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

Best hard drives

The best hard drives aren’t as fast as the best SSDs, but they’re definitely more affordable. Plus, the best hard drives come with huge amounts of space at a lower price, rather than costing a fortune for a glorified flash drive. You won’t find the best hard drives in the best Ultrabooks, but they’re definitely worth looking at as an external measure – especially if you have a lot of data to back up.

Picking the right hard drive for your needs ultimately boils down to what you need it for. If you’re looking for the best hard drive for game consoles, you’re looking at a 2.5-inch drive, or maybe one of the best external hard drives. If you have one of the best gaming PCs, however, and you just need something for archival storage, you’ll want something big and fast. It’s kind of a lot to take in, but we took the liberty of gathering up the best hard drives on the market in 2018, and listed them here.

Best hard drive: Seagate BarraCuda

Seagate BarraCuda

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

Seagate’s BarraCuda lineup is the indisputable face of the best hard drives. And, it’s not without good reason – they offer a great ratio of gigabyte per dollar and speed benefits to top it off. The 2TB model hits a 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.  

Best high capacity hard drive: Toshiba X300

Toshiba X300

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

Even if its laptops aren’t as popular as they used to be, Toshiba is still a huge name in computing, and has a lot to offer. When it comes to the best 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 performance. These drives all spin at 7,200 rpm and include 128MB of cache for higher speeds. The only downside is the warranty only lasts two years, which feels short for a drive meant to store so much important data.

Best gaming hard drive: WD VelociRaptor

WD VelociRaptor

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 PC gaming, speed is everything. So, for anyone resisting the allure of an SSD, and looking to kick it old school with one of the best hard drives, it’s time for something that spins just a bit faster. And, with the WD VelociRaptor and its insane 10,000rpm spin speed, you’re going to want to pay attention to it. With capacities up to 1TB available, the VelociRaptor drives are ready to store large game libraries, ad the super fast platters will help those games launch and load quickly. 

  • 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 FireCuda 

Best budget hard drive: WD Blue Desktop

WD Blue Desktop

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 solid bargain with its line of WD Blue hard drives. With a wide variety of storage options from a small 500GB to a capacious 6TB, the WD Blue is a viable pick for almost any type of PC build that’s sticking to a budget. The best value comes from the larger drives – they’ll give you much more storage per dollar spent. And, if you’re looking for a bit more speed, there are also 7,200rpm models available that don’t come with too much of a price hike. 

Best hybrid hard drive: Seagate Firecuda Desktop

Seagate Firecuda Desktop

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

SSDs are all the rage these days, and it’s not hard to see why. But if you need a lot of fast storage, hybrid hard drives – which contain a small amount of solid state storage to bump of their speed – are a great option. The SeaGate FireCuda is the best hybrid drive out there, it can fit up to 2TB of data, and then its 8GB of solid state cache storage learns and stores the data you use most to access it faster. That speed boost is even sweeter when you consider this drive spins at a fresh 7,200rpm. With its 5-year warranty and approachable price tag, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best hard drives out there. 

Best NAS hard drive: Seagate IronWolf NAS

Seagate IronWolf NAS

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

Seagate FireCuda Mobile

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

WD My Book

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: G-Technology G-Drive

G-Technology G-Drive

Best external hard drive: G-Technology G-Drive

Life in spinning disks

Interface: USB 3.1 (Type-C) | Capacity: 4 – 10TB

 Fantastic performance 
 USB Type-C V2 
 Bigger than expected 

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