The Best HDD for Gaming in 2023
Updated: September 12,2023
Games aren’t getting smaller any time soon. Mammoths like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare can easily eat up more than 200GB of precious hard drive space, especially when Warzone is installed. SSDs might be getting more affordable, but they’re still a lot more expensive than HDDs that offer the same storage capacity.
That’s why we’ve decided to find the best HDD for gaming currently available. We were on the lookout for the best storage capacity, fastest read/write speeds, and ultimately, the best bang for your buck. During our quest for the best and the fastest, we’ve also compiled a handy guide on what to look for in hard drives if you’re purchasing one for a gaming PC, laptop, or gaming console.
Here’s what we’ve found.
- Great value for money
- High storage capacity
- Large cache in higher-capacity models
- 1TB version is limited
Seagate is a household name when it comes to PC gaming and all-purpose desktop computing. Four decades of experience in manufacturing computer parts and specializing in storage solutions make Seagate one of the most trusted names in the world of data storage.
This Fremont-based company also works closely with Microsoft on making official drives for Xbox gaming consoles. The company knows gaming. As such, gamers trust Seagate drives with their data.
Today, Seagate offers a wide selection of computer drives aimed at everyday consumers, professionals, and enterprises. Our choice as the best hard drive for gaming is the Seagate Barracuda, a well-rounded, high-performance drive that combines speed with versatility and adds incredible value to the deal.
This is a standard internal 3.5” HDD that connects via a SATA III connector, making it compatible with pretty much any desktop PC on the market. It’s great for AAA games due to its high capacity. The basic models come with 1 TB of storage space, and Seagate now offers drives up to 14 TB in size, which makes for nigh-unmatched storage capacity. Unless you plan on installing every single title from your game library at the same time, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever run out of space with such a massive drive.
All of the drives in the Barracuda series spin at 7,200 RPM, so you won’t need to purchase the largest hard drive to enjoy good gaming performance, as is usually the case with HDD manufacturers. That being said, we’d suggest avoiding the 1 TB model if you also want a larger cache. All drives come with 256 MB of cache except the 1 TB model that comes with just 64 MB.
While that isn’t much of a dealbreaker for everyday use, it can cripple your games’ performance, especially for super demanding games such as Cyberpunk 2077 that rely on loading speed to deliver the best experience. There’s also the matter of value, as you’re getting better performance and storage on a 2 TB drive at just a slightly higher price.
Speaking of prices, Seagate has the best 2TB HDD for gaming, hands down. The drives cost just slightly above $50, meaning that you’re essentially paying under $30 per terabyte. That’s already an amazing value, but the cost-per-terabyte drops as the capacity increases, meaning that larger disks are an even better value.
The 2TB one is still a sweet spot, though. It’s affordable without sacrificing any performance, making it a well-balanced hard drive for gaming. And since it’s Seagate’s most popular product, they’re bound to have a lot in stock.
- 5x faster than standard drives
- Long warranty period
- Compatible with PCs and consoles
- Not available with bigger capacity
We can’t show enough love for Seagate’s products. That’s why we had to include another hard drive of theirs, this time a hybrid drive that combines the best elements of hard disks and solid-state drives. That makes it the fastest HDD for gaming.
The way Seagate FireCuda was designed is especially interesting. At its core, it’s a 7,200 RPM hard drive, or 5,400 RPM drive if you go with the 2.5” version. It doesn’t even have a large cache, just the standard 64 MB.
However, it uses the latest NAND flash memory with 8GB of extra capacity that acts as a true buffer. This flash storage isn’t directly available to users. Instead, the hard drive uses it to store files for quick access. It’s all automated and requires no extra setup. Just connect it to the SATA port, boot up, and you’re ready to go. It can’t compete with solid-state drives, but it definitely pulls ahead of a regular hard drive.
