Best Internal Hard Drives (HDD)

You should use the best hard drive for long-term or network-attached storage (NAS) servers to ensure sufficient space for your essential files and protection against hard drive failure.

The most reliable hard drives, also known as HDDs, will have large capacities and generally be less expensive than a solid-state drive (SSD) with the same capacity. In terms of file transfer rates and general performance, however, even the worst SSD will perform better than the best HDD because of the technology, so that the best SSD will destroy the best hard drive in the world.

Why then even choose an HDD? One of the most excellent benefits of a hard disk drive is its significantly larger storage capacity. Currently, HDDs with capabilities up to 20TB are available, and even though they can be pretty expensive, their price per gigabyte of capacity makes them an incredible value.

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What is the meaning of an internal hard drive?

The primary storage device within a computer system is its internal hard drive. It typically includes pre-installed applications, the operating system, and additional files. Most desktop computers contain multiple internal hard drives, allowing them to store more data. On the other hand, laptop computers are limited to a single internal hard drive, requiring the user to add an external storage device to store data in excess of the laptop’s internal capacity.

Describes the Internal Hard Drive

An internal hard drive utilizes two ports: one for data and the other for power. The data port employs a Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) or an Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) interface, enabling communication between the computer’s hard drive and motherboard. The power port is connected by a cable that transfers power from the computer’s power supply to the hard drive.

Since the internal hard drive contains all of the computer’s essential applications and the user’s files, it may be impossible to recover these files if this component becomes corrupted or damaged. Consequently, it is crucial to back up files using an online backup service or an external storage device.

Factors to consider when choosing the Best Internal Hard Drives

Frequently, manufacturers offer two or more lines of drives that differ in multiple ways, affecting performance and cost. However, within a given grade of drive, drives from various manufacturers are typically comparable in terms of features, performance, and price, if not necessarily in terms of reliability or noise level. Neither is compatibility an issue, as it was occasionally in the ATA’s early days. Any contemporary PATA or SATA hard disk is compatible with any modern ATA/ATAPI device, regardless of manufacturer.

Consider the following criteria when selecting a hard disk:

Select the appropriate interface.

Choose a PATA drive if you are repairing or upgrading an older system without SATA interfaces. Choose a SATA drive if you are repairing or upgrading a system with SATA interfaces. Many hard drives are available with either a PATA or SATA interface, and their model numbers are frequently nearly identical. Figure 7-6 depicts the data and power connectors, typically the only distinguishing physical characteristics between drives. There may be more significant differences between models. For instance, the SATA model may have a faster seek time, a larger buffer, and support for SATA-specific features like NCQ.

Buy the appropriate storage capacity.

It is tempting to purchase the most significant capacity drive available, but this is not always the wisest course of action. Large drives typically cost more per gigabyte than midsize drives, and their mechanisms may be slower than those of midsize drives. Determine the performance level you need and are willing to pay for, and then choose a drive based on its cost per gigabyte that meets those performance requirements. In contrast, if you require a massive amount of disk storage or are implementing RAID, it may make sense to purchase the most extensive available drives, despite their high cost per gigabyte and slower performance, simply to conserve drive bays and interface connections.

Obtain a model with a large cache if the additional cost is minimal.

The performance of disk drives is enhanced by cache (or buffer) memory. If all other factors remain constant, the larger the cache will increase performance. In general, inexpensive drives have a 2 MB cache, while mainstream models have an 8 MB cache and high-performance drives have a 16 MB cache. Some manufacturers sell the same model drive with varying amounts of cache, frequently denoted by a letter at the end of the model number. In our experience, larger caches have a negligible effect on the overall performance of a hard drive and are not worth paying a premium for. For instance, given otherwise identical drives with 2 MB cache and 8 MB cache or 8 MB cache and 16 MB cache, we might pay $5 or $10 more for the model with the larger cache.

Consider the energy consumption and noise level.

Similar drives can vary considerably in their power consumption and noise output. A drive that consumes more power also generates more heat, which indirectly contributes to the overall noise level of the system because the exhaust fans must work harder. Using low-power, low-noise hard drives is crucial to ensure a quiet system. The drive’s power consumption and noise level are detailed in its website’s technical specification sheets.

