Should I Get 512GB or 1TB for MacBook Pro?

The bottom line is, it depends on your use case and storage habits. If you’re a professional video editor or animator, 1TB is the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re a general user and do data cleanups often, 512GB will do just fine.

I’ve been using a MacBook Pro for work-related tasks for the last 5+ years, and know the Mac ecosystem both from a hardware and software perspective.

In this article, I’ll differentiate between both the 512GB and 1TB models. Then I’ll try to guide you using your workloads and technical requirements and help you make a better-informed choice in terms of which model is right for you.

If this introduction has pricked your ears, keep reading!

512GB vs. 1TB MacBook Pro: What’s the Difference?

In the current model year, Apple offers the MacBook Pro with a range of storage options. 

Starting from 256GB all the way to 2TB for the 13” model, and from 512GB to over 8TB with the 14” and 16” models. In this article, we’re going to discuss which is best for you.

Of course, buying the 1TB model costs extra, but you don’t want to end up with less than you need and then have to carry around portable SSDs everywhere with your MacBook Pro. On the other hand, buying one with more storage than you need can be an expensive mistake.

So, it’s always wise to calculate your current and future requirements and then buy the right one accordingly. With that being said, let’s discuss which model is suitable for which type of user:

512GB Model

First, let’s talk about the 512GB model — what kind of use-cases, applications, and workloads it is optimal for:

  • Business users: checking emails, Zoom or Skype video conferencing, social media, general typing tasks
  • Programmers: Atom, NetBeans, Visual Studio Code, etc.
  • Writers: Google Docs, Scrivener, Vellum, etc.
  • General users: checking social media, online video streaming, chatting, etc.

1TB Model

Now onto the 1TB model; although it costs extra, it’s a great bang for your buck if you’re a professional user:

  • Video and photo editors: Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Filmora, etc.
  • Animators and game designers: Blender, Unity, Unreal Engine, etc.
  • Filmmakers: Final Cut Pro X, DaVinci Resolve, Frame.io, etc.
  • Gamers and live streamers: OBS Studio, X-Split, OWN3D Pro, etc.

Overall, the 512GB model is suitable for general use-cases that don’t require multiple high-end applications and heavy files. On the other hand, the 1TB model is optimal for users who often work with advanced applications and need access to a lot of files simultaneously.

How to Use Available Storage Efficiently on a MacBook Pro

By reading all of this, you’ve probably already made a buying decision by now. But it’s always useful to know some ways you can use your storage efficiently too. These tips will also come in handy if you’ve already bought a MacBook Pro and are having trouble with the limited storage:

Clear Up Junk Files

This might sound obvious but the best way to clear up storage on your MacBook Pro is to get rid of junk and unnecessary files. In macOS, you can do this easily using the Finder window or via a Mac cleaning app to save time.

Use an External Drive

Yes, I know, having to carry around an external drive with your MacBook Pro can be a bit tedious. But it’s one of the most convenient and direct ways to increase your local storage capacity.

There’s a wide variety of SSDs you can choose from based on your use case. From rugged options like the Samsung T7 Shield to more light and portable ones like Seagate OneTouch. Based on which SSD you go for, be sure to buy the correct adapter so that you can connect it with your MacBook Pro successfully.

Utilize Cloud Services or a NAS System

If you have a fast Internet connection, you can always take advantage of free-to-use cloud services too. Besides Apple’s own iCloud, there’s Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive. This isn’t only limited to files and applications either.

You can even game on the cloud these days with services like Google’s Stadia and Nvidia’s GeForce Now. Although MacBooks generally aren’t used for gaming, if you use yours for that purpose, services like this will save you a ton of storage space.

In addition to that, having a NAS (network-attached storage) system for yourself is like having your own personal cloud at home. You’ll love it if you’re a professional content creator and work with 4K footage, but it is hard to set up and can get expensive.

Other Questions You Might Have

Here are some related questions you might have about MacBook Pro, see my quick answers below.

What is the Best Way to Backup Important Files on macOS?

Even if you have the necessary storage space, you might still want to know ways to back up your most important files. Many people use external SSDs or HDDs to back up their files, but by far the most secure way is cloud storage.

When it comes to Apple users, the safest and more reliable cloud storage service is iCloud. It can easily be accessed across your Apple ecosystem and also authenticated and secured across all your devices.

In macOS you can access the iCloud Drive directly from the Finder window, no browser is required:

Once uploaded here, you can access those files across all your Apple devices. Apple provides 5GB of free space with a default account. If you want more than that, you can upgrade to iCloud+.

How Much Storage Does macOS Occupy?

This is actually more important than you might realize. Not all of the storage space advertised is actually available for storing files and applications. macOS Monterey, the one that is pre-installed in the latest MacBook Pro, occupies around 12GB of storage space.

Adding to that, let’s not forget Apple’s pre-installed apps like Safari, iMovie, and GarageBand. All in all, keep in mind that a large chunk of the advertised storage space is eaten up by the pre-installed apps and files; so try to aim a bit higher than what you require.

What about 2TB and Higher?

As I noted before, Apple offers up to a whopping 8TB of storage in their MacBook Pro. This costs a high premium, of course. But who is it for? This is mostly for professional video editors, animators, or filmmakers; people that need a ton of blazing-fast storage on hand at all times.

Wrapping Up

I hope my article finally resolved your query and sent you in the right direction! If all this was a bit complicated for you, just remember that a good rule of thumb is to avoid the lowest level of storage available as well as the highest: go for something middle of the road.

Did you make a final buying decision based on this article? Or, do you feel like I’ve missed something? If yes, let me know in the comment section!

About Devansh Kamdar
I'm an Apple fan who's been using an iMac and a MacBook Pro for work-related tasks since 2017. I also own an iPhone 13 and several other small Apple accessories. Although I'm preparing to build my own PC soon, I still spend most of the time on my Mac.

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  • Rob

    “Of course, with a MacBook Pro, you can only use a Thunderbolt-enabled SSD.”
    – that’s incorrect, I’m almost certain. It’s not just those SSDs, it’s others as well.

    The correct answer I believe is that the standard supports what you mention AND is backward compatible – with the appropriate cable or adapter – according to the link below.

    And so far, from my own experience, I can say that my 2016 MBP thunderbolt 3 ports will accept external ssd drives with a usb-c cable which suggests the same for thunderbolt 4.

    Reply
    • Devansh Kamdar

      Hi Rob, I’ve now updated the article and corrected the inaccuracy. Thank you for letting me know!

      Reply
  • Susan

    You’re information on storage and use was very helpful for me to choose the appropriate Mac Pro Thank you so much

    Reply
    • Devansh Kamdar

      Hi Susan, I’m glad my article helped you make a more informed choice regarding which model you should buy. Thank you for letting me know!

      Reply