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The best hard drive picks: Top internal and external HDDs to buy

A collection of the best hard disk picks on the market, internal and external, for your storage needs.
November 19, 2021
Seagate Barracuda hard drive on a white background

With streaming and cloud storage becoming the norm, it may seem like the era of local storage is over. Don’t be fooled, as that’s far from the case. Local storage devices are still very relevant. If you’re looking for the best value for your money, hard drives are the way to go. With that in mind, we have rounded up the best hard drive choices available, internal and external.

Buying the best hard drive for your needs

Picking the best hard drive for your needs isn’t rocket science, but there are a few things to consider. First of all, you need to narrow down your use cases and priorities. If you want a ton of data storage but don’t want to physically carry it with you, a nice high-capacity hard disk is a way to go. For more storage-intensive purposes like NAS or surveillance, disks with high endurance specifications will be better.

On the other hand, if you want to move around with your data, external hard drives offer that convenience. External HDDs come in a variety of flavors, so you can make your pick depending upon the purpose and the level of portability.

The best hard drives (internal and external)

Best internal hard drives

  • The Seagate Barracuda is the best hard drive for most people, providing a solid balance between price and performance.
  • The WD Black Performance is the best hard drive for gaming systems, offering a suitable aesthetic and performance.
  • The Seagate Ironwolf NAS is the ideal hard drive for network-attached storage systems and mass storage.
  • The Toshiba X300 Performance is a quiet and energy-efficient performance-focused hard drive.

Best external hard drives

  • The Seagate Ultra Touch is a stylish external HDD choice that will do well for most people.
  • The WD Black P10 is the best external hard disk for PC and console game storage.
  • The G-Technology G-Drive is a solid external HDD solution for professionals and content creators.
  • The WD Elements Desktop is the best desktop external hard drive, but it comes with added heft and the need for a dedicated power supply.

Editor’s note: This list of the best hard drives will be updated as new products are released and old ones retired.

Best internal hard drives

Internal hard disks are a great way to increase the storage of your computer or to build a dedicated storage system. Whether it’s to add a little space for your games and other media or to back up a ton of data, an internal hard drive can do it all. Here is our roundup of the best internal hard drive options on the market.

Seagate Barracuda: The best hard drive for most people

Seagate Barracuda hard drive on a white background

Seagate Barracuda is a trusted name in the hard disk space and has been the go-to HDD choice for years. It offers stellar value for money and combines speed with high-capacity storage options. The Seagate Barracuda lineup also offers proven reliability and comes with Seagate’s multi-tier caching that improves read/write performance.

The Seagate Barracuda range comes in three options. The Barracuda range has 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch form factors, with capacities going to 5TB and 8TB, respectively. The Barracuda Pro lineup offers higher capacities, up to 14TB. It also comes with higher sustained transfer and write limits and a five-year warranty in comparison to the two years you get with the Barracuda.

WD Black Performance: The best hard drive for gaming systems

WD Black Performance hard drive on a white background

Western Digital markets the WD Black brand for gamers. The WD Black Performance makes the list for being the best hard drive for gaming. WD promises a lot of things with this one, like performance tuning for gaming, up to 256MB cache, and a dual-core onboard processor to aid performance.

WD Black Performance HDD is available in capacities going up to 10TB. There’s also a Mobile range in the same lineup in the 2.5-inch form factor. The capacity for the WD Black Performance Mobile range goes only up to 1TB, with a max cache of 64MB. All WD Black Performance HDDs get a five-year warranty.

See also: SSD vs HDD

Seagate Ironwolf NAS: The best hard disk for network-attached storage systems

Seagate Ironwold NAS hard drive on a white background

With SSDs getting cheaper, hard drives have come to be the ideal solution for mass storage. Seagate Ironwolf NAS is the best hard disk you can buy for mass-storage purposes. Geared towards NAS (network-attached storage), these drives come with features like drive health monitoring and reliability and scalability optimizations.

