The best hard drive for gaming today is an SSD. Jokes aside, today, SSDs are the ones that rule and deliver the best performance results. For a long time, hard drives were the ones to do that, but time has surpassed them. Although they are still used in a large number of gaming computers, the fact is that their importance is deteriorating every day.
The thing that keeps them in life is their price. SSDs are faster, USB flash drives are more practical, but when looking at the capacity vs. price ratio, hard drives are the clear winners. They offer the most capacity for the least possible cost of all the drives.
Although they are pushed out of focus, there are still models that deserve attention and deliver decent performance, worth mentioning. Here are a couple of things you should keep in mind when choosing one of them.
How to Choose the Best Hard Drive for Gaming
For a number of people, this is the most important thing. Since things are getting larger and larger over time, including games, there is never enough space. Therefore, always go for more, you can’t fail with that.
Read/write speeds are important because they directly influence how fast your applications will open, how much time you will need to transfer a file or files from one location to another, etc. That’s why it is crucial for them to be as fast as possible. No one wants to spend half of their day waiting for a 25GB game to transfer from one hard drive to another. In other words, always go for the biggest possible speed.
Nowadays, cache isn’t as important as it used to be. Between a 64MB and 32MB cache hard drive, you won’t notice any serious differences (the game will load some 10% faster, or similar) and most of the today’s hard drives have that amount of cache or above. It is advisable to choose the one that has larger values since it will be faster by at least a couple of percents, but that is not a mandatory thing – you won’t lose much.
Although most of the people forget about it, a warranty is one of the most important things when buying hardware these days. There is a constant demand for a decrease in production costs and the production of cheaper and cheaper products, and as a result of that, devices nowadays last much less then they use too. Therefore, a warranty is basically your only protection against the decreased quality of the today’s hardware.
1. Seagate Game Drive for Xbox One 4TB (STEA4000402)
The best hard drive for Xbox One can only be a drive that is dedicated to it, and Seagate Game Drive for Xbox One 4TB (STEA4000402) is exactly that. With 4TB of storage, this drive offers tons of space for storing all of your favorite games. Depending on their size, it can keep more than 100 titles, offering you a long time of entertainment and pleasure on your Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox 360.
Compact, with a plug and play function, USB 3.0 connection, 2-year warranty and very respectable reading speed of 140MB/s, this drive is a great solution for your Xbox. Yes, there are cheaper alternatives, but not that cheaper. With this drive, you get everything you need in one package – a small, portable solution that will bring a new dimension to your Xbox gaming.
- Xbox dedicated
- Decent performance
- More expensive than the alternatives
2. WD Black 1TB (WD10JPLX)
“Black” in the WD hard drives names symbolizes the quality and high performance. WD Black 1TB (WD10JPLX) is no exception in the quality department, but when it comes to performance, it just needs to deliver more, especially considering its premium cost.
Different from its 3.5” version, which offers high-performance speeds that are among the best in the class, 2.5” offers the more mediocre read/write speeds of 110MB/s. It’s not something you would expect from a premium product. The thing that slightly improves the impression is a 5-year warranty, a testimony of its longevity.
This is a decent hard drive that you will probably use for years and years in the future. No, its performance isn’t the best but is good enough. WD Black 1TB (WD10JPLX) has all that it should have to be among the best gaming hard drives, but its premium price is something that prevents it from becoming that.
- 5-years warranty
- Too expensive
- Modest performance for the price
3. Seagate 2TB FireCuda 2.5-Inch (ST2000LX001)
This drive is a 2.5” version of a Seagate FireCuda 2TB (ST2000DX002). They both have 8GB of NAND flash, the same capacity, and use same technologies (such as Adaptive Memory that stores the most accessed data on the flash drive and make it more accessible and Multi-tier caching technology that improves data loading times). Another important shared characteristics is that they are both primarily made for the gamers.
Although so similar, there are still some differences, especially in the performance department. Maximum read/write speeds of 140MB/s are drastically slower than the 3.5” versions 210MB/s, but that is expected from a 2.5” hard drive.
Seagate 2TB FireCuda (ST2000LX001) is a great solution if you are limited with both money and existence of only one SATA connector on your notebook, but you still want more storage and better performance than the regular hard drives deliver. You won’t get the full SSD speeds but will have the value, capacity, and fairly decent performance – everything that the best gaming hard drive should deliver.
