If you’re building or upgrading a gaming computer, chances are that your first priority will be the CPU and GPU. That’s how it should be, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take other components into consideration. Hard drives may rank low on the list of priorities, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t serve an important role in your build.
A good hard drive ensures that you have the space to hold all of your favorite games, but it can also have an impact on performance. In our reviews, we highlight only the best hard drives for gaming. We’ve also constructed a beginner-friendly guide that can help you understand the important characteristics and specs to consider when shopping for a hard drive.
The Best Hard Drive for Gaming:
- Seagate BarraCuda 2TB Hard Drive
- WD Black 1TB Performance Hard Drive
- WD Blue 1TB Hard Drive
- Seagate FireCuda 2TB Hybrid Drive
- WD My Passport External Hard Drive
- Seagate Xbox 2TB Game Drive
- Seagate IronWolf 14TB Hard Drive
- Toshiba X300 5TB Gaming Hard Drive
- WD 2TB Portable External Gaming Drive
- Toshiba L200 Internal Hard Drive
1. Seagate BarraCuda 2TB Hard Drive
The Fastest Desktop HDD at a Rock Bottom Price
The BarraCuda is a 2 TB hard drive for gaming that costs right around $50. Normally that would and should be a red flag, but Seagate has a reputation for quality performance, and it's one they meet admirably with this budget PC hard drive. In fact, it boasts the claim of being the fastest desktop hard drive due to its 6Gbps transfer compatibility.
This is a SATA hard drive that gleefully puts performance above any other consideration. A 7200 RPM speed is complemented by an exceptional 64 MB cache. It does sacrifice any illusions of quiet speeds or power-saving features in the process, but that's not what it was built for anyway. This is a power option through and through, and the fact that it comes in at such a reasonable price ensures that it's an incredible steal for gamers who want to get maximum performance with minimum spending.
2. WD Black 1TB Performance Hard Drive
One of the Fastest and Most Well-Balanced HDDs for Gaming
If you're looking for a hard drive for a gaming computer and the WD Blue just won't cut it, you may want to consider an upgrade to the Black. This is one of the best hard drives for gaming due to the pound-for-pound value of its storage capacity and a performance level tweaked for the needs of power users. This is an exceedingly fast hard drive for gaming, boasting a 218 MB/s transfer rate. The bulky cache of 64 MB DRAM (double that in higher capacity models) is further bolstered by Western Digital's Dynamic Cache technology.
All told, this is a well-balanced and speedy hard drive for gaming. The pricing is eminently reasonable, and the performance is a significant boost over what Western Digital has offered in the past. And if a single terabyte isn't enough for you, you can upgrade to as much as 6 TB.
3. WD Blue 1TB Hard Drive
A Legend for Reliability, Specs and Pricing
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the IronWolf is the inexpensive and compact but effective Western Digital Blue. The WD Blue is a well-recognized standard in the gaming and general computing industries. This 1 TB hard drive may be a bit boring, but it's legendary for a reason: its combination of reliable service, decent specs, and great pricing. It's a middle-of-the-road hard drive, but it's the best middle-of-the-road hard drive around.
This is a 3.5-inch hard drive, so it's built for the needs of desktop towers. You'll get reliable speeds when connecting, and its relatively compact size means it should comfortably fit into the builds of most gaming rigs. If you're looking to transfer files from your old hard drive, the free Acronis True Image cloning software turns the whole process into a very seamless experience.
4. Seagate FireCuda 2TB Hybrid Drive
A Hybrid Drive that Truly Offers the Best of Both Worlds
If you're looking to outfit your gaming machine with a hybrid hard drive, the FireCuda is worthy of your attention. This solid-state hybrid drive is built specifically with the demands of gamers in mind, combining 8GB of NAND-type flash memory with a more traditional HDD for the best of both worlds. It really knows how to make the most of its dual drives, too. The Adaptive Memory technology baked in will learn from your past behaviors when determining what data should be stored in flash memory.
The sequential read speed of 216.9 MB/s and write speed of 211.4 MB/s are easily better than a more traditional option, and that makes this a great hard drive for a gaming computer. And while it may not perform quite as well as a traditional SSD, it's very hard to argue against that price.
