The 9 Best SATA Hard Drives to Buy in 2018

Selection of best hard drives for value, capacity, performance, and features

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The rise of cloud storage and solid-state drives has begun reducing the need for SATA-based hard drives. Serial ATA, SATA for short, was once the great standard in both desktops and laptops before the popularity of Ultrabooks, where the thinner SSD (solid state drives) drives are preferred. However, if you’re looking to upgrade or build a new PC, few drives can offer the storage capacity and reliability of a SATA drive. Not sure where to start? Seagate and Western Digital dominate space and have the best SATA drives for all your needs, as well as for budgets large and small.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Seagate 2TB 7200RPM FireCuda

Seagate 2TB 7200RPM FireCuda
Courtesy of Amazon.com

While hard drive capacity continues to get larger and larger every year, Seagate’s 2TB 7200RPM FireCuda 3.5 inch SATA drive offers more than enough space for music, video, and pictures. With enough space to store 80 25GB-sized games, the Seagate performs up to five times faster than traditional 7200RPM desktop drives. At 3.5 inches in form factor, the drive is ideal for desktop PCs, gaming machines, and workstations where reliable and quality performance count every day. As an added bonus (and for extra peace-of-mind), the FireCuda line is protected with a best-in-class, five-year limited warranty. With the potential for reading and write speeds greater than 200MB/s, the Seagate is a fantastic choice for any SATA shopper.

Best Capacity: WD Blue 4TB

For people who do a lot of intensive computer work such as video/music editing, graphic design, or computer modeling, the larger capacity may also be necessary. When storage is a must, the WD Blue 4TB is the best choice.

This hard drive has a 3.5” disc with 4TB of storage capacity. Operating at a standard 5400 RPM speed, it is quick enough to work with intensive media files without waiting for the drive to catch up. Other storage capacities and disc speeds are available as well if you need something more specific to your needs.

The drive’s IntelliSeek function is an active addition that manages the writing speed, power consumption and noise/vibration to keep everything working at peak efficiency. The hard drive works with WD’s Acronis True Image software, so you can easily backup the device for an added layer of safety. If you don’t want to worry about the health of the hard drive, this is the option to choose.

Best Speed: WD Black 6TB

If it’s speed you crave, the WD Black series will satiate you. The line is designed to boost performance of heavier computing, perfect for creatives and gamers alike. It houses a dual-core processor that doubles the processing capability of a standard single-core processor to optimize performance. As such, it’s quoted to offer 218MB/s in sustained data-transfer rates and has significant cache sizes up to 128MB of DRAM. It's paired with WD’s Dynamic Cache Technology, which helps to maximize caching algorithms in real time and prioritize cache between reads and writes. So you can bet it's one of the speediest SATA hard drives on the market. On top of it all, the WD Black comes with a five-year limited warranty to deliver the protection you deserve.

Best Budget: Western Digital WD Blue 1TB

Western Digital WD Blue 1TB
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Released in 2012, the Western Digital WD Blue 1TB might be slightly older, but it offers such an outstanding price-to-performance ratio that it's still Amazon’s best seller for internal hard drives. The 7200 RPM offers 1TB of space, which is smaller than most of the other choices on this list, but still, has more than enough room for 200,000 songs or more than 17 hours of music. Additionally, the WD Blue offers features like IntelliSeek, which calculates the optimum speed to lower both power consumption, as well as noise and vibration to protect against data loss. Moreover, Western Digital offers Acronis True Image software downloadable from their website to completely copy all the data from the previous hard drive to get up and running right away. It also has read and write speeds around 170MB/s.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Seagate 3TB 7200RPM BarraCuda

Seagate 3TB 7200RPM BarraCuda
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Ideal for desktops, the Seagate 3TB 7200RPM BarraCuda 3.5-inch SATA internal hard drive is an ideal choice for buyers looking for a great combination of storage, quality, and speed. Capable of reading and writing data at speeds around 210MB/s, the BarraCuda is both versatile and dependable. Whether it’s work or play, storing movies or music, the BarraCuda can store around 300,000 songs without running out of space. It is ideal for both desktops or all-in-one PCs, but and Seagate offers an additional 2.5-inch model that is a perfect fit for laptops. Backed by a two-year limited warranty, the BarraCuda offers the right mix of versatility and reliability combined with a great value that makes it a hard choice to pass up.

