Best Hard Drive For Gaming - 2018 Reviews and Top Picks

Trying to find the best hard drive for gaming? Look no further. We’ve gathered the best options for HDD in various price ranges.

When it comes to hard drives and gaming performance, we’re going to start here:

There’s no real correlation in gaming performance. Your ping times and framerates will not change with an HDD upgrade unless your pre-existing HDD has serious problems.

With this in mind, we’re classifying “for gaming” for the following purposes:

  • Offering plenty of space to store games
  • Offering faster loading times in games
  • One or both of the above

We’ll also discuss SSDs later in the article. For now, we’re going to hop into our contenders for the best hard drive for gaming.

Seagate FireCuda (2TB)

Finding The Best Hard Drive For Gaming: Breakdown

namestoragecachespeedRating
Just DriveWestern Digital Caviar BlueWestern Digital Caviar Blue 320GB 8MB7200RPM3/5
InterstatialSeagate Barracuda (1TB)Seagate Barracuda (1TB)1TB 64MB7200RPM3.5/5
Fast RideSeagate FireCuda (1TB)Seagate FireCuda (1TB)1TB HybridHybrid4/5
Fast LaneSeagate FireCuda (2TB)Seagate FireCuda (2TB)2TBHybridHybrid4.25/5
Highest HighwaySeagate Barracuda (3TB)Seagate Barracuda (3TB)3TB64MB7200RPM4.5/5
#1

Western Digital Caviar Blue

TECH SPECS

  • Storage
    320GB
  • Cache
    8MB
  • Speed
    7200RPM

The Just Drive is Just (a) Drive for your entry-level gaming PC. It’s as cheap as it comes on the list and the smallest, too.

However, it compensates for its weaknesses in one key area: by following the 7200RPM standard instead of 5400RPM, which is common in older HDDS/laptop HDDs.

If you’re squeezing pennies hard on a budget build, Just Drive may be your best option for storage to squeeze the most performance out of your other components.

If you can afford better, however, we highly recommend that you buy better.

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#2

Seagate Barracuda (1TB)

TECH SPECS

  • Storage
    1TB
  • Cache
    64MB
  • Speed
    7200RPM

Next up is our first Seagate Barracuda drive. With 1TB of storage, you’ll have plenty of room for your games and media.

With that in mind, we’ve named it Interstat(e)ial. The Interstatial will serve you great as a value-oriented storage option and offers a much better value than cheaper HDDs in the sub-$50 price range.

The Seagate Barracuda line, in general, is one of our favorite lines of HDDs due to its solid build quality and consistent performance. Next up, however, is a much more interesting contender for the best hard drive for gaming.

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#3

Seagate FireCuda (1TB)

TECH SPECS

  • Storage
    1TB
  • Cache
    Hybrid
  • Speed
    Hybrid

The 1TB model of the Seagate FireCuda is our first real competitor for the best hard drive for gaming. That’s because it actually offers tangible benefits over other HDDs!

It comes with two big benefits: speed and size.

The speed benefit comes from its nature as a Hybrid drive, blending SSD and HDD technology into one. This translates into faster- significantly faster- loading times for your OS and games without sacrificing storage, as you would with an SSD.

The second benefit is size. Since this drive is 2.5 inches instead of 3.5 (like most desktop HDDs), it can also fit into laptops and gaming consoles.

While the normal HDDs on this list can really only be applied to desktop PCs, the Hybrids can be used on much more devices!

Last but not least, the value standpoint here is pretty good. For just $20 more than a 1TB HDD, you get significantly upgraded speed and compatibility.

If you and your games need a Fast Ride, this is a good place to start.

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#4

Seagate FireCuda (2TB)

TECH SPECS

  • Storage
    2TB
  • Cache
    Hybrid
  • Speed
    Hybrid

The 2TB FireCuda is a lot like the 1TB FireCuda. In fact, it’s basically the same thing, just twice as large!

However, it gets its own nickname- Fast Lane- and its own rank on the list because of the place it occupies in the hierarchy of hard drives.

Fast Lane is the first of the drives on this list to breach the $100 price range and it does so while offering 2TB of storage alongside all of the benefits of its predecessor.

Most people- us included- have recommended 2TB HDDs in the past for most price ranges. That’s because, at a roughly $70-80 price range, you can get a solidly-built 2TB 7200RPM HDD for your money.

