Hard Drives for the Non Techy Minded

I got duped! Kinda… Bad case of should have known better.

OK a quick run down of the difference between laptop hard drives for the non tech minded among you. It may help some of you on future purchases.

The first type of laptop hard drive is a traditional old style mechanical drive. They have several disks in them, like CDs, which record your data. The are heavy, they do not like being moved while the disks are spinning and are slow compared to modern hard drives. They can also get hot with constant use and contribute to your laptops heat output. They are however easy to to change with a universal Sata connection, can be upgraded to a 2.5″ SSD drive at a later date, and cheap!

£50 for a 1 Terrayte old style mechanical hard drive.

The next type is a 2.5″ SSD drive (Solid State Drive). A long time ago they were considered unreliable. I never experienced unreliable SSD drives. They are fast. Seriously fast. The Sandisk Ultra has a read / write speed over 10 times faster than the Samsung listed above. I notice the difference the most starting up a PC and starting programs. An old style mechanical drive took 14 secounds to open an A1 300dpi poster I was working on. The SSD drive had it open in 3 secounds. The also have Sata connections so can replace your mechanical Sata drive and as they do not having any moving parts, they do not heat up like mechanical hard drives. The downside is however is the price.

£170 for a 960gb Sandisk Utra SSD.

There are also hybrids available, which are a mix of the two. Its a good idea as they try to store your most used files and programs on a small SSD drive within a mechanical drive, so the programs and files you use regularly open quickly. Its also a lot cheaper than an SSD drive. They have Sata connections so can replace any other Sata hard drive. I am not a fan though. I did not see the great gains promised from mine, and to be honest, if you can wait it out, you can get a 1 TB SSD in a sale for £100.

£70 for a Toshiba Hybrid Drive.

EMMC drives are feckin pointless. OK, maybe not entirely pointless, but I cannot stand them. An EMMC drive is a small chip, embedded onto your laptops motherboard. 99% of the time they cannot be removed or replaced. The advantages are they are tiny and lightweight and cheap to manufacture, this makes them great for things like Chromebooks. They are often referred to as SSD drives. They are technically solid state drives as they have no moving parts. However, they rarely go above 32gb in size, they are often slower than mechanical hard drives, and I repeat, usually cannot be replaced.

£125 Lenovo Chromebook with an EMMC

The last kind is PCIe memory. These are tiny solid state hard drives that have their own connection type. They are lightweight and have no moving parts so fairly cool. They are also blisteringly fast. Faster than the SSD drives I mentioned above. This is because they do not have a Sata connection, they have the potentially faster PCIe connection. I can turn the new laptop on and start using Firefox withing 5 secounds. They cannot however be swapped with any drive. If you get a laptop with a PCIe hard drive, at the moment, you can only upgrade it with a PCIe hard drive. That can be off putting when you see the price. This often limits you to smaller hard drives. If you are a graphics designer, video editor or gamer, they become cost prohibitive.

£599 for a 1TB PCIe hard drive.

So as you can see above, there are 3 solid state drives (SSD), and I fell for the dupe in PCWorld where I was told the laptop had an SSD drive and could be upgraded, which it can be. He just did not tell me it was a PCIe drive and would cost a fortune to do. Oh well, live, learn, and teach others to not make the same mistake.

I am still happy with my HP Pavillion 360 though. 🙂

11 thoughts on “Hard Drives for the Non Techy Minded

  1. Saf

    I had a HP Pavillion (not sure which number) for a long time too. I gave it a lot to do and it did it reliably. Eventually sold as I’ve gone Apple crazy, but the person who bought it from me is very happy with it too. I never have a clue when different types of drive are described, making purchase choices difficult. Now I know!!

    1. sable Post author

      Seems like laptop, and I am afraid I am an anti apple heh. By the time we all get new laptops, technology will have probably moved on again. 🙂

  2. Linda

    1. Laptops are awesome, but not very upgrade friendly.
    2. Never trust an industry supported magazine, whether for computers or motorcycles. EVERY product is great according to their writers. Beautiful pictures and some good statistics, but rarely an unbiased review.
    3. Nice job of explaining the differences in various hard drives.

    1. sable Post author

      Heh, my last few laptops have all had upgradeable ram and hard drives. Its usually the graphics card and processor thats embedded. PC World is a shop in the UK, big chain of stores, but the staff are not that techy minded. To them, all hard drives without moving parts will be solid state drives heh. And thanks for the compliment!

      1. Linda

        Love it when I learn something new. PCWorld is a magazine/web site in the U.S. It sounds like you picked up on my viewpoint right away. I have only been to the U.K. once, for a week, so I definitely have limited exposure.

  3. w1nt3l

    PCIe 3.0 is also referred to as M.2, which my laptop has as well. I went for the more expensive of the bunch to get the 512GB M.2 storage. As with anything “new”, the price will eventually come down as does everything once it becomes the standard. M.2(PCIe) will become the standard, I have no doubt, as it allows for more space to pack in extra cells in the battery. The day of the 18 hour laptop charge is coming!

    1. sable Post author

      M.2! Thats the word! I was wracking my brain trying to think of what it was called when I was writing that and it just did not come to me. Yeah its amazing how far laptops have come battery wise. It is probably helped by the rise of tablets, mobiles, and push for electric replacing fossil fuels. The world is now interested in advancing battery technology.

  4. Phil Huston

    Samsung’s 1TB SSD USB 3, which you have 2 of on your computer, runs 10GB in 30 secs. which is still honkin’ for portable storage. close to 5oombs read and 400 write, weighs 1 ounce. Store your stuff on it, run from the PCI. Just my .02. These days we forget windows 95, 386 computers an making albums with an Atari ST and Notator.

    1. sable Post author

      I am a hard drive hoarder so I have a 500ish gb 2.5″ hybrid drive and a 1tb SSD 2.5″ from my last laptop as well as 2.6tb’s worth of 3.5″ drives. Docks, bays and enclosures are in order. 🙂

      Massive envy if you had an ST, we went Atari 2600, Commodore 64 then Amiga 600. All awesome computers, but Atari ST was always the sexy one. 🙂

  5. M

    Sorry to hear of your issues. Yeah, I’be been duped, too. Went to the Apple site to update a hard drive. Based on the model, serial number and manufacturing date, the site said a hybrid hard drive could be supported. So I followed their link and bought one. And guess what? Didn’t work. Guess what else? HDD could not be returned. Live and learn.


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