Everyone recommends buying an SSD to speed up your computer and I sure do too. SSDs are faster, more durable and overall a better option compared to HDDs. But which SSD in terms of capacity should you buy. Is a good ol’ 512 SSD good for gaming?
The verdict – 512 SSD good for gaming?
A 512 SSD is good enough for gaming or any other performance related task really.
Most PC games will have operating files in the 30GB – 50GB region – the Witcher 3 (which is one heck of a performance intensive game) has a 50GB install file size for instance. When you factor in operating system files which usually occupy 15GB of disk space, it’s easy to see why a 512GB SSD is more than enough for gaming.
How many games will a 512GB SSD hold?
Given our estimate of 30GB – 50GB per game install plus operating system files, a 512GB SSD should be able to support the install and run requirements for at least 8 games at any point in time. As long as you’re not planning on having too many game installs on your gaming PC/laptop, a 512 SSD will be enough to run your favorite games at once.
Note that you can always uninstall old games to make up space for new ones once you’ve completed them.
Wait, is this discussion all about how many games my SSD can hold? I thought the deal with SSDs was faster and better.
At the base level the function of any storage device on your PC is, well, to store data. Whether it’s an SSD, or a HDD, or even a DRAM device, it’s job is to store data. The amount of data any storage device can store is defined by its capacity.
How much space is 512GB SSD?
So a 512GB SSD can store exactly 512GB of data which in real world terms translates to about 64,000 pictures, 1200 videos and 400 applications. Both a 512GB SSD and a 512GB HDD will store the same amount of data. The difference between the two is how that data is stored and the performance characteristics of each.
SSDs (including your 512GB SSD) are better at storing data
And not just storing transmitting it too which is where they give you an advantage as a gamer. SSDs have faster write and read speeds which is a way of saying they handle storing (writing) and transmitting (reading) data better than HDDs.
I’m a gamer, how does this apply to me.
Well, as a game runs on your PC, it performs a whole lot of read and write events. When you’re casually walking on a map, games pull data (read) from your storage device to use in rendering the scene. Many times, this reading is dynamically handled by your RAM, which is another type of faster storage devices with little to no latency. Other times games can load assets directly from your storage device. Ultimately even the data used by your RAM is prefetched from your SSD.
Taken together a good SSD with it’s faster read/write speed improves gaming experience by:
- Reducing loading times
Ever had to sit through a five minutes long loading screen? … fans will relate. To load a scene or a level of game (like the loading interval when you’re done picking teams and setting formations on PES) your computer needs to gather all the required assets from your SSD and dump it into your RAM. The RAM then feeds the game software at the lightning read speeds it’s capable of.
With a fast SSD this initial prefetch is completed faster! Slow storage devices like HDDs take more time to transmit the necessary data to your PC’s RAM.
- Smoother gaming
Read events – data transmission from your SSD can occur and very often do occur even after you’ve gone past loading screens. Notice how some game assets in … onl appear when you go close enough? In most cases, the limiting factor, what will cause game elements to load fast or slowly is your GPU or RAM. However, if you’ve got a solid GPU and RAM but a not so fast primary storage device, then lags might occur. Good SSDs prevent this.
- Reducing game installation and update times
One area where you’ll definitely feel the impact of a fast SSD is during game installs and updates. Installing or updating a game requires an insane amount of read/write events, all of that 30 -50GB allocation we talked about earlier.
HDDs typically max out at read/write speeds 300MBs/70MBs. At that rate it could take anywhere between 20 minutes to install the average PC game.
SSDs can reach read/write speeds of up to 4GB/9GB. The same game that’d take 20 mins to install with a HDD as the data source might install in less than 5 minutes with an SSD. If you use game repacks (hello, Fitgirl repacks) an SSD is kind of must except you plan on waiting half a day to install some of the newer gen game titles.
Can a hard drive improve your FPS?
Strictly speaking the answer is no. No, a hard drive, however performant it is cannot improve your FPS. FPS or frame per second is directly reliant on your CPU, graphics card and to a lesser extent your motherboard. Other things that affect FPS away from your control is the game software itself, game settings and code optimization.
If you’re looking to improve your FPS, you’re better off upgrading your CPU and GPU first.
512GB SSD types
So you’re saying, just get a 512GB SSD and my gaming experience should immediately be become top brass. Waoh, chillout, I never said that. A 512GB SSD can make your gaming experience better, but overall, there’s a lot more to consider. Your CPU for instance, your RAM also, you GPU very importantly and even THE TYPE OF SSD matters.
Solid state drives are not created equal and while a base SSD should outperform a top brass HDD, there’s a difference in performance among the different types of SSDs.
Types of 512GB SSDs
This can get technical and fast but let’s just attempt to make things simple.
SSDs can be classified based on two metrics:
- The form factor
- The data transmission protocol
Based on form factor you can either have an M.2 or 2.5 inch SSD. M.2 is the more recent, sleeker build that looks a lot like an SD card (a little bit bigger but you get the idea). 2.5 inch SSDs are chunkier and are of older gen technology.
