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HDD Cache | All You Need To Know

Hard Disk Drive
Hard Disk Drive

Have you ever wondered what size your HDD cache is? What even is Cache? Why is it important? To find out the answers to these questions and more, continue reading!

Hard Disk Drive cache is super-fast memory in the HDD which does not need a magnetic head to access information. It is generally very small in size compared to the size of the HDD but is also very fast. Also sometimes known as a disk/cache buffer, Cache acts as a temporary space when the HDD is being written to or is being read from. It’s kind of like flash memory or RAM for your hard drive.

Does HDD cache size matter? 32MB vs 64MB vs 128MB vs 256MB

In a consumer grade HDD, you usually get cache sizes varying from 32MB to 256MB.  All cache’s access speed is the same. It’s the sizes that are different which means the cache can contain more data which can be accessed faster. Basically, size of cache makes a difference in performance because it can store more. More the better!

How much Cache do i need?

The real question is, what is your budget? You should try to have the maximum amount of cache memory because your HDD will perform faster. If you have an unlimited budget then get 256 MB. If you do not have an unlimited budget, check out your best 2.5 HDD article.

HDD Cache in Gaming 

If you feel you’re bottle-necked by the HDD or any other component of your PC, it’s probably not the HDD. HDD majorly only affects loading times in games. For example, if it takes you 60 seconds to load a game from an HDD, it’ll only take you 10 seconds or so from a modern SSD. In terms of your frames-per-second (FPS), you won’t notice anything. 

Cache helps to store components of your frequently played games in it so when you load the game again, it’ll actually be faster than the first time you loaded it. Ever waited for players for the whole of 5 minutes in warm-up of Counter Strike Global Offensive competitive matchmaking? It is due to players having low cache on HDD which took a lot of time to load the map! So, the more cache the less wait times for you and your teammates!

HDD Cache vs RPM (Revolutions-per-minute)

Cache is certainly faster than RPM but they come in small amounts. The small amount does not make up for the higher amount of RPM. Having higher RPM will be much faster due to its consistent read and write speeds for any amount of files. But in rare cases, when the file to be edited is less than the cache amount, a higher cache HDD would be better than higher RPM. Almost all of the time, higher RPM will definitely benefit you rather than having higher cache.

We always recommend you to put RPM before cache when buying! Try to get high amounts of both!

SSD vs HDD Cache

Cache is something that is present in small quantities because it is expensive to manufacture. SSDs, which do not have any moving physical components, are more expensive than traditional hard-drives.

From earlier topics, we’ve concluded that accessing information from Hard Disk Drive cache is much faster than the HDD since it uses flash memory, but how does it compare to the modern SSD that stores all of the data in flash? It’s not really a fair comparison since the Hard Disk Drive cache is so small in size that the most of the information you’re trying to access comes from the HDD platters and not from the HDD cache. Think for a second, an standard HDD which has 64mb cache can only store 2 or 3 high-detailed images. To compare it with a 1 TB SSD that comes with all flash memory is not fair. 

If you’re tight on budget but you still need performance, we suggest you opt for an SSHD, which combines the features of both worlds! Take a look at our review for the best SSHD in the market!

CONCLUSION

HDD Cache is certainly an under-looked area while buying a HDD. Caches come in small amounts within the HDDs which act like flash memories which are faster than the HDD itself. However, the small amounts are not enough for all tasks, cache can only do so much. Having a higher amount of cache is certainly the way to go but without the sacrifice of RPM. Check out the best 2.5 HDDs with the best RPM and cache sizes at amazing prices!

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