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Notebook Computer Guide*
Laptop Buyers Guide - Should You Go With An HDD or SSD
Copyright © 2009 Titus Hoskins.
Recently, in the world of laptops, there seems to be a
major push to replace traditional Hard Disk Drives HDDs
with the newer and speedier Solid State Drives SSDs. This
issue presents a challenging question for future laptop
buyers and especially for those considering buying a
Which data storage system should you go with?
Now, SSDs or Solid State Drives are not new, they have
been around since the 70's but were mainly used in niche
applications in the past. Only recently have computer
makers been utilizing SSDs for their machines, especially
in laptops. Will these flash drives replace one of the last
hold-outs of movable parts in data storage - the hard disk
What is a Hard Drive?
Most computer users are familiar with Hard Disk Drives
since they are presently found in most computers and
laptops. An HHD stores data on rotating magnetic platters
which have different speeds, that's why you often see
5400 rpm and 7200 rpm associated with Hard Drives. Data
is written to and read from these platters by a block of
read/write heads, which are controlled by a micro-controller.
Since your information can be stored in different parts
on a Hard Drive, the time needed to get and retrieve
data can significantly vary. Keep in mind, these devices
are movable mechanical parts so they are prone to all
the problems associated with moving parts and can sometimes
fail, i.e. crash. Most of us have been there, done that!
What is a Solid State Drive?
Now SSD is an entirely different creature from a Hard Disk
Drive. Solid State Drives uses a flash memory chip managed
by a micro-controller to store its data. The major thing to
remember, SSD usually have slow write times but have
very quick read times. Since most users read rather
than write information, SSDs can be much faster than HDDs.
In addition, SSDs have no moving components so they are
more durable and much quieter than traditional HHDs. Plus,
you can use less power consumption and there are less
problems with vibrations interfering with ongoing operations.
What you have probably already guessed by now, SSDs are
perfectly suited for laptops and smaller devices such as
netbooks. The growing popularity of these very handy portable
machines has pushed SSDs to the forefront of computer technology.
Our need for speed has always been insatiable, but so too,
has our need to make things smaller and sleeker.
SSDs are better suited for these devices and all major laptop
makers such as Dell, Apple, HP, Levono... have all lately begun
to deliver laptops with SSDs. Toshiba, which is one of the world's
largest semiconductor manufacturers, has also started producing
laptops with SSDs. They also invented NAND flash memory, these
chips are commonly used in different memory cards such as
SmartMedia and CompactFlash. Again, the major advantages being
the faster access times, lighter weight, less power consumption,
more resistant to impact and much more durability.
Another trend where we see SSDs taking hold is in the netbook
market. This is a relatively new trend since the netbook
was only launched by Asustek in the fall 2007 with its
first Eee PC. Other laptop makers such as Lenovo, MSI, HP,
Dell... have all followed along and jumped on this very
popular and growing sector of the laptop industry.
The Cost Of SSDs Are Higher
One of the major obstacles to using SSDs has to be cost.
SSDs are more expensive than HHDs but prices will eventually
fall as production costs decreases. However, for now there
is a marked different and many laptop buyers will go with
the cheaper HHDs.
Another related issue is the amount of memory SSDs can
support. Because of the cost, many of the present day
SSDs have comparably low storage amounts in order to keep
the overall cost of a device down. However, we are now seeing
larger SSDs which support 64 GB, 128 GB and 512 GB of memory.
We even have one SSD drive which can store 1 TB (Terabyte)
of data produced by PureSilicon.
Another thing to consider, with SSDs you don't need cache
since system caches are usually made to solve hard drive
performance problems. This can be a way to save money on
future devices since cache is expensive.
The Future of SSDs
The real future of SSDs have to be realized in the
growing popularity of ultra-portable devices like
netbooks, mini-laptops and the like. The SSD is
perfectly suited for these kinds of portable
devices and as consumer demand grows stronger,
the future of SSDs looks very promising indeed.
Another market for SSDs has to be in gaming systems,
which are ideally suited because gamers use their
machines mainly to read rather than write data. Plus,
gaming rigs and gamers want the best possible
performance at whatever cost; they don't mind spending
the big bucks if they can get top performances in
Major gaming specialists such as Alienware, do offer
the option of SSDs in many of their laptops and even
in some desktop machines. Other gaming laptop makers
are following in the same direction. As with any
technology there is a lag time before the old is replaced
with the new. The traditional hard drives will be around for
quite some time yet, but its days may just be numbered.
For the laptop buyer, which type of drive you finally
choose will mainly depend on the purpose of your new device.
If you're looking for a quiet, long lasting, speedy netbook
that can take more than a few hard knocks, then you should
be looking at a SSD equipped machine. If you want a traditional
desktop computer or a desktop replacement laptop, then you can
save money by going with an HDD equipped device, these have
worked perfectly fine for years and will be around for some
time in the future. Of course, if you're into gaming notebooks
and want a state-of-the-art machine, then a Solid State Drive
may be your best option, assuming money is no object.
Fastest gaming laptop in the Universe Dell Alienware M17x
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