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Data Storage Portables Hardware

Are SSDs Finally Worth the Money? 405

Lucas123 writes "The price of 2.5-in solid state drives have dropped by 3X in three years, making many of the most popular models less than $1 per gigabyte or about 74 cents per gig. Hybrid drives, which include a small amount of NAND flash cache alongside spinning disk, in contrast have reached near price parity with hard drives that hover around the .23 cents per gig. While HDDs cannot compare to SSDs in terms of IOPS generated when used in a storage array or server, it's debatable whether they offer performance increases in a laptop significant enough that justify paying three times as much compared with a high-end a hard drive or a hybrid drive. For example, an Intel 520 Series SSD has a max sequential read speed of 456MB/sec compared to a WD Black's 122MB/sec. The SSD boots up in 9 seconds compared to the HDD's 21 seconds and the hybrid drive's 12-second time. So the question becomes, should you pay three times as much for an SSD for twice the performance, or almost the same speeds when compared to a hybrid drive?"
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Are SSDs Finally Worth the Money?

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  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) * on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:30PM (#41364543) Homepage Journal

    Remember, no spinning platter means you don't have to worry about bumping a gyroscope - an SSD is inherently more shock resistant. I'm under the belief an SSD uses less power than a HDD.

    I have one SSD. It's in my netbook, I removed my perfectly functional factory HDD and replaced it with a smaller SSD since I really don't need my storage space, 90% of what I do with my netbook is on the web browser, and a netbook with Kubuntu and the netbook/tablet desktop is way cheaper than a Chrome book. I wish those were cheaper, I would practically be a marketing exec for those without the outrageous pricetag, but never mind that.

    There's advantages other than performance to an SSD.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:32PM (#41364559)

    I bought my first SSD-equipped laptop back in 2007. It was a Dell XPS. The laptop still works great today and flies in comparison to this brand new, work-issued HP laptop -- even with it's 7200rpm drive.

    There isn't any comparison whatsoever. And throughput is almost moot, it's the IOPS that matter.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:33PM (#41364579)

    I am willing to pay a large premium for storage device that won't break if I drop it a smallish distance.

  • by gumpish ( 682245 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:35PM (#41364607) Journal

    Dropped by 3X? Dropped by three times what?

    Is that the same sort of thing as "todays temperature is twice as cold"?

    I think you meant "the price has dropped by 2/3rds" or "prices today are 1/3rd what they were 3 years ago".

  • by BorgDrone ( 64343 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:37PM (#41364637) Homepage

    The biggest performance boost of an SSD compared to a traditional harddisk is random access times, this is what matters a lot more than sequential read performance.

    That and a computer without any moving parts is just so nice and quiet.

  • by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:37PM (#41364643)
    Right, add to that noise. You don't really notice how noisy an HDD is until it's silent.
  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:37PM (#41364645)
    Since bandwidth is not unlimited, nor is it always connected, I would say the paradigm is as valid is it ever has been.

    Cloud Storage is just a re-branded version of what people have been already doing for decades, and thus factors in the same basic manner. There are what, about half a dozen levels of memory between a remote server and your CPU? Each one is a trade off between speed, size, and cost.
  • by anethema ( 99553 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:38PM (#41364667) Homepage

    Putting a SSD as my OS/game drive has made by far the largest difference I've ever seen in a single upgrade.

    In the past it was: "More ram..ooh yeah bit smoother...Faster CPU, bit peppier..." Etc, helped but not blow your socks off.

    You put an SSD for your main apps, OS, and games, and it will astonish you how quickly things go. Firefox and other apps load instantly. When I had a macbook pro I swapped to SSD and normally the icons for my startup stuff would bounce for a bit as they loaded etc. After SSD like 5 icons would do a half bounce and bam all 5 loaded done.

    So for a desktop, do what I do. Throw a big spinner in there as a drive for games you don't need a fast HDD on, media, etc. Then you will have the best of both worlds. It is by far the least buyers remorse I've ever felt on a PC upgrade.

  • Wrong comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:39PM (#41364679)

    If you compare sequential reads it's obvious HDs seem to have a chance against SSDs. It's in non-sequential reads where SSDs completely outclass any HD.

  • Re:Hybrid Drives (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:39PM (#41364693)

    While Solid states have some performance increase. Their biggest push is that they are better with battery life, and can handle physical bumps. better.
    If you are getting a desktop, then you are either in it for raw power. In that case you get a system with a lot more memory, and faster physical drives, if you are not in it for raw power then you are in it for budget reasons. But for the most part on the desktop Solid State doesn't make too much sense.

  • by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:59PM (#41364989)

    Some of these modernized areas internet access is not fast enough, even for the home user.

    When it matters, I still can't depend on my wi-fi connection via my cellphone - which, to my mind, means until someone tells me the entangled particles in said device are good anywhere in the universe or my money back, then "the cloud" is not something I want to rely on having.

  • by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @02:02PM (#41365045)
    Or secure enough.
  • by Above ( 100351 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @02:06PM (#41365113)

    Having done a number of HDD->SSD upgrades for friends and family, I can tell you this quite simply. Anyone asking the question has never used an SSD, because if they had they wouldn't be asking it.

    How a desktop "feels" to the user isn't about raw throughput, but it is very often about IOPS and more importantly latency. It may not seem like waiting 5-8ms for the rotational latency of a drive is a big deal, but spread that out over a pile of IOPS and it is a huge deal. The original post even shows how much, boot time with an SSD was 9 seconds, HDD 21. That's 50% faster. Now probably most people don't care if the boot time is 9 or 21 seconds, but I bet most folks would like their system a lot better if every application load time was 50% faster!

