If you’re in the market for a good new hard drive you certainly won’t have a problem with the variety. There is a plethora of external and internal hard drives available, with loads of storage options and at affordable prices. Where you might get a little overwhelmed is finding the best hard drive for gaming because of all the options.
Our Top Picks
|Best Overall Hard Drive||Samsung 850 PRO - 256GB||256 GB||N/A|
|Best External Hard Drive||LaCie 2TB Rugged Thunderbolt||2 TB||5400 RPM|
|Best Internal Hard Drive||WD Blue 1TB SATA||1,000 GB||7200 RPM|
|Best Portable Hard Drive||4TB Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive||4 TB||N/A|
Types of Gaming Hard Drives to Choose From
There are essentially two types of hard drive available:
- An internal hard drive
- An external hard drive
An internal hard drive is inside your laptop or desktop tower, while an external hard drive is exactly that; it has its own casing outside of your PC and connects via a USB or some other kind of interface.
That’s the basic difference. They both store operating systems, and programs as well as all your data, including documents, music, videos and photos, in other words your extremely valuable stuff that you don’t want to lose. They are also backup for when there is some kind of a failure, and extra storage space, should you need it.
Inside or Out?
The hard drive you choose is very much a matter of personal preference, keeping in mind that an internal hard drive will need you to be fiddling inside of your computer; and unless you’re comfortable doing this and consider yourself to be a bit of a ‘tech-pert’ you’ll need a company or professional to do this for you, which will cost you money and they might not always be available to assist when you need them.
An external hard drive is simple to work with as they require very little setup you simply connect it, let your computer recognize it and you’re good to game. To add to their convenience they are usually pre-formatted, again requiring very little effort from you – your PC generally formats it and does the hard work.
We here at Gear For Gaming prefer the external hard drive because of its portability. It is impractical and almost impossible (unless you’re really determined) to carry your PC tower with you when you’re popping out to friends or traveling. An external drive is the perfect choice for sharing files and storage space, traveling with large files to work, popping round to a friend’s house or a client.
HDD vs. SSD
An HDD or hard drive disk is the traditional spinning hard drive which has been around pretty much forever, or at least since 1956. Way back then an HDD was about two feet across and could only store a few megabytes but today they’re about the size of a mobile phone (not the smallest ones) and can hold a massive 10 terabytes or TBs.
A Solid State Drive has become much more common in recent years and is gaining in popularity. An SSD has no moving parts, using only flash memory; that’s essentially the main difference between the two.
So which one do we recommend? Well, the SSD uses less power and are generally smaller. They are also faster at writing and reading data and they require less power. Unlike an HDD they don’t have any moving parts which means they make less noise and can last longer. But it’s not all moonlight and roses with SSDs. Currently they are more expensive and have smaller data capacities than HDDs, but we suspect this will change soon.
Regardless of which one you opt for it’s important to have a Plan D (Data) in place because at some point your drive will fail, and you don’t want to be left high and dry. Our potential life-saving tip, or at least data-saving one is to make sure you have some kind of backup. Trust us on this. You’ll thank us later.
What to Look for When Buying a Hard Drive
Hard drives are made by a number of manufacturers, some have been around for ages and others are fairly new to the market. Our advice is to read reviews (like this one), ask friends in the know or check online buying sites for customer feedback. We also suggest sticking to the better-known brands like Toshiba, Samsung, Seagate, Western Digital (WD) and Hitachi, to name a few. It’s a good idea to look at the warranty that it comes and while we’re not suggesting you don’t support smaller companies we do suggest not buying untrusted brands.
We don’t mean how big it is compared to a credit card or a mobile phone when we refer to the size; we’re looking at what it can hold, like 1TB, 2TB or 6TB. The smallest ones you can get are 32GB but they’re not very popular, and as a result are hard to find.
The most popular sizes at the moment are 1TB and 2TBs, probably because they’re able to hold a fair amount of data and are affordable. If you’re playing the latest games on your PC you’ll need a hard drive with a bigger capacity. Also remember, if you’re planning to save everything in one place, to keep in mind how much you’ll be storing with your videos, images and music.
- USB Connections
You’ll find hard disc drives with USB 2.0 and 3.0 connectivity ports. The USB 3.0 gives at least 5x more speed than a 2.0 during data transfer. We don’t consider this to be a major factor when choosing connections as both are pretty good and most people won’t notice the difference in speed.
- RPM Value
The more the RPM the faster the hard disc. For PCs there are mainly two options; 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM HDDs. For gaming the 7200 RPM is 33% faster and will give you good game load time.
To recap quickly – an external and internal drive is very much a personal choice; deciding on an HDD or an SSD is primarily budget driven. If you’re working with a conservative budget then a good gaming HDD is perfect while an SSD is for those who have a more to spend.