Here are some things you can safely disregard when purchasing a vehicle:

Duration of warranty

Late in 2002, all major hard drive manufacturers, except Samsung, reduced their standard warranties from three or five years to one. All mainstream drive manufacturers now offer three-year warranties on desktop drives, while Seagate offers five-year warranties. In terms of practicality, there is no difference. A hard drive four or five years old should be replaced regardless.

MTBF

Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) is a technical measure of a device’s anticipated reliability. All contemporary drives have MTBF ratings of 50 years or greater. That does not imply that the hard drive you purchase will last fifty years. Any hard drive you buy will likely last for years (although some drives fail the day they are installed). The truth is that most hard drives are replaced not because they die but because they are too small. Ignore MTBF when purchasing a hard drive.

MTTR

Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) is another metric with little practical application. MTTR is the average amount of time needed to repair a drive. Since nobody currently repairs hard drives except for data recovery companies, you can disregard MTTR.

Shock rating

The shock that drives can withstand in both operating and non-operating modes is measured in gravities (G). At least for drives used in desktop systems, shock rating can be disregarded. All modern hard drives are remarkably drop-resistant, but they will all break if dropped hard enough.

10 Best Internal Hard Drives (HDD) Of 2022

When it comes to storing files and games, the value proposition of the traditional hard disk drive is difficult to surpass (HDD). HDDs are outdated technology at this point, but given that SSDs are still considerably more expensive in some cases, it’s not surprising that they’ve remained popular. These are the top internal hard drives (HDDs) available for purchase now.

1. Best overall: Seagate FireCuda 2TB Solid State Hybrid Drive Performance SSHD

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Not a pretty hard drive and not quite a solid-state drive, the Seagate FireCuda combines both types of storage into a single unit, or SSHD, if you will. The enhanced drive comprises an embedded 8GB NAND and up to 2TB of traditional storage. The flash unit accelerates read and write times. With onboard SATA 6Gb/s support, Seagate promises a read speed of 140MB/s. The drive is quieter and generates less heat at 5400 RPM.

The 8GB NAND’s benefits are not always readily apparent because the drive effectively learns your most frequently used applications and loads them more quickly. After a few launches of a game, it may assist with initial load times. It’s easy to get excited about this drive’s potential, but even a SATA SSD will outperform it by a significant margin.

The purpose of the FireCuda is to improve upon the conventional mechanical hard drive. You can still obtain larger capacities without breaking the bank, all while enjoying performance significantly superior to that of a 7200 RPM HDD.

Key Features
  • Store games and play them faster with an internal SSHD drive delivering SSD performance and HDD capacities
  • Perfect for: Gaming, creative pro applications, this hybrid hard drive helps load maps and boot levels faster with flash enhanced speeds.
  • Choose from a variety of capacities for an optimized rig
  • Low power consumption means a more cost effective setup
  • Get long term peace of mind with the included five year limited warranty
PROS
  • Great value
  • Faster than traditional HDDs
  • 5-year warranty
CONS
  • Still outclassed by SSDs
  • Flash-acceleration results don't always appear immediately
  • Not as many storage options

2. Runner-up: Western Digital Black

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The Black line of Western Digital’s traditional mechanical hard drives represents the company’s top-tier products. The Black drives are trustworthy and dependable, despite being slower than the FireCuda and the WD VelociRaptor. They are ideal for game storage, especially single-player titles that do not need to load extremely quickly.

If the FireCuda SSHD did not exist, I would choose the WD Black for its performance, reliability, and price. Even though it is more expensive than its Blue counterpart, which we will discuss shortly, the Black still represents an exceptional performance-to-value ratio.

Thankfully, Western Digital abandoned the “Caviar” moniker, naming its HDD product lines after their respective colors. Depending on your budget, you can choose between 500GB and 6TB storage space. I have never encountered a problem with these drives in my system. If you’re concerned, WD provides a 5-year warranty.

Key Features
  • Desktop performance gaming hard drive
  • Performance storage available in up to 10TB* capacities | * As used for storage capacity, 1TB = one trillion bytes. Actual user capacity may be less depending on the operating environment.
  • Designed for gamers, system builders, and creative professionals.
  • Western Digital’s StableTrac and Dynamic Cache Technology increase reliability and optimize performance
  • An industry-leading 5-year limited warranty** | ** See official Western Digital website for warranty details.
PROS
  • Great value
  • Reliable
  • 5-year warranty
CONS
  • Can get loud
  • Outpaced by the FireCuda

3. Best high capacity hard drive: Toshiba X300 4TB Performance & Gaming 3.5-Inch Internal Hard Drive

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Even though its laptops are not as popular as they once were, Toshiba is still a significant player in the computing industry and has much to offer. The Toshiba X300 is a high-capacity, high-performance hard drive that should be considered among the best available. The X300 drives provide an excellent price-to-gigabyte ratio without sacrificing performance. 

