SSDs vs HDDs For Gaming – Take the Fast Lane

By Chris Stolze, on January 5, 2021

Looking to make your system run faster and have your games load quicker? System storage is often overlooked but can provide a significant upgrade to your system’s overall responsiveness, especially if you’re still using a traditional mechanical hard drive!

What Makes SSDs So Great?

Speed

It’s all in the name, a solid-state drive uses cells of flash memory (which are by nature, solid-state) to store data and can be accessed much quicker than a mechanical hard drives’ spinning platter. This translates to speeds that can be over 50 times greater than you’re used to with your old hard drive depending on the type of transfer.

Noise

Since solid-state drives have no moving parts, they run silently (unless being actively cooled by a fan of course). This removes the sounds of your disks spinning up and the low hum of them running entirely!

Durability

Another benefit of having no moving parts is that there are fewer things that are likely to break should your system encounter some unexpected shock such as when you move your system.

Longevity

Finally, the tech behind SSDs has matured greatly over the past decade, rivaling and surpassing the expected lifespan of traditional hard drives, ensuring that an SSD will hold your data well beyond the lifespan of a typical system.

How Games Use Your Storage

In-engine screenshot of CD PROJEKT RED’s Cyberpunk 2077

How does that extra speed translate to games? Sequential read and write speeds help out when reading and writing large files like pre-rendered cutscenes and massive textures which you’ll often come across during a loading screen in a game.

Load time comparison between a traditional hard drive and a M.2 NVMe SSD (lower is better).

To help illustrate the speed difference, I’ve timed how long it takes to load into Cyberpunk 2077 on a hard drive compared to one of our M.2 SSDs. While load times can vary between systems for a variety of reasons, on my system at home I was able to see a significant reduction in load times by using a M.2 NVMe SSD, which cut the wait time roughly in half from 20 seconds on the hard drive down to just 10 seconds on the NVMe SSD.

Example of a Cyberpunk 2077 loading screen.

While shaving 10 seconds off of game load times doesn’t sound like much at first, this kind of speed boost can really add up, resulting in more time overall being spent enjoying the game rather than staring at a pretty load screen.

Another perk of running your games off of an SSD is that it can also help to reduce what many call “pop-in” where textures and models will seemingly pop into existence due to a lag from loading the asset from slower storage!

What Do I Need To Upgrade?

SSDs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, if you want to swap out a SATA hard drive you can grab a SATA SSD and use the same cables to connect it to your motherboard and power supply as a direct replacement.

CORSAIR MP400 M.2 NVMe SSD installed in a notebook.

However, the more popular option is to go for an SSD that connects directly to your motherboard through either a PCIe or M.2 slot!

If you decide to pick up a M.2 SSD, we’ve put together this quick video to show you the installation process:

The CORSAIR SSD Lineup

CORSAIR offers a wide range of M.2 NVMe SSDs that put some pep into the step of your current system (or that new build you’re planning).

CORSAIR MP400

The MP400 is our latest M.2 NVMe drive, focusing on high capacity and endurance. You can get up to 8TB of storage on a single drive the size of a stick of gum!

CORSAIR MP510

The MP510 is an all around high performer, with speeds of up to 3,480MB/sec sequential read and 3,000MB/sec sequential writes powered by high-density 3D TLC NAND for an ideal mix of performance, endurance, and value.

CORSAIR MP600

The MP600 is our current king of the mountain, supporting PCIE 4.0 (but backwards compatible with PCIE 3.0 motherboards) allowing blazing fast speeds of up to 4,950MB/sec sequential read and 4,250MB/sec write, again powered by 3D TLC NAND for its balance of performance, endurance, and value. If you have or are planning to upgrade to PCIE 4.0, this is the M.2 drive to get.

Conclusion

CORSAIR MP400 installed on a desktop motherboard.

SSDs are a great upgrade for pre-built systems and a must for new builds. For more information about our M.2 SSD lineup, check out our page here or join our community over on Reddit, Discord, and our User Forum!


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