The 2TB FireCuda, for just $20-$30 more, adds a wealth of benefits on top of that. Smaller size allows mounting into laptops/consoles and increased speed translates to faster loading times in your games.

If you enjoy seeing other people have eureka moments, here’s ours: the process of researching this article made us realize that the HDD recommendations in our build guides can still be improved upon!

That aside, let’s move onto the last of our contenders...

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#5

Seagate Barracuda (3TB)

TECH SPECS

  • Storage
    3TB
  • Cache
    64MB
  • Speed
    7200RPM

This is for the pure storage junkie. 3TB of raw storage is enough to hold all but the largest Steam libraries, not to mention all the movies and music you could want on one device.

Due to the Barracuda’s status as a value storage champion, we’ve nicknamed it the Highest Highway for this article.

If you have a lot of large, modern games in your library, the Highest Highway is your best bet for holding them all and still having room for other stuff.

While this is our top pick, because storage trumps all, you may think differently. You may have different needs.

While this is one of the best storage options on the market, it’s still too large to fit into a laptop or a console. It also doesn’t have any SSHD speed benefits, much less SSD speed benefits.

If you’re only investing in one drive, should it be such a large HDD?

We’ll dive into that below.

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Selection Criteria

Storage Needs

First and foremost, address your storage needs.

If you’re a PC enthusiast and you have a large library of games you play regularly, a large HDD is a no-brainer. This becomes even more important once you start using game recording software, like Shadowplay, which generates large raw video files on your HDD for you to deal with.

If you’re a gamer who isn’t trying to play every game under the sun, however, a smaller drive may be better-suited for you. Console gamers can probably stand to go for the 1TB SSHD option we’ve provided since your storage will only be mainly used for games and not media files.

If you’re just squeezing in a budget, our Western Digital drive may be your best bet. While we’d highly recommend updating your storage at some point in the future, buying PCs in the $300 and under price range often means sacrificing storage for performance.

Does Hybrid Actually Matter?

Hybrid HDDs are an amazing compromise between an SSD’s speed and an HDD’s raw storage and are often just the compromise people need.

If you wanted the absolute best performance in all your gaming and applications, a 2TB SSD would get that job done and then some. Unfortunately, SSDs cost way more per GB than HDDs do, and having space for all your games on an SSD simply isn’t feasible for most.

Meanwhile, a 2TB HDD is more than enough space for most people to store their games and media. I’ve been using a 2TB HDD for years now and I still haven’t quite filled it up, despite all the downloads and video recording I’ve done on my PC!

However, an HDD can sometimes translate to slower loading times. As my HDD has aged, I’ve noticed its performance drop, meaning I’m left sitting on loading screens much longer than my contemporaries are.

A Hybrid HDD balances the benefits of both storage types but doesn’t quite replace either of them.

Brand

When it comes to HDDs, brand is extremely important.

Fortunately, Western Digital and Seagate are some of the best HDD manufacturers out there, with consistently high reviews and solid build quality.

If, for some reason, you decide to buy an HDD that isn’t on this list, make sure you’re buying it from a reputable manufacturer. A few other good manufacturers include Toshiba and Samsung.

A Note On SSDs

We do need to address the elephant in the room here, though: SSDs exist.

With an SSD, you can install your OS, programs and a few of your favorite games for rapid-fire loading and response times. SSDs are one of the most highly recommended user-experience upgrades that you can get on your PC.

If you’re okay with sacrificing storage space for speed, we recommend taking a look at our companion SSD article.

It’s also worth noting that if you have the money, this isn’t necessarily an either-or situation.

You could buy a small SSD to enjoy its benefits with your OS and a few of your favorite games, then buy an HDD for your other games and your media storage. At least, you can do this with desktop PCs.

This usually isn’t possible on laptops and gaming consoles.

Making Your Choice

Ultimately, everything comes down to what fits your budget and your needs.

If you’re squeezing performance-per-dollar to the max with a budget build, go with the Just Drive.

If you’re still performance-per-dollar oriented but want some decent storage, go with the Interstatial. It offers a reliable 1TB of storage for just $50.

If you want faster loading times without severely sacrificing storage space, opt for one of the two Hybrid drives. Fast Ride and Fast Lane will both serve you well in that regard.

Finally, if budget isn’t a concern and you just want room for all of your games, buy the Highest Highway. It’s a massive 3TB drive and should suit your needs fine.

Our pick is the Highest Highway.

What’s yours?