Best Hard Drive (HDD) For Gaming in 2021: Reviews & Our Pick

seagatebarracuda 2

While it may seem redundant to some, there are still budget-focused PC builders that search for the best hard drive (HDD) for gaming. They don’t offer the same read and write speeds as their newer SSD counterpart or the same acoustic performance but they are incredibly affordable and reliable. This makes the best HDDs a viable option for many where speed isn’t the main priority in certain games and where you have a lot of media files/ data that needs to be stored or backed up.

In the following article, we have chosen five of the best HDDs available, catering to all needs and situations leaving no stone unturned. They range from Hybrid storage solutions to budget options with sizes varying from 500GB up to 14TB!

Without further ado let’s take a closer look.

Our Top Picks

01
Editor's Pick
Great mix of storage and speeds
02
All Round Pick
Bigger capacity and a solid performer
03
4K Streamer Pick
Insane capacity for video file storage

Best HDD For Gaming: First Look

01
Editor's Pick
Great mix of storage and speeds
Seagate FireCuda (2TB)

Seagate FireCuda (2TB)

0 /5
Editor's Rating

We’ve concluded after many hours of testing that the Firecuda 2TB is the best HDD for gaming. This may look like a regular mechanical hard drive but it’s actually a hybrid storage device boasting SSD speeds and HDD’s capacity. This is thanks to the 8GB NAND solid-state memory which increases boot and loading times exponentially.

Seagate really is a name you can rely on when it comes to storage devices. The Firecuda comes packed with the two essential features that every storage junkie requires speed and capacity.

For those that don’t know, the Firecuda is an SSHD. This is a hybrid storage solution that has been engineered to have the features of both an SSD and an HDD in one. The best of both worlds. It has been equipped with 8GB of high-performance solid-state memory which gives it lightning quick loading times whilst still having a total capacity of 2TB.

02
All Round Pick
Bigger capacity and a solid performer
Seagate Barracuda (3TB)

Seagate Barracuda (3TB)

0 /5
Editor's Rating

If you need the best all-round gaming hard drive which is both fast and large then look no further. The Seagate Barracuda (3TB) is large enough to store all your games whilst leaving enough room for media files, even 4k!

The Seagate Barracuda comes with a solid 3TB of storage space for you to mess around with. That’s enough storage space to accommodate all your steam games, media files, and important files making it the perfect selection for our $800 and $1000 builds. In many situations this still leaves you with a tonne of space to play around with.

Keep in mind that modern games today are starting to require spaces of at least 20-ish GB. With this, you can easily store about 120 25GB games no sweat. It is without a doubt, the best all round internal hard drive for gaming.

03
4K Streamer Pick
Insane capacity for video file storage
Wester digital 14TB hc530

Western Digital 14TB Ultrastar HDD

0 /5
Editor's Rating

If you’re a serious streamer or video editor who dabbles in 4k on a regular basis you understand the need for large storage capacity. This is the sole reason why Western Digital’s 14TB Ultrastar makes an appearance in our ‘best of’ list. It smashes everything else out of the park when considering large storage options and will be a valued piece of your hardware family.

This monster of a storage solution is our top pick for the streamers and 4k video editors out there. Even though this was primarily built with NAS in mind, we feel it has a legitimate claim as our large capacity option.

With movements in modern technology becoming ever more frequent it won’t be long before we see the likes of 8k being more and more mainstream. For now however we’re in the ages of 4k, and for those that edit this kind of file, you understand the importance of enjoying a lot of storage.

We’ve named the Western Digital 14TB Ultrastar our top large capacity internal hard drive. It’s 7200RPM, as you’d expect, and comes with a 512MB cache which is much more efficient than any large storage on the market right now.

04
A popular pick
If you don't need a massive hard drive you could save here
Seagate FireCuda (1TB)

Seagate FireCuda (1TB)

0 /5
Editor's Rating

Amongst the most popular HDDs in today’s market. This 1TB Seagate Firecuda has all the same whistles and bells as the 2TB model but is much more affordable. 1TB for us is the sweet spot between size and price. When you pair this with the hybrid technology the Firecuda comes armed with you start to appreciate what a fantastic all-round product this is.