The Ironwolf series comes in two tiers. The Ironwolf NAS series offers capacities up to 12TB, while the Ironwolf Pro NAS series offers up to 18TB. You get up to 256MB cache options. The Pro series offers a better mean time between failures and a five-year warranty as opposed to the two years you get with the Ironwolf.

Toshiba X300 Performance: Quiet and energy-efficient performance hard disk

Toshiba X300 Performance hard drive on a white background

Toshiba is a veteran in the hard disk space. The Toshiba X300 is among the company’s most popular hard drive lineups. Toshiba says the hard disk will go well with whatever you throw at it, be it gaming, storage-intensive professional work, or any usage that relies on storage. The X300 comes with dual storage actuators, a Helium-sealed chassis for lower noise, and better energy efficiency.

Toshiba also includes its proprietary caching technology with the X300, with up to 512MB of buffer. As far as capacity goes, these drives are high-density. You get capacities starting at 4TB and going all the way up to 16TB.

Best external hard drives

External hard disks are for portable storage, but there are a few options depending upon your purpose. You can go for a 2.5-inch form factor drive if portability is your focus. On the other hand, if you don’t mind having a little heft and want a higher storage capacity, there are options with the 3.5-inch form factor. Here are our best external hard drive picks.

Seagate Ultra Touch: Stylish external HDD choice fit for most people

Seagate Ultra Touch hard drive on a white background

Seagate also dominates the external HDD space with this stylish offering. When it comes to external hard drives, you don’t really get many good-looking options. The Seagate Ultra Touch comes with a woven fabric enclosure that looks sleek in the white and black colorways. It doesn’t miss out on features, either. You get USB-C and USB 3.0 support, although the port on the drive itself is the good old USB Micro-B type.

You won’t get too far with the capacities, as the case is for most portable external hard disks. The Seagate Ultra Touch comes in 1TB and 2TB options. You also get password and AES-256 encryption support. Seagate only offers you a two-year warranty for this HDD, which is a downside.

WD Black P10: Best external HDD for PC and console game storage

WD Black P10 hard drive on a white background

WD Black is Western Digital’s gaming brand, and as such it makes for a fine external game drive. The WD Black P10 carries the Game Drive label. It’s a sleek-looking external hard disk with a rugged enclosure that is gamer-y enough without being too flashy. It works fine with PC as well as consoles and is a good pick for game storage.

It doesn’t disappoint with capacities, either. You get options of 2TB, 4TB, and 5TB. The P10 still stays compact despite the capacity options, though. On the warranty side, you get a three-year limited warranty.

G-Technology G-Drive: External HDD solution for professionals

G Technology G Drive hard drive on a white background

G-Technology is another brand from WD but focused on high-performance professional-grade storage solutions. The G-Drive is for professional content creators like filmmakers and Youtubers. It comes preformatted for use with macOS, with easy reformat options available for Windows.

There are two series in the G-Drive lineup: the G-Drive USB-C and the G-Drive Thunderbolt 3. You can make your pick based on your preferred connection type. The Thunderbolt 3 series comes with a price premium, but the capacity choices for both are the same. You get options of 4TB, 6TB, 10TB, 14TB, and 18TB. WD also includes a five-year warranty with the G-Drive.

WD Elements Desktop: The best desktop external hard drive

WD Elements hard drive on a white background

WD Elements is a bit of a legendary lineup. If you need a desktop external hard drive that won’t be moved around too much, then the WD Elements Desktop is a great choice. It has a low-key design that should blend well with your desk setup. It’s rather big in size due to using 3.5-inch hard disks inside. You will also need to power it with an external adapter.

However, it offers a wide range of capacity options with choice between 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, 14TB, 16TB, and 18TB. It maintains a rather amazing value for money as well, so if you want cheap storage and portability isn’t high up on your priorities, this is the way to go. WD gives only a two-year warranty with this one, though.

The best PC hardware and peripheral picks

If you’re looking at picking up some more PC hardware and peripherals, you might want to take a look at some more of our best lists and explainers: