32 GB vs. 64 GB: Which new Apple TV capacity should you get?

The new Apple TV—technically Apple's fourth-generation set top box—comes in two models with two different flash storage tiers: 32 GB and 64 GB. That's because the new Apple TV also comes with an App Store and a way to download software, including games. So, is 32 GB enough for you to save a few bucks, or do you really need to spend a little more and double down on 64 GB? Let's find out!

Price per gigabyte

The new Apple TV comes in two models at two price points:

  • 32 GB for $149
  • 64 GB for $199

That's different than the usual low-, middle-, and high-end strategy Apple and most other vendors usually use. And it means you can just take the center, you have to choose one of the sides.

If we break the prices down per gigabyte, we get the following:

  • 32 GB for $149 = $4.66 per gigabyte
  • 64 GB for $199 = $3.11 per gigabyte

So the 32 GB Apple TV has the lowest absolute price, but the 64 GB has the best overall value per gigabyte.

On-demand vs. local storage

Apple never wants you to try to download an app, find out your Apple TV storage is full and have to tell you to delete apps or content before trying your download again. So, they're using "on-demand resources" for the Apple TV to intelligent manage the local storage on your behalf.

It works by downloading only the content you need immediately and keeping the rest offline. Then downloading new content while simultaneously deleting old content.

For example, when you download a new game, the App Store could only include the first five levels and keep the rest ready and waiting on the App Store's servers. As you complete level three, the App Store could download level six and remove level one. Then download level seven and remove level two, and so on.

In other words, as new content comes in, old content goes out. So, an app or game may vary slightly in size over time as you use it, but you never have to store all of it at once.

That means you don't need enough space to store all your apps and games, only to store all the levels and other material you want to use frequently.

If you only ever play a few games, use a few apps, and watch a few movies or shows at a time, 32 GB of storage should be enough to keep what you need local. If you play a lot of games, use a lot of apps, and watch a lot of movies and shows at a time, you'll want 64 GB.

Photos and music

Gone are the days when you had to sync over all the photos and music you wanted to keep on your Apple TV. Now iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Music Library + Apple Music uses a similar approach to on-demand resources. All your recent and frequently accessed content is cached locally so you can look at or listen to it quickly, while infrequently accessed content is left on the cloud and available for re-download or streaming at any time.

The same is true if you use other popular photo or music services via their apps. They'll keep most of your content in the cloud and stream what you need, when you needed, with some level of cache to keep the more recent and important stuff local.

If you only look at a small subset of your photos on a regular basis, and only listen to the same group of songs or playlists, you'll likely still be fine with 32 GB. If you want much more content available much faster, you'll be better off with 64 GB.

Bandwidth vs. cache

Another point to consider is how much bandwidth you have. Apple TV will cache content on the flash storage, so if your bandwidth is low, you won't have to worry about re-streaming or re-downloading content you use frequently. The more storage you have, the more room you have to cache that content.

So, if bandwidth isn't an issue for you and you can re-stream or re-download as often and as much as you like, you might be fine with keeping only up to 32 GB available at any time.

But, if bandwidth is an issue and you'd rather keep as much cached locally on-device as possible, you'll be better off with 64 GB.

Who should get the 32 GB Apple TV?

If every dollar matters, if you stream most of your content, and if you play, use, watch, and listen to only a small subset of games, apps, movies, shows, and music on a daily basis, then you should be just fine with 32 GB. Your Apple TV will manage thing so that it stretches absolutely as far as possible.

Who should get the 64 GB Apple TV?

If the extra $50 isn't a big deal, if you want to cache as much content as possible, if you play, use, watch, and listen to a wider range of games, apps, movies, shows, and music on a daily basis, then you'll enjoy having 64 GB. Your Apple TV will still get the most out of it for you, but it'll have even more to work with.

Still can't decide?

If you're still not sure about 32 GB vs. 64 GB, jump into our Apple TV forums for extra help. Personally I'll be going for 64 GB since I'm okay paying $50 more for the extra space. And I'm interested to see how much of it I'll end up using. Once you know what you're getting, tell me what and why below!