Best HDD for Gaming: High-Speed SSHDs and HDDs

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best hdd for gaming
best hdd for gaming

The emergence of high-speed solid-state drives (SSDs) has largely been beneficial for gaming. These devices have significantly shortened load times, so you don’t have to spend minutes staring at loading screens. However, they are considerably more expensive than traditional mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs). 

In most cases, pairing a low-capacity SSD with a high-capacity HDD is ideal to cut costs without compromising storage space. The SSD is reserved for the operating system and most frequently used applications, while the HDD is used to store large files. But not all HDDs are created equal as a select few are more suitable for gaming than the rest. 

If you’re looking for the best HDD for gaming, this article has you covered. To ensure our reviews are trustworthy, we cite benchmark results from software like CrystalDiskMark to give you accurate statistics. The test results can vary depending on the accompanying hardware and drive model, but they can give you an idea of how these devices perform.

RankPreviewProductMax Disk SpeedMax CachePrice
1seagate firecudaSeagate FireCuda7200 RPM64 MB
2western digital velociraptorWestern Digital VelociRaptor10000 RPM64 MB
3seagate barracudaSeagate Barracuda7200 RPM256 MB
4western digital blackWestern Digital Black7200 RPM256 MB
5western digital blueWestern Digital Blue7200 RPM256 MB
6toshiba p300Toshiba P3007200 RPM128 MB
RankPreviewProductInterfaceWarrantyPrice
1western digital black p10Western Digital Black P10 Game DriveUSB 3.2 Gen 13 Years
2seagate backup plus slimSeagate Backup Plus SlimUSB 3.2 Gen 12 Years

Top Internal HDDs for Gaming

Seagate FireCuda

Best SSHD for Gaming

seagate firecuda

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Specifications

Storage Capacity 1 TB 2 TB
Disk Speed 7200 RPM
Drive Cache 64 MB
NAND Cache 8 GB
Warranty 5 Years

Ratings

Performance 10
Reliability 9
Software 9
Value 8
Pros
  • Excellent software support
  • Fast read and write speeds

Cons
  • Inadequate amount of NAND flash memory

 

The Seagate FireCuda is a solid-state hybrid drive (SSHD) that bridges the gap between HDDs and SSDs. It is suitable for users who want to experience the gaming performance of an SSD without breaking the bank.

The FireCuda has gained a reputation as the tried and true upgrade to an outdated HDD. It has even been widely utilized as storage expansion for gaming consoles like the PlayStation 4.

The FireCuda comes with the DiscWizard and SeaTools. The former lets you monitor the drive’s health and assists in data backup and migration, while the latter allows you to run diagnostics on your drive.

The FireCuda includes a small amount of NAND flash memory that functions as its cache memory. It identifies the most frequently used programs and stores them to help boost read and write speeds and overall performance. While they aren’t quite as fast as conventional SSDs, they help close the gap between the two storage types.

In CrystalDiskMark, the FireCuda 1 TB model exhibited sequential read and write speeds of around 215 Mbps. If you use many intensive programs and games, you may find the small amount of NAND flash inadequate. If you play games that require little storage space, this drive is a no-brainer.

Western Digital VelociRaptor

Best HDD for Gaming

western digital velociraptor

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Specifications

Storage Capacity 250 GB 500 GB 1 TB
Disk Speed 10000 RPM
Drive Cache 64 MB
Warranty 5 Years

Ratings

Performance 10
Reliability 10
Software 8
Value 7
Pros
  • Reliable
  • Fast read and write speeds
  • Low top-end capacity
Cons
  • Expensive

 

The Western Digital VelociRaptor is one of the more unique entries on this list regarding external and internal design. It has the fastest disk speed out of all the other drives on this list to deliver performance closer to SSDs than traditional HDDs. 

The VelociRaptor features the same design as its previous iterations. It takes a 2.5-inch drive with 10000 RPM platters and pairs it with a 3.5-inch adapter that doubles as a heatsink. The heatsink gives this drive a rugged appearance and enhances overall durability. Internally, it has an upgraded platter density of up to 333 GB and a 64 MB DDR3 cache. It also implements firmware updates that help boost performance.

The VelociRaptor uses a thermal transfer pad to shed heat away from the drive into the heatsink. This feature is a welcome addition since the drive can get quite hot under load because of its high-speed mechanical disk. 

The primary assets of the VelociRaptor are its platter size and its disk speed that combine to provide some of the best random access times you can get from an HDD. It also boasts excellent sequential speeds that enable it to approach the performance of an entry-level SSD. 

