Best External Hard Drive for Gaming
Gaming has found its place as one of the staple hobbies in today’s world as plenty of people are now into gaming regardless of whether it is through a PC or through gaming consoles such as the popular PlayStation and Xbox models that available today. But because gaming laptops and PCs, as well as gaming consoles, tend to have limited storage spaces while game file sizes are getting bigger and bigger, there is a need for additional storage space especially if the gamer in you wants to be able to store more games and save them for use later on.
In that regard, there is now a huge demand for external hard drives that are used for gaming. You would need a capable hard drive to store your games in especially if you have plenty of different games you want to keep and save later on when you want to play them. This works for both PC and console gamers.
With that said, here are the best external hard drives for gaming.
WD Black P10 Game Drive – Overall
The WD Black P10 Game Drive was first and foremost designed to be gaming hard drive as it comes with the kind of look, feel, and performance that allows it to stand out as arguably the best external hard drive you can find on the market today. And because of its aesthetic appeal and overall capabilities as an external hard drive, it has garnered our pick as the best when it comes to gaming.
While most of the external hard drives you see on the market come with that vanilla look that has become the standard in the industry, the WD Black P10 Game Drive is a bit more different. Instead of having that usual box-type design that is quite plain and simple, the P10 actually has the aesthetic appeal that departs from the standards because of how it comes with a shipping container look that appears to be rugged and quite durable. It still comes with the standard box-type design but the shipping container style makes it a great option for gamers because of how it fits well with the gaming culture.
With its shipping container look, the WD Black P10 Game Drive has become a favorite in the gaming community because it goes well with the design that most gaming PCs and laptops come with and because of how it blends perfectly well with both the PS4 and the Xbox One. It might not come with the professional look that most external hard drives come with but that doesn’t really matter when it comes to gamers.
Of course, the design that the WD Black P10 Game Drive comes with isn’t entirely for aesthetics only. The ribbed design that fits in well with the shipping container theme allows it to stay rugged and more durable compared to most other external hard drives. While it is far from being shockproof, it does feel durable in your hands and it allows you to grip it well because of the ribbed enclosure it comes with. The texture doesn’t feel rough and actually feels quite nice in your hands even though gamers are not expected to be carrying their drives from one place to another in most situations.
We weren’t really able to test out how durable the WD Black P10 Game Drive is because it would have been a waste to subject it to shock tests but it does look and feel a lot more durable than most external hard drives because of how the extra ribbed layer allows it o absorb more impact than flat-surfaced enclosures.
The WD Black P10 Game Drive has dimensions of 4.7 x 3.5 x 0.82 inches if you go with the 4TB and 5TB options but it should be slimmer if you go with the smaller 1TB, 2TB, and SSD options. It isn’t the slimmest nor the lightest external hard drive on the market but it is respectably compact. On top of that, it was designed to sit nicely on your desk especially because of how gamers are expected to simply place it on top of their desks while they are playing games.
One of the reasons why we really love the WD Black P10 Game Drive is that it is very versatile and it is quite compatible with any kind of gaming PC or console. It is an instant plug and play option for Windows and Mac (if you have an NTFS software) computers but you may have to reformat it if you want to use it with your PS4 or Xbox One. However, it does come with an Xbox One version that was already formatted to be immediately compatible with that gaming console but we chose the all-around version instead so that we can test it properly with a Windows PC.
The all-around version of the P10 is an instant plug and play option with a PC but it might need to be reformatted first for it to work with your other gaming consoles. But if you would rather focus more on gaming with your Xbox One, you can opt to go with the Xbox One version of this external hard drive. The Xbox One version also gives you the option of choosing a bigger and faster 12TB 7,200 rpm hard drive in case you need the extra speed and storage space.
But, even if you just simply use the lower-end versions of the P10, it comes with the kind of versatility and compatibility that is already more than enough for most gamers out there. You can use it with your gaming PC or laptop and reformat it to work with your gaming consoles so long as you are willing to delete the contents off the drive. The only downside is that it doesn’t come with a USB-C connector but that shouldn’t be too much of a downer as long as you are not using one of the newer laptops with USB-C instead of USB-A. It was made for gamers, who often use computers and consoles that use the older USB-A, so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for them.
Performance-wise, the WD Black P10 performs better than most of the other competitors on the market and when compared to other 5,500rpm drives but it usually stays at an above-average level. When we tested it out, the hard drive gave us write and read speeds of somewhere close to 130 Mb/s but stayed somewhere above 125 Mb/s. It isn’t too far off from the faster drives that can reach speeds of up to 140 Mb/s but the P10 does have a 7,200rpm option you can go with if you want faster speeds. But if you really want something faster, you can go with the SSD option instead.
What we really loved about the WD Black P10 Game Drive is that it tends to operate as silently as possible and has a mechanism that keeps it cool to the touch. This was made specifically for gamers because of how they are expected to play their games for extended periods of time.
