Which Apple TV Capacity Do You Need?

Do you need a 32 GB or a 64 GB model?

Apple TV 4K is available in 32 GB and 64 GB capacities, and Apple TV HD is available in 32 GB. Both models are still available from and supported by Apple. So, which model should you choose?

  • Apple TV 4K, 32 GB, $179
  • Apple TV 4K, 64 GB, $199
  • Apple TV HD, 32 GB, $149

The Apple TV HD supports up to 1080p resolution, The Apple TV 4K supports up to 2160p (4K) resolution. If you have a 4K-capable TV and plan to watch 4K content, the Apple TV 4K in either storage size is the better choice.

Apple TV is designed mainly as an access point for streamed media content. This means that music, movies, TV shows, and other multimedia content you access with the system are nearly always streamed on demand rather than stored on the Apple TV.

That's not a hard and fast rule; as you collect games, apps, and watch movies, the storage on your device is used and filled, although usually, this is only temporary.

Whether or not the price difference between the models is a consideration, understanding how Apple TV uses storage, caches content, and manages bandwidth should help inform your decision surrounding which model to purchase.

Apple TV and the Siri remote
Apple, Inc

How Apple TV Uses Storage

Apple TV uses storage for the software and content it runs, including any of the thousands of apps and movies available at the App Store and through iTunes.

To mitigate the amount of space used, Apple developed clever on-demand, in-app technologies that only download the content you need immediately while getting rid of content you don't need anymore.

This enables apps to offer high-quality scenes and effects during games. For example, the device only downloads the first few levels of a game when it is first downloaded.

All apps are not equal: Some occupy more space than others, and games tend to be particular space hogs. If you own an Apple TV, check how much storage is used in Settings > General > Manage Storage, where you can delete apps you no longer need to save space. Just tap the Trash icon beside the app name.

Apple TV also lets you access your images and music collections in iCloud. Once again, Apple thought this through, and its streaming solution caches only your most recent and most frequently accessed content on the Apple TV. Older, less frequently used content is streamed to your device on demand.

The simplest way to understand this is that as new content is downloaded to your Apple TV, old content is chucked out.

One thing that affects storage is the proliferation of 4K content. Also, the size of graphics components of games and other apps available on the system has become larger, which may make the amount of local storage on the system more important. Apple increased the largest permitted size of apps on Apple TV to 4 GB from 200 MB. That's great for games because you won't need to stream as much graphics content.

How Bandwidth Works on Apple TV

The performance of an Apple TV depends heavily on robust bandwidth because even as you watch a movie or use certain apps, the system streams some of the content.

Using on-demand streaming technology to delete already used content to make way for the content you now need is a clever concept, but it fails if you have insufficient bandwidth.

One way around this is to use the 64 GB model if you suffer bandwidth constraints because more of your content will be kept cached on your box, reducing the lag you might experience as new content is downloaded. If you have good bandwidth, that's less of a problem, and the lower capacity model should deliver what you need.

Predicting the Future

We don't know how Apple plans to develop Apple TV in the future and how necessary storage becomes as it implements its future changes.

The company has transformed the Apple TV into a HomeKit hub and may have plans to implement Siri as a home assistant. These moves could impose more demands on the storage inside your Apple TV box.

Advice for Buyers

If you only use a few apps, play a handful of games, and watch movies casually on the Apple TV, the 32 GB Apple TV may suit you. If you want near-instant access to your music or images library, you may want to choose the larger capacity model, which should deliver better results if you have bandwidth constraints.

If you expect to play lots of games and use all the other useful features, such as news and current affairs apps, it makes some sense to consider spending the extra money on a 64 GB model. In the same way, if you want to get the best possible performance, the larger capacity model will deliver this most consistently, particularly if you are an intensive user.

In most cases, deciding which size to purchase comes down to how intensively you plan to use Apple's streaming solution. However, Apple may offer new and interesting services in the future that may demand a higher-capacity device.

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