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5 Best External Hard Drives for Gaming in 2024

toshiba canvio basics. best hard drives for gaming

5 Best External Hard Drives for Gaming in 2024

If you’re a hardcore gamer, you’re going to need some storage sooner or later to keep up with your collection (probably sooner, to be honest.) As technology progresses and games get more elaborate, their HD content takes up more and more space. But not all hard drives are created equally, and capacity isn’t the only factor to look for. We’re going to reveal our list of the 5 best external hard drives for gaming this year, so you can start 2024 with the edge you need.

#1 Best Overall: Seagate Portable

Best Overall
Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive HDD
$67.99
  • Plug-and-play setup with automatic recognition
  • Great speeds for quick storage
  • Works with Windows or Mac computers
  • 2TB capacity
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01/27/2024 02:38 pm GMT

For the gamer who’s serious about storage, the Seagate Portable external hard drive pulls no punches. As part of Seagate’s expansive collection of hard drives, the Portable strikes a perfect balance between performance, capacity, and price. The range of sizes is flexible, with options of 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 5TB storage. Files are easily and quickly transferred, thanks to the USB 3.0 connectivity. For a hassle-free drive that you can rely on long-term, the Seagate Portable delivers what you need for an attractive price.

ProsCons
Flexible size optionsThe cable could be longer
Good valueMay not work with Time Machine out of the box
Plug-and-play setup with automatic recognition
Great speeds for quick storage

Take a closer look at the Seagate Portable on Amazon.

Best for Budget: Toshiba Canvio Basics

Best for Budget
Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB Portable External Hard Drive
$94.49
  • Affordable, no-frills option
  • Simple installation
  • No power cord is needed when using USB
  • USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 compatible
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01/27/2024 02:56 pm GMT

The Canvio Basics hard drive from Toshiba is an affordable, no-frills solution for your storage needs. Simply put, it does what it says on the tin. The Canvio is compatible with all kinds of USB, making setup a breeze. Just plug in the Canvio, and start storing your games. For the price, the Canvio delivers on ease of use, compact size, and quiet operation. The basic 1TB option will be more than enough for a lot of gamers, but even the 4TB model is a steal at this price.

ProsCons
Smudge-resistantRequires reformatting to work with Macs
No power cord is needed when using USBShort cable
Simple installationPlastic build doesn’t feel very sturdy

Take a closer look at the Canvio Basics hard drive from Toshiba on Amazon.

Best Western Digital: WD_Black P10 Game Drive

Best Western Digital
WD_BLACK 2TB P10 Game Drive
$89.99
  • Specifically designed for gaming
  • Easy to import and export game files
  • Free 1-Month Xbox Game Pass included
  • Up to 5TB
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01/27/2024 03:47 pm GMT

Western Digital is a reputable name in the storage industry, and the WD_Black P10 delivers on its promises. These drives are specifically designed with gaming in mind, being compatible with PC, PlayStation, and Xbox, depending on the model you go for. With options ranging from 2TB up to 5TB, this is a good size drive to store the latest games. Transferring your game data is simple, and you even get a free month of Xbox Game Pass chucked in, too. If you’ve had enough of moving files around and want to get back to gaming, the WD_Black P10 is a trustworthy solution.

ProsCons
Rugged design perfect for gamersCan be difficult to see the read/write light from certain angles
Easy to import and export game filesSeparate models for PlayStation/PC and Xbox
Not too small or too largeDoesn’t dissipate heat as effectively as some alternatives
Free 1-Month Xbox Game Pass included

Take a closer look at the WD_Black P10 on Amazon.

Best Capacity: Seagate Expansion Desktop Drive

Best Capacity
Seagate Expansion 12TB External Hard Drive HDD
$268.81
  • From 1TB to 16TB storage options
  • Sleek design
  • Great value-for-money
  • Simple setup
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01/27/2024 04:03 pm GMT

If “go big or go home” is an adage that resonates with you, then you’ll be intrigued by the Seagate Expansion Desktop Drive. This is a chunky beast, possibly with more storage than you could ever need. With storage options going all the way from 1TB to 16TB, you can likely store all your game data on this drive and have space left over for other files. Honestly, it’s hard to find a drive this big at this good of a price. The main drawback is the desk space you’re going to need to house this bad boy. Although it’s pretty hefty, the Seagate Expansion sports a classic finish and makes for a great gaming companion.

ProsCons
Huge capacityPlastic can feel cheap
Great value-for-moneyNot very portable
Sleek designThe power cable supplied is quite short

Take a closer look at the Seagate Expansion on Amazon.

