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Picking the best storage option to upgrade your laptop PC's performance isn't as simple as it appears. Do you need a hard disk drive (HDD), a solid state drive (SSD), or a solid state hybrid drive (SSHD)? There are a number of important factors to consider, and none of the available solutions always provides the best performance in each category. As with most important decisions, you have to choose the option that can best meet your unique needs.
Let's break down the key criteria to help you decide which option is right for you.
Without any moving parts, SSD products are the thinnest of the available storage options. They're especially good for thin and light PCs and complex, industrial designs. For standard notebooks, SSDs are available in 5mm and 7mm heights. By comparison, HDDs are available in standard 7mm and 9.5mm designs. SSHDs debuted at 9mm, will ship at 7mm soon, and 5mm designs have been announced for shipment in 2013.
HDDs are the workhorses when it comes to sheer capacity and how much data can be stored. SSHD technology also offers maximum capacity points at affordable price points while SSDs are only affordable at lower capacities. High-capacity SSDs are extremely expensive.
SSDs provide peak performance for booting and high read/write performance to supporting computing that requires enhanced multitasking capabilities. On the other hand, an SSHD can provide near SSD performance for booting, launching, and loading data. HDDs usually provide ample performance for the majority of PC platforms shipping today.
At a system level, low-capacity SSDs can be affordable in the 32GB to 64GB range. But high-capacity SSDs are very expensive, especially when measured by cost per gigabyte. HDDs provide the lowest cost per gigabyte. SSHDs provide a cost per gigabyte that's just slightly higher than HDDs.
In general, storage will not impact battery life in a laptop computer by more than about 10%. Processor power and LCD really run down the battery. However, SSD is the most power-efficient, and SSHD is a close second because it can spin down more frequently than an HDD.
Failure rates on SSD, HDD, and SSHD technologies have very similar ratings. SSHD has benefits because it uses both the SSD and HDD portions more efficiently than if they were separate.
SSDs are viewed as more durable simply because of their solid state design. Without moving parts, they can withstand higher extremes of shock, drop, and temperature.
Thinking through all of these criteria may make upgrading laptop storage seem like a tough decision. But perhaps it all comes down to cost-effectiveness: How can you get maximum capacity that's nearly as fast as solid state but fits your wallet better?
Take a closer look at solid state hybrid drives. They most likely can provide the best combination of performance characteristics to meet your needs.