NVMe M.2 SSD vs HDD | Gaming Performance & Booting!

When choosing storage for your personal computers, people get confused between HDD and SSD as to which is the better option. So let us understand the concepts and learn how SSD is a better option for almost everything from business to gaming.

  • HDD is a legacy storage technology using spinning discs to read and write data.
  • Compared to HDDs, SSDs are faster and consume less power.
  • Pricing-wise, HDDs are cheaper, but SSD prices are coming down.

HDD and SSD are two primary storage options for a PC. Here is the comparison between HDD and M.2 NVMe SSD.

HDD – Hard Disk Drive

A Hard Disk Drive is a simple data storage device consisting of spinning discs for storing data magnetically. The HDD comes with an arm having several transducers for reading and writing data. They work similarly to how LP records work.

WD Blue 1 TB HDD
WD Blue 1 TB HDD

Technology-wise, HDD is a legacy technology that has been around for a long time, much before SSDs. HDDs come in two form factors, 2.5-inches (for laptops) and 3.5-inches (for desktop PCs).

SSD – Solid State Drive

An SSD does not have moving parts. Instead, the data is stored in ICs. Compared to HDD, SSDs are different because they are smaller and display better performance. The form factor can be the size of a gum stick (M.2) or even as small as a postage stamp.

They come in various capacities and are ideal for smaller devices like slim laptops, convertibles, etc. Besides, SSDs are better because they enhance processing speeds considerably.

However, SSDs are more expensive than HDDs, but they are getting cheaper today.



M.2 is a small form factor used in internally-mounted storage expansion cards. They are smaller than the conventional SATA SSDs.

Initially, the name was Next-Generation Form Factor that was later shortened to M.2.

M.2 SSDs are better equipped to handle tasks like gaming, video editing, 3D animation, and large file transfers.

M.2 supports both SATA and PCIe and is not limited to SSDs alone. It also supports USB, Wi-Fi, and graphics cards.

How does M.2 SSD work?

Gen3 NVMe M.2 SSD
Gen3 NVMe M.2 SSD

Generally, M.2 form factors are associated with SSD storage. However, they can integrate with NFC, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and WAN.

M.2 plugs directly into the motherboard through a dedicated M.2 connector slot.

M.2 works with SATA and PCIe. SATA M.2 is comparatively slower than PCIe. M.2 also supports NVMe.

NVMe accelerates data transfer speeds between the system and SSD over a PCIe bus. It can support up to five times more bandwidth than SATA M.2.

If you have limited space, you can use a single-sided M.2. The double-sided M.2 SSDs occupy more space but offer more storage.


HDDs have a seek time of 0.005 to 0.010 seconds. The seek time is the time taken by the actuator arm to seek the HDD.

On the other hand, SSDs do not seek time because they do not have any moving parts. However, SSDs have a latency time of 0.00003 to 0.0001 seconds. But, NVMe M.2 SSDs are better because their latency time is 0.0001 seconds.

HDDs display a sequential R/W speed of up to 180Mbps, whereas SATA SSDs have R/W speeds up to 600Mbps. The NVMe PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD displays R/W speeds up to 3Gbps, and the next-generation NVMe PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD offers double speeds up to 6Gbps.

M.2 SSDs are more suited for gaming and other processing-intensive activities because of their quicker loading times.

This comparison table should prove how M.2 SSDs display faster loading times than SATA SSDs and HDDs.

Application/GameHDDSSDM.2 SSD
Windows 1054.85311.90211.603
Driver Installation5.24.0403.19.4152.49.552
Metro Exodus39.25328.50327.603
Watch Dogs 243.95316.90316.053
Far Cry New Dawn21.50218.10316.602
Kingdom Come Deliverance1.00.1536.7026.402
Shadow of the Tomb Raider1.02.05310.30210.452
Battlefield V46.35220.90320.254
Ghost Recon Breakpoint58.72511.17710.910

HDD vs M.2 SSD – Which is better for gaming?

The M.2 SSD should be a better option because of its speed. The comparison table shows that M.2 SSDs display much faster loading times than HDDs.

However, SSDs are expensive, and hence those having a massive Steam library will fill it challenging to accommodate all their games. The HDD is a better option under such circumstances.

Alternatively, you can opt for dual storage or hybrid storage comprising HDD and SSD.

Overall Comparison

Here is the tabular comparison between HDD and SSD that should put things in proper perspective.

HardwareSpinning discs packed securely in metal casingSolid-state storage device using ICs for data storage
PerformanceAverage Booting Times – 62.5 secondsAverage Booting Times – 23.2 seconds
ReliabilityFailure Rate of 2 to 5%Less than 0.5% failure rate
Power – Battery LifeConsumes 6 to 7W on averageConsumes 2 to 3W on average
Storage Capacity and PricingAverage storage of $0.02 per GBAround $0.25 per GB
Capacity500GB to 2TB120GB to 1TB
Maximum CapacityUp to 10TBUp to 4TB
Size2.5-inches for laptops 3.5-inches for desktopsSSDs are smaller than HDDs, and M.2 SSDs are much smaller
NoiseUp to 27db0db
VibrationThe spinning parts can cause vibrations.There are no movable parts. Hence, there is no vibration.
LifespanIn ideal conditions, HDDs can last for decadesSSDs start losing data after a decade in the best of conditions. However, SSDs can withstand drops/shocks.
AvailabilityEasily availableThough a bit expensive, SSDs are getting cheaper and easy to get.


  • SSDs display 2.6 times faster booting times than HDDs.
  • SSDs are 4 to 10 times reliable than HDDs because they do not have any moving parts.
  • SSDs draw less power and are better suited for laptops.
  • HDDs are less expensive and offer the best value for storage, about 12.5 times better than SSD.
  • HDDs have much larger capacities than SSDs.
  • SSDs are smaller than HDDs and hence, occupy less space.
  • HDDs can make a noise loud enough for users to hear at times. However, SSDs do not make any noise.
  • SSDs do not vibrate.

Related: GDDR5 vs GDDR 6

Which is the better option?

It depends on the ultimate user and their preferences. If storage capacity and budget are primary factors, the HDD is an excellent option. However, if performance and speed are your preferable parameters, it is better to go with SSD M.2 storage. The 11th generation Intel Core CPUs support PCIe 4.0. Hence, it can allow data transfer speeds up to 6Gbps.

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