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How much storage does a laptop need?

Buying a new laptop can be tricky, and you want to ensure that you’re getting a device that best fits your needs.

Figuring out what you need in a laptop can be hard. It can be an overwhelming process, whether it’s working out how much RAM a laptop needs or how much power you should be shooting for.

Determining how much storage you need is another important consideration, as it will determine how many photos, videos and games you can save on the drive. Unfortunately, programmes such as Intel Evo, which help people find the top-rated laptops, don’t factor storage space into its list of criteria. This is because the amount of storage required is so subjective and will differ for every person.

Thankfully, we’re going to break down how much storage your laptop will need on a case-by-case basis, and how much storage you can actually find in most laptop models.

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How much storage do most laptops come with?

The majority of laptops will be available with multiple storage options, with the lowest option often being 256GB.

Certain laptops, like the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), can be configured up to 8TB, though you won’t find that option on every laptop.

It’s also important to note that you can always buy an external storage device if you run out of storage on your laptop, though it can get pretty expensive. Check out our best external hard drive list to see which options are available.

You can use also use cloud storage, like Dropbox or Google Drive, which also means you can access your files from multiple devices without taking up any space on your PC.

Dell XPS 13 OLED

How much storage does a productivity laptop need?

If you are going to be using your laptop for work or educational purposes, you may be fine with 256GB of storage.

Since small Word documents and JPEGs won’t take up more than a couple of MBs (megabytes), 256GB would be perfectly serviceable for such use case.

However, if you need to store excessively large spreadsheets or you want to download multiple movies on your device, you may consider jumping up to a higher storage capacity like 512GB.

MacBook Pro M1 Pro 16-inch open on table

How much storage does a content creation laptop need?

If you are looking to use your laptop for intensive tasks, like video editing or 3D rendering, you will need a lot more storage.

Applications like Photoshop can require a set amount of free storage space to run smoothly, and if you have multiple Adobe apps – such as Lightroom, InDesign or Acrobat Pro – they will start to add up pretty quickly.

You’ll also likely be working with lots of different high-resolution images and video, which take up a huge amount of storage space. One hour of RAW 4K content can take up 110GB of space alone.

This is why laptops aimed at designers, like the MacBook Pro 16-inch or Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, provide storage options that comes in terabytes. Such configurations are usually very expensive, but it means you should be able to store all of your work on one device, instead of using an external hard drive.

If you are editing 4K video content or creating graphical work, we would recommend looking at laptops that come with at least 1TB of storage.

Razer Blader 14 07

How much storage does a gaming laptop need?

In the same vein as content creation, you will need to aim for a lot of storage space if you want to game on your laptop.

Nowadays, blockbuster games can vary from 4GB to over 100GB, so we wouldn’t recommend going for a laptop with anything lower than 512GB of storage space, although 1TB would be preferable. This is especially true if you know you’re going to be updating your Steam library regularly, as even smaller indie games will rack up quickly.

Thankfully, if you are looking to buy a gaming laptop specifically, like a Razer Blade 14 (2021) or an Asus ROG Flow X13 (2021), you will find a many come with 1TB or above options.

Overall, you will want to find a laptop that fits your needs best. Most laptops that have specific purposes will pack the appropriate storage, though it’s important to future-proof your device and think ahead about what you plan to store on it.

Be sure to check out our best laptop list to see some of our favourite devices currently available, as well as the best gaming laptop list for anyone looking to upgrade their gaming portable.

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