What is the Perfect Computer Hard Drive Size?

The hard drive size you need varies depending on your computing needs, but as a general rule, you can consider a 120 GB hard drive as the minimum for your startup drive, the drive on which you install your operating system and programs.

Hard Drive

Minimum Hard Drive Sizes

With that small of a drive, you would also need a secondary hard drive on which to save files. The size of this hard drive depends on the files you typically create and save. Text documents typically use only a few kilobytes (KB), but photo files require about 58 megabytes (MB) each when compressed. Full-size, high-resolution files require up to 300 MB of storage. If you record and edit video, that process requires multiple GBs of storage per file at times or close to it.

Playing graphics-intensive computer games requires a large hard drive since the computer uses the hard drive as a source of virtual memory to increase its capabilities otherwise limited by its random-access memory (RAM). Depending on your file storage needs, you could choose a hard drive of between 512 GB to one terabyte (TB) as a minimum storage size.

Realistically, you need a hard drive size that can grow with your needs. You can upgrade the desktop computer with added RAM and you could also add another hard drive, but it makes more sense to purchase the larger hard drive to start. While RAM costs little, hard drives tend to cost quite a bit. You can pick up RAM for $15 to $60, but a large hard drive of 8TB costs starts at $150 for an HDD and can go up to $900 for an SSD.


Solid State Drive or Spinning Hard Disk Drive

The amount you want to spend and how important you prioritize a quietly running computer decide whether you want a solid-state drive (SSD) or a spinning drive. SSDs run silently and efficiently with about three times the internal transfer rate of a spinning drive. They typically cost about six times as much as a spinning drive of the same size. They also come in smaller sizes as a general rule.

You can muffle the sound a spinning drive makes by using a Smart Drive enclosure. The enclosure costs much less than you would spend on an SSD.

You can do what many fans of custom PCs do and purchase a small SSD for your boot disk but a massive spinning drive with an enclosure for your storage drive. This method lets you have the best of both worlds while saving money.

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