Dear Lifehacker, Solid-state drives (SSDs) are expensive and hard disk drives (HDDs) are slow. Now that you can buy a hybrid of the two, there are a lot of choices with varying costs. Which type of drive is my best bet for the money? Sincerely, Diskcombobulated
The best drive for your money is going to depend on your needs. You essentially have four options, and which one suits you best will depend on how much you’re willing to spend, how much storage space you need, and how much you value speed. Let’s go over these options and see which drives suit you best.
Case #1: Cost Is Irrelevant, I Have Small Storage Needs, and Speed Is Paramount
Case #2: Cost Is Irrelevant, I Have Large Storage Needs, and Speed Is Important
Laptop users will have a harder time, as most laptops only have a single hard drive bay. But if you don’t need your optical drive, there are ways to install an SSD in its place. Most laptop users will have to make this sacrifice to use both, but if the optical drive is important, you may want to consider just supplementing your SSD with an external drive. My laptop has a 256GB SSD, and that’s enough for pretty much everything I use on a regular basis, but I keep a 500GB USB 2.0 drive handy for editing video and handling other large files that don’t need constant storage on my primary disk. A combination of the two types of drives works well, whether they’re both internal or one drive stays outside of your machine.
Case #3: I’m on a Budget, I Have Large Storage Needs, and Speed Is Irrelevant
Case #4: I’m on a Budget, I Have Large Storage Needs, and Speed Is Important
Currently there are not many hybrid drives available, as the technology is pretty new. I believe Seagate was the first company to bring these drives to market, and so their offerings have been around for a little longer. You can pick up one of their 750GB hybrid drives for about $US170. That’s a $US70 premium for the 8GB SSD. OCZ also makes a 1TB hybrid drive that installs into a PCIe card slot, but these are not well-reviewed and cost quite a bit more. You definitely pay a higher premium for the SSD component with hybrids, but if you need that extra storage and only have room for a single drive they are the way to go.
Hopefully someday soon we’ll be in a place where SSDs are cheap, big, and the norm in most computers. Until then, you’ll have to compromise something but one of these compromises should work pretty well.
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