These hard drives rotate at 7,200 rpm and include 128 MB of cache for increased speed. The only drawback is that the warranty is only two years, which seems inadequate for a device that stores so much critical data.

Key Features
  • Designed for gaming PC and high-end desktop workstations
  • High Performance with 7200 RPM and large cache size
  • Massive capacity to accommodate large gaming libraries
  • Toshiba’s cache technology to deliver high-level performance in real time
  • Ramp loading and drive stabilization technologies for reliability
  • Includes Toshiba 2 year limited warranty
PROS
  • Massive storage
  • High speeds
CONS
  • Short warranty

4. Best capacity: Seagate BarraCuda 2TB Internal Hard Drive HDD

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Similarly to the WD Black, the Seagate BarraCuda Pro series of mechanical hard drives is available. The Pro series boasts Seagate’s most robust reliability claims and a more extended warranty than the standard BarraCuda — again, we’ll get to that shortly — and is designed to last for years.

The BarraCuda Pro has a maximum workload of 300TB per year, so like the WD Black, it is best suited for non-repetitive tasks, such as storing games. It is a 7200 RPM drive that supports SATA 6Gb/s, allowing for a rapid data transfer rate.

The BarraCuda Pro is superior to the WD Black in terms of storage options. You begin with 2TB and can increase to an absurd 14TB. However, you’ll pay a pretty penny for so much space.

Key Features
  • Note: Graphics May Vary and Size (3.5″) refer to the size of the data platters not the size of the hard drive mechanism
  • Store more, compute faster, and do it confidently with the proven reliability of BarraCuda internal hard drives
  • Build a powerhouse gaming computer or desktop setup with a variety of capacities and form factors
  • The go to SATA hard drive solution for nearly every PC application—from music to video to photo editing to PC gaming
  • Confidently rely on internal hard drive technology backed by 20 years of innovation
PROS
  • Excellent performance
  • Plenty of storage options
  • 5-year warranty
CONS
  • Not as good of a value as the WD Black or FireCuda
  • Beaten by the FireCuda for speed

5. Best performance HDD: WD Velociraptor WD1000DHTZ 1TB

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The WD VelociRaptor provides the highest HDD performance in its class. Western Digital is a market leader in the hard drive industry, renowned for a wide range of product categories, including internal hard drives. Blue for budget, Red for NAS, Black for performance, and purple for surveillance are some WD options, but the 10000 RPM VelociRaptor is the king of hard disk drives.

However, this drive is expensive and offers smaller storage capacities, and SSDs continue to outperform it. The 2TB Kingston A400 SSD, for example, is comparable in price and offers twice the storage capacity of this drive. This route is no longer suitable for driving.

However, if you’re set on sticking with HDDs and don’t want to opt for an SSHD, then the VelociRaptor is your best performance option. Additionally, Western Digital includes a five-year warranty in case something goes wrong.

Key Features
  • Ultra fast 
  • Rock-solid reliability  
  • High capacity 
  • 1 TB capacity 
  • 5 year limited warranty
PROS
  • Fast 10000 RPM
  • 5-year warranty
  • Highly reliable
CONS
  • Still outclassed by SSDs
  • Questionable value
  • Limited storage options

6. Most reliable: Western Digital 1TB Laptop Mainstream

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Following closely behind the BarraCuda is the WD Blue line of HDDs from Western Digital. They are equivalent to the BarraCuda but typically cost a few more on average. Western Digital has traditionally had a more reliable reputation.

The WD Blue is comparable to the BarraCuda about the Pro. It is essentially the same drive with a shorter warranty and a few performance enhancements omitted to reduce costs. This is acceptable, but Western Digital must keep an eye on Seagate and slightly reduce its prices to remain competitive beyond brand loyalty.