In CrystalDiskMark, the VelociRaptor delivered sequential read and write speeds of just over 213 Mbps. It shows significant gains over other HDDs, making it a suitable pick for gaming. Random and sequential read and write speeds are at least double most traditional alternatives, which means launching applications and games is significantly quicker.

While the VelociRaptor is undoubtedly one of the best-performing HDDs on this list, it still comes with some downsides. Most significantly, it has a top-end capacity of only 1 TB. Some modern games go upwards of 100 GB, so this drive can only store a few at a time.

Overall, the VelociRaptor is among the few HDDs on the market that can be considered an alternative to SSDs. It proves that HDDs can still innovate and are capable of gaming-worthy performance. 

Seagate Barracuda

Best Budget HDD for Gaming

seagate barracuda

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Specifications

Storage Capacity 1 TB 2 TB 3 TB 4 TB 6 TB 8 TB
Disk Speed 72000 RPM 5400 RPM
Drive Cache 64 MB 256 MB
Warranty 2 Years

Ratings

Performance 9
Reliability 8
Software 9
Value 10
Pros
  • Multi-tier caching
  • Remarkable cost-to-storage ratio
  • Wide range of storage capacities
  • Excellent software support
Cons
  • Two-year warranty

 

The Seagate Barracuda uses multi-tier caching technology to deliver remarkable sequential read and write speeds. It utilizes NAND flash memory, dynamic random access memory (DRAM), and a media cache to enhance performance and optimize data flow to and from the drive.

The Barracuda takes advantage of the NAND flash memory to read regularly accessed files quickly, while the media cache helps write sequential blocks efficiently. It is a significant improvement from traditional systems that use DRAM to buffer data between the host computer and the storage device.

When it comes to the cost-to-storage ratio, the Barracuda offers some of the best in its class. Although it doesn’t perform as fast as premium alternatives, it is adequate for gaming. It also provides a wide range of storage capacities, giving you the option to store most of your data in a single 8 TB drive or purchase multiple smaller drives to increase your storage capacity over time.

The Barracuda utilizes foam spacers under the controller board to reduce the impact of vibration on the disk. While this feature improves the device’s longevity, you should still pay attention to fixing the hard drive properly inside the chassis to make the most of its service life.

In terms of performance, the Barracuda exceeds expectations in CrystalDiskMark benchmark tests. The 1 TB version delivered around 200 Mbps sequential read and write speeds, while the 8 TB version hovered around 190 Mbps. These are remarkably close results considering the lower-capacity drive has a faster disk speed of 7200 RPM than the 5400 RPM of the higher-capacity drive. 

The Barracuda has a workload limit of 55 TB per year and comes with a two-year warranty. It should last the average consumer more than a few years, especially if used as a secondary drive to an SSD.

Western Digital Black

Best Premium HDD for Gaming

western digital black

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Specifications

Storage Capacity 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB 6 TB 8 TB 10 TB
Disk Speed 7200 RPM
Drive Cache 64 MB 256 MB
Warranty 5 Years

Ratings

Performance 8
Reliability 10
Software 8
Value 9
Pros
  • Wide range of storage capacities
  • Enhanced caching algorithms
  • Reliable
Cons
  • Loud under load

 

The Western Digital Black is a popular option among gamers, offering a wide range of storage capacities and boosted read and write speeds. The 4 TB version delivered over 170 Mbps sequential read speeds and just under 150 Mbps sequential write speeds in CrystalDiskMark. 

Black drives are intended as storage devices for large files like games and high-fidelity media. They have excellent read and write speeds, making them suitable for gaming. However, they tend to run loud and can reach high temperatures because of the high disk speed.

These devices utilize enhanced caching algorithms and optimized cache allocation between reads and writes to boost performance. These devices automatically allocate more cache for reading data to reduce congestion and improve overall performance.

The Black series includes the handy Acronis True Image software suite in the package. You can use it to test the drive, monitor its health, and help in data migration at no additional cost.

These HDDs use drive shafts that aid in minimizing vibration to extend their service life. These shafts allow the platters to adapt to any mounting issues or vibration conditions.

What sets these drives apart from cheaper alternatives is their extended five-year warranty that gives you a sense of security. They are easily among the most reliable high-performance models on the market.

Overall, the Black series lives up to its performance claims as among the fastest HDDs on the market. They are geared towards users who want gaming storage drives that strike a balance between performance, capacity, and price. 

Western Digital Blue

Best Entry-Level HDD for Gaming

western digital blue

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Specifications

Storage Capacity 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB 3 TB 4 TB 6 TB
Disk Speed 7200 RPM 5400 RPM
Drive Cache 64 MB 256 MB
Warranty 2 Years

Ratings

Performance 7
Reliability 8
Software 8
Value 9
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Reliable
Cons
  • Inferior read and write speeds

 

The Western Digital Blue is a budget HDD that strikes a balance between price, capacity, and performance. It doesn’t perform as fast as some of the premium options on this list, but it is worth considering if you’re looking for a storage companion to an SSD.

