The 10 Best Hard Drives for Gaming in 2021

All the space you need for your gaming empire

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Traditional "spinning-platter" hard drives are becoming less and less common, giving way to the more efficient SATA and M.2 SSDs. However, hard drives are still a fairly cost-effective method for quickly expanding your storage, and they work great as large bulk storage, so you can keep any SSDs open for the active games you’re playing. 

If you're using one of these hard drives to expand PS4 or Xbox One's storage, you'll likely want an external drive. While an external drive won't give you the benefit of faster load times, they are by far the easiest to install and use. However, if you're a PC gamer, or you're feeling a bit confident, investing in an SSD can increase storage space and help improve performance. Check out our picks for the best gaming hard drives below.

If you need tips on how to install an SSD, check out our guide on how to install an SSD as your boot drive and boost your PC's speed.

The Rundown
The Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD is blazing fast, using four PCIe 3.0 lanes for up to 3,500MBps read and 3,300MBps write speeds.
The SN750 is optimized for 4K gaming and video production, allowing users to use this drive for work and play.
The WD Blue WD40EZRZ 4TB is our pick for the best HDD, mainly due to its large capacity, price, and reliability.
This traditional hard disk drive retails for under $60, which is competitive considering the brand and quality.
The SATA drive may be showing its age somewhat, but it's earned a reputation for being a stable and budget-friendly storage option.
Best Value SATA SSD:
SK hynix Gold S31 TB at Amazon
This drive is a great all-rounder and is just as good for installing games on as it is storing documents and photos.
Best External HDD for PS4:
Seagate Game Drive 4TB at Amazon
The officially licensed, PS4-compatible Seagate Game Drive has 4TB available to ensure plenty of space for games.
Best External SSD for Consoles:
WD _BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD at Amazon
The drive works with PC, Mac, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox One, which makes it valuable to gamers of any system.
Best External HDD for Xbox One:
Seagate Game Drive for Xbox 4TB at Amazon
The drive has an available 4TB which provides plenty of storage, and players can game directly from the drive without any issue.
Best Security:
Crucial MX500 at Amazon
The Crucial MX500 features built-in AES 256-bit encryption to protect your entire drive from hackers.

Best Overall, M.2 SSD: Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB SSD

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB
What We Like
  • Ultra-fast read and write speeds

  • Optimized for 4K gaming and 3D modeling

  • Space-saving design

What We Don't Like
  • No macOS compatibility

  • Issues with Samsung Migration software when creating new boot drives

Most modern motherboards have at least one M.2 slot, and you're missing out if you're not taking advantage of it. Not only does using an M.2 drive free up one of your SATA ports, but these drives also tend to perform better than their SATA counterparts.

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD is blazing fast, using four PCIe 3.0 lanes for up to 3,500MBps read and 3,300MBps write speeds. While these speeds are only theoretical, the specs serve as a good measure for comparison against other drives. 

There is no MacOS compatibility, and we found some issues with the migration software when creating new boot drives, so that’s something to keep in mind. But overall, this is a great SSD, especially if you're a gamer. Given its mixture of value and performance, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is one of the better hard drives you’ll find.

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: NVMe | Transfer Speeds: 3,500MBps Read / 3,300MBps Write | Form Factor: M.2

Best Value M.2 SSD: Western Digital Black SN750 1TB NVMe SSD

What We Like
  • Six times faster than traditional SATA SSDs

  • Dedicated game mode

  • Fast file migration

What We Don't Like
  • No heatsink for laptop model

  • No macOS support

If you're interested in the newer M.2-style SSDs, but want something a little more affordable, the WD_Black SN750 is a good option. It's available in capacities ranging from as little as 250GB all the way up to 2TB to give you all the room you need to store your favorite games, programs, and files.

It's optimized for 4K gaming and video production, allowing users to use this drive for work and play. The SN750 boasts speeds up to six times faster than its SATA SSD counterparts from Western Digital. It can give you file transfer speeds up to 3,430MB/s for much faster file migration between computers or internal hard drives.

You'll also get read and write speeds up to 3,470 and 3,000MB/s, respectively, for almost instantaneous saving and access to your files. With WD 3D NAND technology, the SN750 allows for much denser storage in an incredibly small format; this gives you more room inside your desktop tower or laptop for things such as liquid cooling setups, larger GPUs, and secondary hard drives.

