The best hard drive for gaming will be the best addition to your gaming kit. While they won’t beat the best solid-state drives (SSDs) in any speed tests, these hard drives still dominate when it comes to price and storage capacity. These are external devices that you plug into your computer to store all kinds of data. And for gamers who often need a whole lot of space for storing games, these devices come into play. There are many high-capacity hard drives out there with up to 6 terabytes (TB) of storage space. These devices are also very affordable and portable.
Do you have a bulging library of games waiting to be played? Are you trying to find supported storage for your PS4 or Xbox One? Or maybe you’re just looking for an efficient external drive for family use? Regardless of your purpose, there is a hard drive for you.
What Is a Hard Drive?
A hard disk drive (HDD) or hard drive is used as the primary storage for both laptop and desktop computers. It functions like any other type of digital storage device, primarily by writing bits of data and then reading them later. An HDD is considered as a non-volatile device. This means it can save data without a source of power. Besides this, hard drives also offer large storage capacities at relatively low cost. These are the reasons why hard drives are so often used in home computers.
Most hard drives are custom-fit inside computers. However, there is also an external equivalent of the same. These are portable devices that are used outside of a desktop or laptop. And because they’re external devices, they’re not that hard to access. They are used for storing loads of backup information, and can also be used as the primary storage for games and other files. They come built into a casing for mechanical protection.
External hard drives have proven to be very useful for situations when a computer’s hard disk is full. They are used to back up and store information that is separate from the internal hard drive. So instead of purchasing a new disk, users can simply purchase an external hard drive. They can use it to store data that can be accessed anytime on any computer. The basic parts and functions of an internal and external hard drive for gaming are the same. However, the latter tends to be easier to upgrade and is more cost-effective than the former.
Hard drives have continued to be a popular storage option. This is thanks to years of solid performance and expanding storage space. Another key benefit to hard drives is that they are multi-purpose. This allows you to store almost anything on the device. This might include pictures, movies, and music. You can even share the hard drive with friends and colleagues.
10 Best Hard Drives for Gaming
From the best external hard drives for every budget range to the most secure storage for sensitive data, we’ve selected the best hard drives for you to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a safe place to store your gaming collection or just looking to upgrade storage components in a general fashion, picking the right external hard drive is crucial for storing your most important data.
G-Technology 2 TB External Hard Drive
The G-Technology 2 TB External Hard Drive is the middle-cost option for optimal storage. The device has forward-looking connectivity. This assures us that it will be compatible with the newest computer models. The device uses USB 3.1 Gen 1 throughput. This means that it can deliver up to 5 Gbps transfer speed, which is almost the same transfer speed for USB 3.0. The device has two 1 TB platters, which has been the standard for the past three years. Read speeds are rated at 174 megabytes per second (Mbps) while write speeds are rated at 149 Mbps. These features provide adequate speeds and adequate performance from the G-Drive Mobile.
The drive is also formatted for Mac devices by default, so you’ll need to format it for Windows if that’s what you’re using. In addition to all these features, the G-Drive mobile USB-C also ticks the style box nicely. This is especially true when it’s sitting next to a MacBook. If you like stylish and compact external drives, then you’ll like this one. The device comes with a three-year warranty and a USB-C Type-C converter. It’s also available in gray, silver, and gold colors.
The G-Technology 2 TB hard drive is one of the best hard drives for gaming. It’s overall a fast and durable hard drive that you can take with you on the go.
Seagate Game Drive 4 TB External Hard Drive
Seagate’s PlayStation Game Drive is a customized gaming drive. Provided your PS4 is upgraded to the latest version, the game drive simply adds to your storage space when it’s plugged in. It’s a 4 TB hard drive that plugs into a PS4’s USB port and can be formatted as an extension to the PS4 hard drive. This allows you to transfer up to 200 games and load games directly from the device when it’s plugged in. One surprising benefit of this process is a significant reduction in loading times. It can take anywhere from half a minute to a minute to load a game. This is an indication that the PS4 internal drive isn’t that fast, to begin with. With 4 TB of storage, you can store up to 200 games. But then again, there’s the 128 megabytes (MB) cache to consider. Not to worry though, this is negligible compared to that much storage. Just think about having all that extra storage space. And you don’t even have to transfer any files during gameplay. Games are only getting bigger, and that means that even the 1 TB hard drive standard might not be enough.
