Can I Run Games Off an External SSD?


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Can I Run Games Off an External SSD?

A solid state drive (SSD) external drive is for those needing extra storage space for their data. In fact, they are highly recommended for professions that travel frequently or require high speeds, such as graphic designers or engineers. But can you run games off an external SSD?

You can run games off an external SSD with many benefits, including increased storage space and reduced loading time in some cases. To do so, they can be easily transferred or installed directly onto the SSD.

This article will discuss in detail why one would use an SSD, possible downsides, and how to make the switch to running games on an SSD.

Why Use an SSD for Running Games?

An SSD can offer many advantages to a frequent gamer and a regular user of a PC or laptop. Many of the benefits of the SSD are due to the fact that they are non-mechanical and don’t have moving parts like a hard disk drive (HDD). HDDs can be found in less expensive computers, and are used due to their low cost and high capacity.

They Are More Resistant To Shock

When compared to an HDD, an SSD is more durable since it has no moving parts. For those concerned that their external hard drive will be shaken or dropped, choosing an SSD is definitely the better option to keep your data safe.

That being said, having a carrying case for an external hard drive when traveling is always a good idea. For a basic case, we’d recommend the AmazonBasics Carrying Case from Amazon.com. It has an internal strap and mesh liners to keep the hard drive and accessories in place and protect them in case of a fall.

Games Installed Are Loaded Quickly

Regarding performance, it’s generally accepted that using an SSD increases speed and reduces “hitching.” According to PC Gamer, hitching is when the gameplay moves faster than the hard drive can keep up with, causing pauses in the game.

For a more detailed perspective on if an SSD is worth it for gaming, watch this video from GamingScan:

This video reviews if an SSD is really worth it for a player’s needs and how to find one for the best value.

More Energy Efficient 

For the same reason that they are less prone to damage, SSDs require less energy when in use. As there are no moving parts, there isn’t any energy being wasted on noise or friction as a by-product. This results in a lower electricity bill on a desktop computer or, if a laptop is being used, more battery power in the long run.

Less Noise Is Produced 

HDDs operate using drive plates and arms, causing a lot of noise as a result. The quicker the HDD, the more noise produced. As SSDs are non-mechanical, they don’t produce any noise. Additionally, since HDDs use physical methods of recording data, this would cause them to physically wear out far sooner than an SSD would.

They Are Not Impacted by Magnetism

As SSDs don’t have any magnetic coatings like an HDD, data is not affected by magnetism. Instead of erasing data using a degausser as you would for an HDD, an SSD must be physically destroyed using an eraser or physically shredding it.

As shredding an SSD is an expensive and difficult process, I recommend the StarTech Eraser Dock from Amazon.com. This device works with both HDDs and SSDs, and can also be used as a hard drive docking station.

What Are the Downsides of Using an SSD for Running Games?

There are limited disadvantages to running games on an SSD, but they are still important to consider. 

If you frequently travel with your computer, it would be an additional item to worry about hauling around. However, most weigh less than half a pound (approximately 227 g) and are the approximate size of a smartphone, so it shouldn’t be that great of a convenience.

The largest factor that may hold someone back from purchasing an SSD would be the price, as they can be costly depending on the size and memory capacity. That being said, there are many options from several manufacturers, so there’s a good chance that you’ll find an SSD that will fit your needs and budget.

If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between an SSD, HDD, or SSHD in regards to gaming, check out this informative video from Seagate Technology:

This video reviews the capacity, performance, price, and compatibility of each storage option. For someone with little to no background on these products, this is a great video to provide a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of storage option.

Making the Switch To Run Games on an SSD

Choosing the Best SSD for Your Needs

There are many factors to consider when shopping for an external SSD, whether for gaming or a different purpose. Some of these factors may include:

  • The weight and dimensions of the SSD, and if it can be transported easily
  • The digital storage capacity, as well as the memory storage capacity
  • If the SSD has automatic back-ups and if an external power source is required
  • The types of connections, such as USB 3.0 and mini-USB, and if an adapter is required for your set-up
  • The amount of storage provided for the cost of the SSD

If you’d like to learn more about what factors could influence your decision when buying an SSD, watch this video from Scan Computers:

For a great SSD option, we recommend purchasing the WD P10-Game Drive from Amazon.com. Not only does it offer 5 TB of digital storage capacity, but this SSD is also compatible with Mac, PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

How To Use an SSD for Gaming

To use an SSD for gaming, you can either install them directly or move games over from your computer’s files and play them from there. For a clear video on how to move games onto another computer or external hard drive, check out this helpful video from TroubleChute:

It’s fairly straightforward to connect a PC to an external drive like an SSD. According to How-To Geek, SATA connections are used by all modern 3.5” and 2.5” (approximately 8.9 cm and 6.4 cm, respectively) drives for data and power. 

For a good, inexpensive option, we recommend this Cable Matters SATA Cable from Amazon.com. These cables come in a 3-pack and are 18 inches in length (approximately 46 cm).

To upgrade your laptop’s storage to an SSD, it’s a very similar process but may vary depending on your laptop’s design. The SSD can either be inserted directly into the laptop by removing a panel or connected using a USB-to-SATA adapter. An excellent option for this adapter would be from the StarTech SATA to USB Cable from Amazon.com. Once this connection has been made, the USB can be connected to the laptop using a USB cable.

Final Thoughts

Using an external SSD is a great option for running games, as this storage device offers many advantages to gamers and non-gamers alike. In addition to providing additional digital and memory storage, SSDs are superior to HDDs. 

A little bit of research may be required before purchasing an SSD to determine if your gaming needs are met. However, there are many makes and models available at a variety of price points. By all accounts, running games on an SSD is a great option and offers many benefits.

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