The SN750 has a finned heat sink attachment available that is designed for optimal heat dissipation to keep the SSD running smoothly even under intense load. The WD Dashboard app lets you customize performance points, enable the dedicated game mode, and tweak settings to keep your SSD in top condition and to get the most out of your storage device.

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: NVMe | Transfer Speeds: 3,470MBps Read / 3,000MBps Write | Form Factor: M.2

Best Overall, HDD: Western Digital Blue 4TB 3.5-inch PC Hard Drive

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Large capacity

  • Free cloning software

What We Don't Like
  • Slower than SSD

  • Moving parts can fail

The WD Blue WD40EZRZ 4TB is our pick for the best HDD, mainly due to its large capacity, price, and reliability. The drive has read/write speeds both hitting 150MBps, which means users are best served using this as bulk storage for games or other files, rather than gaming directly from the drive. It is an SATA interface, which means most computers will have a slot for it, and installing the drive is relatively easy. 

Our reviewer Zach Sweat was impressed with the value this drive offered. However, due to this drive being an HDD, there is the possibility that an issue could happen with the moving parts, but the same can be said for most HDDs.

Capacity: 4TB | Interface: SATA | Transfer Speeds: 150MBps Read / 150MBps Write | Form Factor: 3.5-inch HDD

“If you’re looking to get the most storage space for the lowest cost, the Blue series of HDDs from WD makes a compelling option.” Zach Sweat, Product Tester

WD Blue 4TB Hard Drive

Lifewire / Zach Sweat 

Best Budget HDD: Seagate BarraCuda 2TB Internal Hard Drive HDD – 3.5 Inch SATA 6Gb/s 7200 RPM 256MB Cache

What We Like
  • Laptop and desktop form factors

  • Under $60

  • Rescue Data Recovery available

What We Don't Like
  • Slower than SSDs

The 2TB Seagate BarraCuda provides a solid amount of storage, but it’s still budget friendly. This traditional hard disk drive retails for under $60, which is competitive considering the brand and quality.

The HDD uses Seagate's multi-tier caching technology and 7200 RPM to load your most-used programs and files faster, so you spend less time waiting for your games to launch and more time racking up wins. Read/Write speeds both clock in at 190MBps, which will provide users transfer speeds in the upper tier of typical HDDs.

When you go with the 2TB BarraCuda, you can opt for Seagate's Rescue Data Recovery service. It's a cloud storage service that backs up your drive's contents so you can recover important files in the event of the hard drive failing or losing data to software issues or computer viruses. The hard drive is available in 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch form factors.

Capacity: 2TB | Interface: SATA | Transfer Speeds: 190MBps Read / 190MBps Write | Form Factor: 3.5-inch HDD

Best SATA SSD: Samsung 860 PRO SSD

What We Like
  • High capacity

  • Windows/macOS/Linux compatible

  • Over three times faster than most standard HDDs

What We Don't Like
  • 4TB model is very expensive

Besides being a cost-effective storage option, the Samsung 860 Pro can provide a solid performance boost for your PC or PS4. This SSD is available in sizes up to 4TB, and features a Read/Write speed of 560/530 MBps. This is more than three times faster than many HDD drives, which will allow users to increase speeds for a decent price point.

The SATA drive may be showing its age somewhat, but it's earned a reputation for being a stable and budget-friendly storage option.

Furthermore, unless you've invested in an external HDD, a 2.5-inch SATA drive is your only option for upgrading your PS4's storage. A detailed tutorial is available here if you're curious about how to get started.

Capacity: Up to 4TB | Interface: SATA | Transfer Speeds: 560MBps Read / 530MBps Write | Form Factor: 2.5-inch SSD

Best Value SATA SSD: SK hynix Gold S31 TB

What We Like
  • Clone software included

  • Excellent warranty

  • Good price

What We Don't Like
  • No encryption

  • 1TB max

SSDs have finally reached the point of price parity with traditional mechanical hard drives. The SK Hynix Gold S31 1TB is one of the newest SATA SSDs on the market, and at launch, its price of $105 is around what you'd pay for a 1TB HDD a few years ago.

Cloning software is included, allowing users to replace any old drives that may be taking up space. Unfortunately there are no drives available above 1TB, and it’s not self-encrypted, which is a significant drawback that potentially opens security holes.

While an M.2 drive is preferred for a primary drive, the Hynix Gold S31 is cheap enough and has enough space to replace a mechanical hard drive for extra storage. Though it's affordable, this SSD is still blazing fast, with up to 560MBps read and 525MBps write speeds. This drive is a great all-rounder and is just as good for installing games on as it is storing documents and photos.

