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Why Starfield’s system requirements are doing your PC a favor

A space explorer stands in front of a mountain range in Starfield.

There are couple of games ruffling feathers in the world of PC gaming right now: Cyberpunk 2077 and Starfield, both of which require that you have them installed on an SSD. For the three-year-old Cyberpunk 2077, the change comes on the back of an overhaul to the system requirements in anticipation of its Phantom Liberty expansion, while Starfield is, well, Starfield. 

Some are quick to claim HDDs are dead, or flock to complain about how Starfield is the first game to require an SSD (spoiler alert: it’s not). If you don’t already have an SSD installed in your PC, and that’s pretty unlikely if you’ve upgraded at any point in the past several years, you really shouldn’t be playing games off of an HDD. It’s a bad experience, and there aren’t a lot of compelling reasons to still use an HDD.

Starfield may be a sign of the times, but developers have been recommending SSDs in their system requirements for years. Just this year, every major AAA release has listed an SSD as a recommended spec. They’ll run on HDDs, but you’ll have a much worse experience between loading stutters and loading times overall.

Installing a hard drive in a desktop PC case.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

And Starfield isn’t the first game this year to list an SSD in its minimum specs. Both Dead Space and Diablo IV also list an SSD as a minimum spec on PC. These will likely still boot on an HDD (and I suspect that Cyberpunk 2077 and Starfield will as well), but you really should be playing them on an SSD. Frankly, you shouldn’t be playing most AAA releases from the past three years off an HDD.

I could understand an argument for supporting HDDs if SSDs were still expensive, but they’re not. A 1TB WD Black HDD is $48 on Newegg at the time of writing. A 1TB WD Black SN770 PCIe 4.0 SSD is $51. In fact, the SSD is actually cheaper right now due to a 10% off coupon code Newegg is running.

That isn’t consistent across sizes. A 2TB HDD is almost always around $15 to $20 cheaper than a 2TB SSD, but that’s a pretty worthwhile upcharge. You’re not only getting vastly faster loading times, but also a drive that won’t die out in a few years. Plus, SSDs go on sale constantly from brands like Western Digital and Samsung, while comparable HDDs are rarely marked down.

If you are still using an HDD, a new SSD should be your next upgrade. After all, you can get 1TB of storage with a cutting-edge drive for less than the cost of a new game, so it’s worth the price. If you need to know where to start, our best SSDs roundup can point you in the right direction.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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