A solid-state drive or SSD has become a popular choice for many gamers today. With greater power efficiency, faster performance, and robust design features, it’s no surprise why many people prefer SSDs over HDDs (hard disk drives) for their gaming laptops and desktops.
The most common data storage capacity for SSDs is 256GB. Why? Because entry level gaming laptops come with 256GB SDD by default and these are the most purchased laptops across Australia. And, while 256GB storage space is limited for the most part, SSDs with 256GB of data storage are sufficient for general purposes.
But the real question is – Is 256GB SSD enough for gaming?
In this short article, we will unpack all you need to know about 256GB solid state drives and whether they are sufficient enough to run your favourite games alongside all of the other applications you most likely will be using throughout your week.
Here are the most commonly asked questions about 256GB SSDs from gamers:
In short, 256GB SSDs are enough for gaming. But only for a few games.
When any gamer thinks of buying a new computer or laptop, a common question faced is whether a 256GB SSD will be sufficient for the purpose of gaming. In the most part, a 256GB SSD will be enough for gaming. However, there is no definite answer as to whether buying a computer with 256GB SSD storage will be enough for you.
How you plan to use your laptop or computer will ultimately determine this answer.
If you just want to play one or two games at a time and your laptop doesn’t already have many other programs installed, 256GB SSDs will be good enough for gaming.
However, if you have a lot of heavy software programs installed on your computer, such as Photoshop, and you’re planning to use your laptop for a high-quality AAA games too, a 256GB SSD would not be good enough for gaming. Period.
Instead, you should be looking at computers or laptops with 512GB SSDs or 1TB SSDs.
If you are hoping one of your family members looks up our awesome list of gaming gifts and decides to buy you a laptop, you better let them know the requirements you need. After all, you’ll be super happy they bought you a performance gaming laptop but miserable when you realise you cannot play your favourite games.
Generally, a 256GB SSD will be enough for fitting all your basic apps and standard data.
But if you are looking to use the 256GB SSD laptop for gaming, photo/video editing, or anything more demanding, this amount of storage space would not be sufficient for you. It’s important to note that many high-quality games take up around 50GB of space. Some of the larger games, in fact, take up more than 80GB of space – which leaves you with very little room for anything else.
So, you get the idea. If you plan to have a big library of games and using your laptop for work too, 256GB is nowhere near enough storage amount. The other way to use a 256GB SSD for gaming is by playing one game at a time, and deleting it when you are done playing. Or, you could save all of your files on a seperate HDD (Hard Drive Disk) to free up room on your laptop.
Whatever you choose, it will require some fiddling around.
How many games will 256GB SSD hold?
A 256GB SDD can hold between 4-5 games that are 30-40GB in file size. This allows room for basic applications and, of course, your operating system.
It’s important to note that the usable space in a 256GB SSD is always a little less than 256GB. More accurately, the usable space you receive totals a maximum of 220GB, as the rest of the space will be occupied by the Operating System (OS).
Both Windows 10 and macOS 11 consume around 15GB each of storage space, but you would also have to leave some space to allow for updates installation. So, the realistic space taken up by your operating system is around 30GB.
This means that with your operating system and a library of games of around 30-40GB, your 256GB SSD will be able to hold a maximum of 5 games simultaneously.
Now, let’s take a look at the size of some of the most popular games.
The majority of the popular games consume around 30 to 40GB in file size. However, some of the very best AAA video games can go beyond 100GB in size which means that you won’t be able to play many AAA games simultaneously with only 256GB storage.
For example, GTA V starts at around 72GB and can quickly scale to 98GB which will leave little room for anything else. So, if you want to determine the number of games that can fit into your 256GB laptop, you’ll first have to look into the games you’re planning to play and their sizes.
If you keep your software programs minimal (less than 60GB), you can install 4-5 regular games. If high-quality AAA games are an absolute must, the max number of games you can get away with is 1 or 2. Even if you did play a 7-year-old game like GTA V.
So, it’s evident how high-quality, AAA games can make a dent in your storage space. Indie games, on the other hand, usually do not consume more than 18GB or even 10GB. This means that you can install around 6-10 indie games at a time.
Now, how much space would you find in a 256GB SSD? You might already be familiar with the fact that the GB in 256GB refers to the unit for measuring the storage capacity of a disk – gigabytes. This means that a 256GB SSD has an internal storage capacity of 256 gigabytes.
