Best Hard Drive for Gaming Reviewed for 2021
As the battle for gaming storage rages on, hard disk drives are still as popular as the good old days. Even with Solid State Drives being much faster, HDDs always offer the best price per gigabyte. For that reason, gamers still opt for HDD for massive storage.
If you play all sorts of games and want to keep a collection of your favorites, you may be looking at new titles that can be over 20GB in size. A 3TB hard drive is your best bet in such cases. Most gamers go with 2TB as the sweet spot between storage capacity and performance. After capacity comes long term reliability.
2.5-inch HDDs are preferred for Xbox One, PS4, and laptops, while 3.5-inch HDDs are ideal for gaming PCs. You don’t want to use a 2.5-inch in your desktop as it comes with the compromise of speed and capacity. There’s also the option for an external hard drive if you are only looking for extra storage.
Best for 2021
Seagate BarraCuda Internal Hard Drive 3TB
We didn’t go for color or any cool features when searching for the best HDD for gaming. After extensive consultation with industry leaders, looking at tests by real gamers, our best of the best title goes to Seagate Barracuda Internal 3.5-inch Hard Drive. This HDD is the fastest in real-world situations. We looked at the 3TB model ideal for storing all your games, music, videos, and essential data.
If you want one for slim PCs, we recommend going with the Western Digital 2.5-Inch Hard Drive. It is also available in massive capacity, but the price is not as steep as other WD options. And if you are out for humungous sized HDD that is equally reliable Toshiba X300 5TB is the one for you. It is destined for your gaming PC and will be there for a long time as it uses stabilizing technology for long term performance.
Best Hard Drives for Gaming Reviewed
1. Seagate Barracuda Internal 3TB Hard Drive- Best Overall for Gaming PCs
Upgrading your system is the best way to improve gaming performance. While 1TB is now considered the threshold for average gamers, 3TB is now the in-thing with pro gamers. Seagate is just as reliable as ever and now with the Barracuda 3TB hard drive with a 3.5-inch form factor, this HDD is the hotspot for storing as many games as you possibly can.
Seagate utilizes its 1TB per platter technology which helps in improving power performance for their hard drives. The hard drive has three platters of 1GB each instead of five of 600GB each. It minimizes power consumption which in turn saves on its power needs.
This hard drive can store up to 120 games of 25GB in size. It is an excellent option if you keep a collection and play just about everything. As such you don’t need to make compromises on the storage capacity. With a 7200RPM speed and 64MB cache memory, the hard drive provides for swift system and game load times.
You can choose from 1TB to 8TB of this hard drive when you want more or less storage capacity. Its 3.5 size is a good candidate for desktops as well as all in one PCs, home servers, and even direct-attached storage devices. It is a reliable model that delivers on its features.
Flaws but not Dealbreakers
This hard drive will not fit in consoles like PS4 and PS4 Pro; it is 15mm in size and the space available for consoles is only 9.5mm unless you are choosing a 1TB or 2TB Seagate Barracuda. This is still an amazing product and why we named it the best hard drive for gaming in 2021.
- High spinning speed at 7200RPM
- Straightforward installation instructions
- Runs cool and quiet
- It does not come with SATA and power cables
- Customer service could be better
2. Western Digital PC hard drive 2.5-Inch- Best for Small Factor PCs
WD is renowned for reliability. If you are looking for a performance-oriented gaming hard drive without spending a fortune, this is the one for you. Being a 2.5-inch hard drive, large desktops with 3.5-inch form factor are not a good fit with this drive. With a 9.5mm profile, this drive will fit gaming consoles and most laptops but don’t try it on an ultrabook.
If you are a gamer but also a creative designer, you will like working with this hard drive. This drive runs at 7200RPM with 64MB cache memory. It allows for fast program-loading speeds which is ideal for gaming rigs. It can be as fast 231.2MB/s read, and 281.9MB/s write speeds.
You will feel the benefits of additional speed, especially for gaming. The drive uses dynamic cache which optimizes and allocates cache between read and writes thereby improving speed.
Even better, this drive invests in NoTouch Ramp Load Technology. It positions the recording head safely off the disk surface which protects your data in the process. The drive comes with a 5-year warranty so you can trust in the quality of this drive.
Flaws but not Dealbreakers
WD have strict reasons for not replacing their drives. You should be careful to inspect yours before installing it because you could get one from a bad batch and the company may not replace it if it used in the poor condition it may have come in.
- Fits small factor desktops and laptops
- High rotation speed
- Decent 5-year warranty
- Straightforward to install
- Strict warranty policy
- Louder than what’s normal on laptops
3. Seagate Barracuda 2.5-inch 1TB- Best Cheap for Laptops
The Seagate Barracuda 1TB is another excellent choice for laptops. Even though it has a 7mm form factor, it still fits consoles perfectly. Even more Impressive is its speeds which is just awesome to match gaming performance.