That’s another reason why this is a popular HDD for gaming consoles, especially the last generation PS4 and Xbox One devices. Both consoles came with hard drives installed, but manufacturers didn’t stop users from switching out these drives for faster SSHD ones. The only thing to remember is to purchase the 2.5” model, as it is the one compatible with laptops and consoles.
If you want the best loading speeds in your games but pricey SSDs are out of the question, FireCuda is the top gaming HDD for you. Depending on the game, you’ll see loading speeds up to five times faster than what’d you’d get with standard drives.
Even if it doesn’t come close to the blistering read/write speeds of a solid-state drive, this is an incredible upgrade from the age-old tech. Best of all, these drives are very durable. Seagate issues a five-year warranty with each unit, and 2.5” drives employ additional power-saving features to prolong the drive’s life and reduce heating.
With all those bells and whistles, you might expect the Seagate FireCuda to cost an arm and a leg. But the best SSHD for gaming costs just slightly more than the comparable Barracuda hard drive. The only downside is the limited storage capacity, as they only come in 1 TB and 2 TB versions. So, if you need more storage, you’ll have to get a regular HDD.
- Incredible value
- Most affordable 1TB drive
- Wide selection of models
- Slow higher capacity drives
Another big name in the world of computer storage is the Western Digital Corporation or WD for short. WD is another American old-timer and innovator when it comes to hard drives. Among the many products that this company offers today, there’s no denying that its most popular gaming HDD is WD Blue.
Before we continue, a short guide for purchasing WD drives is in order. The HDDs are color-coded, so the green line is the eco-friendly low power consumption one, red drives are for NAS systems, black is enthusiast-level and external drives, while the blue ones are all-rounders. We wanted a budget-friendly solution for this list, so we chose the blue drive. To say that WD Blue is a popular choice would be an understatement. It has almost become a default choice for many gamers looking to expand their storage on a budget.
Let’s talk about price first. This is an incredibly affordable gaming hard drive, available for under $40 for a 500 GB model or just a few dollars more for a 1 TB drive. The latter is the best option right now if you’re building a multi-drive configuration or planning a RAID setup.
We’re recommending the 1 TB drive over 2 TB and other bigger models because of how WD makes these HDDs. The 1 TB model spins at both 7,200 RPM and 5,400 RPM. All higher capacity drives are locked to 5,400 RPM, which is not ideal in this day and age. Compared to Seagate’s best HDD for gaming, WD Blue with 2+ TB of storage is simply not a great deal. On the flip side, some of these bigger drives are equipped with 256 MB of cache. But we highly recommend shopping around and deciding yourself whether it’s worth sacrificing RPM for a bigger cache.
All in all, WD Blue remains a good choice even in the age of SSD dominance. Solid-state technology still can’t offer the same value for terabytes of storage, and content creators that record and edit many gameplay videos will still find plenty to like with this gaming hard drive.
- Plenty of storage and cache space
- Lots of protections against data damage
- Very quiet
Toshiba is an IT giant that needs no special introduction. This Japanese company has been in business for nearly 150 years and is responsible for some of the best tech in our homes. It made quite a splash on the PC storage market with its prestigious line of X300 hard drives. These aren’t your everyday HDDs, as they’re more secure and faster than nearly anything else on the market right now.
Toshiba X300 is a performance drive marketed around gaming and content creator segments of the market. It’ll be the best gaming HDD if you’re not just playing games but also creating content around them.
At first glance, this hard drive might not seem that different from any other hard drives for PC. It spins at 7,200 RPM, connects through a SATA port, and it doesn’t come in a fancy case. But its true strength lies in all the tech Toshiba managed to fit into it.
First of all, the storage capacity. The minimum capacity is 4 TB, and there are models with up to 16 TB of storage, which is unlikely to leave any gamer wanting. Additionally, these hard drives come with large caches of up to 512 MB, ensuring maximum performance for your apps.
It’s not just the best gaming hard drive; it can also protect your data from external damage. All X300 models have a dual-stage actuator design, which allows faster and safer data access. In addition, Toshiba added an internal shock sensor to ensure no data is lost, while its Stable Platter reduces vibrations by stabilizing the motor on both ends.
