burned out yellow red profile of hDD under SSD ontop

Does an SSD or HDD Consume More Power for Your Computer?

An SSD definitely consume less power than an HDD due to start up efficiency. For example, if you are someone who replaces their mechanical Hard Disk Drive (HDD) with a Solid State Drive (SSD), you’ll notice that actual power consumption will double. What you need to do is make sure that you configure the power settings of the OS to shut the drive down after a single minute. This is perfectly doable from a user’s experience stand point because the next time drive access is required, the SSD can be back online in a matter of seconds instead of the 15–30 seconds that it takes for a mechanical drive to re-initialize.

What this means is that a mechanical HDD will cost you more power in the long run, because a user tends to keep the mechanical HDD running for a longer period of time before shutting down, due to the significantly long lag that exists for restarting a mechanical drive.

And simple mathematics show that an SSD is going to be more power-efficient. For example:

Let’s say you have a HDD that is 5V 500mA and runs for about 45 minutes for every hour of operation. To calculate power consumption (P), you use the formula P = I * V:

V = 5

I = .500

P = 5 * .500 = 2.5 watts

If the HDD only runs for about 45 minutes out of an hour, this is 75 percent of the time.

2.5 * .75 = 1.875 watts

That means the HDD consumes 1.875 watts of power, for each hour.

To contrast, an SSD that is 5V 1000mA and runs for about 10 minutes for every hour of operation.

V = 5

I = 1

P = 5 * 1 = 5 watts

If the SSD only runs for about 10 minutes for every hour of operation, this is 1/6th of the time.

5 / 6 = .833 watts

That means the SSD consumes .833 watts of power, for each hour.

That means, depending on the way you use your laptop or desktop machine, an SSD can save you more than 225% in power, having a significant effect on battery-life if you use a mobile machine.

Other sources, namely Anandtech, reveals that SSDs usually consume less power. Specifically, they show that the Intel X25-M G2, which used to be the “gold standard” among SSDs, uses less than half of the power of the Western Digital VelociRaptor HDD at load and about 1/8 of the power at idle.

The Revisionist

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7 thoughts to “Does an SSD or HDD Consume More Power for Your Computer?”

  1. Watts is a rate, not a total. Your post should read: “That means the SSD consumes .833 watt-hours of energy, for each hour.”

  2. There seems to be a lot of back and forth on this. The whitesheet numbers state outright that SSDs should come out significantly ahead of magnetic drives, yet a lot of people insist they get significantly worse battery life when actually using a SSD. One thing I’m concerned about is perhaps people aren’t actually comparing apples to apples here. Most laptops come with fairly low end harddrives. They’re usually a 5400 RPM drive built for maximum power efficiency able to run from USB 2.0 with its official 500mA limitation. However, when people buy SSDs they typically buy higher end SSDs designed for performance — sort of equivalent of a 7200 RPM drive instead of 5400.

    I did try to compare as well as I could using a lower end SSD to a low-power 2.5″ harddrive and my result was that the SSD did actually use about 41% of the power of the magnetic drive in comparison. Though, as a curiosity, its idle power usage went up instead of down (I have no idea why, but the USB-to-SATA interface I’m using is quite old so may not support full idle functions properly.) It’s worth noting that the SSD idled lower than the magnetic drive, but about 1.15W or so versus 1.5W. (Heavy usage was 0.925W versus 2.5W, so it won by a large margin there.) So it wasn’t the huge difference the whitesheets will tell you about, but when I compared apples to apples instead of apples to oranges the SSD did win, so if I’m right people just aren’t selecting correctly when switching.

    1. The reason for reduced battery life vs spinning rust is because some SSDs use a trickle of current even when the laptop is powered down. So they can unexpectedly drain the battery.

  3. Hi, I’m thinking of pulling off my optical drive in a MacbookPro and replace it by a normal HDD (the main disk is already a 1 Tb SSD. The use of this second disk would be only for TimeMachine. I’m not concerned about the power consumption but much more about the temperature. I’ve changed a lot of mechanical HDDs by SSDs and I’m going to suspect that the SSDs produce much higher temperatures: am I mistaken?
    If so, I’d choice a low RPM 2,5 model, because I don’t need performances but only the lowest possible temperature level. What do you think? Thanks.

  4. So an HDD uses roughly 1W more than an SSD, but the laptop as a whole system uses 10-20W. So that means an HDD uses 5-10% (1W / 20W) more power than an SSD from a holistic perspective. Assuming 5 hour battery life, that’s only an extra 15-30 minutes of battery life.

  5. How can something save more than 100% power?

    (1.875 – 0.833) / 1.875 * 100% = 65% power saving.

    Thank for the info, but the math is a bit unfortunate.

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