The form factor you’ll choose depends majorly on your motherboard – the slot it has and how much space you can work with.
Based on data transmission you can have a SATA SSD or a NVME SSD. SATA, like the 2.5 inch form factor is older gen tech. NVME is more recent and benchmark tests say an NVME SSD can transmit data at a rate that’s 10x faster than the fastest SATA SSD. So ideally if you want an SSD for performance purposes you should be getting an NVME SSD.
Note that a NVME SSD connects to your PC via a M.2 port; a SATA SSD connect via a SATA port; both can connect via a PCI port. Before making the decision of which SSD type to chose ensure that your PC has the required port to support the connection. Most PCs will have a PCIe port anyway, but confirm (don’t trust, as my crypto bros will say).
Is 500Gb SSD enough for gaming?
A 500GB is good enough for gaming a PC. As long as you don’t plan on installing too many games on your PC simultaneously, it’s more than enough to handle all your gaming needs.
Most games usually claim around 30GB – 40GB of storage space so with a 500GB SSD you install at least 8 games at any one instance on your PC. Eight because, your PC’s operating system and some other crucial files will eat up some space too.
Of course you can install more games once you’re done with and uninstall an old game. But give or take, a 500GB SSD is more than good enough for the average gamers needs.
512GB SSD vs 1TB SSD
More is always (not always) better, so if you have the cash it makes sense to pick a 1TB SSD over a 512GB SSD. If you’re however on a budget, you can go for a 512GB SSD.
Also if you’re not planning on doing anything really ‘high performance’ with your PC a good strategy would be to opt for a 512GB SSD and a 2TB or even 3TB HDD as back up. You get a 512GB SSD to keep your PC running smoothly and fast, and The price difference between a a 512GB SSD and a 1TB SSD should be enough to cover for price of the 2TB HDD. This way you get way more storage – which is what you’ll need if you’re not involved in any serious high performance computing.
512GB SSD vs 1TB HDD
Even though 1TB is bigger a 512GB SSD is a better choice than a 1TB HDD for so many reasons. One is performance. SSDs are faster and in this day an age having an SSD onboard your computer is kind of bare essentials. But aside from performance (which might not be top priority for you), SSDs are more durable and energy efficient than HDDS.
I’ve had a HDD with some very important docs crash on me before and let just say you don’t want that to happen to you. SSDs can last very long periods, certainly much more longer than the average HDD. They’re more resistant to falls and drops and very importantly require lesser energy to run. They’re also quieter too.
I know a 512GB SSD can pan out to be costlier than a 1TB HDD which is why we’re having this discussion in the first place, but for the advantages, in terms of performance, durability and energy efficiency the former delivers it’s a no brainer really.
512GB SSD vs 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
If you’ve got a deal for a 512GB vs 256GB + 1TB HDD setup, the best option would be the 256GB + 1TB setup. I’ll explain why.
The 256GB SSd + 1TB HDD memory configuration is popular among budget type laptops/PCs and it makes better sense because you get the best of both worlds on a budget – a smooth running PC courtesy of the 256GB SSD and a large enough 1TB HDD for actual storage. With this setup you can load your operating system and other important files on the SSD and restrict everything else on the HDD.
Note however that this only applies if your setup is the average PC setup. If you plan on doing some gaming or programming heavy lifting, you’re better off with the 512GB SSD config. Gaming and programming setup files can eat up significant amounts of storage, and you need such files on your SSD for peak performance.
With a 256GB SSD you’ll be out of installation space in no time if you’re a serious gamer, which is why it makes sense to pick the 512GB option. And that’s not counting the fact that you can easily get an external HDD to buffer up storage if you need more of it – it might be tricky (sometimes impossible) to install a bigger SSD onto your motherboard if you’re using a laptop.
The age long is a 512GB SSD enough for gaming question is one many people ask. I’m sure with this guide you now know that it is indeed enough. You should also know by now the differences between the various forms of SSDs and which type to go for depending on your needs.
If you need a buying guide for SSDs so you can pick the best without any stress check out my guide to buying an SSD.
Frequently asked questions
With storage on PCs/laptops, it’s usually a better idea to get the biggest storage capacity you can afford. A 1TB SSD will hold more data than a 500GB SSD and while you might think, well what am I going to use the ‘huge’ extra storage for, I’m here to remind you that 1TB is not at all huge.
The average picture from your smartphone checks out to be 8 MB. A high definition movie can eat up up to 5GB of space. Installation files for Windows (or whatever operating system you prefer) can use up to 15GB of space. That’s aside app installations (the average gaming app is 40GB) and other miscellaneous files.
Give it max a six month and I’m sure you’ll fill up a 1TB SSD, let alone a 512GB SSD. So you don’t set yourself up for an extra purchase too soon after you get your PC, it’s better to go for the 1TB SSD. That should be enough to cover your storage needs indefinitely, if you know how to prune unnecessary or less important files down the way.