While you can use pretty much any external hard drive with the PlayStation 4, why not go with one that matches it? Most external hard drives are dull-looking boxes. Hiding them in an entertainment center isn’t an option for everyone. If you’re concerned with how cool your PS4 looks, the officially licensed Seagate Game Drive comes decked in black and Sony blue. These options make it a perfect match for the PS4 or Xbox One consoles. It costs a bit more than an equivalent non-Game Drive external HDD. Even then, the device’s simple setup and unexpected speed boosts are worth the extra.
The Seagate Game Drive is an example of a custom-fit, best hard drive for gaming. Get it now on Amazon.
Toshiba Canvio Advance 4 TB External Hard Drive
The Canvio Advance 4 TB drive is a classic storage device offering reliable performance. The drive is part of the 2019 range launched by Toshiba. The device has four 1 TB platters comprising the 4 TB total storage capacity. It’s also not a surprise that this is a highly advanced device with the latest read/write components. Read speeds are rated at 153 Mbps while write speeds are rated at 158 Mbps. Consider the standard speed to be anywhere between 145 to 158Mbps. This is already decent read/write speeds, but nothing spectacular. The device is also advertised to accumulate as little as 16 MB cache. This will leave so much space to fit hundreds of games.
The device also looks very similar to other Canvio hard drives. It’s a traditional 2.5-inch external hard disk drive. It comes with a USB 3.0 connector and a matte plastic enclosure. Like its predecessors, the device still uses a flat USB Micro-B connector. It also has an anthracite finish, and a blue status light tucked away in a corner. It also retains that no-frills look with a sleek black design and high-gloss finish. The device is also lightweight, weighing only 218 grams. This makes it light enough to fit in a small suitcase or knapsack for travel. The device is available in four different color options: back, white, blue, and red. It also comes with a one-year warranty and a start-up guide.
The Toshiba Canvio Advance is one of the best hard drives for gaming. It’s a simple and affordable solution to your storage needs.
Seagate Portable 5 TB External Hard Drive
The Seagate 5 TB External Hard Drive is a handy solution to your backup problems. It’s intended primarily as a backup device for multiple types of files. This means it probably should not be used to play PS4 games directly. The device offers great storage capacity at 5 TB. It’s also compatible with both Mac and Windows devices, which is great. The unit features a 3.0-inch micro-USB port for transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbps. It’s also backward compatible with USB 2.0 ports for lesser speed.
We must say, the device has a particular talent for writing and reading large files. It’s therefore ideal for storing movies, music, and massive games. The drive provides automatic file synchronization, allowing you to effortlessly back up your files. When it comes to smaller files such as e-books and photos, the transfer is less quick. This isn’t exactly a problem unless you’re absolutely in a hurry.
Like Toshiba, the device sports a classic, sleek, black design. It’s quite a simple and minimalist appearance for such a powerful device. You can also pick from other color options including blue, silver, black, and red. The device is portable but slightly heavy as it weighs a total of 265 grams. That’s neither small nor light for an external drive. But hey, if you want 5 TB, then it’s a very minimal adjustment to make. The device is an ideal solution for those looking to back up large digital libraries. The only downside is that it doesn’t come with its security software, so you’ll need to get your own.
The Seagate Portable 5 TB is one of the best hard drives for gaming that you can get on Amazon. The device also offers a one-year Mylio Create plan in addition to a two-month Adobe CC Photography membership.
Seagate Desktop 8 TB External Hard Drive
The Seagate Desktop 8 TB tops this list in terms of storage capacity. This mammoth drive was originally intended to support enterprise data centers. However, Seagate decided to make it available for mainstream consumers. The device offers a whopping 8 TB of memory, which is a very generous amount of space. To give you a clearer picture, each 1,080p movie takes up around 5 GB of space. 8 TB of storage is equivalent to approximately 1,500 DVDs. That’s also what 150 games of 50 GB each looks like. And we’ve already excluded the 128 MB of cache. As you can imagine, it’s hard to fill up this drive with just movies or games alone. It’s much easier if you include every other type of file that you have. The drive automatically synchronizes transfers, for effortless backup.
