So you’re looking to build a gaming PC and you’re wondering which storage options are the best. You probably heard of HDDs, SDDs, and NVME drives and you’re not sure which one is the best for games.
With modern video games requiring more and more storage, you might be struggling to keep up with the demands. Certain games, such as the new Modern Warfare, can take up to 180 GB of storage!
In this article, you’ll not only learn which hard drive offers the best performance but also some practical about video game storage issues. When you’re done, you’ll know exactly what storage you should get for a gaming PC.
The Best Storage for Gaming PCs:
The best type of storage that you should get for a gaming PC is an SSD and an HDD. SSDs are much faster than HDDs, which make them great for the operating system and certain games, while HDDs offer cheap bulk storage.
SSDs not only dramatically improve the responsiveness of your operating system but also cut down video game loading time. I recommend getting an SSD, ideally in the 500GB to 1,000GB range combined with at least 2 TB of HDD storage.
The reason I recommend combining two hard drives is that you have one fast drive for important tasks and a slower one for longterm storage. I recommend getting either one SSD or NVME drive for your operating system, and then one or two hard drives for documents and other files.
You can also move the games that you don’t play very often to your slower drives to free up space on the faster one. Most platforms like Steam allow you to move game installations in a few clicks. Likewise, if a game on your HDD is having issues, such as stuttering or long load times, then moving it over to the SSD is a good idea.
Do Hard Drives Improve Framerate?
The type of storage you use won’t increase the framerate of games. If you’re getting choppy performance on a video game, chances are changing your hard drive won’t solve the problem.
If you’re getting a low framerate, the problem is probably with either your graphics card or CPU, one of which is under the minimum hardware requirements for the game, or maybe both of them are.
Modern games require significant hardware to process all the effects, so it’s best to take a look at the hardware requirements before you buy the game. Most games rely heavily on the graphics card, so that’s the most important piece of hardware for games.
Why Do You Need a Fast Hard Drive for Games?
Having said that, it’s a good idea to use a fast hard drive, such as an SSD or NVME for games because it makes in-game load time much faster. These hard drives have much faster read and write rates than regular spinning hard drives, which means they can load files in a matter of seconds.
If your favourite game is open-world with large levels (models, textures, etc) getting an SSD or NVME drive will greatly cut down the time that you spend looking at loading screens, so you can spend more time playing the game.
Games like GTA V will really benefit from an SSD drive. In some cases, problems like random frame rate drops and stutters can be solved by moving the game files from an HDD to an SSD or other fast drive.
Fast hard drives don’t just improve the game loading times. Having a fast hard drive such as an SSD or NVME will also improve the time it takes to install games, not to mention the overall faster file-processing time.
HDD vs SSD vs NVME
Let’s briefly run through the types of storage for gaming PCs:
HDDs are the standard spinning hard drives, most of them offer a read and write speed of 80 to 160 MB/s. These are the hard drives most people are familiar with, and you can buy a pretty decent sized hard drive (2-3 TB) for under 100$.
Most PCs have at least one regular hard drive for core storage, such as photos, videos, documents, and whatnot. These drives are connected to your motherboard with SATA cables. The pros of HDDs is that they’re very cheap and you can use them for files that don’t really need to be accessed all the time.
SSDs use a different and newer technology than HDDs, and offer significantly higher read and write rates. Instead of the mechanical spinning disks, SSDs use flash memory for storage, so they’re not only faster but also more durable. Most modern computers and laptops have at least one SSD for the operating system.
Like HDDs, SSDs are also connected via SATA cables. The average read and write speed of an SSD depends on the actual model, the SATA cable in use, and the motherboard. On average, most SSDs are rated at 600 MB/s read and 200 MB/s write.
The best thing about SSD drives is you can easily connect a bunch via SATA cables and a decent size (500 GB – 1TB) is not too expensive, in fact, there are several 1 TB SSDs under $100.
NVME drives are similar to SSDs because they also use flash memory but the main difference is these drives are inserted into a PCIe (PCI Express) slot directly into the motherboard. The PCIe slot is also where you would install a graphics card.
Depending on the version of PCIe your motherboard uses, an NVME drive can be much faster than an SSD, with an average read speed of 3,500 MB/s vs the SSDs’ 600 MB/s.
The good news is NVME drives are also affordable, they’re actually only slightly more expensive than SSDs. The problem is NVME drives need a free PCI slot.
To conclude, if you’re planning to buy a gaming PC, the budget-friendly option would be to buy one SSD for the operating system (with some space left for games) and another cheaper HDD for media, documents, and other games you don’t play often.
However, if budget isn’t an issue for you, then I would go with one NVME drive for your operating system and then an SSD (or multiple) for your game drives. The NVME drive will make your operating system blazing fast and responsive, and the SSDs will make your games load in seconds.