Wondering if a 1TB hard drive or SSD will be enough for your needs? We can help you figure that out.
For non-gamers and most people using the computer for simple work tasks, 1TB is actually plenty of storage. Gamers, videographers, and serious media consumers, however, will find that 1TB disappears extremely fast and is likely to be insufficient.
This quick guide will give you the information, along with real-world scenarios) to help you determine how much storage space you actually need.
How Much is 1TB, Really?
A terabyte can be an unfamiliar concept to non-gamers and computer users who don’t routinely work on space-demanding tasks. Most folks understand that it is comprised of 1000 Gigabytes, but they are unsure of exactly how much space certain things can take.
Images, for example, can average anywhere from 100KB in small, lower-res JPEGS to 25MB+ in high-res RAW photos. That works out to 10,000,000 low-res photos to 40,000 high res photos taking up 1TB. Realistically, 100,000 to 200,000 photos on 1TB is a good rule of thumb, as long as they’re not all massive .RAW files.
4K movies can easily take up 50GB to well over 150GB. That’s works out to between 6 and 20 movies fitting on a 1TB drive.
If you were to ask 10 years ago if 1TB would be enough to support a desktop, laptop, or other device, the answer would almost certainly be yes. These days, there is so much more demand for hard despite how large 1TB may seem.
Is 1TB Enough for Gamers?
Most PC gamers are familiar with the game Skyrim. Skyrim on its own is 12 GB, sounds modest right?
When compared to 1TB, 12GB is nothing really, but then again, who plays Skyrim without mods? If you’re one of the people who has found the drug that is modding, then you know very well how much storage it can take up. Some mods are 4 GB worth of space!
Imagine that? 1/3rd of the space of the entire game taken up by just one mod, but it happens a lot and, on plenty systems, Skyrim alone can take up north of 100 GB of a hard drive.
That’s a 10-year-old game we are talking about here, not a top-of-the-line new release. When we are talking about modern games and new releases, things begin to fill up a whole lot quicker.
The most recent blockbuster to hit PC, Cyberpunk 2077 takes up 70 Gb on its own without mods, then you take a look on the modding scene of that game it’s pages and pages long so then you’re adding possibly another 10-20 more gigs. That’s 1/10th of your storage taken by one game.
What about slightly older blockbuster titles? What about the ultra-popular Red Dead Redemption 2? 150 GB. Add to that 19 pages worth of mods and you might be looking at almost 200 GB for one game!
You might think these are outliers perhaps? How about the biggest game in the world currently, Call of Duty: Warzone which is free? A free game can’t take up that much space, right?
How does 175 GB sound to you?
That’s how much space Warzone takes without even accounting for the tons of updates that hit the system almost weekly.
Doing the math here and adding up these very common games together, that’s over 500 GB used up on 4 games. Smaller titles for sure take up less space and indie titles rarely take a sizable amount of storage, but the blockbuster AAA titles are absolutely massive.
For those who like to pick up all the newest titles as well as experiencing things like VR, 1TB will last you for a little while, but there ultimately won’t be enough space to last you all that long and you’re going to be uninstalling and installing games left and right to try and preserve what storage you have that is left.
Is 1TB Enough for Non-Gamers?
Let’s say you leave your gaming to the console or don’t do it all together, do you really need more than 1 TB to have a fully accessible desktop, laptop, or other device? The answer is usually no. Most programs don’t exceed 100 MB, so unless you’re trying to create movies or music with tons of different assets involved.
1TB should be more than enough for your computing needs. If you’re going to be downloading hours of movies, tv shows and music, you will still be all set, as 1 TB of space can support 17,000 hours of music and the equivalent of 500 tv shows. If that’s what you’re using the computer for as well as basic Microsoft Word programs, there is no need to do expand at all.
Figuring out whether you need 1TB or more all depends on the type of user you believe yourself to be. Most people aren’t hardcore gamers and 1TB will be more than enough to last you for years.
Internal vs External Drive
Every computer generally comes with storage space, so it’s important to look at when you’re making a purchase and not necessarily thrilled with the idea of needing to expand it. Luckily, if you ever get the need for more space, plenty of affordable options are available to you at varying prices from $30 all the way to $300.
Preinstalled hard drives vary wildly from PC to PC, but you should be aiming for one that has 1TB to start you off, or potentially more if you think you’re going to be gaming pretty seriously on the new rig.
We generally prefer getting a portable drive for use as a hard drive, but many people prefer installing it directly and, in this regard, they will be getting more bang for their buck.
Internal hard drives are faster than external ones and although there are some truly top of the line external models available, they simply can’t beat the lightning speed of the internal ones.
Again, external drives can still be a great choice in many scenarios though. Certain games that struggle with load times usually fare a lot better when you’re on an external drive, so it’s something to consider when expanding storage.
SSD vs HDD
Note: We have an entire guide dedicated to whether or not SSDs are worth it over traditional HDDs.
There are also two different types of storage, SSD and HDD. HDD stands for hard disk hard drives and SDD for Solid State Drives.
The best way to compare the two is by comparing an HDD drive to one an old cassette or record player and an SSD drive to modern streaming music.
HDD’s having a bunch of moving parts to them and take longer to run programs than SSDs. SSD’s run incredibly fast because they don’t have any moving part that have to write the data as its played. This results in games, particularly ones that require high performance to play, running far faster on SSDs in comparison to HDD’s.
While you likely be bothered by how high-end games play on HDD drives, experiencing one on an SSD will be a world of difference to you and it will be hard to go back once you’ve made the change.
If you’re a serious gamer, you’re going to want the SSD as it nearly halves the load times of games that generally take a while to load such as The Witcher 3 or Red Dead Redemption 2.
Take a look at our recommended guide to M.2 vs SATA SSDs to get a breakdown of which SSD drives perform the best.
Internal SSD’s will give you the premium gaming experience by far compared to external ones though, so it’s worth to consider whether you’re ready to get into the insides of the computer and do it yourself comparatively.
The connection of your hard drive matters as well and the difference between a USB A and a USB C cable is insane. The USB C Thunderbolt connection is beyond elite compared to USB A. The difference is that there’s a 40 GB/s connection in USB C compared to just 5 GB/s with USB A.
The higher end models will of course cost more, but for gamers who emphasize load times and competitive gamers, the SSD connection is ideal and the USB C is the best way to connect.