External hard drives have evolved. They are no longer giant cubes resembling black boxes on commercial airliners. In 2023, SSDs will be a faster, more efficient, and better long-term solution to storage that can keep up with any tasks you throw at it, and right now, external SSDs are nowhere near as expensive as they once were. It's easier and safer nowadays to recommend a 1TB portable SSD over most hard drives.
An external hard drive with spinning platters (rather than the solid-state memory chips in SSDs) will still be cheaper and a good option if you're looking for massive external storage. But the best external drive balances speed and capacity, and SSDs offer just that. That's why the Samsung T7 Shield is the best external storage drive we've tested this year.
If speed is an absolute priority over storage capacity, I'd recommend picking up one of the best external SSDs for the straight throughput of smaller drives (up to 1TB). NVMe SSDs inside your PC are up to 10x faster than HDDs but are more expensive—check out our HDD vs. SSD comparison for the key differences. Beyond 1TB, an HDD isn't completely redundant. For a serious chunk of storage space, it'll be best to go the spinning plater route—need 8TB of portable storage because you work with big video files? Knock yourself out because there are tons of them at great prices.
We've benchmarked a bunch of external hard drives, trying to narrow them down to the best of the best. Whether you're looking to bolster your gaming desktop PC's storage or find more space for your gaming laptop, you'll find the best external HDDs below. Grab one of these, and you'll never have to worry if you or Call of Duty update again.
Best external hard drives
PC Gamer's got your back O