is a trend that is going to die, we do not know when that will happen. We have seen something very similar in the GPU market. Cryptocurrency is becoming very profitable, making graphics cards being sold at up to triple the price. Making it unfeasible for general consumers to buy a graphics card provided that they can even find one.
If you compare the pricing of SSDs over the past couple of years, you will see that the pricing has gone down as the technology has become cheaper and more people have adopted it. It is a matter of time before SSDs become the norm and HDDs disappear from general use.
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