5. WD My Passport External Hard Drive
Power and Compatibility in a Passport-Sized Package
Whether you're looking for an external Xbox One hard drive or a solid HDD for your PC, the My Passport can fit the bill. What separates a decent external hard drive for gaming from a good hard drive for gaming is connectivity, and the My Passport offers a USB 3.0 connection to ensure quick and peppy transfer rates. It's also incredibly compact, as small as a traditional American passport (hence the name), so it can slide easily into your existing setup and be comfortably taken with you on the go.
That size is its biggest selling point. This is easily the smallest 2TB external drive around, but it also comes with some smart security and software support, both for Windows and Mac machines. The best feature here is the ability to automate the backup of your data for an additional level of peace of mind. The port is also compatible with USB 2.0 slots.
6. Seagate Xbox 2TB Game Drive
This Seagate hard drive is marketed explicitly as an Xbox One external hard drive. In practical terms, that just means that it connects via a USB 3.0 cable and sports a coloring scheme and branding appropriate to Microsoft's console. It can work just as effectively with your PC or PS4, and marketing eccentricities aside, this is a solid hard drive for both a gaming computer or an Xbox. This two-terabyte external hard drive is also incredibly portable.
Making it work with your console is the definition of simple, thanks to its plug-and-play design. The 130.9 MB/s read speed and 75.8 MB/s write speed aren't the best you'll find, but if you're a console gamer looking for a way to store your excess games and carry them with you that doesn't require anything in the way of technical knowledge, this drive is a good choice.
7. Seagate IronWolf 14TB Hard Drive
Games from AAA manufacturers are increasingly becoming ludicrous storage hogs, but the whopping 14 TB offered by the Seagate IronWolf should be more than any gamer will need for the foreseeable future. If you have the money to spend and you demand nothing but the best, the IronWolf will do the job. It's an absolute beast of a gaming hard drive. In contrast to most of its competitors, it also offers an incredible speed of 7200 RPM.
But the real selling point of this drive is its NAS format. This means that it can work as an external hard drive backup for every machine in your house. Looking to host LAN parties or living with a handful of different gamers? The IronWolf is more than enough for gaming, business, and leisure. Frankly, it's going to be a bit of overkill for most gamers, but it warrants mention as one of the most premium options.
8. Toshiba X300 5TB Gaming Hard Drive
While Western Digital and Seagate fight for dominance as the most popular HDD manufacturer, Toshiba has gone undercover in releasing one of the most affordable high-capacity options for internal hard drives around. The RPM speed and cache of this hard drive for a gaming computer are exactly the specs you'd expect for a 5 TB drive, which makes it especially surprising that it's available for only slightly over a hundred bucks. It's quite possibly the best value for storage you'll find, and it's hard to note any discernible places where Toshiba has cut corners.
The mean time between failures is limited at a respectable 1.4 million hours, but if anything does go wrong, the X300 is backed by a full two-year warranty. The performance features, admittedly, are fairly minimal, but the X300 does support native command queuing support for more efficient performance and shock sensors to provide an extra layer of security.
9. WD 2TB Portable External Gaming Drive
Like the Seagate Xbox drive, this Western Digital 2 TB model is targeted as a PS4 hard drive, but it can work as an external option for any computer or modern console that supports external drives. The result is a pretty standard WD external model. Whether you're looking to bring your games with you to a friend's house or simply want to make sure you have enough space for updates and patches, this is a great option for an external drive that doesn't require you to possess any technical knowledge.
That being said, this is a pretty stripped-down model. As with all models compatible with gaming consoles, it makes use of a USB 3.1 connection, but it doesn't have any special bells or whistles to distinguish it from the competition.
10. Toshiba L200 Internal Hard Drive
Laptop hard drives are by necessity not going to be as good as their desktop alternatives, but Toshiba makes the most out of the inherent limitations with their L200. This is first and foremost a budget option. That means decent performance, a great price, and a decent but not overwhelming amount of storage capacity. The $70 price tag for a laptop model with 2 TB is pretty good, and the balance that this model offers only enhances that value.
Since this is a laptop hard drive, energy efficiency is going to be much more important than with a 3.5" drive. Toshiba gets it right on this front. It only requires 1.5 watts per load, and it maintains low temperature levels even when running high-power tasks. It's not flashy, but it's a solid option for a lean gaming laptop.
Best Hard Drives for Gaming Buyer’s Guide
The most important question you need to ask when purchasing a gaming hard drive is whether or not it will work with your PC or console. Fortunately, there’s not a lot to consider here, and you can determine the right option for you with a quick glance at the specs. There are two key considerations to keep in mind: size and interface.