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: SATA | Transfer Speeds: 560MBps Read / 525MBps Write | Form Factor: 2.5-inch SSD

Best External HDD for PS4: Seagate Game Drive 4TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD

What We Like
  • Plug-and-play

  • Aluminum chassis

  • USB power and data transfer

What We Don't Like
  • No data recovery service

Games are only getting bigger, and that means that even the standard 1TB hard drives in many consoles aren't enough. The officially licensed, PS4-compatible Seagate Game Drive has 4TB available to ensure plenty of space for games. The drive has an aesthetic that matches the PS4, allowing users to keep a cohesive look for their gaming areas. The licensing also ensures that the drive is Plug-and-Play. 

The drive is USB powered, so there is no need for any additional cords taking up plugs or space. There is no data recovery service available, so if there is a failure, then you could lose your data. Damage can be mitigated by keeping saves on the internal drives, that way you just need to redownload your games. Gaming directly from the drive works great, so users can avoid long wait times when transferring games.

Capacity: 4TB | Interface: USB 3.0 | Transfer Speeds: 130MBps Read / 75MBps Write | Form Factor: External HDD

Best External SSD for Consoles: WD _BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD

What We Like
  • Tough, durable design

  • Lightning fast

  • Small

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Works only as storage for PS5 and Xbox Series X games

The WD_Black P50 Game Drive has a black, military-inspired design that includes shock resistance, which will allow gamers to take advantage of the portability of an external drive. It has a fast read speed of 2000MBps, which is excellent for an external drive.

The drive works with PC, Mac, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox One, which makes it valuable to gamers of any system, though due to restrictions from Xbox and Playstation, it can store games only for the latest-gen consoles. Fast storage for the latest consoles will allow for faster transfers, so there’s definitely a benefit there.

There are multiple storage size options available, up to 4TB, but the price is a bit high, especially as you go up in storage sizes. The drive makes use of SuperSpeed USB, which can handle up to 20Gb/s, depending on conditions. This should make transfers quick and gaming smooth. Plus, a five-year limited warranty rounds things out to back up the drive's quality.

Capacity: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB | Interface: SuperSpeed USB | Transfer Speeds: Up to 2000MBps Read / 2000MBps Write | Form Factor: External SSD

Best External HDD for Xbox One: Seagate Game Drive for Xbox 4TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD

What We Like
  • USB power

  • Custom drive name

  • Plug-and-play

What We Don't Like
  • Needs configuration upon setup

The Seagate Game Drive for the Xbox One has a bright Xbox-green design which lets gamers know it is built for their console. The drive has an available 4TB which provides plenty of storage, and players can game directly from the drive without any issue. In many cases, it will even outperform the internal drive. Read/Write speeds are 130MBps and 75MBps, respectively, which is more than enough speed for console gaming and good load times. 

The drive is powered by the USB 3.0, so there are no extra wires or required plugs to worry about. There is a bit of configuration and installation required when setting up the drive. There is a one-year limited warranty, and one year of rescue recovery service, so users can have a bit of peace of mind. Although, a five-year warranty is preferred.

Capacity: 4TB | Interface: USB 3.0 | Transfer Speeds: 130MBps Read / 75MBps Write | Form Factor: External HDD

Best Security: Crucial MX500 1TB SSD

Crucial MX500 1TB
What We Like
  • AES 256-bit encryption

  • Built-in power loss immunity

  • Windows/Mac compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Older Windows and macOS systems may have trouble recognizing the SSD

Keeping your personal data and programs safe from unauthorized viewing and access is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a new SSD or HDD. The Crucial MX500 features built-in AES 256-bit encryption to protect your entire drive from hackers, and it also has integrated power loss immunity to prevent data loss and corruption if the drive suddenly loses power either during a storm or due to hardware failure.

The 2.5-inch form factor means this SSD can be installed either in laptops or desktops for an easy storage upgrade. There are some issues at times with some older devices not recognizing the SSD, so be sure to check if your system is compatible.

The Crucial MX500 uses 3D NAND technology to pack more storage in a smaller physical space, as well as Crucial's proprietary Dynamic Write Acceleration tech to give you blazing-fast read and write speeds. The SSD comes with Acronis True Image cloning software included to make migrating files and operating systems fast and easy.