Like the 2TB FireCuda, you get both speed and storage capacity in one here.

You have 1TB of storage space to play within this model, enough room to store all your primary AAA game titles with ease. Further to this, the Firecuda has the luxury boot speeds and loading times which rival that of the SSD, making it much more effective than your regular HDD storage options.

If you liked the look of the 2TB Firecuda but can’t quite stomach the cost, this is surely the next best option for you. Essentially, this does what the 2TB version can do but only has half the capacity.

05
Budget Pick
Cheap and cheerful, but won't let you down
Western Digital 500GB 7200RPM

WD Blue 500GB Hard Disk Drive

0 /5
Editor's Rating

This may be a Western Digital storage drive but this is a name that’s known to have produced quality and durable storage devices over the years. It only has 500GB of storage space, however, this model is 7200RPM, making it faster than other entry-level HDD’s which start at 5400RPM. Overall a great little HDD to get you started.

When you’re on a really tight budget but you badly need storage space in the meantime, this surely is the best you could get. For an extremely affordable price, you get 500GB storage space with 7200RPM speeds – enough to make sure you get a decent performance compared to what you could find in the price range.

01
Editor's Pick
Seagate FireCuda (2TB)

Seagate FireCuda (2TB)

Storage

2TB

Cache

Hybrid

Speed

Hybrid

02
All Round Pick
Seagate Barracuda (3TB)

Seagate Barracuda (3TB)

Storage

3TB

Cache

64MB

Speed

7200RPM

03
4K Streamer Pick
Wester digital 14TB hc530

Western Digital 14TB Ultrastar HDD

Storage

14TB

Cache

512mb

Speed

7200RPM

04
A popular pick
Seagate FireCuda (1TB)

Seagate FireCuda (1TB)

Storage

1TB

Cache

Hybrid

Speed

Hybrid

05
Budget Pick
Western Digital 500GB 7200RPM

WD Blue 500GB Hard Disk Drive

Storage

500GB

Cache

32MB

Speed

7200RPM

In-depth Review

01
Editor's Pick
Seagate FireCuda (2TB)

Seagate FireCuda (2TB)

Storage

2TB

Cache

Hybrid

Speed

Hybrid

Pros

Amazing storage

More than enough room for games and media

Far faster than a 7200RPM HDD

Can fit in laptops/consoles

Cons

Sacrifices storage gains for speed

Somewhat poorer value than other options

The Seagate Firecuda (2TB) takes our number one position in the best HDD for gaming list and for good reason… Not only does it have the hybrid technology many have come to love, but it also slots perfectly into your laptops and consoles if you require a capacity boost.

This 2.5-inch SSHD storage device may look like an ordinary mechanical hard drive but under the hood is something very different…

This is a hybrid hard drive that boasts much faster read and write speeds than your ordinary HDD’s – thanks to the 8GB NAND solid-state memory. It’s essentially a type of flash memory that could access speeds faster than regular hard drives.

It’s what makes it the best 2TB HDD for gaming and set’s it apart from the rest of the hard drives you’ve probably been looking at.

However this being said, it still doesn’t land a blow on the performance stats of SSD devices which are widely considered the new GO TO storage solution for gamers. It does however boast a much larger storage capacity than SSD at a much more affordable price.

We highly recommend you get this if you want faster boot and loading times on top of pure, raw storage space. Moreover, we also recommend this if you record videos and store large media files (4k films) on the sides.

If you think 2TB of SSHD storage is too much for what you really need, fret not as we have a number of different sized candidates yet to come.

02
All Round Pick
Seagate Barracuda (3TB)

Seagate Barracuda (3TB)

Storage

3TB

Cache

64MB

Speed

7200RPM

Pros

Pure storage capacity

...at an amazing value

Boasts all the room you should need on an HDD

Cons

No hybrid benefits

Can’t fit in laptops/consoles

Out of the 12 hard drives that we tested, we already anticipated that the Seagate Barracuda (3TB) was going to be one of the best HDD solutions on our list. But after doing the benchmarks and tests, we’re we extremely surprised to see what this HDD had to offer under the hood.

Here’s why:

The 2TB Seagate FireCuda may be 231% faster when it comes to 4K random write speeds but the 3TB Seagate Barracuda is still 10% faster in terms of real-world speed.

