If you’re building or upgrading a gaming computer, chances are your priority will be CPU and GPU. And that’s how it should be, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take things into consideration. Hard drives may be low on the list of necessary components, but that doesn’t mean they don’t play an important role in your build.
A good hard drive ensures you have the space to store all your favorite games, but it can also impact performance. In our reviews, we only highlight the best hard drives for gaming. We’ve also put together a beginner-friendly guide that can help you understand the important features and specs to consider when shopping.
6 Best Hard Drive for Gaming PC – Reviews 2022
1. Seagate BarraCuda 2TB Hard Drive
The BarraCuda is a 2TB hard drive for gaming that costs around $50. Normally that would and should be a red flag, but Seagate has a reputation for delivering quality performance, and it’s a reputation they live up to admirably with this budget PC hard drive. In fact, it boasts of being the fastest desktop hard drive thanks to its 6 Gbps transfer compatibility.
This is a SATA hard drive that happily puts performance above all other considerations. A speed of 7200 rpm is supplemented by an exception of 64 MB of cache. And while it sacrifices any illusion of quiet speed or power-saving features in the process, that’s not what it was designed for. This is an infinitely powerful option, and the fact that it comes at such a reasonable price makes it an incredible bargain for gamers who want maximum performance with minimum expense.
2. Seagate IronWolf 14TB Hard Drive
Games from AAA manufacturers are increasingly becoming ridiculous storage hogs, but the 14 TB offered by the Seagate IronWolf should be more than any gamer will need for the indefinite future. If you have the cash to burn and absolutely demand the best, the IronWolf can provide it. It’s a real workhorse. And unlike most of its competitors, it offers an incredible rotational speed of 7200 rpm.
But the real selling point of this drive is its NAS format. This means it can work as a backup external hard drive for every machine in your home. Looking to host LAN parties or live with a handful of different players? The IronWolf is more than enough for gaming, business and leisure. Frankly, this will be a bit of a stretch for most players, but it deserves to be mentioned as one of the more interesting options.
3. Western Digital WD Blue 1TB
In contrast to the IronWolf is the inexpensive, compact, but efficient Western Digital Blue. The Blue is a recognized standard in the gaming and computing industry in general, and that 1TB hard drive might be a bit boring, but it’s legendary for a reason: its combination of reliable service, decent specs and a great price. It’s a middle of the road hard drive, but it’s the best middle of the road hard drive.
It’s a 3.5-inch hard drive, so it’s designed for desktop tower needs. You’ll get reliable speeds when connecting, and its relatively compact size means it should fit comfortably into the builds of most gaming rigs. And if you’re looking to transfer files from your old hard drive, the free software Acronis True Image turns the whole process into a very smooth experience.
Whether you are looking for an XBox One external hard drive or a computer, the My Passport service can do the trick. What separates a good external hard drive for gaming from a good hard drive for gaming is connectivity, and My Passport fortunately offers a USB 3.0 connection to ensure fast and efficient transfer rates. It’s also incredibly compact, as small as a traditional US passport, so it can easily fit into your existing setup and be taken comfortably with you on the go.
This size is the main selling point. It’s arguably the smallest 2TB external drive out there, but it also comes with smart security and software support for both Windows and Mac machines. The best feature is the ability to automate your data backup for an added level of peace of mind. The port is also compatible with USB 2.0 slots.
This Seagate hard drive is explicitly marketed as an Xbox One external hard drive. Practically, that just means it connects via a USB 3.0 cable and sports a color scheme and branding to match Microsoft’s console. It can work just as effectively with your PC or PS4. But marketing quirks aside, this is still a solid hard drive for a gaming PC or XBox. This two terabyte external hard drive is incredibly portable.
Getting it to work with your console is the definition of simple. All you have to do is plug and play. The 130.9MB/s read speed and 75.8MB/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 take them with you that requires no technical knowledge, this player is a good choice.
6. Disque dur de performance WD Black 1TB
If you are looking for a hard drive for a gaming computer and the WD Blue is not enough, you can consider upgrading to the Black. It is one of the best hard drives for gaming due to the pound-for-pound value of its storage capacity and a level of performance suited to the needs of power users. This is an extremely fast gaming hard drive, with a transfer rate of 218MB/s. The massive 64MB cache of DRAM (double that of larger capacity models) is further enhanced by Dynamic Cache technology from Western Digital.