The expanded storage was achieved by making use of a new technology called shingled magnetic recording (SMR). SMR drives increase drive capacity for storage, allowing more data to be written in. There’s not much we can say about its appearance. It just looks like a chunky black brick. Each of the sides has between four and six triangles for ventilation purposes. The package comes with a micro-USB 3.0 port and a power supply port. The drive can be used 24 hours a day and takes in power while not in use. A status light at the top will let you know when the device is in operation. One thing that’s missing though is an on/off switch. The power supply acts as the main switch.
The Seagate Desktop 8 TB is one of the best hard drives for gaming. It’s just a fantastic external solution for large backup tasks. It’s also compatible with Windows and Mac devices.
Seagate Expansion 6 TB External Hard Drive
The Seagate Expansion Desktop is an old-fashioned hard drive with a USB power hub. If you’re looking for a quality portable hard drive, look no further. The Seagate Expansion has universal compatibility and a giant storage capacity of 6 TB. This is an enormous amount of storage for all your games, photos, music, and movies. The package also comes with a 3.0 cable for connecting to USB 3.0 ports on newer computers. There’s also an 18-watt power adapter for charging. Files can be transferred quickly using a simple drag and drop function.
Like its 8 TB cousin, the Expansion has a pure black, boxlike, minimalistic design. Each of the sides has between four and six triangles for ventilation purposes. Nonetheless, the material appears durable enough to safely store your files for years. Store and play your favorite titles, and take them on the go with the slim form factor. It also comes with plug-and-play technology. This makes jumping into the game a cinch, and the 120 Mbps transfer speed is top-notch. All you need to do is connect the hard drive to your Windows computer for automatic recognition. You can also enjoy a long-term trial period with a one-year warranty.
The Seagate Expansion Desktop 6 TB is a great external hard drive for gaming, which you can get on Amazon. It’s a great storage option with fantastic ratings. It comes pre-formatted for Windows devices, but it should also work fine on Mac devices. You’ll just need to follow a simple re-format process for the latter to work.
WD Black 5 TB External Game Drive
The WD Black Game Drive 5 TB has a particular use case, and that is as a backup for games. The device’s main reason for existence is to store your massive game library. It solves the decades-old problem of not having internal enough storage space on your PC. And now we have to include gaming consoles in that equation. Even then, there’s nothing stopping you from putting in other data on the drive. As a game drive, the device is compatible with Windows, macOS, and game consoles. Compatible consoles include the PS4, PS4 Pro and Xbox One. The device can store up to 135 games. That is if we assume 36 GB per game. Read speeds are rated at 127 Mbps while write speeds are rated at 124 Mbps.
The device comes with a USB 3.0 Micro-B cable and a product guide. Although some gamers might wish for a Type-C cable, it’s not a deal-breaker. It has a metal top and a plastic bottom. The metal top dissipates heat from file transfers. In terms of the way it looks, the device has a simple, plain black design. It’s also surprisingly light and portable given the amount of data it can store. The device is also held in place by small rubber tips. These prevent the device from wobbling or getting disconnected during file transfer. It also comes with a three-year warranty. This is more than enough time to make sure it doesn’t have factory defects.
At the end of the day, the WD Black Game Drive 5TB is one of the best hard drives for gaming. It proves to be well-suited for its particular use case.
SanDisk Extreme Portable 2 TB External Hard Drive
The Extreme Portable External SSD was made by SanDisk, a pioneer of the modern SSD drives. The Extreme Portable SSD is, for the lack of a better term, extremely portable. It’s only 3.25 inches in length and 2 inches in width. It’s considerably dwarfed by the iPhone 10 or a standard-sized smartphone. As such, it can comfortably fit in the palm of your hand or any pocket. There’s even a hole on the upper-right side of the device. This is for hooking the device onto a keychain of sorts. Read speeds are rated at 550 Mbps. This lets you move large-sized files quickly into the device.
