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Tech Trivia: The 4S of SSD vs SATA

Tech Trivia: The 4S of SSD vs SATA

by programmerJuly 2, 2016

Move over, SATA – there’s a new kid on the block by the name of SSD, and it’s about to blow your mind away. This is relative, of course, since SSDs have been around for a while now since the late 2000s, especially in netbooks and ultrabooks, but it’s only become more common in laptops and desktops these few years. How is the SSD compared to the SATA?

What Do They Do?

In terms of function, both SATAs and SSDs function much like the human brain in that they store memory, or data, for your device. Then they recall that memory for you when you retrieve the file, or if you’ve installed your operation system (OS) on it, when you boot up your device. They just do the deed differently.

How They Work

A SATA drive has a magnetic-coated metal platter that stores your data. Your data is read or written when its arm skims across this spinning disc within its hard drive enclosure. An SSD, on the other hand, works more like extremely souped-up typical USB flash drive: it stores your data in inter-connected flash memory chips then fishes them back out from their niche when you need them. To compare SATAs and SSDs, check out the 4S for size:


Do you like going fast and furious? Then the SATA will have met its (thus far) unparalleled match in the SSD, at least for you. SSDs are much faster than SATAs. A computer equipped with an SSD boots up instantly in a few seconds, and apps and files will be called up faster, too. If you’re a speed demon or simply just pressed for time to the point that every second counts, an SSD-equipped device might just be the one for you.


On the other hand, if you’re the type to store everything in-house in your computer’s main storage sytem, you might want to stick with a goold old SATA. Because it’s been around for much longer than the SATA (relatively speaking, since IBM’s 1956 RAMAC hard drive), it’s the refined culmination of years of research, so its capacity for storage is decidedly much larger than the one-half-decade old SSD. A 3.5-inch SATA HDD can store up to 10TB worth of data, while a 2.5-inch one, up to 3TB. A 2.5-inch SSD out-performs its SATA counterpart by being able to store up to 4TB, but for normal users, 128GB or 256GB is the norm.


Heavy graphics users such as video editors or 3D makers may want to go for an SSD, for efficiency if nothing else. Actually, there are many other reasons you should go for an SSD, especially if you have the capacity for a multi-drive system since you’ll be able to reap the best from both worlds. You could install your operating system and oft-used software on the SSD for lightning-fast boot-ups, and store your files in the SATA. The increase in speed may well spell the difference between finishing one proposal or three in the same amount of time.


If you’re a person who values the quiet, you’ll value the SSD that much more. The SSD works with flash memory chips, not an arm with a spinning disc, so you won’t hear any spinning sounds as you work. Audiophiles will also be able to better appreciate their music and recordings in the adsence of noise from your workstation.

Points to Consider


The SSD may be newer, but it’s by no means less durable that the SATA HDD. Like all parts, though, they will deteriorate after a certain amount of use. That’s when you see read/write errors when you try to save. With SATAs you have to defragment them once in a while, but SSDs come with TRIM command technology that optimises the read/write cycles so that you’re far more likely to replace your entire computer before your SSD breaks down completely – unless you’re an extremely heavy user, that is.


You’d best consider what you’ll be using your computer for if you’re thinking to invest in your computer’s hard drive. Some software are inherently light and don’t need much juice to boot up, so getting an SSD won’t give you much of a noticeable performance boost there. On the contrary, if you’re into heavy programs that really tax your hard drive, SSD’s your choice.


Of course, everything better comes at a price. SSDs are more expensive than SATAs when you compare them per gigabyte (GB). A 120GB SSD costs around RM250 at the time of writing, translating into around RM2 per GB, while a 1TB SATA HDD can be found for around RM260, or RM0.26 per GB. That’s a huge difference, so if you’re looking for storage more than speed, SATA may be the way to go, but otherwise, SDD away!

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