I needed to reinstall Win10 on my spare laptop that I’d stolen the SSD out of and had a 10 year old hard disk sitting around.

Seriously bad idea!

It took all day to install Windows 10 and updates (compared to an hour or so I’d expect)

This got me curious as to performance differences between modern day drives and older drives.

CrystalDiskInfo is good for the information, and CrystalDiskMark - scroll down page gives a good idea of benchmark speed. Reviewers on Amazon commonly use this tool

HDD / SSD / M.2 NVMe

A summary of terms:

  • HDD
    • SATA - Serial ATA bus
    • Laptops use 2.5” and full size are 3.5”
  • SSD - Solid State Drive
    • SATA Usually 2.5 inch same size as Laptop HDD. 9.5mm or 7mm deep
    • mSATA - wafer think defunct standard
    • M.2 - wafer thin using a speed up technique called NVMe.

Good article on Amazon about disks

HDD - 10 years old

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From around the 2010 era of an Apple MacBook Pro.

HDD - 8 years old

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Came with my XPS17 laptop (had dual ones of this drive)

HDD - 5 years old

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4TB Western Digital inside a fast desktop. This is interesting - the perf of a relatively new HDD hasn’t improved a lot.

SSD - SATA 2.5 inch

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Came with 3 year old Lenovo E560 laptop.

Notice it is 5 times the speed of the best HDD’s I have!

PCI Express to M.2 NVMe

If you’ve an old desktop, even a 14 year old motherboard (as my good friend has done) you can put in an M.2 NVMe drive using a PCI Express adapter. The motherboard didn’t support x3 lanes, but even so with x2 lanes he was getting an impressive 1600 MB/s

Glotrends PCIE NVMe Adapter Card PCIE GEN3 Full Speed for PC Desktop

So this seems like a better option than using a SATA SSD (I could be wrong here but worth experimenting with - See this PCWorld Article for more detail).

SSD - M.2 NVMe

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Wow - this is insanely fast compared to my SATA SSD

Here is the latest Crucial SSD release giving an idea of where we are today


If you’ve a large database workload eg 8TB of data, then it is cost prohibitive to put that all on M.2 NVMe (and gets into the questions of enough PCI Express Lanes). So perhaps consider:

  • M.2 NVMe - 1TB. System. DB Indexes
  • SATA SSD - 2TB. Secondary Indexes and log files
  • HDD - 8TB - Main data

It all depends on your scenario. I’m a software developer and run a 256MB NVMe and 4TB HDD which is enough for me (just).

Linus Tech Tips

Linus Tech Tips on YouTube is an excellent resource. Search for SSD / HDD on there to find out the latest tech. Linustechtrip forums and a great deep dive resource.

TRIM / SMART / DeepSleep

See this stackoverflow thread for upgrading MacBook Pros to faster disks in detail

UserBenchMarks and CPUs

https://www.userbenchmark.com/ shows how other peoples similar systems compare. Nice!

I wrote an article on CPUs and overall performance using Cinebench and Passmark which gives good relative system performance comparisons.


It makes a massive difference having a good drive in your machine!

Always run your system drive from an SSD, and use HDDs cheap storage.

Great follow up comments and more detail on https://reddit/r/buildapc