SSDs are too expensive and I cannot afford to buy one.
This was an argument against a recent article we published on the advantages of owning a solid-state drive – and how you were wasting your life if you used an HDD.
It is correct to say that an SSD is more expensive than a mechanical hard drive. Never forget, however, that you get what you pay for.
Hard drives are slow.
So slow, in fact, that you could literally make up the money needed to buy an SSD instead of waiting for your hard drive’s long load times.
For the purposes of this article, we will look at a WD Black SN750 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD and a WD Blue 1TB 3.5-inch HDD.
- The hard drive will cost you R670
- The SSD is a bit more: R3,600
For this, you receive the following claimed speeds:
WD 1TB HDD
- Read and write speeds of 150MB/s
WD Black SN750 SSD
- Read speeds of up to 3,470MB/s
- Write speeds of up to 3,000MB/s
In real-world tests, though, the performance difference can be even more extreme.
Tests by Unboxing Treatment found that the WD Blue HDD reached sequential read and write speeds of:
- Read – 142MB/s
- Write – 159MB/s
The test was conducted in CrystalDiskMark.
4KB random read and write speeds, however, were much slower.
The 4KB test saw the hard drive only reach read and write speeds of:
- Read – 0.38MB/s
- Write – 1.29MB/s
The 4KB test accesses small blocks of data from random locations on the hard drive – simulating the loading of a large game, for example.
As expected, the WD Black SSD performed much better in the same CrystalDiskMark tests.
PCMag’s test of the WD Black SSD saw it achieve sequential read and write speeds of 3,284MB/s and 3,129MB/s respectively.
It’s performance also dropped during the 4KB “random” test, but outshone the hard drive by a large margin.
- Read – 38MB/s
- Write – 190MB/s
The real-world impact of these speed differences is difficult to measure, as you would need to assess each individual user’s profile.
Which programmes and operating systems do you use? How often do you use them? Do you work with video editing tool or only data in Excel? Do you game every day?
In an assessment of HDDs vs SSDs, PCMag noted the following loading time differences in a variety of scenarios:
Windows 10 – “Clean Install”
- Using a clean Windows 10 build, boot times for the OS on a WD Blue 2TB HDD were 30-40 seconds.
- The same setup with a Samsung 860 Evo 1TB SSD saw boot times cut to 10 seconds.
Windows 10 – “Well-worn”
- In a Windows 10 build that has been in use for a year, boot times on an HDD can take over a minute.
- Boot times in the same scenario with an SSD are typically 10-15 seconds.
- Load times for Anthem on an HDD were between 78-85 seconds.
- Load times for Anthem on an SSD were 58-60 seconds.
- Photoshop running on an SSD takes a few seconds to load.
- Photoshop running on an HDD can take 2-3 times longer.
Time is money
Based on the tests above, you can see that HDD users spend more minutes each day waiting for Windows 10 to boot, applications to open, and their after-work gaming title of choice to load.
Time is money, and by applying wage rates in South Africa to these hard drive load times we can start to see at what point it becomes advantageous to upgrade from an HDD to an SSD.
Using R20 per hour as an entry point and moving upwards for higher-paid individuals, we looked at how much money you could “earn” by purchasing an SSD and working more instead of sitting behind your PC and waiting for your hard drive to load programmes and access files.
This was then juxtaposed against the price difference between the WD Black 1TB SSD and the WD Blue 1TB HDD – which is R2,930 – and time frames to close the price difference were established.
It must be noted that South Africa’s minimum wage will be R20.76 per hour as of 1 March 2020.
|Closing the Price Difference|
|Hourly Wage||SSD vs HDD Price Difference||Work Required||No. of 8-Hour Work Days|
Percentage and minutes per work day
Based on an 8-hour work day and a 250-work-day year, the times above translate into the following figures for:
- Percentage of work day spent waiting for hard drive to load – and making up the SSD vs HDD price difference.
- Minutes per work day spent waiting for hard drive to load – and making up SSD vs HDD price difference.
|Closing the Price Difference|
|Hourly Wage||Percentage of Work Day||Minutes per Work Day|
|R300||0.52%||2 Minute 30 Seconds|
|R500||0.30%||1 Minute 24 Seconds|
Wages vs after-tax salary vs company rates
It must be noted that the calculations above are only intended to be a benchmark for what we hope will be discussions between yourself and your colleagues on SSDs versus HDDs.
There are many gaps left open by the calculations above, as they do not take into account how much money you earn after tax versus the wages you are paid.
How much your time is “worth” to your company is also not considered.
Your wages may be R200 per hour, but your company will bill clients R500 per hour for your time, for example.
This means it could be in your employer’s best interest to upgrade your PC’s storage to an SSD – as they will make ultimately more money from your increased productivity.
Another questions you may ask is: What is the lifespan of an SSD, and does a hard drive not last longer?
According to cloud storage provider BackBlaze, “an SSD you put in your computer today will likely outlast the computer”.
Crucial, which makes SSDs, provided a more in-depth explanation as to why this is the case.
A key point is that while all the data in a block in an SSD must be refreshed when any portion of it is updated, there are processes in place to give the drive longevity.
“There is a process, called TRIM, that informs the SSD that it can skip rewriting certain data when it erases blocks. Because there are a finite number of times any block can be rewritten, this is an important process that prevents premature wear on the storage drive,” said Crucial.
SSDs also contain an algorithm which ensures that each block in the drive gets an equal amount of read and write processes.
“This process is called wear levelling and happens automatically as the drive is working.”
SSDs also do not contain moving parts like a mechanical HDD, which means they are less affected by movement and shock – such as being installed in a laptop which is knocked off a table.
In conclusion, never dismiss someone when they say “I spend half the day waiting for my PC to start”.
They might be telling the truth, and it could save you and them a lot of time and money to upgrade to an SSD.
This is an opinion article.