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Is SSD storage more cost effective for enterprise PCs than hard disks?

Despite their higher initial prices, it is now far more cost-effective to use solid state drives (SSDs) in enterprise PCs in place of of hard disk drives (HDDs), according to a new white paper released this week by J. Gold Associates.

SSDs have been coming down in price in recent years but are still quite a bit pricier than mechanical drives with equivalent storage capacity, the research firm noted. Currently, that means acquisition costs that add between £125 to £220 to the overall price of a commercial laptop or desktop when it's equipped with an SSD instead of an HDD.

But over the typical three-year life span of such a machine, the productivity benefits of using an SSD-equipped PC deliver big-time ROI that more than outweighs that higher initial cost, J. Gold Associates principal analyst Jack Gold told PCMag—and the numbers are actually pretty stunning.

"Despite the increased acquisition cost, the ROI of an SSD-equipped PC will offer a payback of up to $30,000 (£18,550) in increased productivity benefits over the typical three-year life of a machine," Gold wrote in an emailed statement accompanying the firm's white paper.

What's more, the analyst believes that the higher acquisition costs associated with SSDs will decline even further over the next couple of years "as drives become less expensive and capacity increases."

Today, SSDs are used exclusively in mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for performance, footprint, and dependability reasons, while also commonly appearing in the new wave of thin and light laptops which include Intel-promoted Ultrabooks and Apple's MacBook Air lineup of products.

But aside from appearing in a few very high-end desktops and standard-sized laptops, SSDs still tend to give way to HDDs in mainstream PCs like those purchased in volume by businesses and other large organisations. Complicating matters somewhat is that major HDD makers, no doubt seeing the writing on the wall, have in recent months been pushing out hybrid drives that combine solid state and mechanical drive technology.

Such moves may only be putting off the inevitable, however. Many industry watchers believe hard disk drives will soon virtually disappear as the SSD takes over nearly all computing platforms.

If the new numbers from J. Gold Associates are accurate - and crucially, if procurement departments are paying attention - the death of the mechanical drive may come even sooner than expected.