So we’ve looked at the feasability of a solid state drive as a full hard drive replacement, and came to the conclusion that essentially it’s only any use if you don’t want to stash a load of large media files locally.
But what if you do and you don’t want to be missing out on all those sweet benefits of a SSD? Well, the popular resolution for this sort of dilemma is to keep your large capacity hard drive, but pair it with a smaller, faster drive to hold your system files and applications. It’s easily done for desktop computer, but in most laptops it’s a lot tougher and will require the sacrifice of an optical drive.
For years the optical drive has been an almost pivotal part of any decent PC setup. We’ve needed them for software installation, for the most part running games, ripping CD’s/DVD’s etc and equally, burning them again. But, in this day and age, with the plethora of digital distribution services, such as the obvious example of iTunes for music, TV and movies, but also the likes of Steam for games and if you’re looking for software, there won’t be much you can’t find online for digital download.
It’s just more convenient that way, so why do we really need an optical drive, then? Well I’d love to hear your examples, but in truth the only time I ever use mine is to rip a music CD to add to my lossless music library as finding high bitrate audio online is a lot of the time fairly difficult. But, with this sort of high quality music downloads surely on the horizon, if not a little nearer, the optical drive is surely going to become entirely redundant in the not too distant future.
So, why not consider chucking out that old disc drive and getting yourself a hard drive caddy for your current drive, and shoving a 64GB SSD in the primary SATA slot?
The important thing to note is the benefits that it brings. As I mentioned in my previous SSD-related article I will soon be figuring out some real statistics, but even to the untrained eye the speed benefits and general feel of improved responsiveness when it comes to launching apps and the initial boot up time are undeniable. It has to be seen to understand fully, but with boot times cut to just a few seconds and many applications loading up almost instantaneously, it is definitely worth it if you had the money.
There are an increasing number of PC’s, plus many new Mac models such as the MacBook Air, which are coming pre-fitted with a SSD, with the likes of the iMac giving you the option of dual drives. In a desktop machine, for me, it is more justified to splash out on a pair of drives, as you will be more inclined to stow a great amount of large media on there, but if you tend to do this sort of thing on a laptop it is a great solution.
So, it is difficult, in fact impossible, to give a definite judgement on which is the better solution, it all depends on the individual requirements I suppose. So let’s be clear, if you keep a lot of media, you need a hard drive (assuming you’re not literally made of money) but you don’t necessarily NEED a solid state drive. It is more a case of WANT at the moment, it is an impatient man’s luxury, but just generally makes your machine feel a lot more powerful.
If you only tend to use what’s on the web and only require the basics from your computer, you may want to consider swapping it out altogether. If you want the best of both, then get both. With hard drives being pretty cheap these days, it won’t cost you a fortune to keep a secondary drive alongside a solid state boot drive. And if you do go for both, it does of course mean that you may be able to reduce the capacity of the solid state drive, which may mean actually that you save money this way.