Best Portable: Crucial X10 Pro

Best Portable
Crucial X10 Pro 2TB Portable SSD
$169.99
  • Up to 4TB storage
  • Small size is great for on-the-go
  • Resistant to water and dust
  • Read and write speeds up to 2,100/2,000MB/s
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01/27/2024 05:40 pm GMT

When it comes to portable hard drives, you won’t find much better than the Crucial X10 Pro. For such a small package, there are definitely good things going on here. With up to 4TB storage available, the X10 Pro is spacious enough for your gaming needs but small enough to slip into your pocket. The water, dust, and drop resistance is a great inclusion as well and is appreciated when portability is the name of the game. The design and cost aren’t exactly factors to write home about, but for a tiny drive that gives out top speeds, the X10 Pro is a contender with the rest of them.

ProsCons
Small size is great for on-the-goFairly costly for the capacity
Resistant to water and dustLackluster design
Fast speeds

Take a closer look at the Crucial X10 Pro on Amazon.

How to Pick the Best External Hard Drive for Gaming: Step-by-Step

There’s a lot to think about when investing in a new external hard drive. The main points you want to look at are:

  • Capacity
  • Speed
  • Cost
  • Portability
  • Compatibility

Let’s examine these a bit closer.

Capacity

Of course, the capacity of a drive is one of the biggest factors to consider. While SSDs are another (and sometimes superior) option, the huge draw of an HDD is the potential for much more storage. It’s pretty standard to find HDDs with a capacity of 1TB or greater these days, like those on this list. For most gamers, 1TB is a pretty good size, but for the hardcore gamers out there, more is better. Considering a top AAA game could take around 50GB (excluding DLC), around 4TB is the sweet spot for a hardcore gamer.

Speed

Aside from storage size, how quickly data can be accessed, written, and re-written is going to be a bottleneck. To make sure you’re getting the speeds you expect, it’s imperative to use the type of connection that the drive’s designed for (i.e., USB 2.0 or 3.0.)

Cost

Although the price of a hard drive has gone down over the years, it’s still not an insignificant investment. Some drives are better value-for-money in terms of storage, so it pays to shop around. Usually, a reputable brand with fast speeds will command a higher price, but this isn’t always the case.

Portability

Some drives are much smaller than others, and some are made of more rugged materials. If you plan on taking your hard drive out and about, a drive that’s robust and small enough to fit into your bag or pocket is essential. Likewise, one that doesn’t require an external power cord will be easier to transport.

Compatibility

Lastly, compatibility is key. Some drives are designed to work with multiple platforms (i.e., PC and Mac), whereas others have different models available for different platforms. You can often reformat a drive using Disk Utility to make it Mac-compatible. But this is a somewhat technical process that you may want to avoid if possible. Be sure to check the drive’s compatibility before purchasing.

What to Know Before Buying the Best External Hard Drives for Gaming

As mentioned, getting a drive with an appropriate amount of storage is crucial to being satisfied with your purchase. Think about the types of games you like to play, and how averse you are to reorganizing your collection. Ultimately, a smaller storage will mean you need to be more judicious with your choices (and potentially move around files more often.) The amount of data a game requires only seems to be increasing year on year. As such, it usually pays to get a decent-sized storage.

Using the Best External Hard Drives for Gaming: What It’s Like

When it comes to using a hard drive in practice, the speed of data retrieval becomes apparent. Having lots of storage is great, but if it processes data at a snail’s pace, this is going to impact your gaming experience. Usually, hard drives with a greater capacity also have more working memory and can write and re-write at higher speeds. Therefore, getting more storage than you think you need is generally a good move.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much storage do I need for gaming?

Generally, it’s recommended to have a minimum of 1TB in a hard drive. This is because modern games take up a lot more space than they used to. A greater storage usually has a bigger cache memory too, which is important for maintaining fast speeds. Bigger is often better in this case.

How much storage does a game take up?

Typically, an AAA game these days requires around 50GB of storage. However, this can increase dramatically with DLC included, meaning some games can take up almost 250GB. Therefore, having more storage is never a terrible idea.

What's the difference between an internal and external hard drive?

In simple terms, an internal hard drive is located inside a computer or console and tends to be faster (and more expensive.) On the other hand, external hard drives are separate from your other components, and usually connected to your device via a cable, i.e., USB. This makes them more portable than internal drives.

What's the difference between HDD and SDD?

A solid-state drive (SSD) makes use of newer technology than hard disk drives (HDDs.) Instead of a moving head and spinning disks, SSDs use memory chips to store and access data. As such, SSDs tend to be quicker, lighter, and less power-hungry. However, SSDs are usually substantially more expensive than HDDs.

How expensive are HDDs?

HDDs are typically a lot less expensive than SSDs gigabyte for gigabyte, so they offer an affordable solution to your storage needs. You can get an HDD that costs as little as $23.60/GB from our list.

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