What is an SSHD?
If you're unfamiliar with the terms, SSD stands for solid-state drive. It's basically the same as a USB flash drive, but on a bigger, much faster scale.
Unlike a traditional mechanical hard disk, an SSD has no moving parts. Storage is provided by memory chips instead of spinning magnetic platters. We've got a chart of the best SSDs you can buy this year.
SSHD stand for solid-state hybrid drive. It's a traditional hard disk with a small amount of solid-state storage built in, typically 8GB or so. The drive appears as a single device to Windows (or any other operating system), and a controller chip decides which data is stored on the SSD and what's left on the HDD.
Which type of storage is best?
If you have a laptop with room for only a single drive, the choice is trickier as it depends on your priorities. If you want the highest overall performance, buy an SSD. If you want the biggest amount of storage, buy an SSHD. (If you want to spend the minimum amount of money, buy neither - go for a traditional hard drive.)
SSDs are still much more limited on storage capacity than traditional hard drives, and even though you can buy a 1TB SSD, it will set you back around £300. An equivalent HDD is about £50. A 1TB SSHD for laptops costs around £75, and is the best compromise if you want a balance of storage space and performance.
Seagate's SSHDs intelligently learn which applications you use most, and try to store those in the solid-state storage for faster loading times and better overall performance. An SSHD will also make your laptop boot faster.
However, although gains of between 2-3x can be seen for 'cached' data - i.e. programs and files stored in the SSD part of the drive - performance still falls short of a proper SSD.
Be careful to buy a drive which will fit inside your laptop. Check the height of the exisiting drive before ordering a new one, as they do vary. Some ultra-portable laptops won't accept a 2.5in drive at all, and require an even smaller 1.8in 'microSATA' drive.
Most PC cases have room for multiple drives, so there isn't such a demand for SSHDs. Many new PCs come with both an SSD and a hard drive. Windows tends to be installed on a relatively small capacity SSD, say 120GB, along with a few programs, and the HDD provides lots of space for storing your music and photo collection which don't demand fast storage.
The benefit of an SSHD, whether in a PC or laptop, is the fact you don't need any special software or configuration. It works without you having to decide where to store files and programs. If you don't configure Windows to store your documents on the hard drive (see our tutorial here for details on how to move program files from an SSD to a hard drive) it's easy to fill it up to capacity.