What the device may lack in terms of storage capacity, it makes up for in durability. The device has a ruggedized and lightweight design. The device is also IP55 rated, which means it’s built to withstand water and dust. It’s also been certified to withstand accidental drops within two meters to the floor. We’re not sure why there’s a need for such hardiness in a hard drive. Our best guess is it’s intended to store and protect only the most precious of your files. The device comes with a three-year warranty to ensure quality. There’s also a USB Type C to Type-A adapter, which means it will work with most of the PCs and Macs of today.
The SanDisk Extreme Portable is one of the best hard drives for gaming. The device is compatible with both Windows and Mac devices.
WD My Book 4 TB Desktop External Hard Drive
The device features 4 TB of storage. This amount of space is already three times more than the entry-level for game devices. This gives users a seamless and easy way to back up their content in two different ways. Besides this are the primary storage and dedicated cloud storage for other files. Off-premise backups are sent to the cloud. This off-cloud storage is useful for increased protection and disaster recovery. The device also features advanced encryption standards and disaster recovery software. Meanwhile, read and write speeds are rated at 172 Mbps each. The top speeds for most data drives are at 200 Mbps, so this is already up there in terms of speed. The package comes with a 3.0 cable for up to 5 Gbps file transfers. The device also features a clean and user-friendly interface. All these factors combined speak of a user-friendly and efficient data drive.
The device has a new, more compact appearance than its predecessors. It went for a new modern, sleek-looking build that is much smaller than previous models. This new design features angled corners and textured grooves. Ventilation takes place on the top panel, with tiny holes that help the device get rid of heat. Connectivity takes place at the back-end with a standard USB 3.0 or 2.0 ports. Users also get to have peace of mind with a two-year limited warranty.
One of the best hard drives for gaming, the WD My Book is a solid choice for those looking for a secure solution to storing large amounts of data.
LaCie Rugged 4 TB External Hard Drive
The LaCie Rugged is a portable hard drive that comes in a beautiful, all-aluminum enclosure. It’s also small enough and light enough to fit in your pockets. The device allows users to back up their files easily and go through the software without fuss. The backup process can be initiated in two ways: either through a single click or a scheduled automatic backup.
With a storage capacity of 4 TB, users can store up to 130 hours of the highest quality videos. Read speeds are rated at 136 Mbps while write speeds are rated at 120 Mbps. The device connects via USB 3.0 as well as reversible USB-C ports for faster transfer speeds. Users also get a two-month complimentary membership to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan.
The LaCie Rugged External Hard Drive is one of the best hard drives for gaming with a stylish and compact storage solution. The drive is also compatible with both Mac and Windows devices.
How Can Hard Drives Be Used for Gaming?
Hard drives offer a more sustainable solution for storing games. Most gaming consoles have built-in memory for games. However, they’re usually limited to storing a handful of games at a time. If you’re playing a triple-A or blockbuster game like Modern Warfare, it can take up as much as 180 GB of memory. Old retro games usually take up around 1 GB each, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Remember, the newer the game, the bigger the size. Even system updates can affect game sizes. Frequent updates can cause small but incremental changes to memory requirements. If you’re an avid gaming fan, a 500 GB internal drive will never be enough. It’s, therefore, a great idea to invest in an external hard drive. A normal 1 TB hard drive can already store more than 100 games at a time. On a similar note, a 4 TB hard drive could store up to 400 games. As you can see, hard drives allow you to store an exponential number of games.
Most external hard disks are also equipped with both RAM and ROM storage techniques. These enable the drive to store and retrieve data efficiently. After connection with the computer is established, information transfer takes place both ways. An electric current is produced whenever the hard drive is plugged in. The SATA cable is a high-speed interface cable used to connect the computer to an external drive. They actively speed up file transfer, and are responsible for read and write speeds.
