Running up against a storage limit wall on your current hard drive? The best external hard drive for gaming may be your best tech investment of 2019. That’s because external hard drives increase your gaming rig’s storage capacity — and thus your game library — by several fold. And, you don’t even have to tinker inside the computer chassis. With simple plug-and-play form factors, you can play your favorite titles through a simple USB connection!

This article walks you through the best external hard drives for gaming on the market, giving you a look at the top HDD options available. We’ll also take a look at how to choose the best option for your setup (external hard drives work for PC and console) and peek at the major benefits behind the hardware. If you’re ready to scope out the best hard drives on the market, let’s dive in.

5 Best External Hard Drives of 2019

We’ve curated this list of the top 5 external hard drives for gaming to give you a comprehensive overview of the top options on the market.

1. Western Digital Black My Passport Portable Hard Drive

Our pick for best portable storage drive for gaming

WD 4TB Black My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

The Western Digital Black series is all about quality storage gear for the entertainment buff. Naturally, the My Passport Portable Hard Drive fits in quite well thanks to USB 3.0 technology and large storage capacities that works with all major gaming platforms. Plus, My Passport comes in a variety of stylish colors and ships with a number of unique safety features. A fantastic buy and one of the best portable gaming storage drives.

Snapshot:

  • Works with PC, Mac, Console
  • 1TB-4TB storage capacity
  • USB 3.0 technology
  • Password protection, hardware encryption, and auto backup

2. Seagate Expansion Portable Hard Drive

Our pick for best external hard drive for gaming PCs

Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0

If you’re looking for a quality portable hard drive, look no further. The Seagate Expansion does it all with universal compatibility, giant storage capacities, and USB 3.0 technology. Store and play your favorite titles, and take them on the go with the slim form factor. Plug-and-play technology makes jumping into the game a cinch, and the 120 MB/s transfer speed is top notch. Overall, a great storage option with fantastic ratings.

Snapshot:

  • Works with PC, Mac, Console
  • 1TB-4TB storage capacity
  • USB 3.0 technology
  • Comes with a plug-and-play design and 120 MB/s transfer speed rating

3. Silicon Power A60 Armor Portable Hard Drive

Our pick for best external hard drive for gaming on console

Silicon Power 2TB Rugged Portable External Hard Drive Armor A60

The Silicon Power A60 Armor is a gaming juggernaut that’s perfect for every platform. It ships in sizes up to 5TB and features the latest USB 3.0 tech for lightning-quick transfer speeds and zippy gameplay. Moreover, it’s outfitted with a plug-and-play design as well as military-grade armor for guaranteed protection. Take it on the go with the cable-carry design and game wherever you want.

Snapshot:

  • Works with PC, Mac, Console
  • 500GB-5TB
  • USB 3.0 technology
  • Water resistant, shockproof, plug-and-play, and more

4. Samsung T5 Portable SSD

Our pick for best external SSD for gaming

Samsung T5 Portable SSD - 500GB - USB 3.1 External SSD

While this article is about external hard drives, we couldn’t help but include the T5 by Samsung. It’s featured in many gamer gear arsenals for a reason — it performs. This SSD drive sports an attractive metal design that’s smaller than a deck of cards, and it comes in sizes up to 2 terabytes! Not only that, but the T5 features AES 256-bit hardware encryption along with password protection, ensuring your software’s safety. Plus, USB 3.1 delivers up to 10Gbps transfer rates for the fastest gaming on the market.

Snapshot:

  • Works with PC, Mac
  • 250GB-2TB storage capacity
  • USB-C 3.1 technology
  • Compact design, password protection, durable build, and 3-year warranty

5. G-Technology G-Drive External Hard Drive

Our pick for best external hard drive for PC gaming & Mac gaming

G-Technology 10TB G-DRIVE USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1) Desktop External Hard Drive

The G-Drive is without a doubt one of the best external hard drives for gaming. Why? Well, it boasts USB 3.1, a sleek aluminum form factor, and easy plug-and-play connectivity. And that’s not to mention the best-in-class 10 terabytes of storage that can handle your entire game library… and then some. Plus, rest assured with a 3-year warranty that guarantees the safety and performance of this stellar unit.