Best Laptop: Seagate 2.5-Inch BarraCuda

Seagate 2.5-Inch BarraCuda
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Seagate’s 2.5-inch BarraCuda SATA drive is an ideal choice for laptop owners looking to kick performance and storage to the next level. With a 6GB/s data transfer speed and the capability of reading and write speeds of more than 140-150MB/s, the drive comes in both 7mm and 15mm z-heights to best fit your laptop. Additionally, read and write performance is optimized with Multi-Tier Caching Technology, MTC for short, which optimizes data flow and allows apps to load faster than ever before. As a bonus, it works well with numerous all-in-one PCs, as well as ultra-slim desktop PCs. It also comes with Seagate’s two-year limited warranty.

Best for Small Businesses: Seagate 6TB IronWolf Pro v11

Designed with small businesses in mind, the Seagate 6TB IronWolf Pro aims to satisfy hard drive users who want a strong mix of performance and data protection. Equipped with a 7,200 RPM spindle speed, 256 MB cache, and maximum read/write speed of 214 MB/s, the IronWolf is available in a range of sizes from 1TB to 12TB of storage. Specially optimized to fit and perform well in a single bay to 16 bay NAS enclosure, the Seagate establishes a 300TB per year user rating with an upload and download rating of 600,000 cycles.

For small businesses especially, Seagate’s two-year rescue data recovery service and five-year warranty add up to total peace of mind in the event of any unexpected crashing or data loss. To assist in mitigating potential data errors, the IronWolf Pro comes standard with rotational vibration sensors that maintain its high performance whether it sits alone in a NAS enclosure or alongside a multitude of other drives. If you want quiet performance, 24/7 runtime, ​and a lengthy warranty, the IronWolf Pro is an excellent choice. 

Best for High Performance: Western Digital Black 4TB

One of the fastest hard drives available, the Western Digital Black was constructed to boost the efficiency of any computer and it comes with a five-year warranty for added peace of mind. Whether it’s for music editing, online gaming, or general browsing, the dual-core processor of the Black pushes its performance to the limits and slightly beyond.

Regardless of use case, the WD Black begins as small as a 250GB storage model and goes all the way up to 6 TBs of capacity. For peak speed, users opting for the 5TB and 6TB storage option will receive an additional 128MB of cache DRAM which improves real-time operation so they can also achieve a maximum read/write speed of up to 218 MB/s. The inclusion of the dual-core processor enables the Black to significantly enhance performance, especially when loading large games or shuffling around multimedia files. In any case, it ​vastly outperforms single-core SATA drives under the same conditions. Taking things a step further, the WD Black shines with StableTrac technology which increases reliability and overall stability of the Black HDD lineup.  

Best Solid State: SanDisk Ultra 512GB SATA SSD

Make no mistake about it, the Samsung 860 EVO is proof that​​ SATA-based solid-state drives can deliver excellent performance and still be affordable. Available in a multitude of sizes ranging from 500GB to 4TB, the 860 EVO provides an outstanding maximum read/write speed of 550 MB/s and 520 MB/s respectively. Well-suited for both desktops and laptops, the 860 EVO is ideal for all kinds of daily computing tasks including gaming, movie editing, or word processing without any performance degradation.

Compatible with Windows 8 and above as well as Apple and Linux software, the 2.5-inch SSD comes with all the necessary hardware to connect internally to a computer. Samsung touts the 860 EVO’s performance as being more than capable of storing and rendering 4K video while a five-year limited warranty adds an extra level of comfort. Powered by Samsung’s 64-layer V-NAND technology, the 860 can write data nearly eight times faster than its predecessor and it wins benchmark after benchmark in overall performance tests against its closest competitors.