If you’re a gamer and someone who constantly shifts between different titles, you’re already well aware that games can often have massive file sizes. Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War alone comes in at a whopping 175GB and that’s just one game.
Thankfully, hard drives are coming in bigger sizes of memory while going smaller in physical size. With advances in memory and data processing, consumers today are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing what kind of memory to go for.
If you’re someone new to the world of storage, here’s a quick primer on what kind of memory you need to look for when you’re upgrading or optimizing your storage needs.
The Ideal Storage Setup
Ideally when you buy a laptop or build a PC, most conventional storage formats either offer you a choice of a big and fast solid-state drive (SSD) OR a smaller SSD with a large hard disk usually averaging 1 TB. There’s a reason most manufactures do this and recommend this. Installing windows on an SSD makes sure that the loading times of Windows to open are minimal.
I’ve installed Windows 10 and the Adobe suite on my WD blue SSD that’s work based and has a sequential read speed of 2,600 MB/s. This translates into Windows loading in under 10 seconds when I turn on the computer for me that’s coupled with my high-end hardware. It’s ideal to have at least 500 GB as your minimum primary SSD driver since Windows 10 itself is 10 GB and coupled with updates adds a few more.
If you’ve got a huge digital library of music, movies and images, it’s best to keep them away from the prime real estate of an SSD, letting you save more of your favourite games and programs. Depending on the volume of your media library, you may get by with the support of a hard drive that has 500GB to 1TB of space. The average size of an HD movie is around 4GB and both music + image files are considerably smaller, so having up to 1,000GB (1TB) gives you a fair amount of leeway. Going with hard drives above 1TB capacities gives you all the space you need for your files, as well as backups for everything else— including what’s on your SSD
Solid state drives of Hard disk drives: Why not a combination of both?
Solid state drives are great because they use flash memory instead of the traditional metal disk that you see in hard disk drives, think of it as a very large USB in your machine.
While slightly priced higher than hard disk drives, SSDs can read and write data much faster, draw significantly less power and have longer lifespans. Installing one an older laptop can increase the life of your laptop. The most common practice to make it load faster is to install a newer SSD. They come in different sizes so you can technically install multiple of them without bottlenecking your system.
Like all things in technology, SSDs while expensive, are seeing price drops as the demand curve normalizes. SSD prices will go down eventually and like traditional hard drives become way more affordable eventually.
It’s good practice to install windows on an SSD primarily because it loads up Windows much quicker than it normally would. In short, speed and performance are the main reasons you’d install one.
In fact, it’s ideal to get an SSD for your operating system and core files and a bigger hard drive that serves as your data driver which includes things you don’t need access to everyday. These can be your pictures, music and archived files.
Hard disks come in here. Think of them as massive storage slots that aren’t expensive, run slightly slower than SSDs but in terms of price vs storage per gigabyte, they simply give the best value in storage.
Seagate’s Barracuda line of hard drives remains on Amazon’s best seller list for making 1TB drives under Dh150. This is because the Barracuda series drives have some of the fastest hard drive speeds in the low-price segment. They have spin speeds of 7200 rpm, 256 MB cache and a SATA 6GB per second transfer rate so you can effectively transfer files at a quicker rate than you’d expect.
The best storage for Gaming? High Write Speeds
When it comes to gaming, you’ll find that gamers prefer to have 2-3 SSDs installed for their various games and a bigger hard drive for everything else. Not only does windows load faster, but individual games that could take more than a minute to load can easily load in a few seconds.
Western Digital, in particular, has made a great distinction with productivity and gaming-based storage, meaning when you install a WD Black SSD, you can load a heavy game like Cyberpunk 2077, or Call of Duty Warzone in a matter of few seconds. The WD Black is great for installing heavy duty files that you want to load up instantly because of its high write speed of 7,000 MB/s.
Most storage companies today have made gaming their focus when building their drives because of how specific the needs of their consumers are. Gamers aren’t just gamers anymore, some are content creators, some need their machines for work as well and a single storage solution like in the past no longer cuts it for them.
Even consoles like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 don’t have a total storage package that’s great for gamer in the long run and have allowed for memory expansion through installing additional memory. Xbox specifically has worked with Seagate into making 1TB storage expansion SSD cards. These are plug and play cards so you can take your games around with you. The card also uses Xbox Velocity Architecture so you’ll see the same load times you normally would when you load a game up on the Xbox itself.
What’s it going to cost you?
For price conscious gamers, they key thing to look at when you’re on the market for getting storage is purely based on your needs and calculating the drive’s price per gigabyte.
The WD black is a great example of it having a solid price per gigabyte. It costs Dh3.80 per GB in a 1 TB drive which costs Dh269. Double that and you get Dh4.80 per GB in the 2 TB variant costing Dh485. Double the space does not mean you’re paying double the price.
Storage solution prices can vary from Dh200 while the more bigger storage capacity drives can go up to Dh500 or higher. Samsung’s EVO line of SSDs have proven popular with consumers and you’ll see a lot of them being recommend when you go in to build a gaming PC from scratch. The prices vary and fluctuate on performance and capacity. There are deals to be had regularly so keeping an eye out for prices on them is advised since flash sales can see them going for 30-50% off on occasion.
Still want more space? How about external disc drives?
If you’re still in need of more space and you’ve used up all your internal slots in your machine, you could choose the alternative and that’s external SSDs and hard drives
External SSDs are a good choice for those with laptops who want to add more storage but at the same time, not fill up their main hard drives. They are great for backups; transfers and you can connect them through a USB port. Additionally, you can also use them as portable media centres where you can plug the hard drive through your entertainment centre or TV and view the video files on the TV itself for direct media playback.
Their versatility comes through their portability. Most external SSDs have varying speeds depending on the kind of USB connection you have. There are USB-C, USB 3.1, 3.0 and USB 2.0 connections with USB-C and 3.1 offering the best in transfer speeds.
You don’t really need the fastest unless you rely heavily on data in a work environment, so you can easily get them at an affordable price. Toshiba’s Canvio Advance 1TB SSD costs Dh165 and has sequential read and write speeds of up to 5 GB/s so you can easily transfer anywhere between 400 hours of video files within no time.
Digital storage is your personal vault
Like most things in PC technology, storage plays a key part in our lives. It holds records of our personal and professional life and its ideal to always get drives that will act as a vault for your files in case your primary machine isn’t functioning.
As with anyone who’s dealt with incidents where their machine refuses to work and they risk losing all their data, a back up will always come in handy and save you the pain and hassle of loosing your files.