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.
- Best Overall: Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive HDD
- Best Budget: Toshiba Canvio Basics
- Best Western Digital: WD_Black P10 Game Drive
- Best Capacity: Seagate Expansion Desktop Drive
- Best Portable: Crucial X10 Pro
#1 Best Overall: Seagate Portable
- Plug-and-play setup with automatic recognition
- Great speeds for quick storage
- Works with Windows or Mac computers
- 2TB capacity
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.
|Flexible size options
|The cable could be longer
|May 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
- Affordable, no-frills option
- Simple installation
- No power cord is needed when using USB
- USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 compatible
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.
|Requires reformatting to work with Macs
|No power cord is needed when using USB
|Plastic 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
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.
|Rugged design perfect for gamers
|Can be difficult to see the read/write light from certain angles
|Easy to import and export game files
|Separate models for PlayStation/PC and Xbox
|Not too small or too large
|Doesn’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
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.
|Plastic can feel cheap
|Not very portable
|The power cable supplied is quite short
Take a closer look at the Seagate Expansion on Amazon.
Best Portable: Crucial X10 Pro
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.
|Small size is great for on-the-go
|Fairly costly for the capacity
|Resistant to water and dust
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:
Let’s examine these a bit closer.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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