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When it comes to lots of storage at an affordable price, even the latest m.2 SSDs can’t beat the good old hard drives. Internal hard drives have become standardized in two form factors: 3.5” hard drives that are commonly used in PCs and 2.5” hard drives that are used in laptops and consoles.
Upgrading your hard drive to one with more storage and faster speeds is a great way to boost the performance and reliability of your computer or console.
Best 3.5” and 2.5” Internal Hard Drives Reviewed
Hard drives are no longer the industry standard for computer storage (SSDs reign supreme now), but their application is still widespread. This is particularly true in gaming PCs and laptops, as well as videogame consoles.
We’ve handpicked the 5 best internal hard drives available in the market – three of them 3.5” ones and two 2.5” models. To help you understand hard drives better, we’ve also made a buyer’s guide for you to read after the reviews.
Best 3.5” Hard Drive
Dual Core Processor enabling double the performance of a normal HDD, you get some quality read and write speeds that you don’t in normal ones makes the WD Black is a great option for high storage.
When it comes to hard drives, capacity matters, but so does the read and write speed. Usually for that kind of purpose people push towards the faster SSD drives, but they do not offer the kind of capacity that HDDs do for a lower price. However, WD Black is kind of like a middle ground HDD, with high capacity but also high speed.
The 2x DRAM cache allows for speeds up to 256 MB for a faster experience than the normal 128 MB speeds you get in other hard drives. This HDD was designed with gamers in mind and if coupled with an SSD, you get absolutely brilliant performance.
The HDD has a 7200RPM speed and comes in variations of up to 6TB in storage capacity. The only downside to it all is the WD Black is more expensive than your normal hard drive, almost 3 times more. But it has a bigger warranty duration, with a manufacturer warranty of 5 years.
- Dual Core Processor for faster speeds
- 2x DRAM Cache
- Great Capacity
- Expensive compared to other competitors
Best 2.5” Hard Drive
Toshiba is a really stable company when it comes to competition, they are a reliable company and the L200 2.5” HDD is one of their best products in the market.
Toshiba L200 is a reasonably cheap HDD while having great features, it comes in 2 sizes, with 1TB and 2TB variants in 7mm drive height, while the 500GB one comes in a 9mm drive height. They have a high speed of 5400 RPM, which is pretty normal for the form factor along with 128 MB cache.
This drive also features built-in shock sensors and ramp loading technology in case of vibration to give a better life to the drive.
It also comes with a 2-year warranty from the manufacturer, but Toshiba has really great reliability and their drives in mobile devices last a very long time before they need to be upgraded.
- Reliable and Affordable
- Built-in Shock Sensors
- Smaller Warranty
3. WD VelociRaptor
This massive 3.5” internal hard drive not only looks different but also performs differently. This is all thanks to a rapid-fast 10,000 rpm speed that makes it one of the fastest hard drives available on the market right now.
This makes it a very popular choice for hardcore gamers who will look to store today’s massive games on their hard drives. Western Digital provides capacities ranging from between 250GB to 1TB, so you can’t find this hard drive in a larger capacity beyond 1TB.
Due to its very high speeds, WD has slapped on an integrated cooler on this drive to keep it running at ideal temperatures. However, because of its high speeds and design, this HDD does demand a larger fee than other 3.5” hard drives.
- Fastest hard drive out there
- Built-on cooler
- Warranty of 5 years
We fancy the Seagate FireCuda for several reasons. Perhaps the most important is that this is a hybrid hard drive. This means that it combines the best parts of both a regular hard drive and a solid-state drive into one.
Hybrid hard drives contain a small amount of solid-state storage to really boost the speeds, and the Seagate FireCuda does so in brilliant fashion thanks to its NAND boosted performance. Because of the large storage and the boosted performance, the FireCuda is a popular component in most gaming PCs.
You can get the drive-in 1TB or 2TB capacity. The solid-state capacity of this hard drive is 8GB, which is added on top of the normal capacity. This 3.5” hard drive runs at 7,200 rpm. What’s more, it offers a fantastic 5-year warranty that makes the extra cash you’ll pay for it worth it.
- Hybrid design makes it faster than normal
- Long warranty
- Good value
- Only available in two storage capacities
Yep, Seagate does make the FireCuda in a smaller form factor for consoles and laptops. The Seagate FireCuda Mobile shares many traits with its elder brother. It does come at a slower RPM of 5,400, but the 8GB flash memory is still there to greatly boost performance.
Capacities of this hard drive range from 500GB to 2TB, which on average are more options than what you’d normally get with 2.5” hard drives. Like its bigger brother, you get a 5-year warranty with this hard drive. Cache on this drive is also larger than what you’ll get with most, set at the 3.5” standard of 64MB.
The drive overall isn’t as fast as the WD Black, but it’s an excellent alternative, especially if you’re looking for higher storage options. Expect speeds of around 105MB/s for read and 75MB/s for write.
- Good storage capacity options
- Faster than most standard HDD
- Not as fast as WD Black despite hybrid design
Internal Hard Drive Buyer’s Guide
Storage capacity is one of the main factors in choosing your hard drive. 3.5” hard drives will generally offer higher storage capacities than 2.5” hard drives, with some offering even up to a whopping 8TB of storage. One of the main reasons hard drives are still around is because they offer massive storage space at an affordable price.
The speed of the hard drive is determined by its RPM or revolutions per minute. This is the speed at which the disks inside the hard drive rotate. The standards in the industry for both 3.5” and 2.5” hard drives are 5400 and 7,200 RPM. We recommend sticking to 7,200 RPM as the hard drive’s read/write speeds are faster with higher RPMs.
Some of the fastest hard drives offer 10,000 RPM speed which is among the fastest you’ll find out there. Still, even the fastest hard drive is no much for the slowest SSD out there, so some manufacturers build hybrid drives with flash memory in them to boost the speed and performance. s
Price per GB
Price per GB is one of the biggest reasons why HDDs are still around. While SSDs are faster, more reliable, and more robust (because of no moving parts), hard drives are considerably cheaper. The standard of measurement of affordability in the industry is the price per GB, which is the amount of money you’ll pay for every gigabyte of storage.
Hard drives can cost anywhere between $0.03 to $0.06 per GB. This is incredibly cheap when compared to SSDs, which can average around $0.25 to $0.30 per GB, with some of the fastest m.2 SSDs being almost $0.50 per GB.
How does a hybrid drive work?
Hybrid HDDs are mostly like regular hard drives, but they have an additional bit of flash memory attached to the drive. The most frequently used data is cached to the high-speed NAND flash memory for quicker access, which makes them slightly faster than normal hard drives.
Is having multiple small internal hard drives better or one large hard drive in a PC?
A larger hard drive will allow for easier access and management. However, there is a risk with larger drives. Hard drives are often prone to failure, which can lead to data losses. If you have a lot of sensitive data, putting it all in one drive is risky business. A great alternative to multiple drives is to have one large drive and one external drive with a backup of all the essential data in case your main drive fails.
Should I upgrade my laptop’s current hard drive with a newer hard drive?
We don’t recommend it for normal laptops. The best route to go for a laptop upgrade is a solid state drive or SSD. A 2.5” SSD will massively boost the performance of your laptop, and they are getting cheaper by the minute. It’s a different scenario if you own a gaming laptop with an SSD as well as a hard drive, in which case a hard drive upgrade to a larger capacity and/or higher RPM would serve you well.