Snapshot:

  • Works with PC, Mac
  • 4TB-10TB
  • USB-C 3.1 technology
  • Stylish design, high capacity, USB power delivery, and more

External Drive Guide Part I: What is an External Hard Drive for Gaming?

An external hard drive for gaming is similar to a regular hard drive for gaming, except it’s uniquely designed to work outside of the computer chassis. This means that you can expand your storage capacity without the hassle of a full installation. Instead, you can keep your favorite titles and files on the external drive and plug it in via USB when you’re ready to play or make use of the data. It’s super convenient and the perfect solution for gamers short on storage space.

External Hard Drive Interior

How Does an External Hard Drive for Gaming Work?

External hard drives for gaming utilize magnetism and movable internal components to read and write digital data. Picture the following. When the external hard drive is activated, the unit buzzes to life. At the top of the hard drive, a magnetic arm glides over a stack of magnetic rotating disks to communicate with the data storage bank below. The magnetic arm, aka the actuator, gathers the digital information for transfer. And since it’s an external drive, this information is then passed along via USB to the main hard drive for further action.

But are external hard drives good for gaming? The answer depends on the type you choose. Our list contains a number of powerful external hard drives that are outfitted with USB 3.0 and 3.1 for lightning-quick transfer rates. Naturally, they offer a number of benefits for your gaming setup.

External Drive Guide Part II: Benefits of External Hard Drives for Gaming

Let’s take a look at the top benefits of using an external hard drive for gaming:

  • Convenient. External hard drives allow you to expand your storage capacity without fussing with the internal workings of the computer. This, combined with plug-and-play designs that are ready out of the box, make using external drives a breeze for everyday gamers.
  • Works for PC & console. The best external hard drives for gaming are optimized to work with PCs and consoles. No matter how you choose to play, all your gaming needs are covered.
  • Holds your Favorite Titles. The best external hard drives for gaming range in storage capacity, but many options offer 2TB or more of space! This is perfect for taking your whole game library wherever you go.
  • Affordable. Starting at under $50, external hard drives are easy to use and ultra cost effective! What’s not to like?

Plus, each model comes with its own set of specifications like hardware encryption options, durable form factors, and USB-C 3.1 technology. But with so much variation, how do you choose the right drive?

External Drive Guide Part III: Choosing the Best External Hard Drive for Gaming

Choosing the best external hard drive for gaming can be tough. Let’s look at the main considerations for picking the perfect fit:

  • Platform compatibility
  • Storage capacity
  • Transfer speeds
  • Bonus features
  • Price
V Nand Flash and USB 3.1

The Samsung T5 (Image Credit Samsung.com)

First off, you need to be sure that your external hard drive can meet the needs of your gaming platform. While most hard drives work with PCs out of the box, be sure to check the product details if you’re a Mac or console gamer. Also, shoot for a model with 1TB or more of storage. Games are only growing larger in size, and it all adds up quickly.

As for transfer speeds? USB 3.0 is 10x faster than the previous generation, and USB-C 3.1 is even quicker. Naturally, the faster the transfer rate, the more fluid the gameplay. To that end, look for bonus features that can enhance your playing experience, and consider budgeting a little extra for your dream model.

External Drive Guide Part IV: How to Use an External Hard Drive for Gaming

Using an external hard drive for gaming is a straightforward process. Depending on your desired platform, it’s often as easy as plugging it in, transferring copies of your favorite titles to the drive, and launching into the game! For specific game platforms like Steam, or consoles like PS4 and Xbox, check the FAQs on the corresponding website for a quick guide.

If you’re a PC gamer, we’ve got a great visual guide lined up. HardwareCanucks over on YouTube walks you through the process of setting up and optimizing an external drive for gaming. In fact, he uses the Samsung T5 featured on our list for all his benchmark tests! Check it out: