An image of a hard disk drive

Building a gaming PC can be quite pricey, and many of us eventually opt for hardware compromises to minimize the costs incurred. With that in mind, do we need a hard drive to play games on our computers?

Yes, a gaming computer requires a hard drive to function because it houses the Operating System (OS), applications, and software for the PC to run, including video games. A hard drive is another common name for a hard disk drive (HDD), a type of storage device installed inside a PC.

Although HDDs are still used to this very day, solid-state drives (SDDs) have started to replace them, primarily found inside the latest gaming consoles to support next-gen video games. However, this doesn’t mean HDDs don’t have their uses anymore, because some of us still utilize them to install old, classic PC games, re-playing them whenever we feel that nostalgic itch.

On the other hand, for mainstream PC games, SSDs are the superior option, boasting faster loading times and quicker boot-ups, among other things. Just take note to always remember where we install our games, though, especially those that come from PC Game Pass subscriptions, because it can be quite tricky to access their files if we need to do so in the future.

How Much Memory Should a Gaming Hard Drive Have?

Today, PC games require copious amounts of memory for us to install them on our computers. With triple-A (AAA) games, such as Destiny 2, taking up as much as 100GB (maybe more) of memory space per installation, how big should our gaming hard drive be?

For gaming, we should use an HDD/ SSD that has AT LEAST 1TB of memory space to allow multiple video games to be installed onto our PCs. Sufficient memory should also be provided for the use of important system programs and software, so 1TB of storage should be ideal for us to manage them accordingly.

As mentioned earlier, modern PC games are growing in file sizes, making it hard to have more than a couple of AAA games installed on our computers at any given time. Unless we focus our attention on smaller, lighter indie games, 1TB won’t be enough to hold more than 6-7 top video games like Atomic Heart and Hogwarts Legacy, forcing us to always consider upgrading our PCs’ storage capacities, moving forward.

That’s why video game renting still exists, though the practice is slowing down due to the increase in digital video game copies. On the other hand, subscription-based gaming services, like PC Game Pass and EA Play, are on the rise, offering us great alternatives to access huge libraries of computer games every day.

Is a Hard Drive Good for Long-Term Gaming Storage?

Many of us plan to have our games installed for many years to come, but is an HDD a good option for us to store them for the long run?

Yes, an HDD is a great storage device that’s capable of keeping our installed video games safe for a very long time. Unlike SSDs, HDDs are known to have a longer functioning life span due to their mechanical compositions, besides being cheaper too.

By using an HDD to install our games, preferably old titles like the original Assassin’s Creed, we don’t have to worry about rebuying them if we ever lose their physical game copies. Not every previous-generation masterpieces, such as Aliens Versus Predator 2, are available from online gaming platforms like Steam and Epic Games Store, so HDDs become extremely useful in this circumstance.  

We can even have our decades-old PC games, like Command & Conquer: Red Alert, installed inside SD cards as well, as long as our computers have SD card slots available to read them. If not, then a flash drive can also do the trick; both are friendly on our wallets and easy to handle.

Are Gaming Hard Drives Cheap?

Generally, we know that HDDs are cheaper alternatives to SSDs. But when we’re talking about HDDs recommended for gaming, are they still priced as affordably too?

Yes, even HDDs that are used for gaming are still reasonably priced than SSDs, especially models with larger storage capacities. Depending on the make, you can get a 4TB HDD for around half the price of a 4TB SSD.

Taking into account that PC games are commonly smaller in file size than their console counterparts, having an HDD with abundant storage space allows for tons of games to be installed. A ‘gaming’ HDD can be used as a backup storage device too if we have a faster SSD placed inside the computer as the primary storage drive.

It essentially falls to our personal preferences and budget, and we can be flexible about it as much as we want. From Seagate to Western Digital, there’s bound to be one out there that fits our desired appetite.

Which Hard Drive is Better: Internal or External?

Assuming we’re invested in a new HDD, should we buy an internal one or choose an external type instead?

Both are mechanically similar, and our decision will be based on circumstantial needs. For the most part, opt for an internal HDD when building a budget desktop, but get an external HDD for backing up data and transferring files between different PCs.

HDDs might not offer quick data transfer speeds like SSDs do, which can be frustrating because PC games usually take a long time to be installed, but their low-cost prices and longer life expectancies more than make up for it, at least for some of us. This is truer when they are divided into two specialized subcategories as well, each being said internal and external models.

For new-generation gamers that are building their own gaming PCs, an internal HDD is already good enough for what it brings to the table. It allows us to divert our finances towards purchasing other useful gaming items, like a mechanical gaming keyboard or a superb gaming mouse. We can always upgrade to an SSD later on in the future, so there aren’t many things that can go wrong with it at this stage.

Buy an external HDD if we need extra storage for when our internal device is almost maxed out, or use one to better manage video games against other files, like movies or work-related documents. PC games can be installed directly onto an external HDD just like an internal one, so it functions the same way albeit at reduced reading speeds and transfer efficiency.

External devices like HDDs can be good solutions for different people under specific instances, similar to how we use an external DVD drive to read discs without needing to install a dedicated one on our computers. It’s all about identifying our means and choosing the right one that benefits us most at this point. 

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