SSD for a HTPC: Is it Worth it?

With the holiday shopping season upon us, HTPC enthusiasts will be looking for that deal that gives their setup a boost. One component that immediately comes to mind is the Solid State Drive (SSD).  The SSD has been around for a long time with it’s origins dating back to the 1950s. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that we saw them hit the consumer market full force.

Immediately, these drives were a game changer. We went from big clunky bricks to slim sleek storage with lightning fast speed. However, one pitfall was the extreme price tag. For example, Western Digital’s first SSD targeted at consumers was flat out unaffordable. The 64 GB model had a $279 price tag, followed by the 128 GB which came in at $529, and finally the 256 GB version sold for a whooping $999.99. Yes, one thousand dollars. To put this in perspective. In 2009, Hitachi was selling a 1000 GB hard drive for $74.99. That comes out to $0.07/GB.

But nowadays, due to increased competition and improved technology, the price of these drives has gone into a free fall. And we can expect Black Friday/Cyber Monday to reveal some screaming deals, which is even more motivation to pick one up. But before we get too excited  we must ask ourselves if putting a SSD in a HTPC is overkill. Lets answer that question by weighing the pros and cons.

SSD HTPC Benefits

Speed – The strongest argument for a SSD is the improved speed and performance it brings. Expect to speed up the amount of time it takes for your operation system and applications to load.

Can you imagine how fast an OpenElec boot would take? Thats definitely going to give you an “appliance like” feel.

Here’s a great video from AssassinHTPC.com that shows a regular SATA hard drive vs. a solid state drive on a Windows boot.

 

Noise  – If noise is a factor, which it most likely is for anyone with a dedicated HTPC, than a solid state drive is a must. Since there are no moving parts, Solid State Drives product no noise. On top of that, you eliminate any chance of certain hard drive failures like a head crash or stuck spindle.

Heat – Since SSDs are not mechanical and only electrical, less heat is produced. This means that the drives should never really need any cooling. When building an HTPC, take this into consideration when planning out your cooling. Less fans will mean less noise. No fans will mean a completely silent HTPC.

Power Consumption – If your HTPC is on 24/7, than electricity costs might be of concern. Take  a look at the graph to see how a SSD matches up against a HDD in terms of costs over the course of a year.

Source: http://blog.whitesites.com

Physical Drive Size – A SSD drive is perfect for any Mini-ITX build. The cases in these types of builds requires a hard drive no great than 2.5″. Usually, you would go with a laptop hard drive, but nowadays just go with that SSD.

Arguments against SSD

Storage Size – Unless you go with a 512 GB or maybe a 256 GB  drive(for some this might be enough), don’t expect to be able to store much media.  For example, on my main desktop, I have a 128 GB SSD installed. But after formatting and installing the operation system, I only had 100 GB left.

Price – To keep running with the point we just made, if you did in fact decide to go with a 512 GB SDD, you can still expect to dish out a ton of cash for it. Crucial’s 512 GB drive is one of the best deals out there, but it comes to almost $400 bucks. On the other hand, if you just want to load your OS on the SSD, you can pick up Crucial’s 64 GB version for under $70 dollars. Not a bad deal for the amount of speed you get.

So there you hate it, the most common arguments for and against putting a Solid State Drive in a HTPC. What is your opinion on the topic? Let us know in the comments below. Or, if you’re interested in a SSD, take a look at the Best sellers on Amazon.com (SSD – Best Sellers Amazon.com).

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