The only real downside with these drives is the price. Starting at almost $100, these aren’t the most affordable hard drives for gaming, and the prices can get quite high if you’re going for eight or more TB of storage space. But if you’re creating 4K gaming content, the Toshiba X300 is simply a must-buy for your rig. No other drive can store so much data and still run fast.
WD Black P10 Game Drive
- Works great with PlayStation and Xbox
- Lots of storage
- Durable case
Aside from PC drives, Western Digital also makes the best HDD for console gaming. Here, we’re talking about the WD Black P10 Game Drive. Unlike other drives listed here, this is an external drive. However, it has performance comparable to an internal hard drive through a speedy USB 3.2 connection.
The P10 looks quite good and really stands out due to the black industrial-looking case, with the logo imprinted in bold font. Perhaps it’s no surprise that there’s also a Call of Duty-themed model. Of course, we can’t crown it the best WD HDD for gaming simply because of its appearance, especially not when it comes to console gaming.
As consoles are moving to SSDs for storage but keeping compatibility with previous generations, gamers are facing a dilemma; on one side is a super-fast SSD powered by PCIe 4, but on the other is limited storage and a rough reminder that Call of Duty can easily take up over 200 GB of HDD space. Luckily, both PlayStation and Xbox support loading old-gen games through a 3.0 USB, which is where the WD Black P10 comes to the rescue.
This drive is at the top of the gaming hard drives list thanks to its performance and USB 3.2 Gen 1 connection. Western Digital states that P10 can reach data transfer speeds of 140 MB/s, and with a considerable storage capacity of up to 5 TB, you can rest assured that you’ll always have your gaming library with you ready to go. If your console’s operating system is up to date, you won’t even need to format it specifically for a gaming console.
While WD Black doesn’t come cheap (the 4 TB model costs more than $100), it is the best hard drive for gaming if you like free games. The selection of freebies changes from time to time, and retailers often have different offers. So make sure you check what’s in the gift basket before snatching one of these drives up. For us, it is a must-have for any gamer who likes to play various games across different console generations.
The Best Gaming Hard Drives in 2023
- Seagate Barracuda
- Seagate FireCuda
- WD Blue
- Toshiba X300
- WD Black P10 Game Drive
Now that we have gone over some of the best hard drives for gaming currently available, we should go over all of the important factors that we considered when putting this list together - factors that you, too, should keep in mind before you can determine which HDD is the best choice for you.
Hard drives are still a popular purchase among gamers because of their considerable storage capacity. SSD manufacturers only recently started offering 2+ TB of storage at approachable prices. Meanwhile, hard drive users have been able to install memory-hungry modern games such as Warzone, Flight Simulator, and Red Dead Redemption 2 all at once without having to break the bank.
As PC gaming becomes more demanding on hardware and with 4K becoming the norm, games are starting to take up more and more space. A 100 GB game install size is not so uncommon nowadays. What used to be the best 1TB HDD for gaming a few years ago is now a second or third backup drive.
Naturally, we always look for bigger drives to store all those games, clips, and mods. This is especially important if you’re a content creator since you’re most likely making many clips when gaming.
Today, 2 TB of storage space on a hard drive is not unheard of, and some HDD manufacturers create drives with up to 16 TB of storage. While one can argue against putting all the data on a single drive, with the top HDD for gaming, you won’t have to worry about losing any saved games, add-ons, or other gaming content.
While the spinning plates of a computer hard drive are no match for even the most basic SSDs, the oldies of computer tech still have life in them. Even if you’re not specifically looking to buy a hard drive for anything but storage, modern drives are faster than their predecessors. Some easily reach 150 MB/s, or even higher read/write speeds. So, what affects the hard drive’s performance?
Obviously, the speed at which the disk spins is important. The best internal HDD for gaming should run at 7,200 RPM or faster. Anything lower, and the loading screens will take up noticeably more time. This can be especially problematic with 2.5″ HDD devices, which are usually installed in laptops and work at 5,400 RPM.
