Best Hard Drive (HDD) For Gaming in 2020 & 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

Editor's Pick

WePC Editors Choice Badge

Great mix of storage and speeds

All Round Pick

Bigger capacity and a solid performer

Best HDD For Gaming: First Look

Editor's Pick

Great mix of storage and speeds
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Editor's Rating
4.8/5

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.

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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.

All Round Pick

Bigger capacity and a solid performer
0 /5
Editor's Rating
4.6/5

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!

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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.

4K Streamer Pick

Insane capacity for video file storage
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Editor's Rating
4.5/5

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.

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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.

A popular pick

If you don't need a massive hard drive you could save here
0 /5
Editor's Rating
4.3/5

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.

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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.

Budget Pick

Cheap and cheerful, but won't let you down
0 /5
Editor's Rating
4.1/5

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.

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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.

Editor's Pick

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All Round Pick

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4K Streamer Pick

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A popular pick

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Budget Pick

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Editor's Pick

Great mix of storage and speeds
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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

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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.

All Round Pick

Bigger capacity and a solid performer
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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

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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.

4K Streamer Pick

Insane capacity for video file storage
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Pros

Massive capacity

Solid build quality

Perfect for video editors and streamers

Cons

Expensive

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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.

A popular pick

A popular pick
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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

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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!

Budget Pick

Cheap and cheerful, but won't let you down
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Pros

Very cheap

7200RPM

Cons

Can fit in laptops/consoles

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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.

How We Choose

As most will know, modern-day games are becoming much more demanding, for this reason, we decided to do some extensive research online to make sure the products we’re recommending are the best types of hard drive for gaming.

Since SSDs are king when it comes to speeds, we decided to limit our review to the HDD and SSHD boundaries. We didn’t solely rely on what we found on our end but instead, we also checked what our fellow professionals have to say about the hard drives to get a deeper understanding of the features.

Instead of just randomly picking colorful and cool hard drives we could find online, we spent an entire week checking reviews, forums, benchmarks, as well as feedback from manufacturer websites like Seagate, Toshiba, and Western Digital.

How We Test

Aside from the packaging – which is pretty much straightforward, there’s nothing more we can do but perform an in-depth testing on the hard drives straight away.

Below is a table that shows the results based on the 3 benchmarking tools that we used:

We boiled the results down to five of the best hard drives to save you time and to make it convenient for everyone.

The 5 Best Hard Drive for Gaming (HDD Buying Guide) benchmark
NameSequential4K
Read [MB/s]Write [MB/s]Read [MB/s]Write [MB/s]
Seagate Barracuda (3TB)1751600.671.53
Seagate FireCuda (2TB)1341680.655.04
Seagate FireCuda(1TB)1331650.714.9
Seagate Barracuda (1TB)1681540.811.52
Western Digital Caviar Blue (320GB)85.482.70.51.64

Things To Consider

Like with any piece of hardware, there are always going to be things to consider to ensure you make the correct hard drive purchase for your gaming PC. In this section, we are going to go over a few key factors that you need to be aware of and give you all the help you need to make that all-important final purchase.

Storage Needs

First and foremost, address your storage needs.

If you’re a PC enthusiast and you have a large library of games that you play on a regular basis, 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.

Since 2019, games are becoming heavier and heavier meaning it’s important to invest in a storage device with at least 1TB of space, if possible.

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 make full use of 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 HDD’s raw storage and are often just the compromise people need.

If you want 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 become subject 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, the 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 highly recommend you get an SSD instead. 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.

Read more: What Is The Best SSD For Gaming?

Which HDD Is Right For You?

Hardcore gamers should get the 2TB Seagate FireCuda. Period. It’s the best gaming hard drive. It is literally the only hard drive in this list that has the features of both an SSD and an HDD. While the 1TB FireCuda is enough, the 2TB FireCuda should give you a fair amount of breathing time to save up and spend on other hardware components. Overall, this is great for long-term use or future-proofing as well.

Even though the Barracuda 3TB doesn’t have the hybrid features that the 2TB FireCuda boasts, it does have solid real world speeds, it’s actually faster in quite few situations. So, not only do you have the speed you need for a quality gaming experience but you also have a hefty 3TB at your disposal.

If you’re a casual gamer, however, we highly recommend you get the 1TB Seagate FireCuda. If you have the cash, by all means, go with the 2TB version. This should give you the speeds you need to enjoy the quality gaming experience we all crave, with no compromise in space.

If you’re a gamer who does a lot of video editing and streaming, our natural recommendation is the 14TB Ultrastar from Western Digital. It not only boasts an enormous 14TB of space, it also has a 512mb cache which is great for all-round usage. Combining these 2 features gives you a really efficient, powerful hard drive solution. It is also ideal for NAS setups.

If you’re a console gamer or perhaps you want to upgrade your laptop storage, we strongly recommend you either get the 1TB or the 2TB FireCuda SSHD since these are 2.5-inch drives that should fit perfectly well.

Lastly, if you’re on a really tight budget, make sure you get the Western Digital Blue 500GB. Compared to the rest of the HDDs in this price range, this has a speed of 7200 RPMs.

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!