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SSD vs. HDD: What’s the Difference? | PCMag

Who Are HDDs Best For?

  • Enthusiast multimedia users and heavy downloaders: Video collectors need space, and you can easily get to 8TB or much more space cheaply with a hard drive.
  • Budget buyers: Ditto. Plenty of cheap space. SSDs are too expensive for buyers of $300 PCs.
  • Graphic arts and engineering professionals: Video and photo editors fill up and wear out storage faster than most other folks. Replacing or adding a 2TB hard drive will be cheaper than replacing a 500GB SSD, though that gap is closing.
  • General users: These folks are a toss-up. Users who prefer to download or stash large amounts of their own media files locally will still need a hard drive with more capacity; SSDs get expensive quickly for big video and music collections. But if you mostly stream your music and videos online, buying a smaller SSD for the same money will give you a better experience.

Who Are SSDs Best For?

  • Road warriors: People who shove their laptops into their bags indiscriminately will want the extra security of an SSD. That laptop may not be fully asleep when you violently shut it to catch your next flight. This also includes folks who work in the field, like utility workers and university researchers.
  • Speed demons: If you need things done now, spend the extra bucks on SSD for quick boot-ups and app launches. Supplement with a storage SSD or hard drive if you need extra space (see below).
  • Graphic arts and engineering professionals: Yes, we know we said they need hard drives, but the speed of an SSD may make the difference between completing two proposals for your client and completing five. These users are prime candidates for dual-drive systems (again, more on that below).
  • Audio engineers and musicians: If you’re recording or mastering music, you don’t want the scratchy sound from a hard drive intruding. Go for quieter SSDs.