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The 7 Best Hard Drives for Gaming in 2023

Gaming has become an incredibly data-intensive activity. The best games today have intricately detailed graphics, expansive open worlds, and incredibly immersive soundscapes. All of this translates to huge game installation sizes – many popular titles now require 80-100GB or more of storage space.

On top of the games themselves, gamers need room to save gameplay recordings and screenshots, download game mods and custom content, and store previous save files. For hardcore gamers building a high-performance gaming PC, choosing the right storage is crucial.

The best hard drives for gaming need to offer ample capacity to house your entire game library with room to grow. But they also must deliver fast data speeds – a slow hard drive will cause textures to load sluggishly, lengthy load screens between zones, and constant stuttering during gameplay.

In this guide, we‘ve selected the top hard drive models to power your gaming rig based on speed, capacity options, cache size, physical dimensions and overall value and reliability.

How We Chose the Best Hard Drives for Gaming

Several key factors determine which hard drives excel for high-performance gaming:

RPM Speed: The rotational speed of the hard drive has a major impact on random access speeds. 7200 RPM is standard in performance-oriented drives today, while 5400 RPM models tend to be cheaper but slower options.

Cache Size: The cache buffers frequently accessed data for faster access. More cache (usually 64MB or greater for gaming drives) means better performance.

Capacity: With some games taking up over 100GB each install, you want ample room for at least 10-20 AAA titles, plus indie games, mods and future expansion space. 1-2TB is a good starting point for most gamers.

Interface: Internal SATA hard drives with 6Gbps throughput offer the best results for most users, providing substantially faster speeds than external USB hard drives. M.2 NVMe solid state drives are faster still, but with much higher per-gigabyte costs.

Physical Size: Standard 3.5" desktop hard drives offer the highest capacities, while more compact 2.5" notebook drives can still deliver great performance if your case has limited space.

Balancing these factors, we selected both affordable options for budget-focused builds as well as top-tier professional models for performance-obsessed gamers and power users.

The 7 Best Hard Drives for Gaming in 2023

Best Overall: WD Black 4TB

Key Specs:

  • Capacity: up to 10TB
  • Cache: up to 256MB
  • RPM: 7200
  • Interface: SATA 6Gbps

If you want a high performance, high capacity drive known for reliability, the WD Black series is a top choice that fits the bill for most gamers. Available from 500GB up to a mammoth 10TB model, the WD Black delivers excellent speeds thanks to its fast 7200 RPM spinning speed, large cache size up to 256MB, and fast 6Gbps SATA connectivity.

With its 5-year warranty, array of capacity options and great real-world speeds, the WD Black offers outstanding performance, quality and value. It‘s a true workhorse ready for the most demanding games.

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Best Budget: Seagate BarraCuda 2TB

Key Specs:

  • Capacity: 1TB – 4TB
  • Cache: 256MB
  • RPM: 7200
  • Interface: SATA 6Gbps

You don‘t need to spend a fortune to get ample capacity and great performance. The Seagate BarraCuda drives are affordable, reliable, and fast enough for smooth gaming. Models in the lineup range from 1TB to 4TB at prices that leave plenty of room in your budget for a better GPU or CPU.

Despite the low cost, Seagate didn‘t compromise much – BarraCuda drives have zippy 7200RPM speeds, a healthy 256MB cache, and fast 6Gbps transfer rates. The 2TB model hits the best balance of price, capacity and speed for most mainstream to hardcore gamers.

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Best High Capacity: WD Gold 18TB

Key Specs:

  • Capacity: Up to 18TB
  • Cache: Up to 512MB
  • RPM: 7200
  • Interface: SATA 6Gbps

For hardcore gamers who want to build their unlimited game library or run game servers, the WD Gold 18TB model offers outrageous capacity paired with excellent performance. It leverages Western Digital‘s premium enterprise-class technology for outstanding speeds, high workload tolerance, and rock-solid reliability.

In addition to the cavernous 18TB option, the WD Gold comes in a range of more affordable 6TB, 8TB, 12TB, 14TB and 16TB configurations to match your storage demands. With high speed 7200 RPM platters, a healthy 512MB cache even on the highest capacity models, and durable build quality, it has all the hallmarks of a winning (but pricey) gaming drive.

