If you're looking for a cheap laptop, you've probably seen that many of them have something called eMMC storage. However, the spec sheet typically doesn't do a great job of explaining what that is. Is it an extreme cost-cutting measure that should be avoided, or could it be a good idea?
eMMC stands for Embedded Multimedia Card. It may sound like something you'd insert into a digital camera back when that was popular - and it turns out that that's true. The original MMC came out in 1997 and was very common in digital cameras. MMC was improved upon afterwards, and had copy protection added to it, resulting in the more familiar SD card. The eMMC storage found in the laptop that you are eyeing is essentially an MMC version that is soldered directly onto the laptop's motherboard, instead of being a removable card. It's like a built-in SSD, but why do lower-end laptops use eMMC instead of an actual SSD, considering how cheap and common SSDs have become?
The answer is that eMMC is still the cheaper option. The NAND flash memory that stores the data inside eMMC doesn't have the same longevity as what is found in a proper SSD. This means that it wears out faster due to simpler firmware and lower quality hardware. Additionally, eMMC doesn't usually provide as much storage capacity as a regular SSD, as many laptops that include it only have 32 or 64 gigabytes for you to work with - which isn't a lot for Windows 11.
The thing to remember about eMMC is that even though it isn't the same as a SATA or NVME SSD, it's still solid-state storage that offers many of the same benefits thanks to its cost-effectiveness. Laptop manufacturers have been able to replace those painfully slow mechanical hard drives you used to find in budget models with eMMCs, removing a significant bottleneck.
However, eMMCs top out at around 400MB/s of sequential read speeds, with some implementations being well below that. This means they are significantly slower for large file transfers compared to even a cheap SATA SSD. Furthermore, random reads - a more relevant stat for day-to-day use - will also be around half of what you get with an SSD or even lower.
Overall, the benefits of eMMC are clear but the drawbacks are so severe that we recommend staying away from it entirely.
However, here's the thing to remember: unless you're really trying to put a cheap system through its paces, it shouldn't end up mattering too much. Laptops with eMMC are meant for more mundane tasks, such as watching YouTube, typing reports, wasting time on social media, and other similar uses cases that won't tax the PC too much.
When it comes to more demanding applications, such as gaming, streaming, or content creation, eMMC may slow down the load times, but shouldn't have a significant effect on actual game performance. So, for a cheap laptop, eMMC can make a lot of sense, since the user wouldn't be buying it for intensive applications anyway, and they wouldn't be hitting it so hard that it would quickly wear out.
But what about the base model Steam Deck? That's meant for gaming, and it has eMMC. Well, eMMC will largely just slow down the load times when playing games on the Steam Deck, but it shouldn't affect the actual performance of the game too much. So, sometimes just having a bit more patience can save you a significant amount of money.
I can't even tell you how much money I've wasted on express food delivery just so I can get my chicken poppers before halftime ends! Well, I don't watch sports, but the same principle applies.
No comments yet
Sign In / Sign Up