Best hard drive for gaming 2023 – overall, high-capacity, for console
With more and more gamers going fully digital, you’ll no doubt need the best hard drive for gaming to improve the storage capacity of your setup. Making use of a high-quality hard drive can significantly enhance your gaming experience by reducing load times, providing smooth gameplay, and ensuring that games and data are securely stored. Sound like something you need?
With the increasing size of modern games, hard drives become an increasingly vital part of the gaming system, providing ample space to store a growing library of titles. So, in this article, we’ll be taking on the mammoth task of discovering the best hard drive for gaming, finding the perfect component that will balance speed, storage capacity, and reliability for the best gaming experience.
Products at a Glance
How we picked the best hard drive for gaming
Here are PC Guide, we’re able to combine our in-depth knowledge of hard drives and gaming components with user reviews and publically available benchmarks to provide a useful insight into some of the best hard drives currently available. Choosing the best gaming hard drive requires a detailed assessment of several critical factors: performance, storage capacity, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. We’ve tried to equally gauge each one of these factors, providing a general overview of each drive’s capabilities. However, some drives are inherently better in specific devices or scenarios, and we’ve pointed out the key features of each device, noting whether it’s especially fast or represents the best value.
Alongside checking performance, we carefully reviewed each HDD’s storage capacity, providing options at both ends of the storage spectrum. Moreover, reliability plays a pivotal role, especially considering the heavy usage demands of regular gaming, let alone intensive gaming. So to gauge a drive’s longevity, we consider aspects like manufacturer warranties, the quality of construction, and user feedback. Ultimately, you’re getting some reliable choices here.
Our focus is on HDDs, known for providing generous storage at a more budget-friendly price than SSDs. However, if you’re more SSD-inclined, we’ve also got a buying guide that digs into the best SSDs for gaming and of course, have looked into the best gaming PC to provide some all-in-one options.
Best hard drive for gaming 2023 – overall, high-capacity, for console
- Ample 2TB storage capacity
- Reliable performance for gaming
- Affordable price point
- Slower than SSDs
- Larger form factor
- No advanced features like SSDs
The Seagate BarraCuda 2TB HDD is a solid option for gamers seeking a harmonious blend of substantial storage space and reliable performance. This internal hard drive offers plenty of room for an extensive game collection, along with music, videos, and other files. Known for its adaptability and dependability, the BarraCuda series is a fit for various PC uses, gaming included.
The BarraCuda is perfect for those assembling a cost-effective gaming PC or expanding the storage of their current system, as the 2TB capacity of this HDD means ample space for numerous games and reduces the need to constantly be uninstalling. As a mechanical hard drive, the BarraCuda benefits from Seagate’s two decades of HDD innovation, delivering a commendable mix of speed and longevity for regular gaming.
- High 14TB storage capacity
- Designed for heavy workloads
- Durable with a 5-year warranty
- Premium price for high-capacity
- Slower access times compared to SSDs
- May be overkill for casual users
The Western Digital 14TB Ultrastar emerges as a top-tier choice for gamers and professionals needing expansive storage capacity. With a whopping 14TB of space, it’s tailor-made for users with large game collections or those handling sizable files, including videos and high-resolution images. Equipped with a SATA-600 interface and a 3.5-inch form factor, this drive is adept at managing heavy workloads, supporting up to 550TB of data per year.
This HDD is particularly apt for those requiring extensive storage for prolonged usage. It serves as an ideal secondary storage solution in gaming PCs, complementing a primary SSD. The Ultrastar’s sophisticated features, such as HelioSeal technology and Rotational Vibration Safeguard (RVS), boost its performance and longevity, rendering it a formidable choice for demanding applications and substantial data tasks.
- Faster than traditional HDDs
- High 2TB storage capacity
- Lower cost than SSDs
- Slower than full SSDs
- Limited flash memory portion
- Larger form factor than 2.5" SSDs
The Seagate FireCuda 2TB SSHD offers a smart blend of a traditional hard drive’s vast storage capacity with the quick performance of an SSD, making it a distinctive choice for gaming. This hybrid drive provides quicker load times than standard HDDs by incorporating flash memory. Its 2TB capacity ensures plenty of room for a large assortment of games, as well as various applications and files.
Ideal for gamers seeking an enhancement over traditional HDDs without the steeper price of a full SSD, this SSHD excels in speeding up game loads and boot times, thus elevating the gaming experience. The FireCuda’s energy-efficient operation makes it a cost-effective choice, and its five-year limited warranty provides additional long-term reassurance.
- Portable and easy to use
- Large 2TB storage capacity
- Fast USB 3.0 connectivity
- Slower than internal SSDs
- Requires reformatting for Mac use
- Dependence on external power supply
The Toshiba Canvio 2TB is the best hard drive for console users out there who want a simple storage solution. This drive provides a wide 2TB capacity and is ideal for storing your large collection of game files and data. Furthermore, with its USB 3.0 interface, the Canvio ensures fast data transfer and works with both USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports.
Furthermore, the Toshiba Canvio is ready right out of the box to use, so you don’t have to waste any time setting it up and can put it straight into your console. Ultimatley, this hard drive serves as an excellent option for console gamers requiring extra storage, and its adaptability to various devices marks it as a practical and versatile choice for your storage requirements.
