There’s nothing more infuriating for a gamer than spending an hour or two downloading and installing a new game, only to receive an error message due to insufficient disk space. And it’s equally infuriating when your favorite video game crashes right when you’re about to reach a significant milestone.
Whether you’ve just started dipping your toes into the world of gaming or have been an avid gamer for quite some time, having sufficient disk storage on your gaming PC or gaming laptop is key to a seamless gaming experience. You must also keep in mind that disk storage isn’t just utilized for storing video games; it’s used to store other multimedia files as well.
Luckily, there’s a wide variety of internal and external storage solutions on the market. Such wide variety can be pretty overwhelming, though, especially if you’re new to this whole gaming thing. In fact, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is, “How much storage do I need for gaming?”
So, this article will hopefully cover everything you need to know about storage space for gaming, from the different types of storage solutions to the different storage capacity options available today.
The Different Storage Solutions Available
Before deciding on how much storage space you need, you must first consider the different storage solutions on the market, which are hard disk drives, solid state drives, and solid state hybrid drives. So, let’s break them down one by one.
Hard Disk Drives
Hard disk drives (HDDs) are probably the most popular storage solution because of how cost-effective they are. They’re notably more affordable than their solid state drive counterparts. To exemplify, it isn’t unlikely to find an HDD that costs half of what an SDD of the exact capacity costs.
Another strong selling point of HDDs is their availability. They’re available in a wide range of capacities—both in external and internal drive forms—all over the internet and in your local computer hardware store.
There are, however, a few downsides that may deter an avid gamer from getting an HDD. For starters, HDDs operate mechanically, and so they have a relatively slow read-write rate compared to SSDs. So, generally speaking, a gaming PC or a gaming laptop equipped with an HDD will take longer to boot than one that’s equipped with an SSD.
Another downside to hard disk drives is that they can make a lot of noise, as they have a magnetic head and a rotating disk. The noise isn’t all that annoying, but it can certainly be a source of distraction when you’re trying to listen to the enemy’s footsteps.
Solid State Drives
The reign of solid state drives (SSDs) is supreme in the gaming world because of their remarkable speed. Since they use flash memory for storage, they can be 20-100 times faster than your average hard disk drive when it comes to booting, loading, and file transfers.
Unlike HDDs, SSDs don’t have any moving parts, which presents the user with two advantages. Firstly, you can forget all about mechanical noise. And secondly, you don’t have to worry about data loss due to rattling or physical blows.
As perfect as they may seem, SSDs have their fair share of disadvantages. And the most notable disadvantage is their short lifespan. To elaborate, SSDs come with a finite write cycle, meaning that you can add and remove data a set number of times. After that, you’re stuck with what you have in your SSD. This isn’t the case with HDDs.
Moreover, another downside to SSDs is their encrypted controllers, which tend to make the process of data recovery a pain in the rear. And if your controller fails, data recovery becomes impossible!
Lastly, SSDs are notably more expensive than HDDs of the same capacity as flash memory is expensive. So, it may be challenging to buy an SSD with enough storage space if you’re on a tight budget.
Solid State Hybrid Drives
And solid state hybrid drives (SSHDs) strike the perfect balance between HDDs and SDDs. On the one hand, they’re faster than HDDs. On the other hand, they’re more affordable than SSDs.
With an SSHD, you can expect fast boot-ups and lower power use. Also, SSHDs are available in greater capacities than most SSDs. They may not be as spacious as HDDs, though.
Also, keep in mind that SSHDs have a spinning component, so you shouldn’t expect them to be completely quiet. Luckily, they aren’t as loud as their HDD counterparts.
One of the downsides you should be mindful of in SSHDs is that they’re prone to failure. For example, if one of the drive’s components is compromised, the entire drive will fail. Furthermore, seeing as they combine hybrid technology, SSDHs can prove difficult when it comes to data recovery.
Last but not least, according to experts, SSHD technology is bound to become extinct in the near future. That is because HDDs are actively increasing in size, and SSD prices are dropping quite steadily.
So, while SSHDs may be a pretty decent storage solution for the time being, you should consider future-proofing your investment by opting for an HDD or an SSD.
How Much Storage You Need for Gaming
When trying to determine how much storage space you need for your specific gaming needs, you must consider the average size of most modern AAA games, which is about 25 GB.
Undoubtedly, there are AAA games that can take up 50-100 GB worth of available storage space, but they’re rare. So, we’re going to base the following estimation on the 25 GB average.
Here are the most popular storage capacity options on the market, each with the respective number of AAA games that they can accommodate:
If you’re new to the gaming world or if you’re more of a casual gamer that doesn’t play too many games, a 500 GB drive can be a good starting point, especially if you’re on a budget.
Also, a 500 GB drive can accommodate around 20 average-sized AAA games. However, 500 GB drives tend to fill up quickly. When they’re full, you’ll be left with two options. You can either upgrade to a larger storage drive or get rid of some files to free up some space.
1,000 GB drives are some of the most popular storage solutions on the market. They’re pretty affordable and offer sufficient storage space for around 30 AAA video games.
Furthermore, 1,000 GB drives are an excellent choice for gaming enthusiasts who aren’t looking to splurge. They’re also great for casual gamers who would like a balance between video games and other multimedia files.
This is by far the most popular storage capacity in the gaming community. On the one hand, 2,000 GB drives aren’t too expensive, making them reasonably accessible. On the other hand, they can accommodate a lot of AAA games as well as high-quality multimedia files.
So, if you’re someone who plays video games that are larger than average in terms of size, a 2,000 GB drive would be right up your alley. Unfortunately, it’ll take you quite a while to fill a 2,000 GB drive to the brim.
3,000 GB drives are high-end units that are generally not intended for the typical gamer. They’re geared more toward content creators who like to document their gaming sessions.
Also, 3,000 GB drives are perfect for dedicated, insatiable gamers who have a hard time managing their storage due to the sheer number of video games they have.
With a 3,000 GB drive, you can accommodate up to 120 average-sized AAA games. You can also accommodate a few large (50-100) GB games and several 4K movies without any problems.
Anything beyond the 3,000 GB mark would be overkill for just about any gamer, unless, of course, you enjoy the non-restrictive feeling of having seemingly endless storage.
Ultimately, if you’re a casual gamer who’s only looking to enjoy around a couple dozen games at a time, we recommend opting for a 1,000 GB drive. However, if you’re more of an avid gamer, a 2,000 GB drive should be sufficient. As for content creators or people who like hoarding video games, they should aim for 3,000 GB or more.
As far as which type of drive you should get, it all boils down to your budget and your degree of enthusiasm toward gaming. So, gamers on a limited budget and casual gamers should opt for an HDD. But if you’re an aficionado and don’t mind spending the extra bucks, an SSD is your best bet.