Best Hard Drive (HDD) for Gaming

Having the right hard drive is another crucial part of an immersive gaming experience. Your hard drive will determine how many games you can keep on your computer as well as how fast you can retrieve those games to use. A good hard drive is like a great shelf to keep all your games. In this round up ValueGamers analyzes the best hard drives for gaming.

Best Value: SeaGate Barracuda

Whether it’s for the 2.5 or 3.5 inch variation, you will get the most memory per dollar with the SeaGate Barracuda series. You can find this hard drive from 500 GB all the way up to 5 TB with the latter costing less than $180. With just over 2 TB you can store upwards of 2,000 games (assuming 10 GB per game). You likely won’t have that many games to store, which means you’ll have plenty of other room for music, videos and whatever else you may want to store on your computer.
The Seagate Barracuda is one of the best hard drives for gaming

The only downside to the Barracuda is that most of the drives are 5,400 RPM as opposed to 7200 – making it a wee bit slower than the other hard drives we discuss below. The Barracuda is still a great buy however because of it’s 128GB cache memory. We believe that more than makes up for the slightly slower RPM.

Memory 2.5 in 3.5 in
1 TB Buy on Amazon
2 TB Buy on Amazon
4 TB Buy on Amazon

 

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Best Performing HDD: WD Black

The WD Black hard drives are the best performing HDDs on our list. Though they usually run a bit costlier than the Barracudas, their reliability and performance are undeniable. Like the Barracuda the WD Black series comes in a 2.5 and 3.5 inch variety with storage capacity ranging from 500 GB up to 6 TB. Unlike the Barracuda, the RPM for the WD Black is 7200, making it a faster system on paper. What the specs don’t say is that the WD Black are work horse’s and are built to last longer than most standard HDDs.
The WD Black is one of the best hdd for gaming

On all models with 2 TB and above, there is StableTrac Technology which secures the motor shaft inside the hard drive. WD claims this increases reliability and also reduces impacts from due to vibrations from other components of the HDD.

Memory 2.5 in 3.5 in
1 TB Buy on Amazon
500 GB/ 2 TB Buy on Amazon
750 GB/ 4 TB Buy on Amazon

 

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Best Gaming Hard Drive on a Budget: WD Blue

Like it’s cousin the WD Black, the WD Blue comes in a 2.5 and 3.5 inch variety – though at a cheaper price than the Black version. The main difference between the Blue and Black WD hard drives is the RPM. The Blue is a bit slower than the Black with a 5,400 RPM vs a 7,200 on the Black. The Blue also has far less cache memory than the Black, meaning you’re going to sacrifice speed significantly if you go with the WD Blue. Nonetheless, the WD Blue is a solid hard drive for gaming. If you are new to PC gaming, and don’t have an extensive library, or use your computer exclusively for gaming, the WD Blue is a solid choice.The Western Digital Blue hard drive is one of the best hdd for gaming

Memory 2.5 in 3.5 in
1 TB Buy on Amazon
2 TB Buy on Amazon
4 TB

 

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Most Reliable Hard Drive: HGST Ultrastar

According to Backblaze, The HGST Ultrastar is the only hard drive with a consistent fail rate of less than 1%. The Seagates and WDs all have at least one or two models that will fail over 1% and upwards of 5%. Overall, the average fail rate, as in, the number of times the data on your hard drive will be inaccessible was about 2%. If safety for your games is a number 1 priority, then going with a system that fails the least could be the way to go. The Ultrastar comes in both 2.5 and 3.5 inches. It’s a fast hard drive, with all models for differing memory space having a 7,200 RPM.
The HGST Hitachi Ultrastar is one of the best and reliable hard drives for gamingBuy on Amazon

How to Buy the Best Hard Drive for Gaming

When it comes to buying a HDD for your PC, you should take into account the speed, memory, size and durability of the drive. The first 3 have specs which you can compare side by side, while durability is a bit harder to gauge. All the models we list in our round up above are reliable hard drives, though some tend to last longer than others. Here’s what you should consider when getting a HDD.

RPM

If you’re just looking for a hard drive to store large files, then RPM will matter less to you. If you are looking for a hard drive for the computer you will be running games from, investing in a 7,200 hard drive is worth it. Provided you had two identical hard drives, a 7,200 RPM hard drive will operate 33% faster than a 5,400. Obviously, it becomes more complicated when comparing different models. Things like a lot of cache memory, which we discuss in the next paragraph, can help compensate for a slower RPM – though to an extent. There is also the fact while 7,200 RPM’s can be upwards of 33% faster, they are usually at least 40 to 50% more expensive than 5,400 RPM hard drives. If you are on a budget, but want to game intensively, you’ll need to rely on other factors to make your buying decision.

Durability and Reliability

Reliability is incredibly important because you can spend well over $100 on your hard drive, store all of your games (and photos and videos) on it, only for it to fail. That is the inherent risk with going with a HDD as opposed to an SSD. Unfortunately, durability and reliability is the hardest metric to gauge on a hard drive. There is no convenient number to look up like RPM or TB. Luckily there are organizations like Backblaze that laboriously tested hundreds of hard drivers over a period of 3 years for their fail rates.

Of the hard drives in which they have solid data, failure doesn’t generally go higher than 5% with the average sitting around 2%. It’s a low number and there isn’t that much variation between the hard drives we discuss above but if you’re the cautious type, going with the lowest (the HGST models) can be the way to go.

Memory

We put memory and cached memory as the last thing to consider. Honestly, anything over 1TB is a lot of memory. Assuming 10GB per game, just 1 TB can hold about 1,000 games. Assuming most of you reading this likely have a number of games in the range of 10 to 200, you will still have plenty of memory for videos, applications, photos, etc. with just 1 TB of memory space. Being honest with how much memory you really need can save you lots of money. Going with the WD Black 2TB (which is 7,200 RPM) vs the WD Blue 4TB (which is 5,400 RPM) will only cost you $10 more.

Hard Drive Cache

The hard drive cache is analogous to the RAM for a computer. Also known as “disk buffer” the cache memory is a temporary storage your hard drive holds as it writes and reads data. Video buffering” is a good analogy to use. A video that is buffering will take a longer time to view because each bit of the video is being downloaded as you are watching the video. It’s better if the latter parts of the video are downloaded while you are watching the beginning part.

That is similar to hard drive cache. At any given time operating your computer, especially with gaming, your hard drive has to pull data from multiple places. If it has a place to temporarily store things while it works on other data, it speeds the process along. With that being said, it terms of overall speed of the hard drive, RPM is a better metric. Cache can speed up a hard drive, but not as significantly as a 7,200 RPM vs 5,400.