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When it comes to choosing a type of drive for gaming ,there are a number of factors to consider. Your main choice comes down to whether you want a Hard Disk Drive, or a Solid State Drive in your PC. The first factor to consider is price. You will usually see a 120Gb SSD for around the same price as a 1Tb 7200RPM HDD. If you know that you are a dedicated gamer who only runs your ONE game, and you have no need for extra storage, maybe there isn’t much choice here, but for most of us, 1Tb is a bare minimum for storage,so the cost difference can be significant.
For many gamers, the best options seems to be a small, cost efficient SSD for your operating system, and maybe your favorite 1 or 2 small games, and a HDD for the rest of your game and media storage needs. Your mileage may vary, depending on your needs. The biggest different between the two drives, beyond price, is their load times. you may sit and wait for a loading screen for a solid minute or two if you’re using even a decent quality HDD.
A SSD on the other hand, will fly through loading screens and PC power-on, because with no moving parts, or extra time needed for the drive to ‘seek’ for data, it’s all available nearly instantly. Given HDD technology has come a long way, but even the pricey 10,000 RPM drives cannot match the raw speed of solid state. If a 240Gb SSD is enough storage for what you need, maybe a 2Tb USB3.0 external drive can be your next expansion option in another year when you’re ready to upgrade. Just make sure you make an informed decision for your main OS drive, because it can be a pain trying to re-install from scratch to make a minor drive upgrade. Even a 64Gb SSD can be more than enough for your copy of Windows and a handful of (non-gigantic) games, and paired with a 2Tb 7200RPM drive, you’re still only looking at around $100 total storage budget which isn’t bad even on a strict budget.
There are many different parts to consider when building your own PC. Your hard drive is the piece that all of your data, games, operating system, and files will be stored on. Hard drives come in a number of sizes, speeds, dimensions, and like anything else, a complete gambit of low and high quality brands. The least important, usually, for a desktop build, is the dimensions. Many solid state drives come in 2.5″ drive size, which is the standard size for laptop drives as well. 5400 and 7200 RPM spindle drives can come in both 3.5 and 2.5″ sizes. It’s rare, but you will also on occasion find drives that are older and not compatible with the newest connection standard. Make sure you match the motherboard you’re using to the hard drive and make sure you’re using the newest possible interface. When it comes to brands, it can be tempting when you’re price-comparison shopping to put your money into a no-name brand with an amazing deal, but don’t forget that name brands with established reputations generally offer a better quality product with a much better warranty and service for any issues that arise.
Two terms that can make a huge difference when making a hard drive choice is ‘HDD’ and ‘SSD’, which stand for ‘Hard Disk Drive’ and ‘Solid State Drive’. A Hard Disk Drive will also have a speed rating of typically 5400 or 7200, and sometimes as high as 10,000. These drives have a metal plate that spins, with an arm that reads whatever part of the ‘hard disk’ (because it is a hard metal disk) it is over. The number indicates the speed at which the plates can spin, and a faster spin speed means a faster drive. Much faster than even the fastest Hard Disk Drives, are the SSDs, Solid State Drives. These drives are made with integrated circuits inside, and have no moving parts. The read and write speeds are much much faster, however the storage space available is much less at it’s maximum, and the cost is also much higher. Reliability can also be a factor, as a HDD will likely give some warning before going bad, and often you will have a chance to recover your data before full drive failure, where a SSD is more likely to fail permanently the first time, without a lot of warning first. Even noise can be a factor, as a HDD will have some additional noise with the sound of the drive spinning, whereas the SSD, with no moving parts, are silent.
The key factors to keep in mind when choosing a hard drive for your rig should be as follows. Connection type: you should make sure you are using the best and most recent connection type your motherboard allows for. Typically this will be SATA III 6/Gb, but the newest and most cutting edge options are the solid-state M.2 drives which actually connect directly to the motherboard, without any external power or cordage required. The second, and arguably most important, is the capacity. If you’re building a lean mean PC for a single purpose (maybe a LoL competitor who really only needs Windows and their competition setup) you can get away with a low capacity, lower-price drive. Those of us with hundreds-long steam libraries, and 4K movies to store may be more concerned with a 5+Tb drive to store our massive amounts of data. If you’re opting for a HDD, it’s important to note the speed or ‘RPM’ listed on the drive. This indicates the ‘revolutions per minute’ of the internal hard disk, and thusly, the read and write speed the drive can attain. usually 7200 is the best option, but 5400 can suffice if your budget is extremely strict. Brand is a factor that can be easily overlooked, but should definitely be brought to mind, and not ignored. Buying a no=name brand can come with amazing bargains, but also a bit of a risk. Warranty may not mean much if the brand you bought a bargain SSD from doesn’t exist in another year. Buying from a name brand may cost a bit of a premium, but you also get a certain peace of mind knowing that your warranty will be honored, and that the quality will likely be a lot higher. Finally, whether you need, and can afford a SSD, vs a more affordable, and slower loading HDD should be a determining factor on any drive choice. Most custom gaming PC builders will recommend a combination of the two, to give you plenty of storage space, but without sacrificing load time on your operating system and favorite handful of games or apps.
