You might have heard that gaming on your gaming laptops with an external hard-drive increase the speed of games. You might have doubts, however, if you are able to read through this guide, any doubts you had on using an external hard-drive on gaming laptops would be cleared. So you should read through this guide if you intend on finding out.
What Is An External Hard-Drive?
An external drive is just a hard drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD) that is connected to a computer on the outside rather than on the inside.
Some external drives draw power over their data cable, which of course comes from the computer itself, while others may require an AC wall connection to derive power on their own.
One way to think of an external hard drive is as if it were a regular, internal hard drive that has been removed, covered in its own protective casing, and plugged into the outside of your computer.
Internal hard drives can even be converted into external hard drives via what’s called a hard drive enclosure.
External hard drives come in varying storage capacities, but they all connect to a computer either by USB, FireWire, eSATA, or wirelessly.
External hard drives are sometimes called portable hard drives. A flash drive is one common and very portable, type of external hard drive.
Why Would You Use an External Drive?
External hard drives are portable, easy to use, and can provide a large amount of storage whenever you need it. You can store the actual device any place you like, and carry a large number of files with you wherever you go.
Another advantage of owning an external drive is that you can move them from computer to computer, making them great for sharing large files.
Because of their usually large storage capacities (often in the terabytes), external hard drives are often used to store backed-up files. It’s common to use a backup program to back up things like music, video, or picture collection to an external drive for safekeeping, separate from the originals in case they’re accidentally changed or deleted.
Even if not used for backup purposes, external hard drives provide an easy way to expand your existing storage without having to open up your computer, which is especially difficult if using a laptop.
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 them 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.
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.
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.
Is External Hard Drive Speed Important?
Spin speed (rotations per minute, or RPM) is relatively important. The faster a disk (platter) spins, the faster your computer can find the file you want.
A 7,200 RPM hard drive is obviously faster than a 5,400 RPM hard drive. But with external drives, you’ll hardly notice a difference between the two RPM speeds. The same holds true with internal drives, especially with smaller files. However, you’ll see a noticeable improvement on a 7,200 RPM hard drive with larger files and applications.
Benefits of External Hard Drives for Gaming
Let’s take a look at the top benefits of using an external hard drive for gaming:
- 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, makes 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.
- Some external hard drives allow encryption, so once files are transferred, they as good as hieroglyphics to anyone who wishes to access them without permission. For heavy internet users, it is also possible to keep files secure by transferring them to another storage device for safekeeping. Once data has been saved, simply turn off the external hard drive and detach it. Even if it remains attached to your computer, no hacker will be able to access your files from anywhere.
- 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 driver?
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
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.
5 Best External Hard Drives
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.
- Western Digital Black My Passport Portable 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 work 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.
- Seagate Expansion Portable Hard Drive
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.
- Silicon Power A60 Armor Portable Hard Drive
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.
- Samsung T5 Portable 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.
- G-Technology G-Drive 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.
We hope the review was helpful, and we were able to answer your question. If you have any confusion, you should read through the review for a second time.