There are two ways that a hard drive can connect to your computer. SATA, or serial ATA, is one of the oldest and most common ports available in a motherboard. Whether you’re looking at a traditional HDD, an SSD, or a hybrid drive, most drives designed to be installed within your computer frame will use a SATA connection. There are some exceptions, such as in M.2 SSDs, but SATA is by far the most common. While different legacies of SATA offer different data transfer speeds, the modern standard is 6 Gbp/s. If you ever see a hard drive that promises a rate below this, it’s best avoided. The advantage of internal hard drives is that they typically run at faster speeds and offer larger storage capacities for their price.
Hard drives that employ USB connectivity are designed to be used as external drives. While they’re often a bit slower and smaller in capacity than their internal alternatives, they’re also easier and more flexible to use. Their plug-and-play interface means they can be carried with you and used with multiple consoles or PCs in much the same way as a flash drive, and they come pre-formatted to work with practically any device. If you want to use your external HDD with a console, you’ll just want to make sure that they utilize the USB 3.0 format.
Size will only be an issue if you’re looking at internal SATA drives, and the only concern here is whether your drive is designed for a desktop or laptop. 3.5″ drives are suited to slot into traditional desktops, while a 2.5″ drive is what you’ll want if you’re looking for a laptop HDD. The physical size usually implies something about the design as well. 2.5″ drives typically have a smaller amount of storage space, but they’re engineered to give off less heat and use less power.
HDD vs SSD vs SSHD
Most of the options we’ve included on our list are traditional hard drives, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only options available to you. Solid-state drives and hybrid drives are becoming increasingly popular as well, and there’s no clear winner as to which is the best hard drive for gaming.
The big selling points of HDDs are their affordability and the amount of information they can hold. You can get a hard drive with a comparatively huge storage capacity for a fraction of the price you’d pay for an SSD hard drive. HDDs also typically offer longer life spans than alternative formats. Their conventional design uses mechanical parts to operate, meaning that they’re more prone to damage if they’re dropped, and they’re also slower than an SSD or SSHD.
The durability of SSDs along with their faster read and write speeds mean that they’re becoming increasingly popular for gaming rigs, particularly for gaming laptops. The lack of any moving parts means that they’re lightning quick, and they have a significantly lower rate of error. The fact that they require less power than HDDs improves their value as an option for laptops. However, with games becoming increasingly large in size and demanding multiple patches and updates, the more limited storage capacity of SSDs often prevents them from being viable as the sole hard drive in use.
SSHDs are the best of both worlds, but that also means that they contain the flaws of both SSDs and HDDs. Their pricing falls somewhere in the middle of the two. They essentially take the advantage of volume from a traditional hard drive and use the SSD component to manage the short-term memory and speed up the reading and writing process. Since they’re essentially both an SSD and an HDD stuffed into a single package, the presence of moving parts still hinders speed and makes them more vulnerable to damage.
Seagate vs Western Digital
Seagate and Western Digital dominate the hard drive market in much the same way that NVIDIA and AMD dominate the GPU market. They naturally constitute the majority of our featured hard drives, but which offers the best HDD for gaming? The answer isn’t clearly defined.
Western Digital was the first company to start offering 2 TB hard drives, but as available hard drive capacities have become significantly larger, Western Digital has become known for offering great value on their smaller capacity offerings. If you’re looking for a 1 TB or 2 TB drive, Western Digital is probably the manufacturer to look to. They offer great pricing without sacrificing durability and security in the process. The WD Blue is a particularly good option for those shopping on a tighter budget.
Once you start looking at higher capacity internal drives, Seagate is the company to look towards. Their high-capacity drives are typically faster than the Western Digital alternatives while also being a little bit cheaper. They also offer one of the best hybrid drives for gaming you can find with their FireCuda model, and the IronWolf offers an incredible 14 TB of storage (though that is admittedly probably a bit of overkill even for the most committed gamer).
That being said, there’s not a huge discrepancy between the two companies in terms of pricing or quality. If you see a drive at a great price, go for it. Both manufacturers offer products that are largely comparable in terms of quality, and the discrepancies between them are generally minimal.
Are you looking for a great gaming hard drive? Don’t worry. There’s little to no research required to unpack the specs. Start by considering how much storage you need and whether you want a model that’s external or internal. Regardless of your personal needs, there’s sure to be at least one hard drive on our list that suits your demands.If you liked our article on hard drives for gaming, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.