By this point in time, most of you should at least be familiar with solid state drives (SSDs) and similar flash-based storage methods. They’ve been used for years in Apple products such as the iPod Nano and the MacBook Air. The SSD allows for computer bootups that take seconds and near instant program opening. The main drawback over their hard disk drive (HDD) brethren has been the price to size ratio–while 2 TB HDDs have been seen for as low as $50, SSDs were going for over $2/GB–which made them an untenable upgrade for most people.
Well, perhaps you’ve been to a store lately and seen that HDD prices have nearly quadrupled in the past 3 months. Blame the Thailand floods.
Because so much of the world’s HDD production comes from Thailand, the extensive flooding that has been going on for months is wreaking havoc on the PC industry. While OEMs like Dell and HP have begun purchasing huge quantities of drives in order to keep their prices low, other companies like Intel have cut their revenue estimates by $1B because of the HDD shortage’s effects on PC production and prices. Non-OEMs (like you) are seeing HDDs go from one of the least expensive parts of the computer to the most expensive. At the same time, we’re seeing SSDs falling to unprecedented lows. During Black Friday, you could have picked up a 160GB Intel SSD, like the one in our Black Friday Build, for $160 after rebate, less than half the cost they were 3 months ago. Other brands have even gone under the $1/GB threshold, making the SSD upgrade a reasonable option for nearly everyone. And the trend looks to continue into 2012.
So what does a SSD offer you? According to testing by Tom’s Hardware, a universal performance gain that will rival any upgrade you could perform on your computer. Your computer will boot up in 10-20 seconds. Programs will open immediately. You’ll no longer suffer the noise of the HDD spinning up, and your drive will no longer be your system’s bottleneck. Check out one example of SSD/HDD benchmarks below.
|SSDs are red. HDDs are blue. Longer bars are better.|