- 8GB of NAND flash
- Adaptive Memory
- Very fast
- There could be more flash memory
4. WD My Book 4TB (WDBBGB0040HBK-NESN)
WD My Book 4TB is a “big brother” of WD My Passport, in both size and storage capacity. Other differences are colors; My Passport comes in six different ones, while My Book offers only the basic black. Besides that, they are very similar and share some features, such as 256-AES encryption and WD Backup software.
When talking about WD My Book 4TB alone, it is important to mention that there is no USB Type-C support, which automatically prevents its use with a MacBook without an adapter. Also, some of its competition, such as Seagate Backup Plus Hub, offers additional USB ports and work also as a hub, which is a nice feature that WD My Book 4TB lacks.
On the other hand, its read/write speed of 170MB/s is around 50% better than the My Passport’s, but still 10MB/s slower than the Seagate Backup Plus Hub’s speed. Don’t get us wrong, this drive is still a great storage solution and well worth buying.
- Compact design
- Easy-to-use software
- Great encryption
- No capacity indicator
- No USB Type-C support
- 2-year warranty
5. Seagate Expansion 4TB (STEA4000400)
Most things said about the WD Elements are also worth for the Expansion, and are the best summed up in the sentence “a lot of storage for a low price”. Here is also no backup software or any type of data protection software. Luckily, it can be easily used for storage on both Mac and Windows, and the only requirement is for the hard drive to be reformatted to HFS+ (Mac) or NTFS, FAT, etc. (Windows).
It’s read/write speeds are around 120MB/s, which is more than good for an external hard drive that transfers data via USB 3.0. All in all, a decent, compact external hard drive that offers great speeds for this type of drive and specifications. When compared to the similar-type competition, its speeds are actually among the best, which is a big plus for it.
Although it doesn’t give a ton of features, those that it does provide are excellent and make it a great value for money, and in this type of drives, surely one of the best hard drives for gaming on your PC, notebook and console.
- Very fast
- Great capacity vs. price ratio
- 1-year warranty
- no security features
- no free backup software
6. WD Elements 4TB (WDBU6Y0040BBK-WESN)
WD Elements 4TB is a drive that doesn’t offer tons of features besides the basic ones. Because there is no encryption or password protection, this is not the best choice for keeping your confidential data, but since you are mostly going to use it for storing games or for game consoles, this is an excellent value for money.
Its read/write speeds, that are around 95MB/s, are expected from the USB 3.0 based external hard drive and are nothing huge, but are up to standards. When compared to its direct competition such as Seagate Expansions, it doesn’t offer that much of a difference. The expansion is a bit faster, but Elements costs less.
Its bad sides are summed up in its 1-year warranty, which is more than disappointing, and the already mentioned lack of encryption. If there wasn’t for the warranty issue, this would surely be the best external hard drive for gaming for such a price.
- Good capacity vs. price ratio
- 1-year warranty
- no security features
- no free backup software
7. Toshiba X300 6TB (HDWE160XZSTA)
Toshiba X300 6TB offers a great performance and a large capacity in one hard drive. This is one of the best Toshiba’s hard drives, with a standard rotational speed of 7200 rpm and fairly big 128MB of cache. According to its performance, X300 is basically positioned between the more mainstream P300 and the NAS dedicated N300.
Its features include an internal shock sensor and the ramp loading technology that are responsible for data protection and today’s must-haves, a dual-stage actuator that prevents read/write heads from misaligning when looking for the data (a very common problem because of increased density of hard drive platters). X300 is very fast with sequential read/write speeds of over 200MB/s and it gives a very quiet performance, even with a full load.
This is a solid hard drive, with a great price per TB ratio, which makes it a very good choice for gamers who need many titles installed on their PC at the same time. X300 is not the best hard drive for gaming according to its performance, but more due to a number of things combined, like its capacity, speed and price.
- Decent performance
- Internal shock sensor
- Dual-stage actuator
- 2-year warranty
8. Seagate FireCuda 2TB (ST2000DX002)
Seagate FireCuda 2TB is a hybrid hard drive that combines the speed of NAND flash memory (8GB) and large capacity of a traditional hard drive (2TB). Thanks to the combination of these two technologies, this drive delivers amazing performance, with sequential read/write speeds of over 210MB/s.