The Blue series delivers decent sequential read and write speeds at very affordable cost-to-storage ratios. The 1 TB version tested on CrystalDiskMark delivered just under 145 Mbps sequential write speeds and 160 Mbps sequential read speeds. This series has been one of the best-selling HDDs for a long time because of its reliability and affordability.

Blue products are more suited for backing up games and media files than being the primary storage for your game library since they are on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of read and write speeds. On the other hand, they run cooler, quieter, and are more power-efficient than high-performance alternatives.

The Blue series comes with the Acronis True Image software suite. You can use it to test the drive, monitor its health, and assist in data migration. 

If you want the most storage space for your money, these drives are an excellent option. They are tried and true products from a reputable brand that won’t let you down. 

Toshiba P300

Best Value HDD for Gaming

toshiba p300

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Specifications

Storage Capacity 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB 3 TB 4 TB 6 TB
Disk Speed 7200 RPM 5400 RPM
Drive Cache 64 MB 128 MB
Warranty 2 Years

Ratings

Performance 7
Reliability 9
Software 8
Value 9
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Reliable
Cons
  • Inferior read and write speeds

 

The Toshiba P300 is a competitively priced HDD that can stand toe to toe with its mainstream alternatives. This drive is very quiet in operation, even when pushed hard in benchmark tests.

The P300 showed impressive results in CrystalDiskMark, with the 3 TB model delivering around 150 Mbps in sequential read and write speeds. It also comes ready with valuable features that enhance reliability. 

Home users often overlook vibration issues on hard drives, but they can significantly affect the service life of the devices. The P300 uses dual-stage actuator technology to help protect the positional accuracy of the head from deviations caused by vibration during read and write operations. This technology helps overcome the struggle of accurately positioning read and write heads with high-density disks while preventing misalignments. 

Top External HDDs for Gaming

Western Digital Black P10 Game Drive

Best External HDD for Gaming

western digital black p10

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Specifications

Storage Capacity 2 TB 4 TB 5 TB
Disk Speed 5200 RPM
Interface USB 3.2 Gen 1
Warranty 3 Years

Ratings

Performance 8
Reliability 9
Support 8
Value 9
Pros
  • Excellent design
  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Reliable

Cons
  • Subpar read and write speeds

 

The Western Digital Black P10 is a stylish and portable drive that can serve as a repository for your massive game library. It is an excellent option for users who have dozens of titles they want to play at a later time or take them on the road. 

The Black P10 features a black rectangle exterior with ribbed sides and prominent hex screws in the corners. It has a small light indicator on one of the edges that lets you know when the drive performs reading or writing operations. The ribbed enclosure helps protect the internal parts from damage and gives the device a rugged and gaming-oriented aesthetic that can look good on any desk.

The Black P10 comes with a standard three-year warranty to protect you from unintended mechanical failure. It features plug-and-play functionality, but you can download utilities that let you set passwords or check the drive’s health and perform maintenance tasks.

In CrystalDiskMark, the Black P10 exhibited decent results of approximately 127 Mbps in sequential read and write speeds. You can transfer a 1.2 GB folder of various file types from your computer to the drive in around 12 seconds in real-world usage. 

All in all, the Black P10 makes a good case for itself as a portable repository for your game library. 

Seagate Backup Plus Slim

Best Slim External HDD for Gaming

seagate backup plus slim

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Specifications

Storage Capacity 2 TB
Disk Speed 5200 RPM
Interface USB 3.2 Gen 1
Warranty 2 Years

Ratings

Performance 7
Reliability 8
Support 9
Value 9
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Sleek design
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent software support
Cons
  • Subpar read and write speeds

 

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim is a lightweight, compact, and portable repository for your games, photos, and videos. This drive provides a generous amount of storage space in a slim chassis that you can slip inside your pocket. It has an aluminum casing that gives it a premium appeal while improving overall durability.

The Backup Plus Slim features a proprietary software suite that lets you save your media from social media accounts to the drive. This device supports USB 3.2 Gen 1 via a detachable cable for high-speed data transfers. It can copy a 1.2 GB folder from your computer to the drive in around 15 seconds. 

Using the Blackmagic disk test, the Backup Plus Slim came back with respectable read and write sequential speeds of around 113 Mbps. While it isn’t ideal to play games straight out of the drive, it is excellent as backup storage for your library. If you want to carry your game collection while traveling, this drive is ideal. 