    SSD is the single biggest no-brainer upgrade to me, it's even surpassed the "add ram" no brainer. The only time SSD's get questioned is for bulk storage. If the users needs include large music, photo, or video archives then it is worth asking questions about the cost of storage. Even in those cases, going with a hybrid drive or two drives is always the right answer.

  • Re:Hybrid Drives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @02:23PM (#41365311)

    Some performance increase?

    Have you ever used one? Best upgrade (in terms of noticeable speed/responsiveness) increase since doubling the RAM on that old pentium box in 1996....

  • by leppi ( 207894 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @02:31PM (#41365405)

    Best investment/upgrade to a consumer device under medium and larger workloads, maybe once you get above 1GB of memory. And it's not even close. Benchmarks don't do the change in speed justice. All operations on the laptop feel 2x, maybe 3x faster. Some faster than that. You are replacing a link in your computer that was the weakest by 2-3 orders of magnitude. It's no wonder it is such a dramatic improvement.

  • by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @02:37PM (#41365461)

    s/it's a big deal/it's not a big deal/. Slashdot, seriously, make a time-limited edit button, will you?

  • If you think you can get by on 60Gb or less? You are one of the less than 10% that don't run Windows. In another one of Ballmer's boneheaded moves all Windows since Vista has "anytime upgrade" which means it has ALL the files and ALL the patches of Windows Ultimate, even if its Basic or Home.

    Because of this a fully patched Win 7 SP1 can easily get up into the 70s when it comes to Gbs and it sure as hell ain't easy to strip all that anytime upgrade shit out. Just one more way the marketing drones fuck up what should be a simple idea.

  • by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @03:43PM (#41366217) Homepage Journal
    It is disingenuous to call it a "software problem". The underlying problem is a hardware one, ie that seeks on spinning media are fundamentally expensive. You could write software better to mitigate exposure to that problem but that would only be attempting a 'software solution to a hardware problem". You add software complexity and can't solve the problem, only (attempt to) minimise it.
    SSDs are a hardware solution to a hardware problem.
  • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @03:51PM (#41366355)

    s/it's a big deal/it's not a big deal/. Slashdot, seriously, make a time-limited edit button, will you?

    Proofread your comments.

  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @04:12PM (#41366657) Homepage Journal

    I find the whole article stupid.

    ssd's have been well worth the money for two years now. it's just that much faster.

    the blurb sounds like a hybrid drive advertisement. smartdrv only gets you that far before you'll need to hit the disc. sure, a hybrid with 100gb of nand would probably compare favorably in the long run, but a regular hdd vs. sdd... then it's not really a debatable which one is faster, except in the sense that you can also have a debate about if hitler lost or not(revodrive which is mentioned in the article has 100gb and goes in pcie - actually even mentioning it in the same article with the seagate is stupid, like mentioning a ferrari hybrid that has a power boost from the electric when someone is trying to sell you a hybrid yaris which makes no sense, even if it technically does the same).

    the current momentus hybrids have 8 gigs of ssd in them(this information is not thanks to computer world or seagate! the older smaller model has 4gb btw). sure, it makes for faster boots if you do three boots in a row. but consider this: it's not now unusual for games to take over 4 gigs, sometimes over 10 gigs(hell, max payne 3 is 30 gigs installed from steam) and many other things as well. so the optimizing algorithm is going to have fun time figuring out what to keep on the ssd portion - it's pretty much a benchmark cheat more than anything else.

    in short, computer world sucks as usual and the article is a hybrid hdd advertisement. "save a few bucks and get one of these! it's excellent if you're budget oriented!".

    (disclaimer, my laptop has both ssd and hd. and yes both a car analogy and a hitler reference)

  • Re:Hybrid Drives (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ultra64 ( 318705 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @04:20PM (#41366777)

    "Compared to a desktop with good drives installed there isn't that much of a speed."

    Haha. Oh wait, you're serious. Let me laugh even harder.


  • Re:Hybrid Drives (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @04:23PM (#41366815)

    I was talking about the desktop, it's a massive upgrade there as well. If you've not tried it you missing out. OS boot times and app start times are massively improved over any hard disk I've ever seen.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @04:48PM (#41367139)

    An item yet unmentioned at the time I post this, is SSD lifetime. The are finite, you know, and probably a lot more finite than a well-protected HDD.

    The evidence that HDDs have a longer lifetime than SSDs remains rather inconclusive. Most of the data I've seen is either manufacturers data that should be taken with a huge grain of NaCl or anecdotal evidence with tiny data sets. Even if they do actually have a shorter life, I'd argue that the difference is relatively small basically meaningless. You really shouldn't trust either type of drive to be reliable. Data should be backed up and you should basically assume that your drive is going to fail at any moment because it might. SSDs don't actually have to last longer than HDDs, they just need to last the useful life of the computer. Anything longer is basically pointless.

  • Re:Hybrid Drives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rev0lt ( 1950662 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @07:01PM (#41368823)
    Are you F** kidding? My quad-core Q6600 workstation runs *laps* around a Core i5 with server-grade SATA disks. Actually it runs *laps* around a server-grade P411 SAS RAID controller (RAID10, 4 disks) on everything I/O intensive, and it is a pretty shitty SSD. It is probably the best upgrade I've ever made, and when you go SSD, you don't go back. When you see dreadful slow apps like Adobe Photoshop opening as if they were Notepad, you'll know. Buying an SSD (instead of a new board, new cpu and new memory) allowed me to squeeze a couple of years more of my current desktop. Oh and don't get fooled by >100Mb/s benchmarks on spinning disks - throw a couple dozen of random operations per second, and they will calm down to a single-digit MBps troughput.

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