Do SSDs save battery life or not?

Solid state drive

Last week, Tom’s Hardware published the results of some solid state drives (SSD) performance tests that showed that SSDs do not yield the power savings expected. The results go against common belief is that SSDs use less power than traditional hard drives. In fact, they could go as far as reducing battery life.

The tests, run on four different SSDs and a 2.5-inch 7,200 RPM conventional hard drive, are pretty thorough but soon after they were published, some found that the testing methodology used was not reflective of real life. Another criticism leveled at the test was that the SSDs tested used earlier generation controllers that were not as efficient as more recent ones.

Laptop Magazine decided to run their own tests. Essentially, the test consisted of loading web pages every 30 seconds (caching was not used), a scenario closer to real life in their opinion. They found that the SSDs outlasted the hard drive even if only by a very small amount of time. Our conclusion is that, in real-world use, SSDs offer a small improvement in battery life. While this tiny improvement may not be enough to sell users on SSDs as power-saving devices, it is certainly enough to say that upgrading to SSD will not cost you any battery life and may provide you with more productive minutes as you wait shorter periods of time for programs to load or for your system to boot.

SSDs may regain the upper hand as newer drives come out with improved power management systems. Meanwhile, they still offer faster read and write speeds, reduced weight and improved reliability (due to the lack of mechanical parts).

I suspect that the debate will rage on for a while.