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


Sure, the best SSDs (or solid state drives) are faster than a traditional hard drive, but what you may not know is how much more affordable the best hard drives are. On top of that, they feature an ample amount of storage space, rather than breaking open your piggy bank on a glorified flash drive. The best hard drives you can buy in 2018 can deliver huge amounts of space without putting your bank account in the red. They may not be able to outperform the SSDs found in the best Ultrabooks, but they are certainly spacious.

Of course, what qualify as the best hard drives vary from person to person. For a laptop or game console, it may be necessary to buy a 2.5-inch or external hard drive. If you have one of the best gaming PCs, however, the best hard drive is going to be one with both a high capacity and fast speeds. Thankfully, we’ve done most of the heavy lifting and we’ve put together this list of the best hard drives for gaming, laptops, NAS setups and more. No matter what your situation or budget requires of you, you can be confident that you’ll find the best hard drive for your needs right here. 

Best hard drive: Seagate BarraCuda

High RPM and storage at a low price

Interface: SATA 6Gbps | Capacity: 2 – 3TB | Cache: 64MB | RPM: 7,200

Low cost
Fast spinning disks
 Limited cache

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. 

Best high capacity hard drive: Toshiba X300

Big drives at nimble speeds

Interface: SATA 6Gbps | Capacity: 4 – 8TB | Cache: 128MB | RPM: 7,200

Massive storage
High speeds
Short warranty

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 

Best gaming hard drive: WD VelociRaptor

Faster spinning, faster gaming

Interface: SATA 6Gbps | Capacity: 250GB – 1TB | Cache: 64MB | RPM: 10,000

Insane HDD speed
Built-on cooler
Priced like an SSD

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.

Best budget hard drive: WD Blue Desktop

Heavy on storage, light on price

Interface: SATA 6Gbps | Capacity: 500GB – 6TB | Cache: 64MB | RPM: 5,400 – 7,200

An option for every budget
Faster option available
Less value from smaller drives

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.

Best hybrid hard drive: Seagate Firecuda Desktop

Faster than a HDD, cheaper than an SSD

Interface: SATA 6Gbps | Capacity: 1TB – 2TB + 8GB | Cache: 64 MB | RPM: 7,200

NAND-boosted performance
An already fast platter
No competition

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.

Best NAS hard drive: Seagate IronWolf NAS

Storage-galore for the network

Interface: SATA 6Gbps | Capacity: 6 – 12TB | Cache: 256MB | RPM: 7,200

Ready for RAID
Faster than smaller options
Pricier than non-NAS drives

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. 

Best laptop hard drive: Seagate FireCuda Mobile

Adds more pep to a laptop than an HDD

Interface: SATA 6Gbps | Capacity: 500GB – 2TB + 8GB | Cache: 64 MB | RPM: 5,400

Multiple capacity options
Performance above a standard HDD
Flash storage comes at a premium

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.

Best game console hard drive: WD My Book

For when you need to fit all the games

Interface: USB 3.0 | Capacity: 3 – 20TB

Massive storage options
Simpler upgrade solution
Potentially slower

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.

Best external hard drive: WD My Passport

One capable and plenty of storage

Interface: USB 3.0 | Capacity: 1 – 4TB

Affordably priced for every model
Only needs one cable
Not rugged or waterproof

A few external hard drives offer more storage per dollar, but WD’s My Passport edges them out with its portability and simplicity. It offers a variety of large storage options at great prices, and makes all that data easy to take on the go. It’s powered by its USB connection to a computer, so only one cable is ever needed. Its small physical size also makes it easy to tote around.