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Best hard drives 2018: the top HDD for desktops and laptops

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For PC Gaming Week 2018, we here at TechRadar want to honor all the components that make the best gaming PCs even better, and in this list we’ve collected the best hard drives you can buy today.

The best hard drives may not be as fast as the best SSDs, but they’re certainly more affordable. Plus, the best hard drives feature an ample amount of storage space, rather than charging you an arm and a leg for a glorified flash drive – the best hard drives offer huge amounts of storage without making your wallet cry out in pain. You won’t find the best hard drives in the best Ultrabooks, but they’re definitely capacious. 

Of course, what makes the best hard drive is largely subjective. For a game console or one of the best laptops, you may want to check out a 2.5-inch or external hard drive. For the best gaming PCs, however, the best hard drives will not only have a ton of space, but they’re also have a fast speed. Fortunately, we’ve done the heavy lifting and have put together this list of the best hard drives you can buy today. Regardless of what you need, you can be confident you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for on this list.

In the market for hard drives, Seagate’s BarraCuda lineup rears up as the most identifiable face of HDDs. There’s a good reason for that. They offer a great ratio of gigabyte to dollar and performance perks to top it off. The 2TB model hits a particular sweet spot by balancing high performance and affordability. Since this drive combines 7,200rpm platters and high density data, computers outfitted with this drive will be able to read data extra fast. Be sure to double check specifications on each model, as not all BarraCuda’s hit that high spin speed. 

Toshiba is a huge name in computing. Even if its laptops aren’t as popular as they once were, it has a lot to offer in the component market. When it comes to hard drives, the Toshiba X300 is a high-capacity, high-performance champ worth taking a look at. The X300 drives boast great gigabyte-to-dollar value without sacrificing on the performance side. These drives all spin at 7,200RPM and include 128MB of cache for fast operation. The only downside is the warranty only lasts two years, which feels short for a drive meant to store so much important data.

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Seagate BarraCuda 

When it comes to gaming, speed is king. So, for anyone resisting the allure of an SSD and looking to find the best hard drive for the job, it’s time for something that spins faster. That’s where WD’s VelociRaptor clocks in at a blistering 10,000rpm spin speed. With capacities up to 1TB available, the VelociRaptor drives are ready to store large game libraries, and the super fast platters will help those games launch and load quickly.

Western Digital offers a good bargain with its line of WD Blue hard drives. With a range of storage options from a small 500GB to a massive 6TB, the WD Blue is a viable pick for almost any type of computer build that’s sticking to a budget. The best value comes from the larger drives, as they give increasingly more storage per dollar spent. The small capacity drives don’t come at a bad price, though. If you’re looking for a little more performance, there are also 7,200rpm models available that don’t come with a serious price hike.

When it comes to hybrid hard drives that include a small amount of solid-state storage to bump up their speed, there’s virtually no competition against the Seagate FireCuda. The FireCuda can fit up to 2TB of data, and then its 8GB of solid-state storage learns and stores the data you use most frequently to make accessing it even faster. That flash storage speed boost is made even sweeter by the fact the hard drive itself is spinning at a fresh 7,200rpm. Tack on a 5-year warranty and a reasonable price tag, and it’s easy to see why this drive is a winner.

It’s a little unfortunate that the Seagate IronWolf NAS drives come at a premium, but they aren’t priced much more expensively than a standard hard drive at their capacity. However, their native NAS optimization makes that premium totally worth it. These drives are capable of running at a fast 7,200rpm spin rate 24/7 without having to worry about drive failure. Really, if you have one of the best NAS devices for your business or home, the Seagate IronWolf NAS really is your best bet. 

Upgrading the storage in a laptop in a hard drive can be tough, since they typically require a smaller drive to fit. A lot of the 2.5-inch options aren’t terribly attractive, as anything fast comes with a serious markup, but Seagate’s 2.5-inch FireCuda hybrid drive strikes a nice balance. It offers an easy way to add lots of storage to a laptop while also giving it a speed boost thanks to 8GB of flash storage. A 5-year warranty on the drive will also help ensure it for as long as almost any laptop’s lifespan.

Game consoles hard drives fill up fast with massive libraries. And, like laptops, the upgrade path for 2.5-inch hard drives isn’t all that great, but that’s where an external drive comes in. The WD My Book strikes an amazing balance of storage and price, offering enough room for massive game libraries. Running on USB 3.0, it may not be quite as fast as an internal drive upgrade, but it will run games and offer more storage at a cheaper rate.

As time moves on and the best SSDs become more and more ubiquitous, there are many who are quick to declare the death of the best hard drives. Luckily, devices like the G-Technology G-Drive are here to show these naysayers the life that remains in spinning disks. Not only does this external hard drive offer huge amounts of storage, up to 10TB, but thanks to Thunderbolt 3 compatibility, it can even charge your laptop while you work. If you have a MacBook Pro, it’s hard to think of an external hard drive that would be a better companion.

Read the full review: G-Technology G-Drive