Does disk type matter?


Tip Tuesday

For the photographer and videographer that is embarking upon a new system build, learn from my experience.  Save time and money.

Three types of drives that serves very different purposes.

There are three types of drives: HDD, SSD, and the newest NVMe.  They have very specific roles in a build for a photographer/videographer.

HDD - hard disk drive

  • Most cost effective in Gb to dollar comparison.
  • up to 120 Mb/s read and write speeds
  • Should be used for backing up and archival purposes.
  • Buy only 7200 rpm drives.  They offer the best speed and noise compromise.
  • I use them in a NAS so their speeds are limited by the network speed.

SSD - solid state drive

  • Fast and reasonably priced.
  • up to 550 Mb/s read and write speeds
  • Best used as boot drive and scratch drive.
  • You can buy up to a 4Tb drive at this time of posting.  A drive this size will negate your need for a scratch drive.
  • I use them for a scratch drive and to separate my games from my boot drive.

NVMe - non-volatile memory express 

  • Fastest drives available and extremely expensive when compared to other drive formats.
  • 1000 Mb/s to 3500 Mb/s read and write speeds, depending on generation
  • best used for a boot or scratch drive.
  • You can buy up to a 4Tb drive at the time of this posting.  This may negate the need for a scratch drive.
  • I use this type of drive as my boot drive.  The speeds are negligible in real life use.

My current system

My needs are basic and I still use a tried and true setup for my computer.  I use a 120gb SSD for my OS boot drive and program files.  I use a 500gb NVMe for my scratch drive.  My videos are often 10 minutes or less so no need for a large drive. I also have a 500gb SSD for games (Stress relievers and time wasters).  Finally I use 2 3tb HDD in a NAS (network attached Storage) set to raid 1 (mirroring) for archival.  This allows me to be sure I have an exact copy of clients finished files in case something goes horribly wrong.

My system experience

My real world use shows that the biggest performance boost comes from upgrading a HDD to SSD.  NVMe is marginally faster than SSD in my daily tasks.  If your motherboard has the M.2 standard buy a NVMe.  If you are running a SSD setup, it may not be worth upgrading to a motherboard that supports NVMe. The biggest gains will come from swapping out your system's HDD with a SSD.  I only use HDD for archival purposes.  When a SSD or NVMe fails you can't recover files like you can on a HDD.  That is the only reason my backup and archival system is based upon the slow HDD technology.