This drive is ideal if you don’t plan on storing lots of media files and games. It is for the casual gamer who needs to store their favorite titles and no more. Looking at its read and write speeds, this drive is slower than the Western Digital clocking in at 168MB/s read and 154MB/s write speeds.
It has lower rotation speeds at 5400RPM which is understandable for the price.
However, Seagate Barracuda 1TB has 128MB cache memory. You may not realize the full benefits of the slightly high speeds, but it is helpful when you have a highly demanding game that will do better at high load speeds. It uses multi-tier caching technology to improve performance while at the same time lowering power consumption.
If you have a larger bay, say 15mm, you can still get this drive in that size. This feature makes it possible to use the drive with slim desktops as well as All-in-One PCs which is great news for photography and video editors.
Flaws but not Dealbreakers
Although the Seagate Barracuda is fast at transfer speeds, it slows down when it runs out of cache memory. It is also plagued by formats that can slow the read and write speeds even further. That’s why it’s for the cost-effective casual gamer rather than the seasoned gamer.
- Can fit in gaming consoles
- Up to 5TB Barracuda options
- Multi-tier caching technology
- Low power consumption
- Only two years of warranty
- Above 3tB options don’t fit in consoles
4. Seagate FireCuda SSHD 3.5-Inch 2TB- Best Solid State Hybrid Drive for Gaming
Available in only two storage capacities; 1TB and 2TB, the Seagate FireCuda SSHD is the best choice for those looking for superior speeds and massive storage capacity. This drive has speeds similar to SSD without compromising on the storage you get while remaining relatively affordable.
This drive boasts five times the speed of 7200RPM. As you’ll see in our buyers’ guide, 7200RPM is the highest relevant rotation speed in a hard drive. Higher than that and you’ll want to get SSD instead. In the case of the FireCuda, Seagate invests in 8GB NAND type flash memory and a hard drive which work together over Intelligent Firmware.
This drive is made especially for demanding gaming and programming systems. It has a 3.5-inch form factor ideal for desktops. It uses Adaptive Memory Technology which learns what you access the most with time. The drive then decides what to store in flash memory which improves load and boot up times. High speed is attractive for any gamer as we are not always a patient bunch.
Another feature we like is that the drive still uses multi-tier caching technology to improve performance. The drive enjoys data transfer speeds of up to 210MB/s. It is unlike any mechanical hard drive that you’ll encounter at the same capacity.
Flaws but not Dealbreakers
Something that keeps appearing with this drive is that it still suffers when you have lots of applications opened. Its 8GB high-performance flash memory is still not enough. It is not going to be faster than SSDs.
- Attractive price for SSHD
- Enjoys SSD boot and load times
- Can boot Windows in 10 seconds
- Stores up to 80 of 25GB games
- 5-year warranty
- Can suffer when overloaded with applications
- Does not include any cables
5. Seagate 4TB Game Drive for Xbox One
Since all Xbox One games that matter are only available for download, you will need more than enough space for everything you want to play. It will expand your console’s storage capacity by 4TB which is solid for most people. The drive matches the console’s colors, and it weighs only 6 ounces.
The Seagate Game Drive for Xbox One works with Xbox 360 too. It will plug directly to your console, and you can start transferring right away. The drive will automatically set itself up and comes with a fast USB 3.0 interface- except for having to format the drive when using it for storing games.
It will not accept media files when used for games so you must choose whether or not you want to store media files.
It is one or the other which may not work for everyone. When you want it for movies and music for playing on Xbox One, you should not format the drive when you first insert it to the system. You’ll like that since it is an external drive, you can store as many games as you want and use them in a different location.
The 4TB game drive comes with a two-month Game Pass. It is an attractive bonus especially because Microsoft continues to include first-party games like Sea of Thieves.
Flaws but not Dealbreakers
For the Xbox 360, you have to stick the 2TB game drive because it will not support the 4TB model.
- Fast 3.0 USB interface
- Portable design at only 4.6 inches long
- Sets up in a simple fashion
- Data transfer at up to 140MB/s speeds
- Does not need a power cable
- Can only be used for games only or media only
- Slightly pricier than drives offering similar storage capacity
6. Western Digital My Book Desktop External Drive
When upgrading to a larger hard drive on your laptop is not an option, the next thing you want is an external drive that will not fill up as soon as you download ten games. That’s where the Western Digital My Book external hard drive comes in.
This hard drive gives you massive room while remaining relatively cheap and portable. It has a USB 3.0 USB interface that is also compatible with USB 2.0. It is fast and reliable in the long run. The drive is also backward-compatible with older and current Windows and Macs.
Since most games happen on Windows, we don’t see you ever having trouble with this drive. It looks pretty much like My Passport which is the smaller version of the drive. It supports 256-AES Encryption and is also preloaded with WD backup software. It offers password protection which gives you not only data privacy, but it limits unauthorized access.
