Dell, Lenovo and HP kill laptops with hard disk drives, marking the end of an era

Hard Drive Close Up
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The biggest laptop vendors in the world no longer sell laptops with hard disk drives, at least in the US. 

Research carried out by TechRadar Pro on, and across more than 100 laptop models revealed that HDD have been eliminated entirely from product lines due a combination of chassis rationalization, lack of demand for laptops with hard disks and falling component prices (eMMC and SSD). 

Hard disk drives have followed optical drives (CD/DVD) and floppy disk drives on the path of storage obsolescence. As a whole, the 2.5-inch form factor is likely to be scaled back significantly, if not eliminated entirely, in laptops by the end of the year as the average price per storage of solid state drives continue their downward trend. Hard drives still maintain a presence in desktop PCs where they often come in a larger, more widespread form factor (3.5-inch) where they don’t carry the same stigma as their laptop counterparts.

 Goodbye to click of death

Laptop HDD lost out to SSD because they are far slower, more fragile, bigger and consume more power. Their low price and high capacity was their saving grace but with so many cloud storage providers around, high capacity rapidly became a non-issue, which explains why so many laptops come with 64GB and 128GB SSD, especially at the low end of the market. The lowest capacity 2.5-inch HDD, in comparison, tops 500GB.

Next on the rung is eMMC, an embedded memory storage popular amongst entry level, super cheap devices like the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go and usually found in smartphones. It tends to be much slower and available in smaller capacities which is why we usually recommend avoiding laptops sporting this storage technology. 

It’s not the end of the road for hard disk drives though; they are still very useful as external HDD storage where they still carry the best value for money especially at very high capacities (4TB to 20TB). And with 30TB hard disk drives in the pipeline, there’s still a lot going on for them, especially in data centers.

Note that the research results only apply to consumer laptops. One lonely Dell business laptop - the Vostro 14 3400 - comes with a 1TB hard disk drive. The research didn’t extend to other smaller vendors like Acer, Asus, MSI, Gateway etc. 

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.