The 3TB storage capacity allows you to store a huge amount of modern games in your library. In fact, this is capable of holding all the games you could possibly have in your drive right now and still has enough room left to accommodate more.

A word that you need to keep in mind though is that this won’t fit in laptops and consoles since this is a 3.5-inch HDD. However, if that isn’t one of your goals then consider this the perfect all-round solution for you.

If you’re on the hunt for an HDD that you could fit on your laptop or console then our main choice would certainly be the Firecuda 2TB.

03
4K Streamer Pick
Wester digital 14TB hc530

Western Digital 14TB Ultrastar HDD

Storage

14TB

Cache

512mb

Speed

7200RPM

Pros

Massive capacity

Solid build quality

Perfect for video editors and streamers

Cons

Many will say, upon seeing this in our best HDD’s list, that the 14TB Ultrastar from Western Digital isn’t considered a consumer level HDD… and they’d be half right in thinking that…

In all honesty, the main goal of this HDD is to be part of a NAS (Network attached storage device) which can be accessed by many PC’s simultaneously. However with the ever growing popularity of  streaming and 4K we think this hard drive has a legitimate claim as our best large capacity storage solution.

Over the last 10 years we have seen the influx of streaming and 4k video content become part of our everyday viewing material. What some people probably aren’t aware of however is how much storage these things take up. Streaming and video editing require a great deal of storage capacity especially when you bring 4k into the equation, and for this reason we feel the 14TB Ultrastar HDD from Western Digital is a brilliant choice. Furthermore, this has a disk buffer rate of 512mb/s making it much faster than other large storage options in today’s market.

Let’s not forget the advancements in modern technology either, 8k will soon be widely available on all platforms and in hand will undoubtedly require more storage.

All being said, this is probably not your go to option right now, but if you’re looking to future proof your machine then why not consider this monster as an option.

04
A popular pick
Seagate FireCuda (1TB)

Seagate FireCuda (1TB)

Storage

1TB

Cache

Hybrid

Speed

Hybrid

Pros

Great intermediate storage

Great for the price

Plenty of room for games and media

Far faster than a 7200RPM HDD

Can fit in laptops/consoles

Cons

Sacrifices storage gains for speed

There were a few candidates for the ‘best 1TB HDD for gaming’ number 1 spot but inevitably we had to go for Seagate’s Firecuda, and for good reason. The Firecuda, thanks to its hybrid features, stands alone at the top of the list and it’s hard to argue against it. This HDD is literally the best of both worlds, no compromises need to be made here.

The SSD and the HDD technologies were blended into one, meaning you get the kick of an SSD and the thick storage capacity of a regular mechanical hard drive. Gamers personally love this because 1TB storage capacity is more than enough for casual gamers.

The elevated speeds of boot and loading times make it a top pick that gamers just can’t resist. To top that off, this can be installed in laptops and consoles because it’s a 2.5” SSHD, meaning if you want to upgrade your laptop storage or improve your console gaming experience, here’s a choice we personally recommend.

If that’s not pleasing enough for you, the price is also considered extremely good value for money. Win-win!

05
Budget Pick
Western Digital 500GB 7200RPM

WD Blue 500GB Hard Disk Drive

Storage

500GB

Cache

32MB

Speed

7200RPM

Pros

Very cheap

7200RPM

Cons

Can fit in laptops/consoles

Finally, we have our budget pick, which comes in the shape of the Western Digital 500GB HDD. You might be sat there asking yourself, why on earth would I get a 500GB HDD, what use will that be? and the answer is really simple, you just don’t have the funds to go for the other recommendations in this list. It’s not all bad though opting for a smaller HDD…

The great thing about storage in today’s market is how inexpensive they can be when you duck under 1TB of capacity. They are the perfect solution if you’re at the end of your build and find yourself a little too close to your monetary limit. Western Digital Blue series comes to the table at 7200RPM which is a step up from other cheap HDD that usually start at 5400RPM and has good solid build quality.

Ultimately this isn’t a long term solution if you’re a gamer. It’s going to fill up pretty quickly and you’re going to find yourself in a situation that requires uninstalling programs and games to accommodate for newer stuff. However, it will get you up and running until you have enough money to go for one of our better options above.