The Backup Plus Slim comes with a two-year warranty, which is considerably shorter than most of what its competitors offer. Nonetheless, it comes with exclusive features that make it hard to overlook. This drive lets you backup media files from your mobile device using the software suite that is also available for iOS and Android devices. 

Overall, the Backup Plus Slim succeeds in making it easy to take your games and media files wherever you go.

Buyer’s Guide

When choosing an HDD for gaming, several factors need to be considered to ensure you’re making a smart investment. In this section, we will cover what these factors are to give you all the information you need before making a purchase.

Storage Capacity

If you’re buying an HDD to avoid having to delete files when installing a new game or downloadable content, storage capacity should be the primary consideration. Games these days go upwards of 100 GB, so it only makes sense that you select a drive with sufficient storage to hold your entire game library. 

An HDD with 1 TB of storage capacity should be enough for most gamers. It provides adequate space for a few games without costing a fortune. If you’re working with a tight budget, you can consider going with a 500 GB HDD and upgrading to more storage later. You just have to ensure that your case and motherboard have enough drive bays and SATA connectors to accommodate your upgrade path.

Disk Speed

Mechanical hard drives store information on spinning magnetic plates. The faster these plates rotate, the quicker they can read and write data—the speed at which these plates spin is measured in rotations per minute (RPM). 

Generally, 7200 RPM is the standard for gaming, but new caching technologies have allowed 5400 RPM drives to keep up with its faster alternatives. A faster cache is where many HDDs differentiate themselves from the competition. Most of the drives on this list deliver decent results for game load times regardless of disk speed. 

Cache Volume

The cache in an HDD functions similarly to the RAM in a computer. It stores crucial files temporarily, allowing you to access these data on the disk quickly. The larger the cache size, the faster the disk should perform. However, the speed difference between cache sizes is largely insignificant. As long as you have a standard cache size of at least 64 MB, your HDD should perform as expected. Meanwhile, SSHDs like the Seagate FireCuda tend to have larger cache sizes to accommodate faster read and write speeds. 

Warranty

Longevity is another important consideration when purchasing an HDD. These drives have moving parts that make them more susceptible to mechanical failure than SSDs, so reliability is a key factor. 

The warranty usually indicates a brand’s trust in its products. If a product has an extended warranty period, it means the brand has faith that the commodity will last. 

The standard warranty for these devices is two to three years, while some of the most reliable models go upwards of five years. Some brands even offer money-back guarantees if their products don’t meet expectations. Keep in mind that you can never count on an HDD to work forever, so it is essential that you backup your most important data or use protection methods like RAID arrays.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hybrid drives good for gaming?

As mentioned before, SSHDs are a combination of an SSD and an HDD. While they are overwhelmingly HDDs, the small portion of SSDs built into these devices as cache allow faster access to frequently used applications and an overall boost in performance. It won’t have the same impact as an SSD, but it provides a middle ground between the two standards at a reasonable cost. If you play games that require minimal storage space, you can experience quick load times with an SSHD.

Does disk speed matter for gaming?

Disk speed is an aspect that impacts your games’ load times. A 10000 RPM HDD like the Western Digital VelociRaptor outperforms virtually every 7200 RPM HDD, making it the most suitable option for gaming. On the other hand, a 5400 RPM HDD is not that detrimental to game performance, but it results in significantly slower load times. 

Should I get an internal or external HDD?

The primary advantage of external HDDs is their portability. They allow you to take your entire game library anywhere you go. However, it is not ideal to load your games directly from these devices because of their unimpressive read and write performance. They are more suitable as a backup if you have inadequate storage space on your computer for your games. 

Recap of the Best HDDs for Gaming

Top Internal HDDs for Gaming

  1. Seagate FireCuda GamingBest SSHD for Gaming
  2. Western Digital VelociRaptorBest HDD for Gaming
  3. Seagate Barracuda ComputeBest Budget HDD for Gaming
  4. Western Digital BlackBest Premium HDD for Gaming
  5. Western Digital BlueBest Entry-Level HDD for Gaming
  6. Toshiba P300Best Value HDD for Gaming

Top External HDDs for Gaming

  1. Western Digital Black P10 Game DriveBest External HDD for Gaming
  2. Seagate Backup Plus SlimBest Slim External HDD for Gaming

Conclusion

That wraps up our list of the best HDDs for gaming. Our wide variety of picks ensure there’s a drive for every budget and use case. Whatever your specific requirement is, we’re sure there’s a drive on this list for you. 

I am a gaming enthusiast with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge in the world of technology. In addition to being a resident contributor to this website, I am currently pursuing a degree in political science while flipping gaming systems on the side.

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