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: SATA | Transfer Speeds: 560MBps Read / 510MBps Write | Form Factor: 2.5-inch SSD

Final Verdict

If you're a PC gamer, it's tough to beat the performance and low profile form factor of an M.2 SSD, and that's why our top pick is the Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB SSD (view at Amazon). However, if you're a console user, an external drive like the Seagate Game Drive for Xbox (view at Amazon) is the easiest, most budget-friendly option.

About Our Trusted Experts

Erika Rawes has written for Digital Trends, USA Today, Cheatsheet.com, and more. She is an expert in consumer technology, including gaming peripherals such as hard drives.

Zach Sweat is a NYC-based editor, writer, and photographer with interests in music, technology, gaming, and the internet. Zach has dual degrees in journalism and photography from the University of North Florida and has worked with publications such as IGN, Void Media, and Whalebone Magazine.

FAQs

Are gaming hard-drives still relevant?
While conventional "spinning-platter" hard drives have definitely fallen out of style in favor of faster solid state drives, they're still an excellent choice for budget builds. While the price gap between HDDs and SSDs is getting smaller, you can still get more storage space for less by using an HDD.

Why would you buy a gaming hard drive when SSDs are so cheap?
It may not save you a ton of cash, but HDDs are still the cheapest option when it comes to bulk storage. If you're storing a bunch of media or otherwise bulky files, HDDs are going to be the cheapest way to store them. Barring that, you can always opt for an external hard drive that you can migrate between PCs.

How many gaming hard drives can your computer support?
Your computer can support as many hard drives as it has SATA ports. These connectors are typically found along the edge of your motherboard. Most motherboards have several SATA connections that can be used for either SSDs or HDDs.

The Ultimate Hard Drive Buying Guide

Digital storage is changing. Internal storage drives are getting bigger, cloud storage is getting cheaper, and USB drives are getting less common. Buying a hard drive isn’t as simple as purchasing the first (or cheapest) one you see. There are a number of factors to consider when buying an external storage drive, and the kind of drive you ultimately end up buying could dictate what you’re able to do with it.

So what should you keep in mind? For starters, you’ll want to decide between a hard drive and a solid state drive, both of which offer some major advantages and disadvantages. You’ll also want to think about drive speed, hard drive format, connectivity, and special protection features.

WD Blue 4TB Hard Drive

Lifewire / Zach Sweat

Before diving into our guide, there are a few terms you should know. You'll most likely be deciding between a drive of multiple gigabytes (GB), or multiple terabytes (TB). One terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes, and one gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes (MB). An MP3 file takes around 3.5MB, meaning that one gigabyte can store around 285 songs. One HD movie takes up around 3.5GB — so one terabyte can store 285 HD movies.

Here’s everything to consider when buying an external drive.

Storage Size

The most important thing to consider is the size of your drive. We’re not talking how physically big, but rather, how much storage you want. It’s hard to recommend a storage size because it varies from person to person and largely depends on what you plan on storing. A good rule of thumb, however, is to determine how much storage you think you’ll need and then buy a drive that’s double.

If you plan on storing documents only, you probably don’t need much more than 80GB. If you’re storing a small to medium music collection and photos, then up to 256GB should be fine. For storing movies and other video content, the amount you need could range into the multiple terabytes, especially if the movies are in 4K. Ultimately, it’s always good to get more storage than you think you’ll need—even if it means shelling out more money.

Types Of Storage Drives

Next, it’s time to decide on the kind of storage drive you want. There are two main types of internal storage drives, and while they ultimately serve the same purpose, the way they store files is markedly different.

Hard Drive (HDD)

Traditionally, if you wanted a storage drive it meant buying a hard disk drive. There are some advantages and some disadvantages to this. For starters, hard disk drives have been around for quite some time, so they’ve become relatively cheap. They function by storing files on an electromagnetic disk that spins around and is read by a moving arm.

Because of those moving parts, they’re much more likely to break with a lot of movement. The speed of a hard disk drive is essentially dictated by how fast the electromagnetic disk spins, and they're generally slower than solid-state drives. (We’ll get more into the different speeds later.) Hard disk drives are the way to go, however, if you want a lot of storage at a cheap price and don’t plan on moving them a lot.

Solid State Drive (SSD)

Solid state drives do away with the moving electromagnetic disk, and replace it with what’s called “flash storage.” That’s the same kind of storage that’s used in smartphones, RAM in computers, and, these days, many of the internal storage drives in computers. Solid state storage essentially uses microchips to store information, and as a result, there are no moving parts. That means there’s a lower failure rate, higher speed, and simply better overall performance. In particular, that means they’re great for running software or an operating system off of.

