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What Size SSD is Needed for Gaming? – A Quick Storage Guide

by  Jone -  Last updated on October 20, 2021
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Are you looking to have a powerful gaming computer capable of running the latest and greatest games? If so, you are going to need to make sure that your CPU is running at peak performance. It is key that you put in the time and effort to create and enhance your computer.

Otherwise it will perform slowly with serious lag and awful, game-ending crashes. There is only one way to ensure that your computer is able to do exactly what you want and provide you with hours and hours of entertainment. That is to craft your ideal PC with the right components.

And a key thing to consider is your computer’s SSD. Although some people aren’t aware of it, the SSD is one of the most important aspects of a computer. It can be make or break when it comes to playing modern video games.

Just what is an SSD and why is it so important? There is a lot to learn. The more you understand about the SSD and the options revolving around it, the better your computer will be.

What Size SSD Do You Need for Gaming?

This is perhaps the most important question when you are buying an SSD drive. Which size do you need? This is paramount in the modern gaming age because games require a lot of power.

If you opt for the bare minimum, your PC or laptop will struggle to run some of the latest, critically-acclaimed video games. But a bigger SSD comes with a bigger price tag.

We recommend for moderate gamers that you get an SSD of at least 512GB or 1TB.

The size you need depends on your needs and budget. Take a look at each size option below to figure out what is right for you.

128GB

This is probably the worst choice you can make. This is the lowest-capacity drive and won’t get the job done. Not by a long shot. These drives usually have slower performance. Also, their small size means that you will be running out of space in no time at all.

If you hope to have more than just a few games, you literally cannot rely on a 128GB drive. It needs to be bigger than this. Thankfully, you have far better options and don’t need to waste your money on such a small drive.

256GB

Although these drives are less expensive than their bigger counterparts, they are still rather little, especially if you use your PC to store your operating system, PC games, and perhaps a significant media collection.

If your budget allows, upgrading at least one capacity tier to a 512GB-class disk is recommended.

512GB

This is more ideal, especially for new gamers. This sort of drive offers a decent amount of room at an affordable price. However, as more and more games become bigger and more robust, even the 512GB drive is becoming less and less popular.

1TB

You should have plenty of space with a 1TB drive. This should hold many games and media and will rarely ask you to delete stuff for space.

2TB

A 2TB drive is going to be more expensive – and harder to find – but it will be worth it because of the product you receive. You will have more than enough space to store all of your games and media and your operating systems and primary programs as well. Plus, you will have more room for games in the future too.

4TB

This size is for the biggest gamers on the planet. Only the most experienced and dedicated gamers need a hard drive that is this large. That’s because it doesn’t get any bigger than this. And while you literally cannot get more space for your computer than 4TB, it won’t come cheap.

The honest truth is that this will cost you a good amount of money, it will be very expensive. But it will also be the last hard drive you really need because it will store literally all that you can throw at it. Games, media, operating systems and anything else you need will fit comfortably on this 4TB drive.

What’s the bottom line with the size of your SSD?

The key piece of information to remember is this. If you’re a desktop user or have a gaming laptop with many drives and need a lot of storage, you’re better off getting a pair of smaller SSDs.

This could save you hundreds of dollars while providing approximately the same amount of storage and performance. 4TB and bigger drives will be limited to experts and hobbyists with vast wallets until pricing decreases and there is more competition.

What is an SSD?

For decades, data was largely stored on mechanical hard drives. Traditional hard disk drives rely on moving components to collect data, such as a read/write head that moves back and forth. As a result, hard disk drives are the most likely computer hardware component to fail.

The new, stronger Solid-State Drives (SSDs) operate in a very unique manner. They make use of a NAND flash memory chip, which has no moving components and provides near-instant access. An SSD’s memory chips are similar to those found in random access memory (RAM).

An SSD’s memory chips are similar to those found in random access memory (RAM). However, files are stored on a grid of NAND flash cells rather than a magnetic disc. Each grid of NAND flash cells has a storage capacity of 256 KB to 4 MB.

The controller of an SSD knows the precise location of the grids, allowing your PC to request a file almost instantly. There’s no need to wait for a read/write head to locate the data it needs. As a result, SSD access times are measured in nanoseconds.

What does this brand new type of technology result in? Quite a lot, such as:

  • Little noise or vibration
  • Much faster load time
  • The SSD creates less heat
  • The SSD reads and writes faster than a hard drive

SSDs have become even more popular as the gaming community has taken a liking to them. Because of their large file size and the speed at which they work, SSD is the ideal type of drive for any gaming rig. It can allow gamers to play the most impressive, robust video games with little lag or crashing.

It’s like a regular hard drive on steroids and that has led to a booming and exciting gaming industry and millions of fans who are able to play amazing feats of creation in their bedrooms.