They both do the job, and most do it well. Our review includes the best overall gaming hard drive, the best internal, the best external and the best portable. We’ve (hopefully) covered the bases keeping all our readers in mind in terms of pricing and availability, as well as performance.
Best Overall Gaming Hard Drive
Samsung 850 PRO – 256GB – 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE256BW)
- Stellar performance
- 10 year warranty
- Great endurance rating
- Fairly pricey
- No extras
We need to say upfront that finding the best overall gaming hard drive wasn’t easy because there are that many good ones available but you’ll be pleased to know we were extra thorough to ensure we featured what we considered to be the best SSD around, and we think we found it – the Samsung 850 PRO – 256GB.
When buying an SSD you need to look at a few things, from the warranty and the drive to any extras that are included. While the Samsung 850 PRO is one helluva drive performance and guarantee wise, there are no extras.But we don’t definitely don’t consider that to be a reason not to get it. It’s a gorgeous looking piece of equipment with a brushed metal finish and it uses the slim 7mm form, which means it’s easier to fit inside laptops. The Samsung PRO is the world’s first SSD powered by V-NAND Technology for PCs and consumers. Everything about this SSD makes it perfect for pro-gamers and anyone else needing a fast, efficient and generally the best hard drive for a gaming computer.
The PRO series is available with different capacities: 128GB, 512GB and 1TB and all are priced accordingly.
Would we get it?
You bet your gigabyte we would! No other SSD comes close. It’s fast, it’s got an excellent warranty and awesome endurance. For what you get we don’t think it’s overpriced, but if the price tag is a concern then you can always get the 128GB. Cheaper SSDs will give your PC some oomph but if you’re after market-leading performance then this is the hard drive you want.
Best External Gaming Hard Drive
LaCie 2TB Rugged Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 External Hard Drive
- Very fast SSD
- USB 3,0 and Thunderbolt cable
- The SSD can be moved around while being used
- Easy setup
- Very good price point
- Considered expensive on a GB per $ comparison
- Only one Thunderbolt port
The LaCie 2TB Rugged Thunderbolt is rugged and tough and the best choice for MacBook users. It can be used on PCs but be sure to format it properly. The LaCie is the extreme version of hard drives – it is shock, dust and water resistant and ‘ruggedized’ to take any abuse that comes its way. It has a built-in cable and the design gives you instant street cred.
We compared it to other external hard drives and it came out tops because of its data backup software and versatile connectivity that supports Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. We also put it through its paces to make sure it can withstand the elements and handle being carried around all the time. What we found is: it’s incredibly easy to use, very durable and we think worthy of being voted our best external hard drive.
Would we get it?
Absolutely. It might be considered a little pricey but we think this hard drive would probably outlive us. It’s definitely worth saving up for this baby.
Best Internal Gaming Hard Drive
WD Blue 1TB SATA 6 GB/s 7200 RPM 64MB Cache 3.5 Inch Desktop Hard Drive
- Excellent price
- 2-year warranty
- 1TB is good size storage
- Slow when compared to SSD
WD or Western Digital is a well-known and much respected brand name and as far as internal hard drives go you’ll battle to find another one that matches the quality and the price of the 1TB 7200 HDD.
Any gamer knows that 1TB of hard drive space is more than enough and for less than $100 the 7200 RPM WD HDD is perfect for mid-to-high end gamers. If you do need additional space for pics, music and videos and video editing you can get the 2TB or 3TB versions, but in our opinion this is more than sufficient.
Would we buy it?
Without a doubt! At the price you would be able to buy two for $100 and even get some change, so we would say it’s a no-brainer if you’re after an internal hard drive.
Best Portable Gaming Hard Drive
4TB Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive
- Excellent storage
- Interchangeable between Mac and Windows
- 200GB free OneDrive cloud storage for 2 years
- No rubber feet on casing
Another contender for best overall hard drive for pc gaming is the Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive. It’s one of the largest capacity portable drives available on the market and has some incredible features including a micro-USB 3.0 port on the side as well as the cable, its speed and 4TB of storage for movies, music, photos, games and anything else you might want to save.
This hard drive for gaming has convenience written all over it: the high speed USB 3.0 and 2.0 connectivity gives you plug-and-play functionality on your PC without needing an external power supply and it can be used interchangeably between a Mac and Windows without any reformatting necessary. An added bonus with the Seagate Backup Plus portable drive includes the 200GB of free OneDrive cloud storage for two years. You need to register on the Seagate website and also be aware that the special offer needs to be activated by June 30, 2017 and it not be available in all countries, so we suggest you double check the details.
Would we buy it?
Who are we to argue with the very very many happy customers? We would definitely get one, faster than the speed of a USB 3.0.
The many high-end games available at the moment need computers with good components, and this includes the hard drive. Choosing the right for you, in your budget, will improve your gaming experience and PC’s overall performance.
Have you bought a hard drive recently? What did you get and are you happy?