How to buy the best hard drive for you
If you aren’t familiar with PC hardware or PC gaming in general, you may be a little in the dark going through this article. Don’t worry, we’re here to answer any questions you might have while searching for the best storage for your gaming PC.
Average game sizes and storage capacity
First and foremost, let’s talk average game sizes, to put things in perspective.
Your typical AAA modern games can now range anywhere from 50GB – 150GB thanks to improved 4K graphics, ray tracing, and content, and if you’re lucky some indie games will still stay under 50GB. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to fit about three modern games in your average 200GB of space.
This means that each terabyte of storage equals roughly 15 games… that is if all of your games are AAA and 3D. Lower-budget indie games, especially 2D games, will take much much less space, as will last-gen and older AAA games. Truth be told, 15 games to a terabyte is closer to a worst-case scenario than an average, and if you can afford to buy that many games to begin with you can afford a bigger hard drive.
Below, we’re going to list common drive sizes and what they’re good for.
This is for the starting budget gamer or casual gamer. You don’t have a massive Steam library built up, you don’t play many games at all, or all the games you play are smaller indie titles. This will satisfy your needs until you start filling your game library, but hopefully by that point, you can afford to step up to a larger storage drive. Otherwise, you’ll need to delete some stuff to make room.
This is one of the most common hard drive sizes, especially if you’re trying to buy cheap. 1TB will hold a fairly generous assortment of games, even if you have a large Steam backlog. However, this will begin to show its limits eventually, especially as games continue to balloon in file size.
This is another one of the most common hard drive sizes and is generally where you find the best bang for your buck. Even if you exclusively play modern games and buy them on a regular basis, it’ll take quite a while to fill a drive of this size to capacity… unless you’re also doing frequent video recording or media downloads.
3TB (3000GB) or higher
This is the high end of hard drives, and you don’t typically see hard drives much bigger than this. (At least, not in the consumer space– server-grade hard drives are different, and can end up getting quite a bit larger than this.)
If you plan on having your gaming PC for a very long time and don’t intend on upgrading it any time soon, 3 TB or more is a great way to make sure that storage is the least of your worries for the foreseeable future.
What are SSHDs?
SSHDs, or Solid State Hybrid Drives, are a hybrid between Solid State Drives (SSDs) and Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). They are overwhelmingly HDDs, but with small SSDs built-in as a cache to allow faster access to frequently-used content and an across-the-board speed boost. (SSDs are a topic for another article entirely but know that they are much faster than any HDD… and much more expensive.)
For the most part, this truthfully won’t have the same impact as a proper SSD, and it will make your mostly-standard HDD more expensive. If you want to find a middle ground between the two standards, though, this is probably your best bet.
Form factors and why they matter
In this section, we’re going to go over common form factors, what they’re compatible with, and what limitations they might have.
2.5-inch drives are significantly smaller than 3.5-inch drives, and most commonly seen in laptops and gaming consoles. 2.5-inch drives are also the go-to choice for external hard drives. In addition to HDDs, 2.5-inch enclosures are also often used for SATA SSDs.
2.5-inch drives do come with a notable downside: lower RPM. Because of physical limitations inherent to smaller hard drives, 2.5-inch drives can only achieve 5400 RPM, as opposed to the desktop standard of 7200 RPM. We’ll explain the difference this makes a bit later.
3.5 Inch Drives
3.5-inch drives are the standard hard drive size, and usually seen in typical desktop PCs. They are much larger and heavier than 2.5-inch drives, but can also achieve much higher RPM: 7200 RPM. Outside of consumer hard drives, some server drives can reach even higher RPM numbers, but those are generally being replaced by SSDs these days.
RPM and Cache
RPM is a measure of Rotations Per Minute, and it corresponds closely to read/write speed. The higher your RPM, the faster your drive will operate when reading, writing, copying, or deleting files.
5400 RPM is most commonly seen in 2.5-inch drives. As stated prior, these are typically used in consoles and laptops, and now you know that this does come with a performance penalty.
Fortunately for 2.5-inch drive users, the addition of SSHDs (like the FireCuda listed in the article above) and SSDs greatly improve the speeds possible on smaller drives.
7200 RPM is seen on full-sized desktop hard drives. This is the ideal for any consumer hard drive since it will allow the drive to reach its maximum read/write performance potential.
7200 RPM SSHDs will enjoy an even further performance benefit.
Does the type of hard drive matter for gaming?
Yes, the type of hard drive does matter for gaming. While the primary function of a hard drive in gaming is storage, the drive’s speed and performance can impact game loading times and overall system responsiveness. Traditional HDDs are more cost-effective and offer larger storage capacities, making them suitable for most gamers.
Coming in as the Editor’s Choice, the Seagate BarraCuda 2TB HDD strikes an excellent balance between affordability, storage capacity, and reliable performance. Ideal for gamers seeking a cost-effective solution, this HDD offers ample space for a diverse game library and ensures consistent performance suitable for most gaming needs.
Alternatively, the Western Digital 14TB Ultrastar is perfect for gamers with extensive libraries or those needing space for other large files. The Seagate FireCuda 2TB SSHD offers a blend of HDD capacity and SSD-like speed, making it a great choice for faster game loads. On the other hand, for console gamers, the Toshiba Canvio provides a simple and portable solution for expanding game storage. Hopefully, this article has acted as a great starting point for finding the ideal storage solution for your gaming setup.