MBR vs GPT | Which One to Choose for Your New SSD?

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Whether you are buying an SSD as your primary or secondary storage device, you basically have two partition types to go with. Guided Partition Table or Master Boot Record. So, which one to choose for your new SSD?

Well, if your new SSD is 2TB or above, go for GPT. However, if your new SSD is lower than 2TB, you can use MBR. In this article, we’ll explain the differences between these two partition systems to help you determine which one suits your need the most. 


Difference between MBR and GPT

After learning so much information about GPT or MBR for SSD and HDD in layout, now we can prepare a better comparison for them in detail. Base on the above information, you can apparently get four different criteria of GPT and MBR.

If long reading is not your thing, here’s a comparison chart between them.

Max Storage Size2TB1 million TB
Number of Partitions4128
Data RecoveryDifficultEasier
Data CorruptionDifficult to detectEasy to detect
PerformanceLowerMuch higher

Maximum Number of Partitions

For MBR: From the structure of Master Boot Record, it contains a partition table of 64 byte which makes four partition table entries, and each one needs 16 bytes (by calculation). Therefore, for an MBR disk, you are allowed to create o four primary partitions. To create more than four partitions, you have to change the fourth partition type as an extended partition, and then you can create many logical drives as you need. Here Windows Operating System supports up to 128 logical partitions. In different words, Master Boot Record disk style supports up to either four primary partitions (if there are no valid partitions) or three primary partitions and one extended partition with up to 128 partitions.

For GPT Style: GPT does not have those limitations that MBR suffers. The unique partition table header provides the available blocks on the disk drive and the number and size of the partition entries that create the partition table. There is no need to create an extended or logical partition in GPT disk to make all of your barriers work correctly. EFI or UEFI(Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) requires a partition table of minimum 16,384 bytes reserved. There are 128 partition entries in a GPT styled disk drive in total, and each of them is 128 bytes. You can build and operate smoothly up to 128 primary partitions without any problem on a GPT disk drive.

Disk Size

There is a noticeable difference between GPT and MBR in disk size.  The standard size of a logical sector is 512 bytes. That means calculation says that a 2 TeraByte hard disk drive will contain 3,906,250,000 times 512-byte sectors. But if your computer operating system is 32-bit based then it requires at least 32 bit of information to represent this vast number. To address more than 2.2 TeraBytes, It would need an additional bit, in total 33bits. The MBR partitioning scheme sets a limit of 32 bits. The maximum amount of 32-bit block addressing is 4294967295, which is approximately 2.199TeraByte of capacity for a 512-byte sector hard drive. That means  MBR partitioning scheme cannot resolve if its size is more massive than 2.2TeraByte. If your disk is more substantial than 2TeraByte, you will find the rest disk space becomes “unallocated” in the Disk Management tool.

Unlike MBR, there is no limitation in the size of your disk. GUID Partition Table provides 64 bits for logical block addresses. Theoretically, the disk capacity of  GUID Partition Table can support up to 9.4 Zettabyte (1 Zettabyte = 1024 EitaByte, 1EitaByte= 1024 PetByte, 1PetaByte = 1024 TeraByte, 1TeraByte = 1024GigaByte). For a hard disk drive with a 512-byte sector, it is equivalent to 9.44 ZettaByte (1 ZettaByte is 1 billion TeraBytes). After all, GUID Partition Table supports up to 18 EitaByte incapacities.

MBR VS GPT in Security

When it is a security issue, then we can see a fundamental difference between Master Boot Record and the GUID Partition Table. If you observed the disk layout of MBR and GUID Partition Table, you would find there lies a primary GPT header at the starting of the hard disk drive and a backup GPT header at the end of the hard disk. It also contains a CRC32 checksum for itself. With this checksum, the firmware, operating system, or bootloader on boot can verify whether there is something wrong or error in the selected partition table. If it detects errors on primary GPT, it recovers the whole GUID Partition Table from the backup GUID partition header itself, and this is the outstanding security level advantage of GUID Partition Table whereas Master Boot Record does not provide this feature. MBR disk is entirely unusable if Operating System finds any error or corrupted area in the MBR partition table. So, it is sure that the GUID Partition Table has higher security than Master Boot Record disk.

OS Support

The above article focused on Master Boot Record VS GUID Partition Table in three aspects like Disk Size, Security, and partition numbers. Furthermore, you also need to seek attention to its, supported operating system and BIOS compatibility. We all should know that the legacy BIOS only supports     Boot Record, but UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS system supports both MBR and GPT.  When comparing Master Boot Record and GPT in OS support If you install any operating system (both 32 bit and 64 bit) on an MBR style disk, it will support and work smoothly. But all Windows systems support does not help in GUID Partition Table. GPT partitioning scheme has to meet an issue that most computer users installed their operating systems at present on a BIOS-Based computer. Your computer also should support UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) to boot or install Operating System GUID Partition Table initialized hard disk device.

Operating System Support on GUID Partition Table

  1. All versions of Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1, Windows 10 completely support GPT disk style as both OS installation and storage disk. But only 64-bit editions on UEFI-based systems can be used as system disks. Windows Server2003, 2008, 2012, 2016 can apply a GPT disk to save data just.
  2. The early operating systems like Windows 2000T Windows MS-DOS/Windows NT. Windows 95/Windows 98 has no support for Reading. Writing and Booting compatibility from GUID Partition Table. Windows Vista 32-bit and Windows XP 32-bit also have no support
  3. System installation in Windows XP 64-bit is not allowed, You can only use GPT disk for the data storage device.
  4. All version of Linux (Ubuntu, Linux Mint) and Mac OS XL 0.6+ has excellent support for GPT disk for data storage. Operating System installation requires UEFI BIOS.

Should You Choose MBR or GPT?

There are some basic rules to choose between HDD and SSD MBR and GPT style by the explanation of previous sections. This part only devotes to how to select the partitioning style.

Rule 1: BIOS + MBR

If your personal computer or laptop’s motherboard supports only BIOS or UEFI with BIOS mode, the MBR partition style is the best choice.

Rule 2: I-JEFI + GPT

Oppositely, If your personal computer or laptop to Motherboard supports UEFI and enables UEFI mode, then your choice should GPT partition style,

If you are still confused by the conclusion above, my advice is that if you are not a professional user, you would better choose BIOS(Legacy) + MBR or UEFI +GPT, as you can benefit in your test.

If you’re thinking to build a new PC for yourself with an upgraded SSD, then make sure all parts are compatible with each other. You can use tools like PC Builder to create a list of compatible parts for your PC with ease.

Summing Up

Some ordinary users still may ask whether it is safe to use Legacy BIOS if the computer’s motherboard is I-JEFI mode. Then my answer is that for the consideration of best performance, stability, and speed; do not use Legacy BIOS unless your hard drive’s capacity is minimal. If and only if 100 MegaByte matters much on your hard disk drive, you can use choosy Legacy BIOS because UEFI+GPT allocates more disk space (100 MegaBytes or so) than BIOS+MBR.

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