PC Makers: We Need to Talk About the Boot Drive

Dec 11, 2018
"So any media creation or gaming-focused PC priced about $2,500 and up should come with a 1TB SSD boot drive."
Why? Why should I put applications, games and data on my boot drive? I want all IO for the boot drive to be OS-only, as much as possible. Also, by keeping the boot drive smaller (250-500GB range for Windows), full-drive backups take up less space. HDDs make a ton of sense for some use cases, as there's little meaningful performance penalty for most games. Sure, a person can "Just buy it" and get a larger SSD boot drive, but the better way to make the assessment is data-driven.


Dec 22, 2016
Agreed. Also, if price is an issue, they should just go with SATA over NVMe. The performance jump from mechanical to SATA SSD is far greater than SATA SSD to NVMe. So a large SATA SSD is much better than a small NMVe.
Dec 11, 2018
... and, to be clear, I've nothing against using SSDs as application/data drives... I do it myself in some cases. But if running two or more drives, I'd give the boot drive no more build budget than what it comfortably needs.


Feb 12, 2007

500GB only for Windows? Seriously, why? The entire OS should take no more than 60GB.

Also, try just once to install a game on the boot drive, and play it. Once you get used to those loading speed, you can't go back (I tried, hdds are terrible).

If you really want to separate the OS, create a 100GB partition on the SSD and put Windows there, and install your programs on the other partition. Let spinning drives for backup only.

(my opinion)


Dec 30, 2009
Been there for a while now. My desktop with no m2 has a 1tb 850evo and the laptop with m2 has an m2 1tb 860evo. With today's prices there is little reason not to have a large SSD boot drive for programs.



It could be an option selection? There will be people like you and I who use the boot drive for the OS and some particular applications that will never change.

I started that way, though, my platter-based D drive eventually got replaced with an SSD, so I have an SSD boot drive, and SSD data drive now.

But, any which way, why not offer the option of more or less capacity on the SSD/boot drive, independent of upping the CPU, RAM, etc.?


Jan 22, 2015
How hard is it to replace the boot drive in a modern laptop with something you buy yourself?

Other than the fact lack of connectivity will probably force you to do a clean install.... and ignoring that ultrathin laptops can't be upgraded, opened, or repaired whatsoever (upgrading the storage in those is really easy, you just buy a more expensive one next year when the battery burns out).


Jun 9, 2006
It's about marketing and profits. Look at what they add to the bill when you upgrade from a 128GB SSD to a 500GB. The PCs at the various boutique sellers looks good until you look at the details and start to upgrade various components.
If you have available ports/space best choice is a separate boot drive (120-250GB SSD), games/content creation drive (480GB+ SSD), and then bulk data (2TB+ HDD). Having physical separation of the data is more secure and if something fails easier to fix. The reason for the HDD is there is no reason to have basic downloaded files, music, movies, etc... on a SSD. Those files will never see any benefit of the faster storage.
My Steam installation is 450GB and still growing. Plus the MMOs I play, outside of Steam, are around 200GB on their own (ESO, GW2 and some other "smaller" ones).

So yeah, more (cheap) SSDs, please!

For anything media-like, there's always a couple HDDs in RAID1 or 5 somewhere XD



Nov 7, 2017
I always laughed at these mass produced builds. i7 this, <removed> of RAM, WINDOWS 10 HOME!, want Office 365 and <removed> McAffee? + 300, oh you can only get a 1tb 5400rpm drive though. Prebuilt with a bottleneck. Would you like to add to cart?

Language removed by moderator.


Nov 29, 2017
@DX You are right with that. Its bait and switch. Most build shops do that. The louder the screaming the less value you get.

In my eyes, and I had great experience with them, ecollegepc is not doing that.

Budget builds are clearly marked - upgrades are transparent and a good custom workstation is better and priced right - than from their loudmouth and flashy competition.
So yes, a C:drive today is a 1gb M.2 drive, the secondary drive is M.2. Getting 10x the speed in every situation is great. Not loosing data, and I went through dozens of HDDs is what makes a big differrence. A light knock, powerspike or mechanical failure can take out an HDD in an instant.
Thinking about it, there's a simple solution for this: for pre-build PCs, include loading times into the value proposition. Waiting in loading screens is a big waste of time for everyone, so if you're spending money on one, make sure their baseline is adequate.

I care little about how big the boot drive is as long as its enough for future updates of windows. See a large SSD is fine but never think it will in anyway work out if you dont have enough RAM. RAM is where the games live and then there is the memory resident to start programs fast. Basically I would take 16GB of RAM with 250GB SSD over 8GB of RAM with a 1TB SSD any day. If you work with video your going to want 32GB's of RAM with a smaller SSD than 16GB with a big SSD. HD's are still a great bang for the buck for storage and games that live in RAM.
Jun 29, 2018
Actually this article missed the bes solution for a Gaming PC for Mid to entry Level.