Key Features
  • Digital Storage Capacity: 1 TB
  • Connectivity Technology: SATA
  • Brand Western Digital
  • Hard Disk Form Factor: 2.5 Inches
  • Compatible Devices: Laptop
  • Hard Disk Rotational Speed: 5400 RPM
PROS
  • Great value
  • Several storage options
  • 2-year warranty
CONS
  • Slightly more expensive than Seagate
  • Some trouble reported with the warranty
  • Shorter warranty than the Black

7. Seagate IronWolf 1 TB NAS Raid Internal Hard Drive

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What if you’re not looking for a place to store video games but rather a place to store your important files? This is where network-attached storage (NAS) comes into play. Whether building or purchasing a backup system, you’ll need hard drives to keep your data backed up. In this regard, Seagate’s IronWolf is my pick.

I run these on my personal NAS, and they’re fantastic. NAS drives differ from desktop-class HDDs in that they are designed to operate continuously while maintaining a higher level of performance. Seagate claims that the IronWolf is available with storage capacities ranging from 1TB to 16TB and a three-year warranty. There is also the IronWolf Pro line, which is geared more toward business and professional users.

If you choose 3TB or more, you’ll receive Seagate’s IronWolf Health Management, which works well with certain NAS manufacturers to ensure the drive is operating at peak performance. Also, note that drives with 4TB or less capacity use 5,900 RPM rather than 7,200 RPM. The 1TB and 2TB capacities lack vibration sensing capabilities. The Pro line lacks these differences, but you must pay a slight premium to compensate.

Key Features
  • Designed for everything NAS, IronWolf offers tough, ready, and scalable 24×7 performance and can handle multi-drive environments
  • Fastest hard drive, delivers up to 7200RPM spin speed along with sustained data rates up to 210MB/s and burst data rates of 6Gb/s
  • 3 year product warranty and 180TB/year workload limit
  • Compatible with 1 to 8 bay network attached storage (NAS) servers, home, SOHO, and small business NAS
  • Actively protect your NAS with IronWolf Health Management focusing on prevention, intervention, and recovery
PROS
  • Excellent value
  • Multiple storage options
  • 3-year warranty
  • Solid reliability
CONS
  • Lower capacity drives lack some features
  • Shorter warranty than the IronWolf Pro

8. Best enterprise HDD:Seagate Exos 4TB Internal Hard Drive Enterprise HDD

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Once again, Seagate has introduced a drive comparable to Western Digital’s and costs less. The Exos X is superior to the IronWolf and even the IronWolf Pro. These enterprise-grade HDDs are designed for servers and are a bit beyond the scope of the consumer market unless you’re a “prosumer” running a home lab or simply seeking the most dependable and efficient performance available.

The Exos X ranges from 1TB to 16TB, with 14TB and 16TB capacities on the top-tier X16 models. Although the X10 model (a few steps down) and X14 are available, the X16 is much more accessible. The Exos X16 has a Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF) of 2.5 million hours and can handle 550 terabytes per year of workload. That is quite impressive. Additionally, Seagate includes a five-year warranty.

Whether you choose a Seagate, Western Digital, or HGST enterprise drive depends on your brand loyalty and the price at the time of purchase; the performance between brands is nearly identical. Consider that these enterprise-grade drives are considerably more expensive than NAS or desktop HDDs.

Key Features
  • Support 4TB of data with an easy-to-integrate SATA HDD
  • Tackle heavy applications 24×7 with high performance
  • Reduce TCO with customizable power options
  • Advanced Write Caching coupled with TurboBoost provides better performance and minimizes the risk of losing data due to unexpected power loss
PROS
  • Good performance
  • 5-year warranty
  • Power efficient
CONS
  • Pricey
  • Lacks some of the IronWolf features
  • Fewer smaller storage options

9. The best gaming hard drive: Western Digital WD1600HLFS 160GB SATA

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When it comes to PC gaming, speed is preferable to capacity. If you have resisted the allure of an SSD and are looking for one of the best hard drives, the WD VelociRaptor should be right up your alley. Not only does this drive have a spin speed of 10,000 rpm, but you should also pay close attention to it. With capacities of up to 1TB, VelociRaptor drives can store large game libraries, and the super-fast platters will speed up your games’ launch and loading times.