Of course, there is a downside to all of those advantages—and that’s price. Solid state drives are much more expensive than hard disk drives, and while they are going down in price, you simply can’t get multi-terabyte solid state drives without spending at least a few hundred dollars.

Performance

There are a few things that can affect the performance of a hard drive beyond simply what type of hard drive it is. That’s truer of a hard disk drive than a solid state drive, but solid state drives still have performance-related metrics that you should pay attention to.

Transfer Speed

The transfer speed of a hard drive largely has to do with the type of connector that the hard drive comes with. Newer connection standards have higher transfer speeds. The term “transfer speed” is technically a little misleading, as it doesn’t really dictate exactly how fast a hard drive can transfer files to and from your computer. Instead, it tells you how fast a hard drive can theoretically transfer files, based on the connection protocol the hard drive uses.

In the past, the connector was the main limiting factor in how fast a drive could transfer files: USB 2.0 hard drives, in the real world, could transfer data at up to 20 MB/second, while FireWire 800 drives limited things to 85 MB/second. These days, the newer USB 3.0 standard allows for data transfer at up to 460 MB/second, while Thunderbolt allows for speeds of over 1GB/second. Because of that, the connection type isn’t the bottleneck. Instead, the speed is dictated by how fast the hard drive can read and write data, which is referred to as the read/write speed.

Read/Write Speed

Read/write speeds refer to how quickly a hard drive can access the files stored within it—not how quickly those files are transferred to or from a computer. The “read” speed refers to how quickly a hard drive can access a stored file, while the “write” speed refers to how quickly a drive can save a new file. Given the development in transfer protocols, read/write speeds are a much better indicator of how fast your hard drive will be able to actually transfer files than “transfer speed,” especially when it comes to hard disk drives.

Read/write speeds change a lot depending on whether it’s an HDD or SDD, and even within those categories there can be some variation. As mentioned, HDDs have a spinning disk inside of them, and the rate at which drives can access data depends on how quickly that disk spins. Commonly, drives spin at 5,400RPM, or rotations per minute, and drives at that speed generally have a read/write speed of around 100MB/s. Some HDDs have a physical speed of 7,200RPM, which allows for a slightly faster read/write speed of 120MB/s.

Read/write speeds can vary a lot with SSDs, but typically they range from 200MB/s at the slowest to multiple GB per second at the fastest. If all you’re doing is transferring files, then any of those speeds should be more than enough, but if you’re using your drive to store software or your operating system, then something on the fast end might help. In that case, look for speeds of 500MB/s or more.

Other Features And Considerations

While the type of hard drive and performance of the hard drive are perhaps the most important factors to consider, there are a few other features to keep in mind.

Network Connectivity

While most consumer-level hard drives connect to your computer through a USB cable, some offer network connectivity instead, meaning you can access your hard drive from any computer or phone that’s on the same network. That can be pretty helpful for those who have multiple computers set up and simply want to use an external hard drive to back up files and transfer files between computers.

You can actually give any external hard drive network features by simply plugging it into your router—providing your router has a compatible port on it—but it will require a little more tweaking to get set up properly. Still, special network-connected drives have some advantages. For example, so-called “Network Attached Storage” or NAS, can be used as a media server by apps like Plex, while standard router-connected drives aren’t necessarily able to do so. NAS is a little more expensive, but it’s also often expandable thanks to extra slots in the enclosure, which can accept more actual hard drives.

Check out our guide to the best NAS (Network Attached Storage).

Ports

The kind of port or ports that your hard drive uses to connect to a computer is very much linked to transfer speed. Most hard drives connect to a computer through a form of USB. That could mean the now-outdated USB 2.0 or the newer USB 3.0 or USB 3.1, and if it is USB 3.1, it could also connect through the newer USB-C connector, while still using the USB 3.1 standard.

Other ports, which are increasingly less common, include FireWire 400 and FireWire 800, though fewer and fewer computers support those ports, so you should be wary of that when purchasing.

We recommend looking for a hard drive with USB 3.1 support and a USB-C connector, especially if your computer is relatively new. It might mean having to buy an adapter to use with your current computer that may not have USB-C, but it means that when you upgrade to a new computer, your external hard drive will stay usable.

Check out our guide to the best USB-C adapters available.

