How to pick the best Hard Drive for your PC

You may be in the midst of building a PC, or running out of storage. Space is a worry that stays in the mind of most players, even if the next game they download is only 20GB.

But it’s always a good idea to make sure that you have another drive at the ready. And you can let another, faster drive do the work with Windows.

It comes down to three types of Hard Drive: Mechanical, SSD and Hybrid.

Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages, but with Hybrid, there hasn’t really been a happy medium for gamers. It’s best advised to purchase a mix of Mechanical and SSD hard drives for best performance.

The read and write speeds of an SSD are incredible compared to a regular hard drive, and these are usually used for all of your programs and main Windows installation, while a secondary hard drive with much bigger storage, is used for all of your games.

This way, you get a faster start-up and a faster management of Windows thanks to it all being on SSD, while having a huge storage option with the Mechanical hard drive.

To help you build your own PC, here are four hard drives that will keep you in good stead for the coming releases.

The best Mechanical Hard Drive

Buy the Seagate 4TB HDD 5400RPM

This is a great secondary hard drive that is installed in one of our team’s gaming PCs.

Even with the game launchers of Steam, Epic, Origin and a few more moved onto this drive, having 4TB removes the need to worry whether that big new game will fit.

It was as easy as plugging in the SATA cables into the motherboard and formatting it through ‘Disk Management’ for the PC to recognise it, and it’s been a massive help in storing all the games.

It is very quiet, barely noticeable when it's under heavy load, and for a SATA III drive, it’s very fast when copying files to and from it.

The best M.2 Drive

Buy the Samsung 970 500GB M.2

M.2 Drives are more similar to a stick of DDR RAM, and they plug into the motherboard almost like a USB stick.

These have dropped significantly in price in the last six months, to the point where you can purchase a 256GB stick for £50.

This is usually for the Windows side of the PC, so any files that are constantly read by the PC will be stored here. 

The speed is ridiculously impressive, with 3,500MB/s both at read and write, so if you have games with low storage installs, or even just Fortnite, you’ll have some fantastic speeds here. The prices on these are only going to go down further, and with newer motherboards featuring two or more slots for these storage devices, there will be opportunities in the future to have a 2TB M.2 drive as a secondary, or third hard drive.

The best SSD Internal hard drive

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Buy the Samsung 860 Evo 1TB SSD Internal

This is almost the best of both worlds. You get the speed of SSD, and the storage of a mechanical hard drive to start off with.

To use as a primary drive, it’s fine, but you may find soon enough that the storage will be running now.

But if you’re going to be using it as a secondary gaming drive to start off with, then you can easily manage your library of games. Our article from earlier (link to manage game libraries) will show you just how to do this.

If you don’t yet have the budget for two drives, this will be a ‘best of both worlds’ option, and when you do have funds for another hard drive, this can be used as a lone ‘Steam Drive’ for example.

The best hard drive for streamers

Buy the Western Digital 10TB Hard Drive

This is for when you’ve gained a bonus in your day-job, and you want to go all out for storage on that PC.

In real-world terms when the drive is formatted for use, you’re looking at 9.35TB.  It may cost over £300, but it’s a great investment in just how you can store hundreds of 4K videos. It’s SATA III and has a speed of 7200RPM, so you’ll have fantastic speed for a huge amount of storage.

If you have money to burn, it’s recommended to buy another one and have that as a backup to this one, as using a cloud service to backup any of this would be a waste of time and bandwidth.

The best hard drive for your laptop

Crucial MX500 500GB 2.5” SSD

Of course it’s not all about PC towers and types of hard drives, there’s still an opportunity for a bigger hard drive if the laptop allows it.

A laptop for a gamer can be ideal if you take part in esports events or LAN parties in your hometown, without lugging a PC tower across the high street. But there will be a chance that you’ll run out of space on the internal hard drive that it came with, and you’ve also had enough of carrying an external hard drive to carry all those games and captured video.

Many laptops out there have a way of expanding its memory or storage. Even ten years ago, that would have been a challenge to upgrade even the high-end of models.

With this 2.5” model, you could replace a mechanical hard drive, or a smaller SSD in a laptop that allows the storage to be replaced, and easily benefit from the storage and speed improvements. With ever-falling prices to SSD drives, there’s always opportunity for a 2TB drive down the line.

Or if you're feeling luxurious, why not pick up a 12TB drive and feel like Emperor Palpatine with ‘unlimited power’?

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