Is SSD or HDD better for gaming?

When it comes to gaming, you want to ensure that you have the best possible storage drive. A storage drive that features fast loading times is essential. If you have the choice between an SSD or a HDD for gaming, we would definitely recommend purchasing an SSD.

Overall, SSDs are much quicker and more responsive. They provide a faster and better performance. The loading times are a lot quicker in comparison to a HDD. Solid state drives have far better read and write speeds, and the majority of games will favor SSDs when given the choice.

However, HDDs still provide a good performance on the whole. They are efficient enough to use for gaming, but they do have slower read and write speeds on the whole. They do tend to have a more extended lifespan in comparison to SSDs though.

Does SSD increase FPS?

Any gamer will know that FPS is important. The higher the amount of frames per second a game is running at, the better the overall quality and picture will be. The better the fps is, the less likely you are to encounter things such as tearing and lag.

While SSDs do improve things such as loading times and the overall speed of your gaming laptop or PC, it does not actually improve the frames per second in any way.

Some people may assume that it improves the fps because it does help to smooth out gameplay ever so slightly. However, this is the SSD simply improving the loading speeds to help prevent stutters, rather than it improving the fps.

It is the GPU that controls the overall fps. If you have significantly lower fps when benchmarking and during game play, the only way you can truly resolve this is by upgrading or replacing your existing GPU.

Is 1TB HDD enough for gaming?

The amount of memory that a HDD will need all depends on how many games you want to play, and store. In addition to this, the types of games you are saving will also need to be taking into consideration.

If you are playing older games, these typically use up far less memory in comparison to newer, next-gen games. Given this, if you are playing smaller or older games, a 1TB HDD is more than enough for gaming.

When it comes to modern gaming, and larger AAA games, while a 1TB HDD is a sufficient amount for many gamers, it will run out over time if you do not remove games you have completed.

On average, a next-gen game typically uses anywhere up to 100 GB of memory. When you take this into consideration, a 1TB HDD does not seem to be awfully large. However, it will still allow you to save a good amount of games on it.

For those who are not looking to game seriously, a 1TB HDD is a significant amount to have. If you are looking to take gaming more seriously, you will likely benefit from a larger storage capacity and an SSD instead of a HDD too.

Is SSD faster than 7200RPM?

When comparing the speed of an SSD to 7200RPM, there is no real competition. The SSD will always come out on top in all aspects of gaming.

An SSD has far better access times, many of which can be around 100 times better, which means that the 7200RPM just cannot compete with it.

The 7200RPM speed of a HDD is good, but over time has not really been improved upon. In comparison to this the specifications of SSDs keep getting better by the year and their performance is far better on the whole.

The boost time of SSD tends to be twice as fast as the 7200RPM. While the 7200RPM is reasonable it just cannot compete with the likes of an SSD, and its newer technology.

Does SSD reduce lag?

While an SSD does not completely reduce lag, it certainly does improve it to an extent. This is due to its very fast loading speeds.

While the speeds may drop slightly in the first few seconds of using a HDD, this is not the case when using an SSD.

Final Word

Ultimately, everything comes down to what fits your budget and your needs. We have covered the best hard drives (HDD) for gaming here and tried to ensure we cater to everyone’s specific requirements.

If you’re squeezing performance-per-dollar to the max with a budget build, go with the Western Digital Blue (500GB).

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

If you want faster loading times without severely sacrificing storage space, opt for one of the two Hybrid drives. Seagate FireCuda 2TB and Seagate FireCuda 1TB will both serve you well in that regard.

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

Lastly, if you need large amounts of storage space, there is no better choice than the Western Digital 14TB Ultrastar.

Our pick is the Seagate FireCuda 1TB.

What’s yours? Let us know down in the comments or head over to the WePC community and share!

The Author Who Worked On This Article

Co-founder
at
WePC
As a huge fan of RTS and fast-paced FPS, Will has been playing games since the days of the original Command and Conquer and has many fond memories of sending waves upon waves of attack dogs to destroy the enemies infantry in Red Alert. Nowadays, he plays Shogun Total War, CS GO and, RS2 Vietnam.

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