6 Differences Between Desktop and Laptop HDD

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What are the difference between desktop and laptop HDD? The HDD or the Hard Disk Drive is a very popular name in the world of electronics. It is used for both personal computers(laptop and desktop computers).

All HDD follow a similar technology. It spins the magnetic platters and these platters record and stores the data. HDD is a storage device that is non volatile. It can be installed or attached directly to the motherboard.

In the computer, these platters can be more than one. The data is written using the magnetic waves moving very fast over the platters. Since the HDD is also an internal storage. It is connected to the motherboard through a few cables.

The operating system will help in the keyboard and the mouse movements. Synchronizing with the use of the software like video games, checking email that is stored in the HDD.

The HDD is the most important storage device found in the world of computers. HDD on laptops is not that different than the ones on the desktop computer.

The difference in size and performance are the main two differences. The hard disk is a storage device that is used for installing programs files and data on one’s computer.

The exchanging of data is done through a circuit board or the disk controller. Nowadays most of the computers have an HDD. There is an external hard drive for the computer also. Many users can also purchase external HDD according to their convenience.

This is used to expand the capacity of the storage. This external HDD is also very portable. HDD was first created in the year 1953. The main objective of creating a hard disk was to provide access to data of high capacities at a lower price.

Because of its rotating platters and magnetic material. HDD is also known as an electromechanical data storage device. Because it not only saves music, videos, software, applications, and many more.

But also codes that are required to operate the system. This is why some of the space is used by the operating system and backups. It also has place or storage for data, music videos, movies, and many others.

Sometimes it is also known as an old school storage device. Which uses a series of platters covered by the ferromagnetic coating. The data is read or written by a head that moves very fast from one area to another of the disk.

The users started using Hard Disk Drive after the demand fell off the optical drive. Because it was inexpensive and stored data more than the optical drive.

But nowadays HDDs are somewhat getting replaced by another better alternative storage. which is called cloud-based software. Cloud storage stores data without storing it on the HDD.

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Even Hard Disk Drive is of two types internal and external. Where internal hard drives were directly connected to the motherboard. And one cannot upgrade the HDD in the laptop computers.

But it is upgradable for desktop computers. The second type, external hard drive which the user can use by connecting with the help of a USB cable. Lately, there are many users who are opting for SSD over HDD.

It is because the SSD uses less space. It has no moving parts and is better for gaming. It works faster than HDDs. Another drawback of HDD is that an HDD has moving parts like the actuator arm.

If the HDD is dropped accidentally then it will result in the user losing all the data stored in the HDD. Their storage capacities range from 40 GB to 12tb and these days one can purchase the 2 Terabyte or TB HDD.

Which offers plenty of space and is also inexpensive. Gamers also sometimes go for an HDD because it also provides proper storage for their large size games.

The lifespan of the Hard Disk Drive is also around four years. Because of its moving parts and also depends on the brand. Though HDD is known as an old school or traditional storage device the copying speed of this storage device is 32-150 MB per second(MB/s).

Making it lower than SSD. Therefore many users nowadays who are switching from HDD to SSD. It is because SDD is much more advanced than HDD.

Now, HDDs are also different in desktop and in laptop computers. Desktop having more space can have an HDD that is a bit bigger in size. Than the ones found in the laptop computers.

It is because of laptops having a small compact space. The HDD’s speed also differs between the desktop computer and also the laptop computer. The hard disk drive can be interchanged.

A desktop computer will require a desktop HDD but a laptop HDD can also be used in the place of the desktop HDD. And a laptop computer requires a laptop HDD in a laptop connected externally.

But the desktop HDD can have a lower power consumption because of the battery and portability. Where it puts the performance into a secondary position. The desktop HDD  and the laptop HDD are both interchangeable. And they both serve the best for the respective computers.

Differences Between Desktop and Laptop HDD    

laptop hdd vs desktop hdd                         

Though they are used for the same purpose. They both have different performance and specifications.

