Are you trying to decide the best SSD capacity for your laptop or desktop computer and feeling overwhelmed by options? 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB – How much SSD do I need?
How can you choose which SSD size is suitable for videos, office files, gaming, and editing work? Don’t worry! I’m here to break down the features and requirements of each so that you can make an informed decision.
Selecting a recommended SSD capacity will be easy by understanding what’s needed to optimize SSDs‘ reliability with regard to the various tasks mentioned above, such as video production or game-play, etc.
How much SSD storage Do I need?
First Know, whether 1GB SSD for Manufacturer = 1GB SSD for Windows?
Are you aware that the displayed capacity of an SSD on a computer’s specification table is not necessarily the actual usable storage space? This is because Windows’ definition of 1GB differs from how SSDs are made, and preinstalled software will take up a bit more drive space.
It’s important to note that the capacity indicated in the manufacturer’s specification table isn’t always what you will see on your Windows PC.
For instance, manufacturers calculate 1GB as 1GB = 1000MB = 10000000KB = 1000000000B, but Windows runs a binary calculation measuring 1GB as 1024MB = 1048576KB = 1073741824B; this means that for every GB listed by the manufacturer is actually about 1.0737 in terms of storage availability on Window PCs!
Therefore, if you use Windows, convert your calculations accordingly beforehand. Following are the capacity SSD sizes that Windows recognizes as storage.
Capacity on Windows
How Much OS takes space from SSD Size? – Important
For a Windows computer, it’s important to consider the remaining storage available. First, the OS occupies about 15 GB, and another 10 GB is associated with necessary files and data (clean installation of Windows 10 *nothing extra program is installed) – leaving 25 GB that cannot be freely utilized.
As the SSD capacity reduces over time, searching for free space takes longer than usual, decreasing system speed and shortening life, so leaving about 20GB with plenty of room is recommended.
Considering this, about 45GB of space is taken from a 128GB laptop; translating into 80 GB of actual usable capacity in total! Furthermore, when considering Microsoft’s definition of 1GB, it’s even less, and subtracting 45GB from each capacity gives:
Manufacturer's SSD's Capacity
Capacity on Windows
Actual usable capacity
If you continue to use it, junk files and the cache will accumulate.
Have you ever encountered an issue where your phone’s storage capacity was full, yet had no idea why? This is because you have not deleted the files you downloaded yourself or because a browser’s cache has been accumulating.
Applications such as browsers secretly store .dmp file or cache folder locally when they are accessed for the first time to quickly display information that is viewed for the second time. For this reason, a large amount of data accumulates inadvertently, resulting in a capacity shortage. Or, every time Windows is updated, files for backup are accumulated, which puts pressure on the capacity.
Consequently, at least 5GB of storage space is being used annually – even after you’ve deleted some content. If a laptop model are to be kept for five years and had an average loss of 5GB every year, it would precisely lose 25GB in total by its fifth year!
Manufacturer's SSD's Capacity
Free capacity after 5 years of use
Thus, why do people keep buying 128GB and failing? One may think that 100GB would be usable freely, but it is less than half of that. Compared to 128GB, the actual usable capacity of a 256GB computer is nearly four times larger.
Now you have understood the basics of storage used by the OS storage, and the rough amount of size remains free for your personal files and programs. Now comes the main question how much SSD do I need?
How much SSD do I need?
To understand the sense to some extent, I will describe what kind of PC cases in each capacity of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB is ideal. Roughly, it looks like the figure below. I will explain the reason for this and how to deal with it, such as saving it to an external HDD.
128GB SSD is for people who don’t store any media
With the cache and junk files that continue to increase every year, combined with the space taken up by your operating system and initial applications, you only have approximately 50GB of available capacity.
If you use this computer for storing videos or photos without monitoring it closely, it will soon fill up, and even if you use the application for many years, it will reach its limit.
For this reason, it is generally not recommended, but 128GB won’t be a problem if you mainly want to enjoy the Internet or for office work that is limited to light work. 128GB laptop SSD size is only viable if you know what you will use your computer for from the start and see that it will take up very little space.
It’s the perfect capacity for a user who needs to give presentations or check emails or for those who want to use it for writing work and who wish to have a sub-PC that allows them to check data on the go.