But if you need high performance, it’s not all about the raw speed. All those RPMs are worthless if the drive doesn’t connect through the appropriate interface. For internal hard drives, it has to be SATA III, while the external hard drive standard is a USB 3.0 connection. The fastest gaming HDD has to meet these requirements in order to earn the title.
Lastly, hard disks have a cache, or buffer, that plays a vital role in the overall performance of the device. Caching helps your hard drive process information by temporarily storing it in this memory before writing. It’s especially useful when multitasking, as the hard drive makes some apps load faster if they are stored in the cache. Obviously, the bigger the cache, the better the performance will be.
The next thing we look at in our gaming HDD reviews is the price of each device. Hard drives are more affordable than they’ve ever been, with tons of storage available. It’s also worth noting how competitive this market is.
Companies are constantly pricing each other out, which is always a win for the consumer. The prices have dropped so much that a 1 TB hard drive, which used to be an enthusiast-level drive, is now considered an entry-level device.
Many gamers instead go for 2+ TB drives due to their better price-to-capacity ratio. That is also how we determine the value of a hard drive. It’s not about how much storage you get overall, but the price-per-terabyte that you get on top of the performance and any extras.
Hard drives involve many moving parts that tend to wear out over time and ultimately break down, and the loss of irreplaceable data is one of the worst things that can happen in such a scenario. That’s why it’s good to have an extended warranty for your hard drives. Of course, it’s even better if a hard drive lasts longer than its warranty.
Typically, warranties last between two to three years. Some hard drive manufacturers offer extended warranties for specific, premium-priced models. Others may add a money-back guarantee. We look at all those options when choosing the best hard drives to benchmark.
Today, a hard drive is both a component and a peripheral. Most devices on our list are internal hard drives installed inside the computer case and connected via a SATA connector. However, external hard drives are also an option for those who need additional flexibility or play on devices that don’t support an internal HDD.
Generally, an internal hard drive will be faster due to a faster connection and since they tend to feature higher RPM. However, that doesn’t mean an external hard drive will necessarily be slow, as many external HDDs are made for gaming.
Overall, if you have a desktop PC, an internal hard drive will most likely be the best choice. However, an external HDD might be a better choice if you need a portable storage device to store media, or if you need more storage space for your gaming laptop or console but don’t want to go through the hassle of replacing the internal hard drive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many HDDs could be called the best hard disk for gaming. It depends on the types of hard drives as well as their storage and performance in different environments. For PC gaming, it’s Seagate Barracuda, while for laptop gaming, you’ll want to buy a 2.5” HDD from either Seagate or WD. If you’re looking for a hard drive for consoles and don’t plan to open your gaming console up, then the P10 external drive is your best option.
PC game sizes are still blowing up, and many gamers aren’t ready to switch to an SSD yet. An affordable gaming HDD can still provide decent performance and way more storage space than an SSD for the same price. If you’re not playing the hottest and trendiest games, you’ll probably be just fine with a good hard disk for a while. Just follow our guide on finding the best option for your gaming setup.
Speed-wise, SSD easily beats any hard disk on the market. There’s no question about it. Solid-state technology isn’t in its infancy anymore, so the drives are much faster than before, and it’s finally become affordable.
But a hard drive is still a cheaper solution for pure storage since you can usually get 2-4x more storage for the price of an SSD. However, if you’re more concerned about loading speeds, especially for modern PC games, then a hard drive is no match.
Yes, WD Black is the fastest drive Western Digital makes. It’s even specifically marketed at customers who crave performance, whether it’s for work or gaming. These hard drives are more expensive than the Blue drives, but the price difference is worth it.
The best HDD for gaming should run at 7,200 RPM and, preferably, come with at least 64 MB or 128 MB cache. Of course, this also means that the drive should be SATA III compatible or, in the case of portable drives, come with a USB 3.0 connection.
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