1. Speed

HDD is used to write and read data using the platters. The platters spin very fast in desktop computers. The hard disk runs the speed of 7200 rpm (revolution per minute).

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It uses a lot of heat and power consumption. Therefore desktop computers have a better cooling system which helps in cooling the computer.

The laptop hard drive runs a little slower than the desktop hard drive. It runs at 5400 rpm(revolution per minute) which is less than the desktop hard disk drive.

This also decreases the speed of the computer. It happens because the rotation speed decreases. Also, because the spinning is done for a longer period of time.

2. Size

Previously, the hard disk drive in the desktop computers used to be 5.25 inches. But as technology has advanced now the desktop computers use hard drives which are a little smaller.

Like the 3.5 inches drives. The drive that has  3.5 inches has many internal platters leading to an increase in the storage space. It becomes very bulky and heavy. And cannot be used in portable computers because of its weight and size.

The hard disk in laptops is 2.5 inches. It uses less energy and is not heavy and is lean. Because of the laptop’s size which is very thin. The hard disk drive used in laptops is very lean in size. The hard drives are 1.8 inches.

3. Storage

Desktop HDD has more storage capacity than the laptop HDD. The size which is 3.5 inch in the desktop computer has more platters leading to more storage. For desktop hard disk the storage ranges to more than 3TB or terabytes.

While the laptop HDD is smaller in size like the 2.5 inch drive. With fewer platters, the storage capacity in the HDD also becomes very less. The high end HDD also ranged to 1TB or terabyte.

Even though the advancement of the drives takes place. Due to the laptop’s compact size, the storage capacity of the laptop HDD has fewer chances to outperform the storage capacity of the desktop HDD.

4. Compatibility

The desktop computer has enough space for a smaller HDD like the laptop HDD. One can use a 2.5 inch drive and install them as internal storage. Because many SSDs are manufactured as the same size in the market.

While for the laptop computers the 3.5 inch HDD does not fit internally in the laptop as internal storage. But one can attach or utilize the 3.5 drive as external storage.

For the laptop computer one can use a USB cable which helps in connecting the 3.5 inches (desktop computer HDD) with the laptop computer.

5. Performance

Desktop HDD can be used for many purposes like storing data, movies, videos, applications, games, and many more.

Many games take a lot of time to load but in the desktop HDD, the loading time is very less. It is because of the several platters. Games that take a lot of space, the loading time can be of 30-50 seconds.

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Laptop HDD is also used for many purposes like storing, watching videos, movies, playing games, and many more.

But the load time in the laptop HDD is more than the desktop HDD. It is because of the fewer platters. Which consists of load time ranging from a minute 1 minute to 1.5 minutes.

The loading time is for games that use more storage. The day-to-day usages like browsing the web, checking emails, and many more, the performance of both the drives is the same.

6. Better Alternative

In the last few years, desktop computers have started replacing the hard disk and using SSD or Solid State Drives. The SSD is a new type of disk which stores information on flash memory. It consists of individual memory cells.

The cells store bits which are assembled by the controllers instantly. It is also faster than the Hard Disk Drive. The SSD can be thought to be a larger USB drive. It uses the same based technology as the USB drive.

It also loads faster for games, applications, and other programs. The copying process in the SSD is quick and takes less time. Some high end desktop computers include both SSD and HDD. The SSD is used for its high speed.

The programs of the OS or the Operating System are stored in the SSD. And due to the HDD being a bit slower than SSD. HDD is used to store huge files where speed is not a necessity.

For laptops, it’s either the SSD or HDD drive. Due to the laptop’s compact size. It does not fit two storage drives in the same device. Some high end laptops have hybrid drives also known as SSHD or Solid State Hybrid Drive.

It has a large storage space and, on the other hand, the SSD can be used for better speed.


Both can be interchanged and do not give the user the understanding that both have the same speed and performance. These two HDDs do the same tasks but one is restricted due to space and the other is very heavy.

Therefore, these HDDs are quite affordable and people who have a tight budget can always buy HDDs. It is inexpensive and offers a lot of space, unlike SDDs.