With digital storefronts like Steam, Origin, Epic, GOG Galaxy and Ubisoft Connect taking up the vast majority of PC gamers’ hard drives, how much storage do you really need on a gaming PC in 2022?
It’s common these days for most gaming PCs to come with a 1TB SSD as standard, whether it’s an NVMe or a SATA, which is what your bootOS (where Windows is stored) takes up part of this the capacity. Now, if you’re considering building a gaming PC from scratch, being smart about the amount of storage on a budget system is a great way to keep those costs down. Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever, with more options available to you, for both SSDs of all kinds and standard hard drives as well.
With optical drives largely phased out throughout the 2010s on the PC gaming platform, the present (and indeed the future) is squarely geared towards digital distribution. That’s why we’re taking a look at what you can do with a 500GB drive as well as a 1TB drive in various configurations for a budget-oriented gaming setup. Keep in mind that these models won’t necessarily be the best SSDs for gaming, but for those looking for wallet-friendly models, they should certainly fit the bill.
Is 500GB enough storage for a gaming PC?
If you take your OS installation into account, with Windows 10 normally taking up around 20GB depending on which version is on your SSD, you have around 480GB of total capacity left to play with. The size of an average triple-A game in 2022 is estimated to be between 25-60GB, as this is consistent with entries for titles such as Dying Light 2: Stay Human and Elden Ring, both of which have 60GB total install sizes.
For two games, about 120 GB of usable space (about 25%) is occupied. From this example, we can assume that you will have room for between six and seven equal games, depending on where they fall on the average scale. From this we can assume that 500 GB is actually enough to store quite a few large games at any given time, even if this is without considering other media and files on top.
Of course, if you get a gaming PC to enjoy more casual gaming experiences, or Esports games that typically have smaller file sizes (like Valorent, CS:GO, and Dota II), your total system space will stretch much further. That’s to say nothing of the indie scene, the titles of which can be as small as a few hundred megabits for a couple of gigs.
Should I go for a 500GB HDD or SSD?
The biggest cost-saving measure here is going to come down to storage type as standard hard drives generally run cheaper, and consequently far slower, then faster SATA and M.2 SSDs. As a general rule, we recommend running your games on an SSD, as this will result in faster loading of titles and better overall performance.
Fortunately, SSDs aren’t nearly as expensive as they once were. We have collected the three best cheapest options on the market for you below.
The best 500GB budget drives
If you’re on a tight budget and less concerned about Windows boot speed and gaming performance, the Seagate BarraCuda 500GB might be all you’re looking for at just $39.99. While this model is unlikely to blow anyone away with its performance, as it is limited by the proven 7200 RPM spinning disk technology of yesteryear, you really can’t go wrong with its reliability for the money. With data transfer speeds of up to 140MB/s and a five-year limited warranty, it’s a solid choice for those looking to save a few bucks.
While the Crucial MX500 is unlikely to blow anyone away with its sequential performance compared to an NVMe drive, priced at just $59.99, this 500GB model is more than enough for a budget PC setup. Sequential performance here is generally solid, at around 560MB/s, which is still fine for many games in 2022. As a 2.5-inch SATA, the Crucial MX500 can easily slot into any relevant space inside the case yours, and be ready. to start both the operating system and whatever titles you want to run.
While it may be limited to Gen 3.0 speeds, the Samsung 980 SSD remains one of the more popular wallet-friendly NVMe drives for its overall impressive performance. You can expect the peak of what is possible through the previous generation here, up to 3500 / 3000 MB/s read and write respectively, which is significantly faster than what a SATA can deliver. Priced at $75, but often on sale, the Samsung 980 SSD is an ideal choice for anyone who wants super-fast Windows boot times, short load times and respectable file transfer speeds in 2022. Although it lacks a Gen 4 drive, a lot more PC gamers are coming to having access to Gen 3 M.2 ports on the motherboard, especially when this drive is priced similarly to many slower SATAs for the same money.
How about cheap 1TB storage options for PC?
We’d generally rate 1TB as the sweet spot for any gaming PC setup, and doubling the amount of storage isn’t that much more expensive. This is the usual standard size that prebuilt machines come with, which can be enough for many games and files at the same time. Really, you’re giving yourself extra breathing room for future, bigger titles, as well as instant access to more of your backlog and programs.
The best 1TB budget storage drives
With its aggressive asking price of just $39.99, the WD Blue 1TB HDD is a hard-to-beat value proposition for anyone looking for a reliable storage drive with respectable speeds. This is also one of the cheaper hard drives from a reliable manufacturer. This standard 3.5-inch SATA hard drive spins at the fastest speed available, 7200 RPM, and with its 64MB cache is far from the slowest hard drive data drive you can put in your gaming PC. Keep in mind that sequential performance is of course not going to be outstanding. But when it comes to price per gigabyte here, about 4 cents apiece, you can’t really argue with that.
The SanDisk SSD Plus 1TB remains a popular choice on many gaming PCs to this day due to its reliable nature and competitive price. For $79.99, you get significantly faster sequential performance than a standard HDD, and this unit promises around 535MB/s for faster boot and in-game load times. Also, and perhaps the most notable feature of SanDisk’s durable 3.5-inch SATA line, is the 1500G’s shock and vibration resistance, meaning there’s a far more minimized risk of mechanical failure here, too.
The Sabrent Rocket Q 1TB may not aim quite as high as the company’s coveted Gen 4.0 drives, but this wallet-friendly previous-gen model certainly has enough to be considered a top-performing NVMe SSD in 2022. With up to 3200MB/s sequential rates, you’re looking at the pinnacle of what’s possible from Gen 3.0 architecture, which is far more common on budget motherboards than 4X4. If you’re willing to take advantage of these ports, you’ll see performance more than triple what a typical SATA can do, meaning your PC and games will still zip by with space to spare.
Expand your storage options with best external hard drivesand speed up your rig in other ways with best CPU for gamingand best RAM for gaming.