When we tested out the WD Black P10 Game Drive while playing games from it, there aren’t any significant differences between the loading speeds compared to when we play games using the internal hard drive that came with our test computer. But the same might not be true for consoles as console gamers might experience a slightly larger difference in performance when playing off of the P10. That’s why we recommend that you use this game drive as a means to back your games up instead of playing directly off of it.
Overall, there is nothing that we didn’t really like about the WD Black P10 Game Drive. It looks great as an external hard drive for gamers because of how it fits in well with the culture of gaming and is compatible enough with multiple devices. Meanwhile, its performance speaks for itself and it does well as a hard drive that backs your games up in case you are not playing them.
We recommend that you go with the 5TB option because it will end up becoming more affordable per terabyte but it might be a bit of an overkill for casual gamers. For those who don’t need the extra storage space that a 5TB option provides, a 2TB variant will do nicely. But for those who value speed, the SSD option should be a spectacular choice even though it is about four times more expensive per terabyte than the HDD versions.
WD Elements Portable External Hard Drive – Budget Pick
Even though the WD Black P10 Game Drive really isn’t all that expensive, you can save up a ton of money by choosing our budget pick. The WD Elements Portable External Hard Drive is an all-around choice that has been selling really fast on Amazon particularly because it combines reliability, functionality, and price all in one neat package. So, for the thrifty gamer who doesn’t want to spend the extra bucks on the more expensive P10 or on all of our other picks, the WD Elements should already be a good choice.
As expected of an affordable hard drive, the WD Elements doesn’t come with a lot of flair but it isn’t as vanilla as you might think it is. While it does come with a box-type design, it is a lot more rounded in its style than most other external hard drives out there. We also liked the fact that it stayed with a minimalistic all-black look that goes well with the gaming culture. It certainly won’t stand out with its design but you shouldn’t expect too much from one of the more affordable external hard drives you can use for gaming.
The WD Elements Portable Hard Drive’s enclosure is primarily made of plastic though so you might want to make sure that you don’t get too rough with it if you don’t want to damage it. But gamers aren’t as on-the-go as most people and are usually expected to keep their external hard drives on their desks or safely tucked in the pockets of their laptop bags.
One of the best things about the WD Elements is that it is as compact as any hard drive can get. The 5TB variant measures at 4.35 x 3.23 x 0.82 inches and weighs a little over eight ounces. Meanwhile, the 2TB version is expectedly slimmer. It is smaller than most of the other options you have on the market, which allows it to stay compact and carry around for gamers who usually play with their gaming laptops.
Like most other external hard drives, the WD Elements Portable is a plug and play device that is already formatted as an NTFS drive so that you can simply connect it with your PC or laptop if you want to use it. For Mac gamers, you may need to reformat it or you probably want to use a program that will allow your Mac to read and write on NTFS drives.
For console gamers, however, the WD Elements Portable doesn’t come with an option that makes it instantly compatible. You would have to reformat it with your console by plugging it in and formatting it using your gaming console’s interface. This works both ways for either the PS4 or the Xbox One. Of course, you would end up losing your data by formatting it with your gaming console but that shouldn’t be a problem if you are strictly using the Elements for your gaming needs and for nothing else.
By testing it using the same standards we used with the P10, the WD Elements Portable came out with results that are somewhat similar to its fellow Western Digital external hard drive. It won’t wow you with blazing speeds and it is certainly a bit slower than the WD Black P10 but the Elements performs well enough for you to respect it at its price range. The speeds are somewhere close to or above the 125 Mb/s range but it may be able to reach 130 Mb/s from time to time.
Of course, the WD Elements Portable also comes with a more expensive SSD cousin that is understandably faster. But we wouldn’t count that as a budget pick considering the fact that SSDs are crazy-expensive when compared to the more budget-friendly HDDs.
WD markets the Elements as fast, simple, and portable. They weren’t wrong in that because it is actually quite simple enough to use and doesn’t come with a lot of flairs. Gamers who are often on the go can enjoy how portable and compact the WD Elements Portable is. Meanwhile, those who want a reliably fast external hard drive will also enjoy how this tiny beast provides enough speed for their gaming needs.
At a price that is somewhere below $100 if you go with the 5TB option (we got ours at $93), it is one of the most affordable external hard drives on the market and is a great alternative to the more expensive WD Black P10. This makes it a truly great budget pick for the thrifty gamer who only wants an external hard drive he or she can use for storage purposes and nothing more.
If you are interested in the WD Elements Portable External Hard Drive, check the best-selling product on Amazon. You are going to have 1TB to 5TB options but we recommend the much more economical 5TB as long as you can afford it. If not, the 2TB variant works just fine.
Other good external hard drives for gaming
If you don’t feel like the WD Black P10 and the WD Elements are the right external hard drives for your gaming preferences and needs, here are the other ones that you might want to consider:
- Seagate Game Drive – For the console gamers
The Seagate Game Drive is a crowd favorite particularly because of how it was made and designed to be used primarily with gaming consoles. It has two variants, which are the PS4 and the Xbox One versions. This external hard drive is also the official external hard drive of Xbox, so you can expect it to perform considerably well with the Xbox.
