Apple Mac Storage Comparison: Which Mac Has The Most?

By Richard Goodwin •  Updated: 07/18/22 •  6 min read

When it comes to storage on a Mac, you have LOTS of options – from 256GB up to 8TB. Here’s a comparison of all the storage options for Apple’s latest Mac computers…


If you’re thinking about getting a new Mac, one of the most important things you need to consider before pulling the trigger on your purchase is how much storage you need. Apple being Apple will charge you extra for adding in more storage. But this is a cost that is well worth undertaking, especially if you plan on using the Mac for the long term.

To put it curtly, 256GB just simply isn’t enough storage for a computer – PC, Mac, or otherwise. You’ll burn through a 256GB SSD in a matter of months. For this reason, most users – regardless of the Mac they get – would be best off opting for 1TB of storage. For me, this is the Mac storage sweet spot – it’s not too expensive and it’ll last you for years.

Case in point: I’m currently running a 2014 Intel iMac 5K that I bought new in 2014. I opted for the 1TB storage option because I knew I’d be using the computer for a long time. And here I am now, eight years later still using the same machine. And you know how much storage I have left? Over 300GB. Not bad for eight years, right? Had I gone with less, the iMac would have needed replacing maybe two years ago.

But storage options vary between Mac models. The MacBook Pro starts with 1TB, for instance, while the Mac mini starts with 256GB. Similarly, the Mac Studio starts at 512GB and tops out at a whopping 8TB – although this upgrade will cost you more than the actual computer itself at £2400/$2400. Let’s take a look at all of Apple’s new Mac computers and the storage options they come with.

Please note: the figures and costs below are based on the base model versions of Apple’s Macs – the ones that one the standard M-series chip and configuration.

Apple Mac Storage Comparison


TYPE OF MACSTORAGE OPTIONSCOST PER UPGRADE (£/$)
MacBook Pro 14in512GB (BASE MODEL)
1TB
2TB
4TB
8TB
1TB = 200
2TB = 600
4TB = 1200
8TB = 2400
MacBook Air M2256GB (BASE MODEL)
512GB
1TB
2TB
512GB – £200
1TB – £400
2TB – £800
MacBook Pro 16in512GB (BASE MODEL)
1TB
2TB
4TB
8TB
1TB = 200
2TB = 600
4TB = 1200
8TB = 2400
MacBook Pro 13in256GB (BASE MODEL)
512GB
1TB
2TB
512GB = 200
1TB = 400
2TB = 800
Mac Mini 256GB (BASE MODEL)
512GB
1TB
2TB
512GB = 200
1TB = 400
2TB = 800
Mac Studio512GB (BASE MODEL)
1TB
2TB
4TB
8TB
1TB = 200
2TB = 600
4TB = 1200
8TB = 2400

As you can see, on the most popular Mac option – the MacBook Pro – updating the base model to 1TB will cost you an extra £200/$200. This is expensive, sure, but when you’re dropping close to £2000/$2000 on something, an extra 200 bucks is a drop in the ocean, especially since with 1TB of storage you probably won’t have to worry about running out of room on your SSD for the best part of a decade (if you’re anything like me).

Of course, Apple’s Mac models have other variations too – if you go for the M1 Max version of the 16in MacBook Pro, for instance, you get 1TB of storage as standard. But the price of that computer is a lot more than the standard M1 Pro version – £2339 vs £3299 for the M1 Max version.

Most people, however, will be perfectly fine with the entry-level model. In this context, it’d be the 16in MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro. You don’t need to upgrade anything else; it has masses of performance as is. The only thing you’ll want to upgrade is the storage, taking it from 512GB to 1TB. If you choose not to do that, it’s fine, but you will run into storage issues down the line. You CAN NOT update Mac storage, either, so it really does pay to choose the right amount before you commit to buying one.

We have a detailed guide on how to find out how much storage you’ll need for your Mac. If you’re unsure about what to do, I’d suggest you read that guide first – it’ll explain exactly which amount of storage is optimal for your specific needs. Me? I always go with 1TB. That’s my sweet spot. With 1TB of storage, providing you aren’t doing lots of video editing, you’ll never run out of storage on your Mac’s SSD.

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256GB vs 512GB vs 1TB of Storage – Which is Best?

Apple’s latest MacBook Air M2 comes with 256GB of storage inside the base model. Apple’s MacBook Pro 14 and 16 start with 512GB but if you go with the 13in MacBook Pro, you’re looking at 256GB once again. Base model Macs – whether MacBooks, Mac mini, or the Mac Studio – are cheaper. But when it comes to storage, cheaper isn’t always better.

For nearly every type of user, 256GB is NOT enough storage for a MacBook or a Mac mini. You cannot expand the storage of a MacBook or Mac mini natively either, so if you do run out of storage, your only option is a third-party portable SSD or drive. This isn’t ideal for obvious reasons.

For this reason, anyone looking to buy a Mac in 2022 and beyond, should really go with 1TB of storage. With 1TB of storage, you’ll have more than enough space to last you multiple years without ever having to one concerned about running out of SSD.

If you’re dealing with a lot of huge files – things like 4K video, for instance – you’ll want to go even higher; either 2TB or 4TB should be enough for most professional video editors. If you’re using the machine professionally, however, and you spend the majority of your working life cutting through hundreds of hours’ worth of 4K and 8K footage, well… you’ll need to pony up for the 8TB model.

But that is NOT everybody, most will be fine with 1TB or, at a push, 512GB. Me? I always go with 1TB. It’s the sweet spot with respect to price and the sheer amount of space you have on your SSD. Here’s a handy breakdown of what storage to go for based on a few different types of workflows:

apple mac storage comparison
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Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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