Types of SSDs

Solid-state drives are now available in a variety of forms and may be used with a variety of hardware and software interfaces. The good thing about an SSD is that you can mix and match and find the right type that is perfect for you.

The type of drive you’ll need is determined by the device you’re using or intending on buying. If you have one of the top gaming PCs or are creating a PC with a current mid-to-high-end motherboard, most contemporary drive types may be supported.

There are multiple types of SSDs on the market and you need to peruse through all of them before you make your purchase. Here are some of the most popular ones you should look to.

SSD Add-in Card (AIC)

These use the PCI Express interface rather than SATA, which was built over a decade ago to accommodate rotating hard drives. That means these AIC drives have the potential to be significantly quicker than most other drives. They also have more PCIe lanes available than typical M.2 SSDs.

AIC drives fit into motherboard slots that are usually reserved for the finest graphics cards or RAID controllers. Of course, this means they’re only available for desktops, and installing them requires an empty PCIe x4 or x16 slot.

You could be out of luck if your desktop is small and you already have a graphics card installed. However, if you have room in your current desktop and a free slot, these drives can be among the fastest available. This is thanks to their larger surface area, which allows for better cooling. Extremely fast data transfer creates a lot of heat.

M.2 SSDs

M.2 SSDs are about the size of a stick of RAM but considerably smaller. They have become the norm for thin laptops, but they can also be found on most desktop motherboards. Many high-end boards even include two or more M.2 slots, allowing you to use RAID with the SSDs.

Although the majority of M.2 drives are 22mm broad and 80mm long, some are shorter or longer. Their names contain a four- or five-digit number, with the first two digits denoting width and the remaining digits representing length.

M.2 Type-2280 is the most often used size. Many desktop motherboards feature anchor points for longer and shorter drives, even though laptops generally only operate with one size. M.2 drives with capacities of 2, 4, or even 8TB are the most common. So, if you have a big budget and a lot of storage capacity, an M.2 is the way to go.

2.5-inch Serial ATA (SATA)

This is perhaps the most popular type of drive on our list and for good reason too. These drives look like standard laptop hard drives and attach using the same SATA cables and interface that any reasonably skilled upgrader should be acquainted with.

These drives should be drop-in compatible if your laptop or desktop has a 2.5-inch hard disk bay and a spare SATA connection. Although you may need a bay adapter if installing in a desktop with only larger, 3.5-inch hard drive bays free.

U.2 SSDs

These 2.5-inch components appear to be conventional SATA hard disks at first glance. They do, however, require a separate connection and transmit data via the fast PCIe interface, and they’re usually bulkier than 2.5-inch hard drives and SSDs. U.2 drives are more costly and have a greater capacity than M.2 drives. This form size is useful for servers with a lot of open disk bays, but it’s not prevalent in consumer PCs.

How Much Do SSDs Cost?

The majority of consumer drives have capacities ranging from 128GB to 2TB. While 128GB drives are the most affordable, they aren’t large enough to contain a lot of software and are typically slower than their larger equivalents. Many businesses have begun to phase out low-capacity equipment.

Upgrading from 128 to 256GB costs as little as $15 more, and it’s money well spent. The difference between 256GB and 512GB disks might also be minor. For most users, the sweet spot between price, performance, and capacity used to be 512GB, but 1TB is quickly becoming the superior option, especially when 1TB drives drop to $100 or less.

There are also a growing number of drives with capacities more than 2TB (mostly from Samsung). However, because they’re generally very costly (above $400/£400), they’re only worthwhile for professional users that want a lot of room and speed and aren’t afraid to pay for it.

What is a Controller?

It’s not just the SSD that you need to think of when you are building your ultimate gaming rig. You need to also think of the controller for your computer. This is something that most people don’t spend any time or attention on. In fact, most people don’t even know what their computer’s controller is.

Consider the controller to be the drive’s CPU. It manages your reads and writes, as well as other important drive performance and maintenance functions. It can be fascinating to delve into the details of certain controller kinds and specifications. For most users though, it is sufficient knowing that, similar to PCs, more cores are preferable for higher performance and capacity.

The controller clearly has an impact on performance. But unless you want to go into the nitty-gritty of how certain drives compare to one another, it’s preferable to look at our evaluations to see how a drive performs overall rather than focusing on the controller.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, now is the best time to buy an SSD for your gaming computer. They have never been cheaper and easier to find.

That being said, you might still spend a lot of money on your SSD if you are going for the very best in the field. That’s okay, because it will be well worth it as you play the very latest and greatest games in the world.

An SSD is a new type of hard drive that has radically transformed how gaming computers work. And when you invest in this type of drive, you are investing in a future for your computer that is very bright, exciting, and fun.

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