In terms of design, the enclosure has a vanilla box-like rectangular shape with a plastic surface that is smooth. However, what games like about it is the fact that the enclosure is designed to fit well with their chosen consoles. The 2TB PS4 option comes in an all-black design with the PS4 logo at the upper-right corner. Meanwhile, the 2TB and 4TB Xbox One versions both have an all-white design with the Xbox logo at the upper-left corner.
The Seagate Game Drive is actually just shaped like the Seagate Portable but the difference is that it comes with the console-specific designs that gamers really love especially because of how they fit well with the theme of their gaming console of choice. The black PS4 design works well with the usual all-black PS4 look. Meanwhile, the all-white Xbox One design is perfect for the all-white Xbox One S. There is also a classic Xbox green-colored version of the Xbox One.
Both the PS4 and the Xbox One versions also have game-specific designs that you can choose when you check out their Amazon pages. For example, we really liked the flair that came with the Cyberpunk version of the Xbox One Seagate Game Drive. However, what we had in our hands was the all-white Game Pass Edition, which looks really smooth and clean.
Performance-wise, there is nothing that separates the Seagate Game Drive from the Seagate Portable. It simply is a standard Seagate external hard drive that comes packaged in a nice enclosure. However, even the standard Seagate drives are already good enough for most gamers. And if you want the faster versions, the Seagate Game Drive also comes with SSD variants.
- Fantom Drives GForce 3 – For the gamer in need of power
While Fantom Drives isn’t a household name that is on the same level as WD, Seagate, or Toshiba, it does have a niche because of how large and powerful its external hard drives are. But, take note, this is a larger 3.5-inch external hard drive that was built for power and performance instead of portability.
Design-wise, the Fantom Drives GForce 3 is a desktop external hard drive that is supposed to be placed on top of your desk beside your gaming PC or your consoles. It wasn’t meant to be carried around but you can still opt to bring it with you as long as you have room in your bag. Still, it might be better off left in your house.
The GForce 3 actually looks large and in charge, especially with its stylish brush metal aluminum enclosure. The metallic enclosure allows it to stay cool even though it comes with a fan-free design that saves up power and space. Its mesh metal vents are the ones that keep it cool while you are using it.
In terms of how well it performs, the standard GForce 3 is faster than the smaller 2.50-inch hard drives because of how it can make use of more power with its size. You can also go with the more advanced GForce 3 Pro, which carries a 7,200rpm drive that is generally 33% faster than the standard 5,400rpm drive. That means that you can enjoy faster gaming sessions even when you play off of this external hard drive.
Due to how fast the Fantom Drives GForce 3 is, you can actually use it as your main drive when playing your games instead of simply using it to store your games. This works well enough even when you are using your gaming consoles. As such, the GForce 3 is at its best when used as a table-top external hard drive that complements the power of your gaming PC and your consoles.
Compatibility also isn’t an issue with the GForce 3 because it can work well with your PC, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One. The newer and more advanced option is also marketed to work with the newer PS5 and Xbox Series X although we are yet to test that out for ourselves because of how scarce the new-generation consoles are.
You can check out the Fantom Drives GForce 3 on Amazon to get to know more about it and so that you can see your other options.
- Seagate Backup Plus Slim – For the laptop gamer
The Seagate Backup Plus Slim, which has been considered to be one of the best external hard drives the market has to offer because of its combination of design, portability, speed, and reliability, is one of the better options that gamers can use if they are always on the go.
As one of the slimmest external hard drives you can find, the Backup Plus Slim puts the “slim” in slim. The 2TB option, which may already be enough for most gamers, has dimensions of 4.52 x 3.07 x 0.46 inches. Naturally, the 4TB and 5TB variants are supposed to be thicker. Still, it is slimmer than most of the other options you have on the market and is perfect for those gamers who are always on the move.
You will also love how the Backup Plus Slim comes with a wide range of color options you can choose from so that you can match it with your favorite color or with the color that your gaming PC or laptop comes with. It was made to be stylish so that you will love carrying it around and flexing it with your fellow gamer friends.
When it comes to speed, the Seagate Backup Plus Slim is marginally faster than the regular Seagate Portable and the WD Elements but is somewhere at the level of the WD Black P10. It is usually at around 125 Mb/s in terms of reading and writing but you can go up to 130 Mb/s when transferring smaller files. That said, it is respectably a good performer especially when you consider how slim and how affordable it is.
What really makes the Seagate Backup Plus Slim a winner is that it has one of the lowest failure rates when it comes to the verified purchases on Amazon. That means that it is very reliable and will certainly not fail you when you need it the most. Its low failure rate is what has made it a favorite among different experts.
Overall, we like the Seagate Backup Plus Slim as a good on-to-go option for laptop gamers and casual users alike. If you are looking for an all-around option that can be used for regular purposes or for gaming, it fits the bill especially when it isn’t even too expensive at all. You can check the different options for the Seagate Backup Plus Slim on Amazon but we recommend the 2TB option because of how slim and compact it is.