[2024 Solved] What Is the Best Allocation Unit Size for Gaming?

Want to know what is the best allocation unit size for gaming? This article tells you the answer and guides you on how to change the allocation unit size in detail. Since the changing process will format your drive and cause data loss, this post also teaches you how to recover files from formatted drives.


By Phoebe / Updated on March 18, 2024

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What should my allocation unit size for gaming be?


What is the best allocation unit size for gaming? I want to format a fresh 2TB HDD that will be used for gaming mostly, possibly also some video files?"

- Steam Community

What is allocation unit size?

When formatting a new storage device, whether it's for games, videos, or music, you'll be prompted to select an allocation unit size. But what does this word mean?

The allocation unit size, also known as the cluster size or block size, represents the smallest unit used to store and manage files on disk. Hard drive storage in a computer is organized based on these clusters.

In fact, each allocation unit can store a single file, although a file can span multiple allocation units. For example, if the file size is 4097 bytes and the cluster size is 4096 bytes, the file occupies two clusters for a total of 8192 bytes. On the contrary, if the cluster size is 512 bytes, 9 clusters are needed for storage, and the actual space occupied is 4608 bytes.

This shows that smaller clusters can save space. However, smaller clusters also require longer search times when reading files. Essentially, saving small files on a file system with a larger allocation unit size wastes disk space, while saving large files on a file system with a smaller cluster size reduces system performance.

Therefore, it is crucial to properly size file allocations on storage devices to ensure the best user experience.


What is the best allocation unit size for gaming?

So what is the best allocation unit size for gaming? Many users choose the 64K cluster size, especially those who store large files such as games, 3D movies, high-definition photos, etc. While 4K is now widely available, especially with SSDs, it is recommended to choose a larger cluster size for gaming. Game files often consume large amounts of disk space, and due to smaller cluster sizes, a single file can span multiple clusters, resulting in longer access times and increased load times during gameplay.

It is worth noting that the size of the allocation unit is not the only factor that affects the gaming experience; other components such as graphics card performance, CPU power, memory capacity, disk performance and capacity, and network quality also play a vital role.

How to change the allocation unit size

After knowing the best allocation unit size for SSD and gaming, now, let's dig into how to change the allocation unit size. Both Disk Management and DiskPart provide options for this task, but for simplicity and to reduce the risk of errors, we will focus on using Disk Management.

Note: Before proceeding, make sure to back up all important data as the formatting process will erase all existing data on the drive or you can move installed games to another drive.

Here's how to change the allocation unit size using Disk Management:

Step 1. Right-click the Start icon and select Disk Management.

Step 2. Find the target partition (for example, H:) where you want to resize the cluster, right-click and select Format...

Step 3. In the formatting window, find the File system and Allocation unit size (cluster size) option. Here we select NTFS and 64K.

Step 4. Select Perform a quick format and click OK to start the process.


Step 5. If prompted with a format warning message, click Yes to confirm to continue.

Wait a moment for the formatting to be completed and you can successfully change the cluster size of the specified partition.

How to recover files from formatted drives

What if you format a drive without a backup? Can you still recover game data? The answer is yes.

It's important to understand that formatting does not necessarily completely delete data. Instead, it rearranges the location of the data to match the read capabilities of most data recovery tools. Therefore, files can be recovered from formatted hard drive using specialized data recovery software.

For Windows users, AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional is a reliable choice. While its capabilities are not limited to formatting hard drives, it is particularly adept at various data recovery scenarios, including recovering data from formatted SD cards and Recycle Bin. It is compatible with multiple operating systems, including Windows 11/10/8/7.

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Here is the guide on how to use AOMEI Partition Assistant to recover files from formatted hard drive:

Step 1. Launch the software, navigate to the Recovery section, and choose Recover Data in the main tab.


Step 2. The software will launch the recovery process.

Step 3. Choose the specific drive you want to recover and click Start Scan.


Step 4. After the scan is completed, all deleted or lost files will be displayed. Use the filter or search function to find the target files and click Recover ** files.


Step 5. Select the destination folder path on your PC where the recovered data will be stored and click Select Folder.


Step 6. The recovery process will start and upon successful completion, the data will be saved to the specified path. Once completed, click OK in the small window that appears.


Follow the steps below and your deleted data will be recovered effectively.

Note: If you accidentally lose a partition, AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional can help you recover the lost partition easily.

Final words

In summary, you now know how to choose the best allocation unit size for gaming. If your games are stored in a cluster size other than 64K, you can adjust it manually, but remember to back up the drive beforehand. Alternatively, you can use AOMEI Partition Assistant to recover files from the formatted drive.

Apart from data recovery, this versatile tool also offers other features such as allocating free space to game drives, safely upgrading HDD to SSD for disk upgrades, converting MBR to GPT disk format without data loss, and more. The Server Edition is designed for the Windows Server system.

FAQs on allocation unit size

Q1. What allocation size should I use for exFAT?

The default allocation unit size exFAT varies based on storage size:

▪ 7MB - 256MB: 4KB

▪ 256MB - 32GB: 32KB

▪ 32GB - 256TB: 128KB

Q2. What is the best allocation unit size for NTFS?

See the provided size ranges for individual allocation unit sizes:

▪ 7 MB - 512 MB: 512 Bytes

▪ 513 MB - 1,024 MB: 1 KB

▪ 1,025 MB - 2 GB: 2 KB

▪ 2 GB - 2 TB: 4 KB

▪ 2 TB - 4 TB: 8 KB

▪ 4 TB - 8 TB: 16 KB

▪ 8 TB - 16 TB 32 KB

▪ 16 TB - 32 TB: 64 KB

Q3. What is the default allocation size for FAT32?

The default allocation size for FAT32 varies based on storage capacity:

▪ 128-256MB: 2KB

▪ 256MB - 8GB: 4KB

▪ 8GB - 16GB: 8KB

▪ 16GB - 32GB: 16KB

Q4. What is the best allocation unit size SSD?

Generally, 4KB sectors are widely used in SSD and HDD, and the default allocation unit size of SSD is 4K.

Q5. What is the best allocation unit size for 4k video files?

For video files, the optimal allocation unit size is 64KB, but the default option is a 4KB. For a drive designed to store large movies, a larger allocation unit size (e.g. 2MB) may be better, but smaller files (e.g. subtitles) will only take up a small fraction of that space.

Phoebe · Staff Editor
Phoebe, an editor at AOMEI Technology, is dedicated to offering optimal solutions for Windows-related concerns, specializing in partition management, disk upgrades, data recovery, and more. During her free time, she enjoys indulging in reading, watching movies, and exploring her passion for cooking.