For the hardcore PC enthusiasts reading, you will know straight away that the article title is a trick question, and borderline clickbait (we would never). There is, in fact, a third option for the majority. When it comes to gaming PCs, the most logical option is – you need both SSD and HDD for optimal gaming and performance. The critical part is understanding why, and who needs both of these storage components in their gaming PC. Most gamers will get along just fine with an NVMe SSD that has a capacity of 1TB, but there are many situations when the upgrade to dual-wielding storage makes the most sense.
This article will delve into the reasons why you should (or shouldn’t) consider having both SSD and HDD in your next gaming PC, and when you should just opt for a Solid State Drive.
The need for speed
The struggle is real for most gamers looking to for more performance from their PC. When you upgrade your gaming PC, you are either hoping to resurrect the performance by installing faster RAM or storage, or you are relying on your current components to allow a graphics card or processor upgrade. Depending on which motherboard was chosen at the time of purchase, options might be limited with the latter, so opting for a RAM and storage upgrade is quite often the path of least resistance.
For those who are looking to purchase a brand new gaming PC, and take advantage of the latest hardware and performance increases afforded by tech like Raptor Lake processors and DDR5 RAM, the one component that is often overlooked is storage. The attraction is usually to the processor and graphics card, rather than storage – and this is understandable. You trust expert PC builders like Chillblast to choose an SSD or SSD/HDD combo that is both reliable and fast, and so you should.
Chillblast only use the most reliable, high quality SSDs and HDDs in our gaming PCs, because we understand the importance of this core hardware. Boot times, game loading times and loading chunky applications such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Photoshop all matter to the PC user, so we ensure our gaming and creator PCs all ship with the best brands available. In our Fnatic gaming PCs we choose Samsung & Seagate Firecuda SSD storage, and our Triple-A gaming PCs have Samsung 970 & 980 Pro storage as standard, for example. Solidigm now feature in our most modern gaming PC specifications, being one of the world’s most reliable and fastest operating SSDs. What’s more, if you want a custom built PC, Chillblast offer the same array of outstanding storage options as you’ll find in our regular builds.
When practicality meets performance
Speed is important, that’s for sure. But practicality is also extremely important. In selected gaming PCs, we include both an SSD and a HDD, because this is ensures you have the speed and performance enhancement from SSD, with the long term storage of a hard drive. By storing your OS, most used applications and games on your SSD, you are able to increase your speed, with the large capacity hard drive storing your main game library and long term data.
Back in 2020, we published and article about the importance of TBW – Total Bytes Written – when it comes to SSD storage. TBW is an extremely important metric which informs you how many terabytes you are able to write to the SSD over its warranty period (before memory cells begin to degrade). Degradation of data can result in applications becoming unusable, or losing family photos featuring that hairstyle you’re desperately trying to forget.
In a modern SSD like the Solidigm P41 Plus (installed in our Chillblast Vanta Black R7 3070 next day gaming PC), you can expect a TBW of 400TB for the 1TB version.
HDD, on the other hand, is your absolute hero when it comes to TBW, large capacity and long term archival storage. Back-catalogue game libraries, photos, videos, music and more can be stored with peace of mind, with HDDs being able to cope with around 150-300TB per year according to research by Tom’s Hardware.
Data integrity is very important for game libraries, with multiple folders being stored for large games, consisting of assets and files that will be used when you boot the game from Epic or Steam, for example. When it’s time for an update, the files need to be accurately organised, otherwise the user is risking the dreaded “application load error” or “game error”.
SSD only – who needs it?
Entry level gamers, competitive gamers and cloud gamers are often the most common PC users who choose to just have an SSD, rather than an SSD/HDD combination. For entry level gamers, price is often the most important factor, and an extra storage drive can be lived without until budget allows an upgrade. For competitive gamers, there will only be one or two games they play regularly, so a large capacity storage drive might not make sense.
If you are a cloud gaming fanatic, then you will be reluctant to add storage. Mainly because that it will never be used with all of the game data residing online for platforms like Game Pass Ultimate for PC or NVIDIA GeForce Now.
Summary – Do you need SSD or HDD for gaming?
When all is said and done, it’s best to think about the type of gamer you are, and how much use you will get out of adding a HDD to your specification. It may be that you just need an SSD alone. An HDD can be added to your system at any time, and even external storage if you require it, so its not like you don’t have options later on.