If 3TB is not enough for you, this drive is available in up to 10TB capacity. It is a nice addition to your hard drives to back up your data in a drive whose reliability you can trust. You can store more than 80 games on the 3TB model as most games are usually around 500MB.
This drive also supports Apple Time Machine backup and is faster than most drives at its price range. It has speeds of up to 143MB/s read and138.4MB/s write. It is an appropriate pick for most games as it will not take forever to transfer all your library.
Flaws but not Dealbreakers
This hard drive does not USB-C which means it is a bit slower than hard drives at a higher price tag featuring USB-C compatibility.
- Password protected
- Offers hardware encryption
- Compatible with Apple Time Machine
- Offers up to 8TB compatibility
- 3-year warranty
- Needs reformatting for Mac
7. Toshiba X300 Performance Desktop Internal Drive - Best High-Capacity
Toshiba is a high-end internal drive designed for high-performance gaming. Offering from 4-14TB of storage capacity options, it is appropriate for the most demanding systems.
The 5TB drive gives you 128MB of cache memory and 7200RPM of rotation speed. You will enjoy nice load and boot speeds that will make gaming more satisfying.
With its massive capacity, you never have to worry about how large the next title will be. It can accommodate a whole library and more. This drive features accurate positioning for accurate and stable recording unique to it. It does not suffer from head-track alignments that are caused by vibrations.
Toshiba uses a dual stage actuator which not only improves precision but it also and makes read and write speeds faster than drives that do not use the same technology. With the help of Perpendicular Magnetic Recording Technology and Tunnel Magneto-Resistive Technology, this drive is exceptionally stable, and it delivers three times the storage density of conventional recording.
The storage can be accounted by the fact that Toshiba uses 1.33TB PMR which have higher aerial density than 1TB PMR platters. It comes with an internal shock sensor and ramp loading technology. The drive is built to prevent data loss and park securely which prevents damage when transporting your PC.
Toshiba X300 has a lot to offer the gamer, professional creative designer, and programmer.
Flaws but not Dealbreakers
This drive is at a similar price as most SSDs. If you need more speed and performance than high capacity, it is better to go for an SSD.
- Up to 14TB storage capacity
- Dual-stage actuator
- More stable than drives in its price range
- Uses Perpendicular Magneto-Resistive technology
- Uses stabilizing technologies
- A bit pricey
- Only 2 years of warranty
The best hard drive for gaming may never come close to the performance of an SSD. But hard drives are cheaper and offer high storage capacities.
It is still possible to come close to SSD performance with a Solid State Hybrid Drive like the Seagate FireCuda 2TB. It features 8GB NAND type flash storage to facilitate speedier load and boot speeds.
For console-oriented drives, Seagate Game Drive for Xbox One is a unique drive. It extends Xbox One console storage while providing portability and fast transfer speeds.
And for the largest capacity drive, we give it to Toshiba X300 to bring it home. The brand has invested in stabilizing technologies that help protect data for the longest time possible.
Best Best External Hard Drives for Gaming; Buyers Guide
Capacity is just one of the things that goes into what you need to consider in a hard drive for gaming. You have to look at the rotation speed, physical size, power consumption, and the nifty stuff like cache size and the warranty.
Here’s a detailed look at each of the features that matter.
What are your storage needs? 1TB is the minimum storage for console and laptops if you are going to game in 2021 without the need of an upgrade before the year ends. New games come in massive sizes some as large 105GB like the latest shooter in town-Red Dead Redemption 2. Not to mention favorite titles (Battlefield 4) that can take up over 70GB of storage space if you choose the premium edition.
For gaming PCs, you want a PC that can handle high-capacity over 2TB, so you never have to worry about new entries.
Still, on capacity, you will also want to look at SSHDs (Solid State Hybrid Drives). These are hard drives with a bit of fast SSD in them. They can run systems faster since they have temporary storage to give your system fast boot up times. SSHDs are more expensive and are important if your computer has room for only one hard drive.
How fast your system starts up and games load up is determined by the rotation speed of your HDD. Calculated in revolutions per minute (RPM), a high number indicates better performance. But it can come with increased noise levels. HDDs can go as high as 15,000 RPM. But such high RPM cannot outdo SSD. As such, you will want to stick between 5400-7200RPM. It will give you a balance of high speed without lots of noise.
For hard drives to have fast loading times, they have some small memory built in that works much like RAM. Cache allows the HDD to access random data that is important in the processing of commands. You don’t need too much of it. 64MB is better than 32MB but not worse than 128MB. It's like comparing 16GB and 32GB RAM for gaming. Games can’t take advantage of more meaning; only slight improvement is seen with increased cache memory.
Hard drives have spinning parts in them. This means they will not last as long as other components that do have moving parts. This is where the brand comes in. The most reliable hard drives are from Seagate, Western Digital, and Toshiba. These brands have proved consistency in quality over the years.
Nevertheless, you still have to back up your data.