Due to its Adaptive Memory technology, this drive analyses your frequently accessed data and stores the most accessed data on the flash drive. Then, with the help of Multi-tier caching technology, it makes loading times for that data, and the overall hard drive performance, much better.
Although this drive can be used for all the purposes, it is good to know that was actually primarily made for gamers. This is a rebrand of a Seagate SSHD (Solid State Hybrid Drive) series that proved to be a good budget solution for everyone who wanted better hard drive capabilities, but also the storage capacity.
Seagate FireCuda 2TB holds the same 5-year warranty as its major competitor WD Black 2TB, but has higher sequential read/write speeds and more importantly, it costs less, which puts it in a really good position among the other gaming hard drives.
- NAND flash memory
- Sequential read/write speeds of over 210MB/s
- Good price
- 5-year warranty
- Sometimes there is too little flash memory
9. WD Blue 1TB (WD10EZEX)
A limited budget is always a problem, but luckily, there are usually quality solutions that can help you cope with it. Western Digital 1TB Blue (EZEX) is among those solutions – affordable, with a decent performance, specifications and a capacity.
WD Blue has a solid read/write speed of 150MB/s, the rotational speed of 7200 rpm and 64MB of cache. Nothing special, but it’s up to today’s norms. Where this hard drive shines is its combination of affordable price, good performance and reasonable reliability. In that department, its only competition is Toshiba DT01ACA100 (upgraded Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.D 1TB), that is a bit cheaper but offers only 32MB of cache and, according to some rumors, has a bigger failure rate.
All in all, this drive is a good solution for being used as an addition to SSD, but also as a single hard drive for your OS. Of course, it is recommended to use an SSD for gaming, but WD Blue is a good all-around hard drive that handles every role well. If you are looking for the best 1TB hard drive for gaming, for small bucks, WD Blue is the most reasonable choice.
- Good price
- Decent capacity per dollar ratio
- Read/write performance
10. WD Black 2TB (WD2003FZEX)
If you want the top performance out of your hard drive, WD Black Performance Drive 2TB is the right fit for you. This is the hard drive made for the power users with an excellent combination of performance, price and capacity.
Its rotational speed of 7200 rpm and 64MB of cache are up to today’s standards, but its read/write speed of 180MB/s is among the best. One of the interesting facts about its officially declared read/write speeds is that in the benchmarks, these speeds are even higher, which is very rare these days.
One of its rare downsides is that it is a bit loud when in full action, but besides that, this is a great successor to the old Caviar Black hard drives series. Its 5-years warranty is the best proof of how much durability you can expect from it.
If you are looking for the best hard drive for gaming, this is surely one of the best choices you can make. Fast, reliable and with a history of quality that Black series built for ages.
- 5-year warranty
- premium performance
- A bit loud
11. Seagate BarraCuda 3TB (ST3000DM008)
Seagate BarraCuda 3TB ST3000DM008 is one of the newest hard drives in the famous Seagate BarraCuda series. Just like its predecessor, it has a rotational speed of 7200 rpm and 64MB of cache, but a bit higher sequential speeds (about 12% faster) and very fast read/write speeds of 200MB/s.
This is basically an upgraded version of the “notorious” ST3000DM001 version. That version allegedly had higher failure rates than the competition, which even lead to a lawsuit against the Seagate. Luckily, there is no such information for the ST3000DM008 model.
ST3000DM008 is a multipurpose hard drive that can be very well used both as storage and as a primary drive. Thanks to its large capacity you will have enough space to install all of your favorite games and have room for much more.
Although this is a solid drive, sold in large quantities, and there is no warning information like with its predecessor, be careful with it and at least back up all the important data to another drive to prevent any possible damage from sudden failure. Too much caution won’t cost you much but might save you from future headaches.
- Good performance
- Large capacity
- Only 2 years of warranty
Although the days of hard drives are counted, and in some 10 to 20 years, they will completely disappear from the computer world, they still have a lot to say. They will soon become history, but until then, enjoy in their best editions ever. We’re sure you’ll find the right one for you in our list, so – happy gaming!