256GB is a widely recommended capacity
With the industry standard of 256GB and 512GB, you can take comfort in knowing that there is plenty of room to store your favorite applications, photos, and videos. Whether you live off office work or need to edit light visuals regularly, a 256GB SSD should be sufficient for most users.
With Windows 10, 128GB of storage can be sufficient; however, if you are using Windows 11, it’s in your best interest to have more—specifically 256GB or above. This is because the system requires 64GB or more storage, so it is safer to have more capacity in anticipation of updates.
How much SSD do I need for gaming, 256GB or 512GB?
First, look at the required free spaces for popular game titles.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
Red Dead Redemption 2
Uncharted legacy of thieves
God of War Ragnarok
Final Fantasy XVI
Games such as God of War Ragnarok and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 can take up to 100GB, leaving you with a mere 256GB storage limit that is only about 2 to 3 games will fit, and you will end up repeatedly installing and uninstalling the game.
Not to mention the fact that official game websites often provide minimum space requirements which are subject to increase with every new update. Therefore, it’s recommended that you have extra capacity when booting these games in order to ensure sufficient room available for updates down the line.
Therefore, if you want to install and play multiple 3D games, then a gaming PC with an SSD of at least 512GB is suggested. While 256GB is enough for those, who don’t play multiple games at the same time and delete the game data each time they finish.
On the other hand, 1TB is perfect if more than 10 titles are intended to store or if your aim of managing games on multiple platforms.
If you have many videos want to store, have a budget to spare, and want to avoid capacity issues down the line, 512GB is recommended. By opting for this storage option now, you can always purchase an additional or external SSD for gaming or storage later if it turns out that your space needs are greater than expected.
How much SSD storage do I need for Video Editing & Designing? 512GB or 1TB?
When purchasing a PC, I recommend an SSD of 1TB or more for those who want to edit work.
This is because saving high-definition videos requires a lot of free space. Play videos are often recorded for a long time and then edited, so much free space is needed for storage. Also, the higher the video quality, the more space it will use, so it is common for the SSD or HDD capacity to be squeezed even with a small number of stored videos.
The price of an SSD increases as the capacity increases, so for those on a tight budget with a 1TB SSD, I recommend a 500GB SSD and 1TB HDD configuration. Yes, HDDs have slower read and write speeds than SSDs, but the unit price per capacity is low.
On the other hand, there will be no substantial difference in experience when viewing videos and photos taken from either an HDD or SSD drive, except for editing software, which should be installed and performed in SSD.
Moreover, you can secure the capacity by deleting the saved videos. Still, if you want to use a gaming PC without worrying about deleting videos, it is recommended to install a large capacity on the expansion slot.
Do you value transfer speed a lot?
This is an issue that has little to do with capacity but with the budget, which will be reduced if we look for a unit with a high speed of file transfer (as in USB connection). But do you need that much speed? As you might have guessed, getting an SSD with faster transfer speeds comes at a higher cost.
You have to find the ideal balance between capacity and performance to avoid spending more money if we’re not going to take advantage of it. A normal user will not notice a huge difference between one and the other; in fact, many gaming tests have been done in Windows 10 and 11 comparing an M.2 NVMe with a 2.5-inch one SATA, and the difference in loading screens is minimal!
Also if you use M.2 SSD for high power use you may also need to install M.2 Heatsink.
Thus, if you are not professional and do not work with large projects, I recommend an M.2 SATA or 2.5″ SATA SSD that is reasonably priced and still offers a fast transfer rate of 450, and 3,000 MB / s is more than enough for the average user. My advice? Prioritize capacity – as they increase with size, so does performance!
Ultimately, how much SSD storage you should opt for depends on how you plan to use your PC. If you are looking for a laptop or desktop computer capable of handling everyday activities or light visuals, 128GB and 256GB, respectively will suffice. For gaming, 256GB and 512GB can provide enough space to store several games and manage updates.
For video editing, a 1TB SSD is recommended to tackle the large data requirements of high-definition videos. Lastly, if you plan to use your machine for various tasks, opt for larger capacity options like 2TB or 3TB, depending on how much space you will require in the long run.
At the end, your choice of storage is up to you and how much you are willing to spend. Choose wisely!
Hope you got to know ‘How Much SSD do I Need?’. You can leave a comment if you have any suggestions or something to add.