Lags, broken graphics, frozen screens, and finally—a crash.
These are the worst. Especially when you’re in the middle of a game.
The good news? It can be fixed. It’s all in your Solid State Drive (SSD).
In this article, I’ll explain what SSD is all about, including how much SSD you need for a gaming laptop. Plus, other components that will boost your gaming experience.
Let’s get started.
Is a Solid State Drive (SSD) Really That Important?
Let’s start with the basics.
Storage is the data stored inside your computer or laptop on a long-term basis. They contain information that won’t “disappear” even if you restart your computer, unlike RAM.
This storage is inside a device called a boot disk. Your computer uses this boot disk, or boot drive, to “boot” the computer or start-up.
In most computers or laptops, the default boot drive comes in the form of an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid State Drive).
Hard drives have been around longer. They’re also cheaper but also slower.
That’s where Solid State Drives come in. It’s pretty new (they first appeared in the late 2000s) and much, much better than a hard drive.
Why? Take a look at their advantages:
- No noise or vibration
- Faster load time
- Creates less heat
- Reads and writes faster than a hard drive
Basically, an SSD has the same function as a hard drive.
But the difference is that a hard drive uses magnetism for data storage. It uses a rotating platter coated with a magnetic material (hence the noise).
SSD uses a flash-memory chip called NAND. This retains any data stored in your computer even if there’s no power flowing through it.
Long story short: SSDs do the same job as HDDs, but better. Imagine an SSD drive like a hard drive on steroids.
How Much SSD Do You Need for Gaming?
Most PC computers and laptops nowadays offer 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB of SSD storage.
128GB SSD drives are the base option, meaning if you’re a casual gamer who sticks to playing one game, 128 is a good option.
But if you’re a gaming enthusiast who plays 3 Triple-A games consistently, 128GB SSDs are a bad choice. Instead, go with a 256 or 512 GB.
Plus, it’s not that expensive to go a level higher. Nowadays, you can upgrade to a 256GB drive for as little as a $10 difference.
If you’re planning to do everyday tasks like emailing, browsing the internet, etc., then a 256GB drive will be more than enough.
But for gaming, aim for at least 512GB or 1TB drives.
Anything lower than this might disturb your gaming experience. But also, anything more might be overkill.
Even if prices have gone down over the years, high-capacity SSDs can be pricey. Especially if you’re planning to build your own PC.
If you’re planning to do other things like video editing, Photoshop, etc., then a higher SSD storage might be better.
Use these factors to calculate your storage needs:
Operating System (OS)
Most gamers use Microsoft Windows, so you’ll probably get the Windows 10 operating system.
Windows 10 will take up about 16GB to 20GB. Remember, there will be OS updates in the future. This could take up an extra 10% to 20% data storage.
We’re all guilty of ‘Remind Me Later’. If you’re running low on disk space, you could use this trick.
But you can’t run away from software updates forever. Most games will roll out their own updates, which in return will require you to update your Windows 10 OS.
If you’re thinking about getting a version older than Windows 10, don’t. Not a good idea.
Older operating system versions may take up less storage space. But there’s a high chance it won’t be compatible with the games you’ll be playing.
Will you be using your computer or laptop besides gaming?
If you’ve answered yes, consider other apps or programs that you’ll be using.
For example, if you’re a student, you might need to download Zoom, Evernote, and so on.
Even if you’re only going to game, you probably need other programs too, like Steam or Discord.
You don’t have to know your exact storage needs. But it’s good to have an idea so you’ll have room for more.
PC game sizes are getting bigger.
For example, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will require you at least 230GB. That’s almost half of a 500GB SSD capacity.
Here’s a quick list of some popular games and their approximate size requirements:
- Half-Life: Alyx – 70GB
- World of Warcraft – 70GB
- Grand Theft Auto V – 100GB
- Red Dead Redemption 2 – 150GB
- Final Fantasy XV – 150GB
There’s nothing worse than having to delete your old games to make room for new ones. That’s why storage capacity matters.
Plus, remember that you’re not downloading only the game. Games will roll out updates from time to time, so you’ll have to leave room for that too.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that on a desktop computer, usually there’s an option to install an additional drive.
Most computers will allow you to install 2 drives, some up to 10 drives.
But for laptops and tablet owners, there’s usually one storage capacity. If you need extra data storage, you’ll have to buy an external one.
Other Factors to Consider
SSD isn’t everything.
If you’re planning to buy a laptop or build a PC desktop, I’ve listed a few factors to think about.
A solid state drive (SSD) comes in 3 main form factors.
A form factor is a fancy term that refers to the size and configuration of your SSD device.
This is important because it will tell you if the SSD you’re buying will fit into the system or not.
This is the most common drive configuration.
You can usually find these drives on PC desktops. But sometimes they’re in laptops too.