Caching fast SSD with a fast 7200 RPM Drive is the entry to mid range Gaming machine.

256 GB fast SSD caching drive configured with 2-4 TB harddisk

and This Caching drive is only for gaming the NVME drive is for System .

once the Caching Program sees that you are accessing Game X , it will store it on the cache drive and read from there ...

This will save you the time of reinstalling and downloading and will give you enough space to install tens of games while playing any of them with fast loading (except the first time which will be forgotten)


Managing Editor
Mar 6, 2018
@EMERALDS1000000, that's all well for the consumer building or upgrading a desktop with space for three drives. But it obviously doesn't work for a laptop with only an M.2 drive, and given the fact that I've never seen system builders use caching other than with small Optane (or earlier mSATA) drives, I doubt they are going to start now. Perhaps the worry is that if either drive malfunctions, people could lose their boot partition and then have to ship the system back to the seller. PC makers I am sure want to keep that to an absolute minimum, especially if it might also involve expensive attempts at data recovery.


Aug 30, 2014
The size of a backup is not determined by the size of the boot drive. It is determined by how much data is backed up. Good backup programs also don't backup your page file, swap file and hibernation file (if you have them).

My config is a 1TB 970 Pro boot. OS is about 15GB. The partition is 96GB. All applications are on that drive (About 10GB). I use Macrium Reflect for backups. The backup image size in around 13GB and takes 2-3 minutes to image the entire C:\ drive. Macrium uses Delta restore, so if I need to restore my entire C:\ drive it takes less than 1 minute. About the same as a system restore.

256GB for a games drive (not into steam games) and the rest of that drive is partitioned for content creation.

I have a 512GB SATA SSD to store backups, and 6TB HDD for downloads and general data storage.

A Samsung 960 Pro with a 96GB partition for Windows 7 and the rest of that drive is used for VMs, and programming/web design stuff.

I would never buy a shop built PC. They use the cheapest brand/model of everything to maximize their margi. You don't have to spend a lot more to get a decent build, but better to do it yourself if you know what you are doing.


Dec 31, 2007
Personally, I think all computers should come standard with at least two drives. A small (under 125GB) that would just for the OS and swap file, and the second for all the applications. Of couse, with all the bloat and crap in Windows, we may soon need one TERABYTE boot drives.
Feb 4, 2019

Modern games that load huge open worlds take forever to load off a mechanical drive. There are very meaningful differences in load times when comparing even a "slow" (i.e. budget) SSD to a 7200 RPM mechanical drive.

Who does full drive backups these days? My important stuff is all backed up incrementally to a cloud service, and if my boot drive ever dies who cares? I'd be more inclined to just reinstall windows rather than restore from a backup if that were the case.



Oct 20, 2008
I recently upgraded to a 2TB NVMe drive from a 1TB NVMe drive. Fits everything except my video/movie library which is on a 6TB WD Black drive.
Feb 4, 2019
The article AND the comments are both confusing me greatly. Has anyone actually LOOKED at the price of SSD drives lately? I don't build or sell any systems, desktop or laptop, without SSD primary storage. I don't even hardly sell mechanical HDDs anymore except for video storage. Good quality 500GB SATA SSD drives are still plenty of performance for almost everyone and you can get them all day long in the $50 range. And for gamers? Even those on a budget? 1TB SATA SSD drives for $110 or less? Who needs spinning storage? Heck, there are 1TB x4 NVME drives that are GOOD for under $170. Mechanical drives ceased to be relevant for anything other than bulk storage over a year ago.
BROTHER-IN-LAW's laptop:
Want to hear about <removed> pathetic?
I bought him a 256GB SSD for his previous laptop, clone Windows to it, then moved the 500GB HDD as secondary/backup.

It died so he got another laptop (HP 250 series or something). The manual was damn confusing, but what I finally figured out is that you can put in an M.2 SSD or a 2.5" SSD/HDD but NOT BOTH!!

But it had no DVD drive. Now here's the IDIOTIC part. You can add a supported DVD drive to the internal connector but NOTHING ELSE. You can't use that same connector for an M.2 or 2.5"??

So he then took out his 500GB HDD that came with it as he needed 1TB. An SSD is too expensive for him so the final result is that the laptop he has EIGHT YEARS AFTER THE FIRST ONE isn't as responsive due to the lack of an SSD.

A 2nd drive supported. Is that so much to ask? Especially with the space and an unused connector just sitting there?

(no idea why the DVD drive connector needs to be different either. You'd think some adapter would work fine. Hell, why isn't it identical to the other one?)

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