To protect the SATA cables and your device, always eject the hard drive before unplugging it. Failure to do so can result in damage to your computer or hard drive. The worst-case scenario for a damaged hard drive is that the computer will fail to recognize the hard drive. This can potentially render the drive useless and your files inaccessible. On the opposite end, you should also take extra precautions to protect your devices. It’s either your hard drive or computer that’s infected. Each will pass on the virus to the other. To prevent this, you should install a reliable antivirus program and learn how to set up a VPN. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic so you can surf the internet anonymously. Antivirus software, on the other hand, identifies and removes potential threats. Check out this list of the 5 best antivirus software for the right program.
What to Look for in a Game Drive/External Hard Drive?
So just how much storage space should you get? The answer depends entirely on the cumulative size of the games you want to store. But as a general rule, select a hard drive with more storage than you currently need. For most gamers, this means starting with at least 1 TB of storage or more. But for heavy gamers who have been playing for years, this might not be enough. Games get new features all the time and this can occupy your storage space quicker than expected. You should also decide whether you want to use the device as a multi-purpose storage. It’s quite obvious that adding other files will eat up space, so you might want to go for at least 2 TB storage capacity in that case. Another important thing to remember: five percent of the total storage space is automatically reserved for the cache. Consider only 90 to 95 percent of total storage as usable storage.
Value for Money
Hard drives might appear expensive at first, but they’re much cheaper than solid-state drives. Solid-state drives are the internal drives on your computer. Solid-state drives are known for their excellent speed, but they often come at a hefty price tag. If you’re just going to store documents, pictures, and games, you don’t need a solid-state drive. If you’re looking for a short-term option, a 1 TB device should suffice. Most 1 TB hard drives cost less than $50, while 2 TB drives cost less than $100.
But for a long-term solution, we recommend a higher memory capacity. Anything larger than 2 TB usually costs more, but then they also tend to take much longer to fill up. It might also cost less in the long-term. Think of purchasing a 4 TB device once versus purchasing two 2 TB devices over time. If budget is not an option, then, by all means, go for the hard drives with the highest capacities and fastest speeds! You can also check out this list of the best hard drives for your everyday budget range for more budget-friendly options.
Speed and Performance
Hard drive speeds are usually described by read and write speeds. Read speeds refer to how long it takes to open a file from the device. Write speeds refer to how long it takes to save a file to the device. Read and write speeds are important as they describe the efficiency of the file transfer. They also determine the level of convenience you’re going to have. A device that has a write speed of 50 Mbps means that it can record 50 MB of data each second.
Ideal read and write speeds should reach anywhere between 100 to 200 Mbps. Anything less than 50 Mbps will mean a very long wait time, especially for large files. Shorter cables are also always an advantage. As a general rule, the shorter the cables, the higher the throughput. The implication is that you don’t want long cables for high-speed drives. And remember, if you’re going to upload anything to the internet or download straight to your device, you’ll also need to have a reliable internet connection. Check out this in-depth guide on the best internet speeds to upload and download files.
The hard drive you should get also depends on the individual use case. As a general rule, go for a well-built but compact hard drive with the highest storage capacity. The average hard drive weighs somewhere between 200 to 250 grams. If you just want a hard drive exclusively for gaming, size shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you’re planning to bring a hard drive along for travel, might as well get one that will fit in your pocket. Anything more than 400 grams is probably too heavy to lug around. If you’re going to purchase a higher-capacity device, it will likely be slightly heavier than that. Nevertheless, the few extra ounces shouldn’t be a problem if you’re getting extra storage.
Final Thoughts on the Best Hard Drives for Gaming
Hard drives are extremely useful devices, but they’re not perfect. Hard drives are a bit more prone to physical defects than solid-state drives. This is because of their mechanical components that are exposed to environmental factors. They’re also not that great at withstanding shock damage from being dropped or moved sharply. Nevertheless, they are the most cost-efficient option available for storing hundreds of games. You’ll just need to handle them with care.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to data storage. Whether a hard drive can meet your needs largely depends on your individual use case. If you’re using the hard drive simply to store games, you don’t need an exceptionally fast or expensive drive. If you’re a hardcore gamer, you could look at the high-capacity and high-speed options. In the end, it all comes down to understanding what your gaming needs are. Buy the best hard drive for gaming that you can afford relative to those needs. Also, make sure to handle your device with care to maximize its lifespan.