Help Me, Laptop: Hard Drive or SSD?

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Choosing between large cars and fast cars can be tricky, but similar questions regarding laptop storage can be easier to answer.helpme harddrive lead

So when forum user ally99 came to us with an AMD-based-laptop face-off, we instantly saw a crucial difference between their options:

Hi, What laptop specs are better for watching movies, browsing websites, The Sims 3 and 4, Minecraft and maybe a couple other little games:

2.5/2.9 GHz Dual Core AMD A6-9220, 256GB SSD, 8GB DRR4 RAM and UMA AMD Radeon R4 graphics or

 3/3.6GHz AMD Dual-Core A9-9420, 1TB 5400 RPM hard drive, 8GB DRR4 RAM and AMD R5 integrated graphics?

Well, ally, we're happy you chose us as your ally in laptop speculation. For your gaming needs, those titles you listed seem modest enough in processor demands so that the integrated graphics in each laptop should be enough, as should their AMD processors.

That brings this debate squarely down to the choice between a spacious 1TB 5400rpm hard drive versus a 256GB SSD. We recommend the SSD-based model over the hard-drive model because it will give you speedier and more-reliable storage memory. Applications will load faster, and the drive will live longer. 

MORE: Laptops with the Best Productivity Performance

But for anyone else trying to make such a question, there are other questions to ask. What kind of SSD is this? If it's an eMMC SSD (commonly found in lower-end notebooks), then you might be better off with the moving-parts drive, as eMMC drives are frustratingly slower than all other SSDs.

If you just plan to stream movies from Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, you're better off with the SSD. But if you're looking to amass a collection of movie files, then the 1TB drive is probably better. 

Credit: Alexander_Borisenko/Shutterstock

Author Bio
Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.
Henry T. Casey, on
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2 comments
  • Fred Schaeffer Says:

    Want a 17" touchscreen with the power friendly Ryzen 7 2700U

  • omegatalon Says:

    You can get an entry level notebook with a 1TB HDD for under $300; but if you get a computer with a SSD, it'll most likely be just a 256GB and while it'll offer a bit better performance, it'll also cost almost twice as much.

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