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Looking at the title you might not even have a clue what a NVMe storage drive is, or you might not know what any of these things are outside of the old standard hard disc drive. Well, this article will guide you through the differences and show you which storage solution might be right for you and your gaming needs.
With one exception, we will be talking about single drive options for your PC. Others might mess around with four different drives and SD cards, but we are just looking at barebones single drives. So, we have four major options: the older mechanical hard disc drive(HD), the solid-state drive(SSD), the hybrid solid state hard disc drive (SSHDD, or just SSHD), and the newest Non-volatile memory express (NVMe).
Best mechanical HD: Seagate 6TB IronWolf.
For those who have hundreds of games and never know what to play.
Mechanical hard drives have been around forever. They are a literal spinning disk and they have an arm that reads off the data like a CD or DVD. A typical read and write speed for a disc drive would be around 100 MB/s (megabytes per second), many times slower than what we have today, but people still buy these archaic drives, why.
Well you still can’t beat the incredible storage space and the price of these drives. A good way to measure the value of drives is the cost per GB of storage, like breaking things down in the grocery store by price per ounce or pound. hard disc drives are unbeatable here.
Also, it is possible to get massive storage out of these drives. Modern games can be more than 50 GB a piece and quickly eat up your storage space. If you download movies or general just keep a cluttered mess of programs on your PC, you’re going to want the storage space.
Seagate’s Ironwolf gives you all the space you could ever want while also being optimized as network storage. This means you can set it up to use as a server and stream movies from it to wherever you are. Slower read and write speeds really affect loading screens, so, if you are a patient person this could be right for you.
The Ironwolf allows you to have hundreds of games and other programs without having to worry about deleting one to make room for the next big release. If you bounce from game to game then you might want this option.
Best SSHD: Seagate 2TB FireCuda.
For those who want a taste of speed and just enough storage.
Solid state hybrid drives are a blend of disc drives with flash solid state memory. The majority of the drive is of the disc variety and a small buffer of about 8 GBs or so is speedy flash memory. The drive works as a normal disc drive until it learns which files you access the most and stores them in the flash portion.
Now when you load a program that has some or all its data on the flash portion it will be much faster. Only a small amount of data can get onto the speedy flash section and you don’t get to choose, it depends on what you use the most. Also, most disc drives spin at 7,200 revolutions per minute, the more it spins the faster it reads and writes, but many hybrid drives sell you on the flash while delivering a 5,400-rpm main drive.
Seagate’s FireCuda gaming hybrid drive doesn’t sacrifice however. It runs 2TB at 7,200-rpm and has a reputation for reliability. Hybrid drives often boost your boot-time and this one is no different. a well put together drive for those who want a fair amount of storage and a pretty decent amount of speed.
Best SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 500GB.
For those who want amazing speed at a pretty decent price.
Well we are really shrinking in the storage department now, but trust me, the speed might just be worth it. solid state drives are like the USB flash drives, but turned into your entire system drive. Across the board, we see that SSDs are five times faster than mechanical hard drives. It is hard to compare with hybrid drives but on average they are still 4-5 times as fast. Oh, and they have no moving parts, so they are silent as can be.
SSDs are expensive but are become cheaper every day. Samsung’s 850 EVO is probably the best price to performance you will find on the market. At under $200, it still has room for windows and a good bunch of even the largest modern games.
Perhaps you focus on one game or series at a time, then you can plan ahead and download the games you want and have them open amazingly fast. If you play games with a lot of loading screens, or games where you have to reload constantly (Dark Souls anyone) than you will be amazed with the speed of this SSD. It may be on the cheaper end of SSDs, but Samsung has really cornered the market in quality SSDs and the 850 EVO is probably the most popular and highest rated SSD you could find.
Best NVMe: Samsung 960 EVO.
For those who want the best of the best and know what type of motherboard they have.
Wait, that looks nothing link a storage drive. But it’s not RAM either. It’s a NVMe M.2 drive. This is the same size as our Samsung 850, but again we have another bump in speed. This thing is a whopping five times faster than the 850. Yes, that makes it twenty-five times faster than your old mechanical hard drive.
Why does it look so weird? Well it’s because it gets rid of the last limit of drive speed, the SATA cable, and plugs itself directly into your motherboard. Of course, this means that you need to make sure you have the right M.2 slot on your board. You really want to know what you are doing because some motherboards have a type of slot that M.2 cards will fit it but it isn’t the exact right slot, so it throttles the speed down to SSD range.
But if you get the right motherboard and this NVMe card, you will be amazed. It has the same considerations as the SSD, where you might want to plan ahead and just download the handful of games you want to play for the moment, but plays and loads those games so much faster.
Here we also get into other tasks such as video and picture editing. Say you want to record your own gameplay and edit the video before uploading. Moving it around is twenty-five times faster than what most people are used to. Shuffle your movie library from drive to drive in a couple of minutes instead of having to go out to lunch while the files transfer.
With games, it’s all about the loading speed. Take civilization VI for example. You can modify the map size to be absolutely gigantic, but your PC has to create and load in that map. For me loading a massive modded map will take about 15 minutes with a standard HD. That means walking away and trying to do other things while I wait. A NVMe can knock that out in literally less than a minute.
This all depends on the rest of your hardware too, but in general booting up games and going through loading screens will be a breeze. A loading screen might briefly flash and be gone, making games like Skyrim a totally different experience. It is important to note that frames per second are hardly if at all affected by your choice of hard drive, it’s all about storage and loading speed.
NVMes and SSDs do come in larger sizes, with the Pro model of Samsung’s NVMe going up to 2TB but at a hefty $1,282. If you have the money to spend, the drives actually get a little faster as the size increases, but keep in mind that you could build a pretty decent gaming computer for the cost of that 2TB NVMe. Samsung’s 500GB option is much more reasonable at $179.
So, there you go. Once you figure out what you want to do, from having a massive and always available library of games, movies or whatever else, to having loading screens disappear and a boot time of a second you can find amazing drives hovering around $200 or below.