As technologies get smaller and smaller, storage devices have also faced huge improvements over the years. It has even come to the point where you can store terabytes of data on a chip smaller than a coin.
However, these storage devices come in different shapes and sizes, depending on their use. Today, we are here to talk about three types of drives that are widely used in modern computers, laptops, and even iMacs.
So, without further delay, let us get right into it.
Fusion Drive V SSD V HDD
Before directly jumping into the differences, let us get little details on each drive.
Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
In short, the Hard Disk Drive, or HDD, is one of the earlier electro-mechanical storage devices introduced to the world in 1956 by IBM. The HDD uses mechanical components to read and write data. So, they are slower than a fully electronic storage device.
Since HDDs are slower than SSDs, they are relatively cheaper. You can easily get more than a terabyte of storage capacity for a reasonable price. The cost for storage ranges from $0.05 to $0.038 per GB.
The HHDs low cost is exactly why most people still include a Hard Disk Drive on their build.
Why Do I Need an HDD?
The HDD is commonly used to store permanent files and folders. As they are cheaper than SSD, you can easily add more storage without putting a dent in your budget.
However, if you want higher read and write speed, the SSD will be an ideal choice.
- The cost per GB is a lot cheaper.
- If you have the right tools, you may be able to recover files from an HDD.
- Slower read/write speed ranging from 80MB/s to 150MB/s depending on HDDs RPM.
- It makes the overall system noisy.
- Bulky and takes a lot of physical space in your system.
- Prone to physical damages.
Solid State Drive
A Solid State Drive or an SSD is a fully electronic storage device that uses IC (Integrated Circuit) chips to store data. SanDisk first introduced the SSD in 1991 with a storage size of 20MB.
Since the SSD did not have any moving components, it easily overcame most disadvantages with the HDD. The SSD did not make any noise and was less prone to internal damage. The SSD also offered increased read and write speeds that the HDDs just could not match.
However, one small disadvantage to using a Solid State Drive is that it is pretty expensive. Its prices range from $0.14 to $0.3 per GB.
The price may not seem much compared to HDD, but it adds up as the storage increases. For example, a 1TB SSD might cost from $80 to $120, depending on the type of SSD, whereas a 1TB HDD can cost from $30 to $50.
Why Do I Need an SSD?
Due to SSDs lack of moving components, they can access and write data extremely fast compared to the HDD. Therefore, by installing OS in your SSD, the Operating Systems boot time decreases.
This is why most users get an SSD to store the OS and a separate HDD to store their files and folders.
- It does not produce any noise.
- Internal components are less likely to get damaged
- Smaller physical size
- Some SSDs do not even need a separate power supply
- Loading time on applications stored on SSD is a lot shorter
- Cost per GB is a lot more expensive compared to HDDs
- It permanently deletes files. Therefore, there are very slim chances of recovering data.
- Smaller physical size
These advantages made the SSD much more popular. Therefore, most users always include an SSD in their build.
The Fusion drive takes components from the HDD and the SSD and combines them to form a new type of storage device.
Fusion drives are only specific to Apple products, such as the Mac mini and iMac series. Apple has designed the fusion drive to store the OS and applications that are accessed frequently on the flash storage (SSD component). However, it stores data used less frequently on the hard drive.
One major advantage to using a fusion drive is that compared to the expensive SSDs, a fusion drive also offers similar speeds at lower prices.
Therefore, if you find the HDD is too slow and do not have a budget to get an SSD on an iMac, the fusion drive is the way.
How Does a Fusion Drive Work?
The Fusion Drive uses the NAND chip used in SSDs with an HDD with higher storage. The drive uses the best feature of both the SSD and HDD for faster and larger storage.
- Affordable compared to SSDs
- Although it has some moving components, it makes less noise than an HDD.
- Due to the SSD component, OS stored in the fusion drive has a better boot-up time.
- Bulky as it contains both mechanical components from HDD and components from SSD
- It performs poorly than an SSD.
- Fusion drives have relatively lower RPMs (Rotation Per Minute)
Which is Better: HDD, SSD or Fusion Drive?
If you are building a computer, we always recommend that you use an SSD to store the OS or frequently used applications. Since loading time on HDDs is really bad, HDDs are mostly used to store personal files and folders.
However, if you have the budget, you can install an SSD with a higher storage capacity.
You can also run a fully HDD setup and upgrade to an SSD later if you are short on budget. However, by doing this, your system can run slow and the PC will also have a longer boot time.
As for fusion drives, since they are only available for Mac Mini or iMacs, it is best that you use an SSD with 128GB and an HDD with 1TB or more capacity.
If you want to use a fusion drive for your Macbook, you can also make your own fusion drive using an SSD and an HDD.
Below, we have a detailed table on the differences between HDD, SSD, and the Fusion Drive.
|Composition||The HDD consists of multiple mechanical components that stores, reads and write data||The SSD consists of multiple IC chips which store data||It is a combination of SSD and HDD.|
|Speed||Depending on HDDs RPM (Rotation Per Minute), its speed can vary from 80-160MB/s.||Depending on the type of SSD, its speed starts at 320MB/s.||SSD components generally have a speed of 300MB/s, whereas HDD component has a speed of 80-120MB/s|
|Usage||HDD is mostly used as a primary storage device for most laptops, desktop PCs, and Mac computers.||The SSD is mostly used to store OS or any application that you use constantly, or even primary storage.||Fusion drives are only used in Mac mini or iMac series. HDD stores normal applications, whereas the SSD stores the macOS and other frequently used applications.|
|Physical size||Comes in data platter size 3.5 or 2,5 inch||Normal SSDs are 2.5 inches. However, NVMe is even smaller.||Combinations of 3.5 or 2.5 inches HDD and 2.5 inch SSD.|
|Maximum Capacity||On todays market, HDD caps at 20TB of storage.||SSDs maximum capacity is 100TB which is much higher compared to HDD||Fusion drive has a maximum capacity of 3TB HDD and 128 GB SSD|
Should I get an SSD or Fusion Drive on iMAC?
It really depends on what you are willing to spend. If you want greater read-write speed and faster boot time, we recommend getting an iMac with an SSD. However, if you are on a budget and looking to cut costs, the fusion drive is an ideal choice.
Fusion drive stores the OS in the SSD and less frequently used applications in the HDD. So, you will have decent read and write speed with faster boot time. And not to mention lower the cost.
How Does an HDD Work?
There are basically four key components you can find inside an HDD. The Platter is a circular disk used to store data. You can find multiple Platter on a hard disk.
The Spindle spins the Platter. The read/write arm reads or writes data from the Platter. And finally, an actuator that controls the read/write arm.
Each Platter is split into tracks, and each track is split into sectors. When the HDD reads or writes, the Platter spins, and the actuator finds the correct track and correct sectors and gets data with the read/write head.
Due to all these moving parts, you will always have some sort of delay when accessing data.
How Does an SSD Work?
SSD stores bits of data on NAND Flash Chips. A single NAND chip consists of 8 Integrated Circuit chips. Each IC chip has two planes, and each plane has a huge array (10,000 to 30,000) of vertically stacked Charge Trap Flash Memory cells. Each Trap Flash Memory cell stores 3 bits of data.
To access data stored in these NAND chips, it uses an SSD controller. Memory Channel connects the two NAND chips and SSD controllers.
Since all the components inside an SSD are electrical, you will have faster read/write speeds.