All in all, it’s a well-balanced and fast gaming hard drive. The price is eminently reasonable, and the performance is significantly better than what Western Digital has offered in the past. And if a single terabyte isn’t enough for you, you can upgrade to 6 TB.
Best Hard Drives for Gaming – Buying Guide
The most important question you need to ask yourself when buying a gaming hard drive is whether or not it will work with your PC or console. Luckily, there’s not much to consider here, and you can determine the right option for you by taking a quick look at the specs. There are two considerations to keep in mind: size and interface.
A hard drive can connect to your computer in two ways. SATA, or Serial ATA, is one of the oldest and most common ports available on a motherboard. Whether it’s a traditional hard drive, SSD, or hybrid drive, any drive designed to be installed as part of your computer will use a SATA drive. While different SATA heritages offer different data transfer speeds, the modern standard is 6 Gbp/s. If you ever see a hard drive that promises a lower rate, it’s better to avoid it. The advantage of internal hard drives is that they generally operate at higher speeds and offer greater storage capacities for their price.
Hard drives that use USB connectivity are designed to be used as external drives. While they’re often a little slower and less capable than their in-house alternatives, they’re also easier and more flexible to use. Their “plug and play” interface allows them to be taken with you and used with several consoles or PCs in the same way as a USB key, and they are pre-formatted to work with practically any device. If you want to use your external hard drive with a console, just make sure they use 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 suitable for traditional desktop computers, while a 2.5″ drive is what you need if you are looking for a hard drive for your laptop. Physical size usually implies something in design as well. 2.5″ drives typically have smaller storage space, but are designed to generate less heat and consume less power.
HDD vs SSD vs SSHD
Most of the options we’ve included in 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 also growing in popularity, and there’s no clear winner when it comes to which is the best hard drive for gaming.
The main selling points of hard drives are their affordability and the amount of information they can hold. You can get a hard drive with relatively huge storage capacity for a fraction of the price you would pay for an SSD hard drive. But their conventional design that uses mechanical parts means they’re more susceptible to damage if dropped, and they’re slower than an SSD or SSHD. Another advantage of hard drives is that they provide a longer lifespan.
The durability of SSDs along with their faster read and write speeds have made them increasingly popular for gaming rigs and especially for gaming laptops. The lack of moving parts means that they are lightning fast and have a significantly lower error rate. And the fact that they consume less power than hard drives enhances their value as a laptop option. But with games getting bigger and requiring multiple patches and updates, the more limited storage capacity of SSDs often prevents them from being viable as the only hard drive in use.
SSDs are the best of both worlds, but that also means they contain the shortcomings of SSDs and HDDs. Their price is somewhere in between. Since it’s essentially an SSD and HDD in one enclosure, the presence of moving parts further hampers speed and makes them more vulnerable to damage. But they basically take advantage of the volume of a traditional hard drive and use the SSD component to conserve short-term memory and speed up the read and write process.
Seagate vs. Western Digital
Seagate and Western Digital dominate the hard drive market the same way NVIDIA and AMD dominate the GPU market. They naturally make up the majority of our featured hard drives, but what is the best hard drive for gaming? The answer is not clearly defined.
Western Digital was the first company to offer 2TB hard drives, but as available capacities have become much larger, Western Digital has earned a reputation for offering excellent value for money on its smaller capacity offerings. If you’re looking for a 1TB or 2TB drive, Western Digital is probably the manufacturer to go to. They offer great prices without sacrificing durability and safety. The WD Blue is a particularly good option for those shopping on a tighter budget.
Once you start considering larger capacity internal drives, Seagate is the company to turn to. Their high-capacity drives are generally faster than Western Digital’s alternatives while being a bit cheaper. They also offer one of the best hybrid drives for gaming with their FireCuda model, and the IronWolf offers an incredible 14TB of storage (although that’s probably a bit of a stretch for even the most committed gamer).
That being said, there is not much difference between the two companies in terms of price or quality. If you see a car at a bargain price, go for it. Both manufacturers offer products that are broadly comparable in terms of quality, and the differences between them are usually minimal.
Looking for an awesome gaming hard drive? Do not worry. There’s little to no research needed to unpack the specs. Start by determining how much storage you need and whether you want an external or internal model. Whatever your personal needs, there’s sure to be at least one hard drive on our list that meets your requirements.