In human language, 256GB can store approximately:
8 to 10 video games at 30-50GB each
64,000 pictures at 4MB each
2,000 high definition videos at 128MB each
200 applications at 1.2GB each
178,000 Microsoft Word files at 2MB each
256GB might not seem like a large amount of storage space, but if you look at the number of bytes, it’s 73,741,824,000 bytes. This capacity is equivalent to 250 (or 256) billion bytes. In terms of megabytes, it can be expressed as 1,048,576 MB. That’s plenty of storage for a combination of some smaller and larger AAA titles, as indicated by Computer Technicians.
256GB SSD Vs 512GB SSD
Besides the apparent difference in the internal storage capacities of a 512GB and 256GB SSD, there are various other ways these SSDs are different from each other.
If you are wondering whether 512GB SSD is better than 256GB SSD then you would be correct. While there are nuances between the types of SSDs you can purchase, 512GB SSD is the exact same as 256GB SSD and therefore the additional storage space means that 512GB SSD is better. Bigger is better when it comes to storage.
Here is a quick overview of the differences between 512GB SSD and 256GB SSD:
1. Speed: A 256GB SSD can read and write disks at around 520/500 megabytes per second. The read and write speed of a 512GB SSD, on the other hand, comes to around 1500/800 megabytes per second. This means faster game installation times.
2. Performance: A 516GB SSD comes with more NAND chips and is capable of delivering better performance. It can easily manage all the tasks and the booting time is also lesser. A 256GB SSD, on the other hand, is capable of delivering only medium performance. But 256GB SSD does make up for it with its durability.
3. Usability: A 256GB SSD is good enough for general tasks and some amount of gaming. The 512GB SSD comes with higher storage ability, making it best for gaming.
4. Price: If you are thinking of buying a 256GB SSD, you will find a good one for around $50. On the other hand, a 512GB SSD will $70-100 which makes sense given that it’s twice the size.
If you have read this article and have settled that 256GB is perfect for you gaming laptop, it’s time to find the best 256GB SSDs to include within your build.
Now, before you go shopping like a bull in china shop, it’s important to note that the SSD you want to buy for your gaming laptop is NVMe. The reason why is because NVMe technology utilizes the PCIe bus, instead of the SATA bus. Without getting too technical, this means that an SSD with NVMe can unlock enormous bandwidth potential. It offers up to 32 lanes which transfers data at speeds of up to 64,000MB/s compared to the 600MB/s specification limit of SATA III.
As you know, data transfer is critical to ensuring that games load quickly and dynamic elements are not left buffering and stuttering. So, regardless of what SSD you purchase, make sure it comes with NVMe and has enough space to hold your games.
Here are the best 256GB SSDs for gaming right now:
1. Samsung 980 PRO 250GB NVMe SSD
You can never go wrong with a Samsung SSD. This SSD boasts sequential read and write speeds of 6,400 megabytes per second and 2,700 megabytes per second, respectively. It also comes with Samsung Magician Software for checking the drive health and performance benchmarks.
The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is another great SSD from the same manufacturer. The 970 EVO Plus is capable of delivering sequential read and write speeds of 3,500 megabytes per second and 2,300 megabytes per second, respectively. Unlike other SSDs that come with QLC, this one uses MLC NAND, making it more reliable.
If Samsung is not a brand you enjoy, the WD Black SN750 is also one of the best 256SSDs available. This SSD is capable of delivering sequential read and write speeds of 3,100 megabytes per second and 1,600 megabytes per second, respectively. For providing the user with superior performance, it also comes with a Westen Digitals in-house controller and DDR4 DRAM cache.
Hopefully, this article clears all your doubts about investing in a 256GB SSD. It’s evident that there are many factors to consider before you think of buying a 256GB SSD with space and speed two of the most important considerations.
To say that 256GB SSDs are not suitable for gaming at all would be wrong. You can certainly get away with playing quite a few regular indie games, even 1 or 2 AAA ones. But if you are looking for an SSD that is more compatible with hardcore gaming, it would be a better idea to invest in a 512GB SSD or even a 1TBGB SSD which will enable you to grow.
If that’s out of the question then go ahead and purchase your computer or gaming laptop with a 256GB SSD but be careful of what other programs you load.
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