Format

External hard drives come in a few different formats, though it’s very easy to reformat a hard drive if you happen to buy the wrong kind. Hard drive formats are largely linked to the operating system that you’re going to be using the hard drive with. Here’s a quick rundown.

NTFS is the most common format for new external hard drives and can be used with Windows computers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as well with any other operating systems. Macs can read NTFS-formatted hard drives, but can’t write to them.

HFS+, which stands for “Hierarchical File System,” is a hard drive format that works much better with Macs, and it’s an improvement on the older HFS format in that it can support larger file types. Unfortunately, HFS+ drives don’t really work with Windows computers. HFS+ drives are the way to go for those who plan on using them with Macs that are running slightly older versions of macOS.

APFS is a newer hard drive format that works with Mac computers, but it only works with Mac running macOS High Sierra or newer. Like HFS+ drives, APFS drives can’t be read by Windows computers.

exFAT is essentially a mix of NTFS and FAT32, an older drive format that’s not used much anymore. There are a number of advantages to exFAT drives — namely that they can be recognized by both Windows and Mac computers, so if you need support for both, it’s worth formatting your drive to exFAT.

If you’re not sure what hard drive format to go for, then go for exFAT, since it works with most operating systems. Most hard drives come in NTFS, though, so you may need to buy one and then reformat it. Keep in mind it's not as easy to reformat a HFS+ or APFS drive if you need to use it on Windows.

Physical Size

The physical size of an internal hard drive doesn't necessarily translate to the amount of storage space, particularly with the advent of flash storage. You really only have a say in the physical size of a hard drive when it comes to solid-state drives, as there are standard sizes for hard disk drives. Hard disk drives’ spinning disks can come in either 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch sizes. A standard size for a portable hard disk drive, for example, is the Western Digital Elements 2TB hard drive, which comes in at 4.35 x 3.23 x 0.59 inches. Smaller desktop hard drives come in at around 7 x 5 inches and range up from there.

WD Blue 4TB Hard Drive

Lifewire / Zach Sweat

Solid state drives can be much smaller, making them much more portable. The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD, for example, comes in a size of 3.79 x 1.95 x 0.35 inches—a fairly average size for solid-state drives.

Security

Internal hard drives can come with features designed to keep files more secure, which might be important if you plan on using yours to store sensitive information. For example, some hard drives offer password-protection by default, meaning you can easily set a password to keep all your files safe. Some also offer high-level encryption, rendering your files useless to those who don’t have your password, even if they manage to somehow hack into the drive.

Buffer

A hard drive buffer is essentially storage that exists between the computer and the actual storage in a hard drive. Files stored by the hard drive in the buffer can be accessed far quicker than those stored in the main storage of a hard drive, and the bigger the hard drive buffer—sometimes called the cache—the better the overall performance the drive is likely to have.

Generally speaking, you really only need to care about the size of the buffer if you plan on running software from your hard drive. If all you’re doing is storing files, the type of drive and the speed of the disk will be much more important.

If you do feel as though you need a hard drive with a larger buffer, then we recommend getting one with at least a 64MB cache, though those with 128MB and even 256MB are pretty common, too.

Price

Depending on the type of hard drive and the amount of storage you opt for, the price can vary drastically.

Hard disk drives, as mentioned, are much cheaper than solid state drives, so if you need a lot of storage at a reasonable price, a HDD might be the way to go. You can expect to pay around as little as 3 cents per GB for a HDD.

On the other hand, it's not uncommon to see a solid state drive that runs into 25 cents per GB. Lower-capacity SSDs might range up to 40 cents per GB, while 2TB SSDs might come at 20 cents. Of course, that still makes for a drive that costs hundreds of dollars.

Conclusion

While there's a lot to keep in mind when buying a new storage hard drive, hopefully, this will help you narrow down your selection. Our overall recommendations? If you want lots of storage at a reasonable price, and don’t plan on moving your hard drive around a lot, go for an HDD. If you want fast performance and either don’t need a lot of storage or are willing to spend more, then an SSD is your best bet. In both cases, it’s a good idea to find a drive that supports USB 3.0 or later, and a USB-C port might be helpful depending on whether your computer has a USB-C port.

There are a few brands that have built a reputation for quality hard drives, including Western Digital, SanDisk, and Seagate. It’s often worth buying a hard drive from a reputable brand, as smaller companies may not offer much in the way of support for faulty drives.

Rest assured, no matter what your needs are there’s likely a hard drive out there for you, and hopefully purchasing is a little easier with your new-found knowledge of their key features.

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