Storage technology has come a long way in the last several decades, and there are a lot of factors and options to consider when you’re piecing together your perfect gaming rig. For those working on HTPCs, finding something with a huge amount of storage (especially for those storing 4K media!), but may not need a blindingly fast load time. Alternatively, if a lightning-fast load time is what you’re after, and you specialize in one or two games exclusively, an entirely different sort of drive will suit your needs. Here’s a rundown of some of the best picks for gaming HDDs:
The 2TB FireCuda Gaming SSHD is one of Seagate’s most popular hybrid hard drives. In addition to the 2TB storage included (at 7200RPM spin speeds), this drive comes with an 8Gb SSD which is used as adaptive flash memory. The drive prioritizes the data you use and load most often, which gives you amazing load times on your most often used apps (and OS!), without sacrificing the affordable storage capacity of your traditional spindle drives. This drive more or less defines ‘happy medium’ giving you great storage, a reasonable price tag, and just enough cache to really make a difference.
Western Digital is a no-nonsense brand name when it comes to storage. They’ve been in the game since 1970, and can usually be considered a leading authority on storage technology. Their Black series 5TB Performance drive has not only an amazing amount of storage for all the games or media you could want, but carries the Western Digital name, and a 5 year warranty, so you know you’re getting top-quality storage. It also includes WD’s StableTrac and Dynamic Cache Technology increase reliability and optimizing performance, paired with their 128Mb cache size, making large files and games load that much faster.
Another excellent offering from Western Digital, for the more budget-minded builder, is their 2Tb Blue series hard drive. This budget drive is perfect for anyone who wants to build a shoe string budget PC, but doesn’t want to settle for a no-name hard drive. Still offering 2TB of storage, you won’t feel any crunch for a long time, even with a full steam library and a couple dozen movies. Only offered at 5400RPM for the 2TB version, this drive is not the fastest for access speeds, but with a reasonable price tag, it’s a worthy competitor.
Another solid brand name in the hard drive game is Toshiba. They have a reputation for quality, low-price hard drives, and their 2TB Desktop series drive is no exception. It is on the lower end of the price scale for 2TB drives, but still offers a speedy 7200RPM spindle for faster access speeds. Toshiba offers a 2-year warranty, but with their Internal shock detection and ramp-loading technology to help protect your drive and data, is unlikely you’ll need it. All in all, Toshiba has continued to offer us top notch storage devices, without a huge cost.
For those on the absolute strictest budget, or even someone who wants to spend their extra 20-100 dollars on a better CPU of graphics card, the Western Digital 1TB blue series driveis the bottom-price option. With the industry leading Western Digital name on the drive, you don’t have to worry about low quality, and you still get a speedy 7200RPM drive, for only $50 (at the time of this writing). Definitely a solid choice for the budget-minded builder, or anyone without a need for large storage, there’s no reason to invest in a 5TB hard drive if you’ll never fill it!
It’s also worthwhile to mention the Western Digital My Passport 2TB External USB 3.0 HDD. If you do gaming on the go, or transfer between different PCs, it can be handy to keep your install on a removable device, for easy switching without having to reset your settings, or add-ons. Especially for larger games, and MMOs, that can take upwards of 70Gb of space, it can be a good idea to keep a removable drive handy. This drive also comes with USB 3.0, so access speeds make the gaming experience a lot better than an external device used to be able to offer.
If you’re needing a huge amount of storage, and need rock-solid reliability, you may want to take a look at the WD Red 10TB NAS Hard Disk Drive. Since this drive was designed to be supported in a NAS device, it’s got the absolute top-tier in reliability, backed up by a 3 year Western Digital warranty. reliability and warranty aside, we can’t forget to mention the obvious, a whopping 10TB of storage space. If you’re making live recordings, or other non-replaceable media, and a lot of it, you will need a long time before worrying about getting close to full. This gem from Western Digital is absolutely huge, as well worth the price.