Key Features
  • Western Digital Raptor 160 GB SATA/300 10K RPM 16 MB Hard Drive General Features:
  • 160 GB storage capacity SATA/300 interface 10,000 RPM spindle speed 16 MB buffer
  • Random Access (read/write): 8. 1 ms Average Read Speed: 80.5 MB/s 3.5-inch form factor Lead free
  • Power Specifications: 5VDC, 0.90A 12VDC, 0.30A Regulatory Approvals: BSMI cULus C-Tick MIC CE
  • WEEE
PROS
  • Insane HDD speed
  • Built-on cooler
CONS
  • Priced like an SSD

10. The best hard drive for networks: Seagate IronWolf 1 TB NAS Raid Internal Hard Drive

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Although the Seagate IronWolf NAS drives are priced at a premium, they are not significantly more expensive than a standard hard drive of the same capacity. However, their native NAS optimization makes that premium worth it. These drives can run at a fast 7,200rpm spin rate 24/7 without worrying about drive failure. If you have one of the best NAS devices for your home or business, the Seagate IronWolf NAS is your best option.

Key Features
  • Designed for everything NAS, IronWolf offers tough, ready, and scalable 24×7 performance and can handle multi-drive environments
  • Fastest hard drive, delivers up to 7200RPM spin speed along with sustained data rates up to 210MB/s and burst data rates of 6Gb/s
  • 3 year product warranty and 180TB/year workload limit
  • Compatible with 1 to 8 bay network attached storage (NAS) servers, home, SOHO, and small business NAS
  • Actively protect your NAS with IronWolf Health Management focusing on prevention, intervention, and recovery
PROS
  • Ready for RAID
  • Faster than smaller options
CONS
  • Pricier than non-NAS drives

Selecting the best hard drive

In most cases, one of the best SSDs will be superior to HDDs, but HDDs are still a great option if you want the best GB-per-dollar ratio. Seagate and Western Digital continue to dominate this market. In the end, however, we recommend the SSHD FireCuda as the most cost-effective HDD available. It offers superior value and performance, surpassing the competition.

Even the FireCuda and VelociRaptor are no match for a SATA SSD, which outperforms every drive on this list. These days, you can acquire an SSD as a boot drive for a reasonable price, despite the limited storage options. If you want to expand your games library’s storage capacity without breaking the bank, the Seagate FireCuda is the way to go.

And if you want to move beyond desktop-class drives for a NAS or home server rack, Seagate’s IronWolf and Exos X drives are up to the task.

FAQs

Battery endurance. Solid-state drives have the highest energy efficiency. In terms of power efficiency, hybrid solid-state drives are close to hard drives because they spin down more frequently than hard drives. In general, the storage capacity of a laptop computer will not affect battery life by more than 10%.

Ideal for Superior Performance: 3.5-inch Western Digital Black 4TB Performance Hard Drive. Western Digital is one of the most well-known names in PC storage, and their Black line of hard drives is built from the ground up for speedy performance.

Seagate Internal Hard Drive is superior to Western Digital Internal Hard Drive in every respect. In terms of price, speed, and storage capacity, the Seagate Internal Hard Drive will produce excellent results because it is more affordable and less expensive than the Western Digital Internal Hard Drive.

The IronWolf NAS models provide marginally better performance than the WD Red and WD Red Plus models but consume more power.

HGST remained the most dependable brand overall. Seagate resumed its position as the hard drive manufacturer, with the highest failure rate in 2016, followed by Western Digital. Toshiba surpassed both of them, but Hitachi maintained its position as the company with the lowest annual failure rates.

Currently, there are four major categories of hard drives:

  • Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment (PATA)
  • Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA)
  • Small Computer System Interface (SCSI)
  • Solid State Drive (SSD)

Conclusion

Every modern hard drive is perfectly capable of handling your everyday data, and the performance of most drives is sufficient to support your current needs. If you are impatient and have a large budget, or if your requirements are highly stringent, you should always choose a Western Digital Raptor drive with 10,000 RPM. Everyone else can acquire a decent 7,200 RPM model at various capacity levels for a reasonable price.

Hard disk storage capacities have vastly outpaced gains in performance, which is why the hard drive remains the most glaring bottleneck in modern computers. As soon as you start or shut down your computer, launch applications, read or write files, or transfer large amounts of data, you will encounter vexing delays caused by hard drive activity. Faster drives and interfaces help reduce waiting time, but not even a multi-drive, high-performance RAID array can eliminate storage-caused delays.

However, there is no point in searching for culprits in this situation. We must emphasize that hard drive manufacturers are doing an incredible job of increasing storage density while still squeezing more performance out of hard drive technology that has changed only in the smallest of details over the past half-century. The IBM 305 RAMAC was first introduced in 1956.v

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