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Best SSHD: Seagate FireCuda 520 2TB

Key Specs:

  • Capacity: 500GB – 2TB
  • NAND Flash: Up to 2TB
  • RPM: 7200
  • Interface: SATA 6Gbps

SSHDs (solid state hybrid drives) fuse an HDD with SSD flash memory to approach SSD-like speeds at a lower cost. The Seagate FireCuda 520 is one of the fastest models available, making it a great choice if you want near-instant level loading and asset streaming.

Up to 2TB of SSD-grade flash paired with a zippy 7200RPM HDD gives it HEAD caching intelligence to adaptively store frequently accessed data in flash for lightning access. It costs more than a standard HDD but offers a compelling balance of high capacity and excellent real-world speeds.

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Best External: WD Black P10 5TB

Key Specs:

  • Capacity: 2TB – 5TB
  • Cache: undisclosed
  • RPM: undisclosed
  • Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 1

For console gamers or those with limited internal drive bays, the WD_Black P10 external HDD delivers excellent capacity, competitive speeds and portable form factor. It connects via USB 3.2 Gen 1, offering read speeds up to 140MB/s – not quite as fast as SATA but very quick for large file transfers.

The unique style and industrial design stands out from typical externals. And with 2TB up to 5TB options, you can easily connect to Xbox/PlayStation and get game storage instantly. If you prefer keeping your games consolidated instead of shuffling titles on and off the console‘s internal SSD, the WD_Black P10 is a great plug-and-play solution.

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Best Laptop HDD: Seagate Firecuda 510 1TB

Key Specs:

  • Capacity: 512GB – 2TB
  • Cache: Up to 32MB
  • RPM: Up to 7200
  • Interface: M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe

Usually limited to smaller capacity 2.5" drives, gaming laptops can still benefit from blazing speeds using a specialized M.2 PCIe NVME drive like the Seagate Firecuda 510. It leverages PCI Express and NVME connectivity to deliver up to 50% faster performance than SATA SSDs with capacities up to 2TB.

The compact M.2 2280 form factor ensures compatibility with most modern gaming laptops and ultrabooks. And specialized features like adaptive data acceleration and customized firmware help maximize both throughput and responsiveness during intense gaming sessions.

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What Size Hard Drive is Best for Gaming?

With game install sizes ballooning every year, how much capacity do you really need? Here are some general guidelines based on your gamer profile:

  • Mainstream gamers: 1 – 2TB gives solid capacity for 5-10 average sized titles along with recordings and misc files
  • Enthusiast gamers: 4 – 6TB lets you build a sizable Steam backlog and gives plenty of future expansion room
  • Hardcore gamers: 8 – 10TB gives ample space for 20+ TB triple-A games with room for 4K recordings and future expansion
  • Extreme gamers: 12 – 18TB handles just about any gaming library and leaves massive headroom for unforeseen growth

In general look at the install sizes of the games you want installed at once without shuffling titles on and off the drive. Then add some padding so you aren‘t constantly bumping up against the ceiling. Gamers who record gameplay or build mod archives need even more free space.

Do You Need an SSD or HDD for Gaming?

SSDs are much faster than even the fastest spinning hard drives thanks to instantaneous access. But the same money gets you far less raw capacity. Here is how they compare for gaming use:

Hard Disk Drives

  • Much lower cost per gigabyte
  • Larger capacities available (up to ~16TB)
  • Enough throughput for smooth gameplay
  • Higher latency than SSDs


  • Way faster access and data transfer
  • Much better for competitive titles
  • More consistent frame times
  • Prone to slowing down as drive fills
  • Currently max outaround 8TB (M.2) or 16TB (SATA)

For most gamers, using an SSD as the primary boot drive with your OS, core applications and 1-2 top-played competitive titles makes sense. Then supplement with a high capacity HDD to store your larger steam library, recordings, downloads and other media files. This balance helps optimize both speed and capacity.

Getting the Most From Your Gaming HDD

To leverage your high performance HDD fully:

  • Keep 15-20% free space for consistent speeds over time as the drive fills
  • Fragment your drive periodically using the Optimize function in Windows disk tools
  • Install games to the HDD rather than your boot SSD to keep precious space free
  • Use two drives in RAID 0 if your motherboard supports striping for twice the speed!

Final Thoughts on HDDs for Gaming

A quality high capacity hard drive remains integral even in modern gaming PCs. As long as you choose 7200RPM+ models with ample cache, hard drives can provide more than enough real-world gaming performance. Combine an SSD boot drive with a spacious 2-6TB HDD for the ideal blend of speed and capacity.

We hope our picks for the best hard drives for gaming give you some great options to consider for your build! Let us know if you have any other questions.