The Solid State Drive (SSD) was a massive leap forward in data storage technology for electronic devices and computers in general.
Most machines work with an SSD in a similar way to a standard hard disk drive (HDD).
However, SSDs have a number of benefits over traditional storage methods like mechanical hard disk drives.
SSDs are faster, use less energy, are more reliable (no moving parts) and have a more compact form factor.
It’s clear that SSD is usually the best option for modern computers. But there are still a lot of factors to consider when looking at different SSDs and capacity sizes.
For example, consider a situation where you’re presented with a choice between 256 GB vs 512 GB SSD storage options in a computer or laptop.
In this article we’ll try to help you decide which SSD size is best for you, so let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Best Use Cases for 256GB SSD Storage
Deciding between 256 GB and 512 GB SSD storage options should begin by considering what each drive capacity is best at.
Where does a 256 GB SSD excel over a 512 GB SSD? Of course, the most obvious answer comes down to price.
A few years ago, a computer with a 256 GB SSD drive was almost always significantly less expensive than a 512 GB SSD drive.
This price difference between the two computer drive options still exist today but SSD drives are much cheaper nowadays. This means that a 256GB option will still cost less but not that much.
But what about actual usage scenarios?
Cost might be the most readily apparent point of divergence between the two SSD options.
However, storage space and functionality should be your main focus when thinking about actual usage scenarios.
There was a time when 256 GB was considered immense. But today it’s extremely easy to fill up a 256 GB drive.
Gaming in particular tends to use up a lot of space. For example, some of the more popular MMORPGs require over 85 GB just for the initial install.
Updates might require even more space. And if you’re using offline storage for streaming movies you can expect to easily use over 1 GB per film. Likewise, seasons of TV shows used with offline storage use up even more space.
This essentially means that a 256 GB drive is best used for light use like office work, browsing, email communication etc.
You probably don’t want to go with this option if you do a lot of gaming, work with video editing, or even watch a lot of locally stored videos.
It’s also generally not the best option if you’re hoping to future-proof your setup.
Data requirements are constantly growing. And it’s usually best to safeguard against this trend with larger drives on devices that we plan to be using for years to come.
Best Use Cases for 512GB SSD Storage
A device with 512 GB SSD is generally the best option for most types of computer users.
General users won’t need to stress about computer specs limits or how they’re using their device.
They’ll always have enough space to do whatever catches their attention.
Gamers will have enough space to keep even large games locally installed. And they won’t have to worry about size constraints when keeping multiple games installed at the same time.
And people who work with media such as photos, uncompressed audio, or video will be able to take their art to the next level with no fear of a file not saving due to lack of space.
Price Comparison Between 256GB and 512GB SSDs
The price difference between a 256 GB and 512 GB SSD scales fairly evenly. With some storage options, you’ll see a dramatic price hike as storage size increases.
This is especially true for SD and Micro SD cards. But as a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay roughly 10-20 cents per gigabyte in most internal NVMe SSDs.
Of course, a variety of different factors can push that price point up or down. For example, well-known brands typically charge a little more than the competition.
For a 256 GB SSD you’ll typically see drives priced between $30 and $40. And for a 512 GB SSD prices usually range between $50 and $70.
Differentiating between SATA and PCIe/NVMe SSDs
If you look over the SSD options you might find a few terms coming up which put them into different categories. The interface connection type is one of the characteristics that define different SSD categories.
Two popular SSD connection types are typically SATA or PCIe/NVMe. These connection types define also the data transfer speed of the drive with the rest of the computer.
SATA SSDs were designed around older standards for hard drives. The primary advantage of SATA SSDs comes from compatibility with the SATA interfaces used in older hard drives.
These older mechanical hard drives typically used a SATA interface to communicate with a computer’s motherboard. SATA SSDs leveraged the same interface to provide users with a drop-in upgrade option.
However, in a modern context, it’s usually best to avoid SATA SSDs. Today, most computers ship with support for the new PCIe/NVMe SSD connection standard.
NVMe uses a system’s PCIe interface to communicate with the motherboard. This port was specially designed with higher bandwidth data in mind.
The difference between bandwidth in SATA and PCIe is striking. PCIe can send roughly twice as much data as SATA in the same amount of time.
All of this leads to an important point. You’ll get far faster read/write speeds when using an NVMe SSD over PCIe than you would if using an SSD through SATA.
How To Get More Storage for Your Computer
Of course there’s more than one way to acquire more storage space for your computer than replacing its main hard drive. Here are some options to get more storage for your computer.
Remove File Clutter
Most people will find that they can gain a surprising amount of space by just getting rid of the largest unused files on their computer.
It’s also important to make sure you’re actually emptying your recycle bin after deleting files.
It’s not too unusual for people to delete files for months or even years before remembering that they haven’t actually finalized the process by emptying their recycle bin.
Cleaning up clutter on your computer will typically provide you with a wealth of free space.
All of those downloaded files that you intend to clean up later inevitably build up over time. And this can turn into a considerable waste of hard drive space unless you’re actively deleting them.
Use Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is also a solid option to get more storage on your computer. Cloud storage leverages storage space on remote cloud servers. Many of the leading storage providers offer a generous amount of space for free accounts.
And paid plans offer even more storage space. Of course, the big disadvantage with cloud storage is that remotely stored files will typically need to be downloaded before you can use them.
It’s also important to make sure you’re storing files on remote cloud storage rather than syncing files to it.
If you’re syncing files to a cloud server then the files will exist on both the remote server and your computer’s hard drive. This means that you wouldn’t be freeing up any space by using cloud storage.
Use a Second SSD Drive
You can also use a second SSD with your computer. This is typically done in one of two ways.
The most efficient way to go about this process is by installing a second internal SSD.
The second SSD should work just as fast and efficiently as the primary drive. Most operating systems will automatically detect the second drive and make it easily accessible within its file explorer.
But there’s more to SSDs than internal devices. You can also find a wide variety of SSDs designed for portability.
These devices typically have a slim form factor and simply plug into one of your computer’s USB ports. The big advantage of an external SSD is that you can use it almost anywhere and with a variety of different devices.
For example, it’d be easy to take movies, shows, or games from your home computer to a friend’s place if they’re on an external SSD.
It’s just a matter of unplugging it from your computer and then plugging it into another one. But these drives also have a disadvantage – speed. Even USB C is significantly slower than an internal PCIe interface. But even with that limitation, external SSDs are still an easy way to increase your available storage space.
Is a 256GB SSD Drive Enough?
At this point, you’ve seen various options for increasing storage space and also compared 256GB vs 512GB SSD sizes.
But the best performance will always come from your primary internal drive. It’s the default where you save data, install software, store works in progress, and generally look at before any of your other physical or cloud drives.
And this circles back to the big question. Is a 256 GB SSD enough or should you go with a larger 512 GB option?
It’s true that different usage scenarios might allow people to get by with a smaller 256GB SSD.
For example, if you’re only using your computer for smaller-scale tasks like editing documents, regular office work, light gaming, browsing, social media etc then you will be fine with a 256 GB SSD.
But keep in mind that this type of light use also means forgoing things like heavy gaming or working with multimedia.
Even offline storage for TV/movies goes beyond the usual definition of light use.
Some people will be fine with 256 GB SSDs. But most will find that they have one or more hobbies that require heavier resource use than they initially assumed.
As such it’s usually better to go with a 512 GB SSD compared to 256GB for future-proofing your computer usage.