These drives are similar to the traditional hard drive (HDD). If you have a device that uses an HDD device, this type of SSD will make the transition easier.
With these types of SSDs, you barely need to replace the connecting interface cables. This is because these SSDs connect to the same SATA (more on this later) cables and interfaces.
This is the smallest drive configuration (it looks a bit like a long flash drive).
You can find these drives in laptops or tablet computers, where storage capacity is limited. There’s a chance your PC desktop can support these drives too.
In a laptop, there’s space for only one SSD slot.
In some desktop motherboards, there’s room for 2 drives or more.
M.2 drives are compatible with SATA or PCIe. You connect these drives using an M.2 slot.
SSD Add-in Card (AIC)
This is a very powerful type of SSD drive.
These drives have a high read and write speed. So they can be much faster than most other drives.
For these drives, you can use an SSD add-in card (AIC) into a PCI Express slot.
These drives are pretty pricey but worth it. They can really boost system performance, either on your PC or laptop.
SATA or PCIe Interface
An interface tells how the SSD drive will transmit data to the rest of the computer. It also includes the speed of communication.
Why is this important for a gamer? Because not all interfaces will fit into your computer. Or you might find the right interface, but it might be slow.
SSD doesn’t just mean storage. But it also tells the capacity of your computer—how fast it will read and write data. That means running programs, videos, and games.
So, the right interface will equal great performance.
Serial ATA (SATA)
SATA is the most common interface.
The size is 2.5 inches. This means it’s also found in HDDs, so it can be used to upgrade your old platter drive.
The latest model is called the SATA 3. This gives you a transfer rate of 6 Gbps, which is more than fast for most people.
It’s the cheapest interface you’ll find in the market today. Prices start at $50.
It’s also available up to 4TB.
PCI Express (PCIe)
PCIe is much faster than SATA interfaces. It has a transfer rate of 16 Gbps.
PCIe interfaces can use an NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) specification. An NVMe is attached to a PCIe bus.
An NVMe gives higher speeds and other performance benefits.
A PCIe interface won’t be compatible with the physical space that fits the old HDDs. So instead, you have to physically plug it into the motherboard slot interface.
A motherboard is the spine of your computer, containing all of its components.
There are downsides to a PCIe interface too. It’s only available up to 2TB and it’s more expensive.
The NVMe specification has high power consumption and can cost hundreds of dollars.
Imagine the CPU (Central Processing Unit) as the brain of the computer.
In short, it’s the most important component to consider. Without a good CPU, large storage drives won’t be able to do anything.
Intel and AMD are the big players. You can read this article for an in-depth comparison of each one.
For Intel, the most popular is the Core processors.
For gaming laptops, I recommend going for at least an Intel Core i7. If possible, go for the Core i9.
Both processors can handle heavy-duty tasks including gaming, multitasking, image rendering, etc.
As for the generation, most PC computers or laptops will have the 7th or 8th generation. This is enough for most gamers.
But if your games are graphics-heavy, it’s a smart idea to go for a 9th or 10th generation. It’ll be more expensive though, so watch out for that.
For AMD, there’s Ryzen 3, 5, 7, and 9. The number refers to the market they cater to.
For example, Ryzen 3 is for the mainstream audience who does everyday tasks.
For gaming, go for Ryzen 5 and up.
AMD also has the equivalent of a generation, called Series. It ranges from 1,000 to 5,000 series.
Similarly, the higher the number, the more powerful the CPU.
Go for a minimum of 2,000 to 3,000, but 5,000 would be the best.
GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is responsible for smoother gameplay.
It makes your screen have a higher resolution so that you’ll have a crisp and clear display. No one wants pixelated characters, right?
Many games today demand a good GPU because it has 3D rendering, high-resolution texture packs, realistic color graphics, and so on.
NVIDIA and AMD are good drive makers for a reliable GPU.
You can refer to this list for the best gamer GPU options.
RAM (Random Access Memory) is all about data storage and transfer on a short-term basis.
RAM speeds up loading time and reduces lags. It accesses data faster compared to an SSD to provide an overall better gaming experience.
Your computer’s CPU and SSD storage will rely on your RAM.
The minimum RAM you should get is 8GB. The sweet spot for a gamer is 16GB.
SSDs are more damage-resistant than HDDs. But even then, they have a limited life span.
Drive makers calculate the endurance according to TBW (Total Terabytes Written) or DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day).
The total life span will depend on your usage as a gamer. The more you use it to read and write data and files, the faster it will “grow old”.
Most SSD drives can last 3-5 years.
When it comes to gaming, the perfect SSD size will depend on you.
As a general guide, 512GB to 1TB drives are a good range.
But also, don’t forget that there are other factors to consider. This includes the SSD form factor, interface, processors, battery life, and memory.
Above all, think about your gaming needs and budget so that you can make a smart decision.