Does an SSD add FPS in games, does it need to be defragmented, how quickly the drive wears out and other common questions
If you still haven’t switched to solid state drives in 2021, then you are missing out on a lot. Classic hard drives today are only suitable for file “real estate”: photos, documents, music, video files and the like. And for any modern (and even old) executable programs, SSD is much better suited, which eliminates unnecessary delays at startup and during loading, and also removes unnecessary load on the processor.
The general shift from hard drives to solid-state drives is being delayed in large part because of the large number of myths that hover around this topic. Today we will try to separate the truth from the fiction.
Myth number 1. SSD does not affect gaming performance
It also does, but the improvement cannot be seen on the average or maximum FPS counters. For example, in modern open world games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Red Dead Redemption 2 , when the engine needs to frequently load a large number of assets, the difference in the minimum FPS is very noticeable. SSD will eliminate friezes, statters and other micro-performance problems when moving from one location to another or while driving fast around the city. And the gameplay will become much smoother and more comfortable.
There is also a benefit in games with frequent loading screens between levels ( Fallout 4 , Skyrim , The Outer Worlds ) or after death ( Dark Souls 3 , Sekiro , Doom Eternal ). In them, you can devote more time to the gameplay itself, and not drop out of the process every few minutes.
Myth number 2. No high speed NVMe drives needed
Such tests are already becoming obsolete
This myth is based on obsolete facts. Before the release of new consoles in late 2020, games were designed for hard drives because there were so few SSDs. Therefore, in games, there was almost no difference between the cheapest SSD and the flagship model with 5-digit speeds. And now consoles have switched to SSDs, and many PC owners are acquiring them. Therefore, more and more new games will be designed primarily to work with “solid state drives”, and not with slow classic drives ( Cyberpunk 2077 turned out to be the first such game ). This means that faster SSDs will still begin to reach their full potential in games.
As for professional applications (Photoshop, After Effects, etc.), the difference between an inexpensive solid-state drive at 400-500 megabytes per second and a top-end one for 30,000 megabytes has long been there. But it is very different from application to application.
Myth number 3. SSDs wear out quickly
14 terabytes of data rewriting per year gives at least 10 years of SSD life
Another outdated judgment. The durability of an SSD depends on many factors, but two of the most important can be distinguished: volume and production technology. Previously, all solid state drives were small in capacity – up to 128 gigabytes (usually even less). In addition, they were created on the basis of a flat structure of cells. But already in 2017, all manufacturers switched to three-dimensional technology (3D NAND, V-NAND, etc.), and the volumes increased to several terabytes.
Therefore, today even SSDs with once considered unreliable TLC memory have a margin of safety for many years – about 150 terabytes of rewriting on average. Such a drive, even with the most active use and daily rewriting of tens of gigabytes, will last at least 5 years (but rather closer to 10). In addition, SSDs are protected from mechanical damage because they have no moving parts. All this means that a modern “solid state” can live even longer than a classic hard disk (and, most likely, it will become outdated before it fails).
Myth number 4. SSDs are too expensive
Many are waiting for the price per gigabyte on an SSD to equal the price per gigabyte on a classic hard drive. This is unlikely to happen in the near future, since the difference in production complexity between them will not go anywhere. However, if earlier at the price of a terabyte HDD it was possible to purchase a 128 gigabyte solid-state drive, today the difference has been reduced by about two times. That is, even a 500 gigabyte SSD can now be bought for 3-4 thousand. And let us remind you that even the simplest “solid state” will be many times faster than any hard drive.
Myth number 5. There is no point in installing an SSD on an older computer
Indeed, solid-state drives cannot use all their functionality on outdated operating systems, and the SATA 1 and SATA 2 interfaces prevent them from operating at maximum speed. However, even with all the limitations, an SSD will significantly increase the data transfer speed on an older PC. 150 megabytes per second on SATA 1 will be much faster than any HDD, and the operating system and any programs will start loading in a matter of seconds.
As for the unavailable functionality, we are talking about the TRIM command, which helps to clear memory cells of unnecessary data. TRIM is not available on operating systems older than Windows 7. If you do not clear memory locations after deleting files, they will simply be overwritten. This will reduce the durability of the “solid-state device” by up to two times, but, as we mentioned above, the margin of safety for modern SSDs with a three-dimensional structure is still large.
Myth number 6. The paging file cannot be used on “solid-state systems”
In the days of Windows XP, few people had more than 2 gigabytes of RAM. The recommended paging file size was about 3 gigabytes. After that, many continued to set the paging file 1.5 times higher than the amount of RAM, although there is no direct relationship between these volumes. Already in the days of Windows 7 on systems with 4 gigabyte or more RAM, it made no sense to set the paging file above 3-5 gigabytes. And on Windows 10 it is generally better to leave the “System Size”. As a result, the volume is usually the same 3-5 gigabytes. Which is very little for overwriting data on a modern SSD. And if you move the paging file to your hard drive, it will only generate freezes and statters in games with a shortage of RAM or video memory.
Myth number 7. Any drives must be fully formatted before reinstalling Windows
This is true for hard drives, but not for SSDs. On solid-state drives, the full wipe function is performed by the same TRIM command, which is called by the usual “quick” format. Roughly speaking, fast formatting for SSD is the same as full formatting for HDD. And a complete formatting of the solid-state drive will only reduce its overwrite safety margin by its volume.
Myth number 8. SSD needs to be defragmented too
Defragmentation is necessary for hard drives, because data is read from them using a magnetic head. Files on the disk are usually written randomly, in the first available cells. As a result, the mess grows and to read each relatively large file, the magnetic head has to travel long distances back and forth over the entire surface of the “pancakes”. After defragmentation, all files are in one piece, which speeds up their reading at times.
It’s a different story with solid state drives. Reading data on them can be done at least from all memory cells at the same time. Therefore, defragmentation, again, will only shorten the lifespan of the SSD, and will not provide any performance improvements.
Myth number 9. It is worth taking only well-known brands of drives
As with any high-tech electronics, only flagship models are relevant. Only famous brands can usually provide 5-digit operating speeds, no overheating problems, long-term support and durability. However, if you need the simplest SDD for 300-500 megabytes, then you can take any cheap one with a three-dimensional memory structure (there are almost no flat ones left even on Aliexpress today). It will not overheat and will last for many years, since nanotechnology is far from the kind of industry that has opportunities for hack at a basic level.
Most PC users have very limited experience with parts. Some are slightly larger, but still insufficient. And still others focus only on brands or popular models. Lack of proven knowledge gives rise to a huge number of myths around computers, their components and peripherals. Therefore, we will continue to return to this topic in future materials.