PC Gear Lab

5 Best External Hard Drives for Gaming Laptop in 2020

Having a gaming laptop is great. Not only do you get to play your favorite titles, but you also get the added advantage of portability.

But, while you get a portable device, most laptops will not have a lot of storage.

This means that a lot of the times you will have to limit the installed games on your laptop to the few ones you’re currently playing and leave space for other apps.

To work around this, you will need the best external hard drives for gaming laptop to store your games collection.

List of Best External Hard Drives for Gaming Laptop

The following hard drives, in our opinion, are particularly catered towards gamer and enthusiasts.

  1. WD Black D10 – Built for Gaming 7200RPM – Recommended External Hard Drive for Gaming Laptop
  2. LaCie Rugged SSD – 950MB/s NVMe SSD, IP67 Rating
  3. Transcend StoreJet SJ25H3B – Affordable, Rugged and Durable
  4. Adata SD700 – Dust/Water-resistant Shockproof SSD
  5. WD Elements Portable – Very affordable Basic hard drive.

1. WD Black D10 – Built for Gaming – Recommended External Hard Drive for Gaming Laptop

When choosing the best external hard drive for gaming laptop, you will need one that performs well and can store many of your games.

This is where the WD Black P10 shines. With storage capacities that go up to 8TB, you can be sure that a lot of your games will have room before you need to start investing in a new hard drive.

The large storage capacity comes with a high price tag, but in exchange, you also get a high-performance 7200RPM hard drive.

This is a better performer than regular hard drives that run at 5400RPM and with it you can expect faster transfer speeds and when playing, you will get better loading times.

The speed tops out at 250MB/s which is also great for transferring files. If you run it continuously, you will benefit from the device’s active cooling feature that helps keep the drive cool when gaming.

The WD Black is great for gaming because you not only get large space for your games but also the performance helps keep you playing with features like active cooling that helps minimize lags.

2. LaCie Rugged SSD – 950MB/s NVMe SSD, IP67 Rating

If what you’re looking for is high performance then the LaCie Rugged SSD will be the best external hard drive for gaming laptop.

Unlike common SATA drives, this one makes use of NVMe technology to boost performance, therefore rallying speeds of up to 950MB/s.

This has a lot of implications for gaming and it means that you get great performance when moving files around and if you decide to play from the drive, loading speeds will be very high.

Performance is not the only thing that makes this device premium and expensive though. You also get a rugged case that’s designed to withstand shocks.

The drive can survive falls from up to 3 meters as well as the crushing force of a car. It is further accentuated by its IP67 rating.

This means it can survive submersion in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes without suffering water damage. It’s also completely resistant to dust ingress.

You get access to a data recovery plan and the drive comes with an encrypting feature that keeps your files safe in case you lose or misplace the drive.

3. Transcend StoreJet SJ25H3B – Affordable, Rugged and Durable

This unit combines affordability with durability which makes it one of the best external hard drive for gaming laptop, especially with portability in mind.

Being affordable means, you can get the drive for all your games without badly hurting your finances.

If you need to have a backup feature then you can be sure that this is the drive for you. It comes with a one-touch backup button that will automatically back up your games when you make any changes like adding new titles.

To give you the peace of mind, the drive comes with data management and recovery software that will come to the rescue in case you end up losing your files.

For further security, the device comes with advanced shock protection that makes use of the combination of a shock-absorbing suspension, a hard casing, and a silicone rubber case.

This protects the drive from intense shocks and even accidental drops.

Storage capacities go up to 4TB which is great for users with a moderately large collection of offline games. Coupling that with durability and affordability makes this a great choice.

4. Adata SD700 – Dust/Water-resistant Shockproof SSD

The Adata SD700 is a very affordable external SSD that’s both dust and water-resistant.

With this, you can get a great performance that is marked with speeds of about 440MB/s. While this is lower than some SSDs, it’s much higher than even the fastest HDDs.

At its performance, you can comfortably move large games between the drive and your laptop and if need be you can even install games onto the drive and play them from there.

You will get good loading times and in-game performance.

The drive comes with an IP68 rating that means it can handle limited submersion in water and its protected from dust.

It has a very noticeable ruggedized case that offers military-grade shock protection, making it a hardy device that you can comfortably take to places.

Because it comes in small capacities, this can make a good drive to carry around some of your favorite games and play from your laptop.

It is very affordable and performs well and that makes it one of the best external hard drive for gaming laptop.

5. WD Elements Portable – Very Affordable Hard Disk for Gaming Laptop

For those who are just looking for a basic hard drive that will store their games then the WD Elements Portable will do just fine.

It’s a regular hard drive with a plastic case meaning if you get it, there’s no protection against shocks, dust, or water so you’ll have to take care of it yourself.

Nevertheless, you do get a portable device that comes with large storage capacities of up to 5TB which lets you store multiple games.

You get a USB 3.0 interface that’s backward-compatible with USB 2.0 making it easy to use even on older computers and the performance, while not the best, is good enough for file transfers.

This drive comes to the rescue when you’re running out of storage space on your laptop and need a place to store some of your games.

You can get one cheaply and use it on multiple computers.

Gaming from the drive is not recommended as its performance is not the best. But because it’s affordable and very reliable, it’s the best external hard drive for gaming laptop.

FAQ

Can You Install and Play Games from an External Hard Drive?

Best External Hard Drives for Gaming Laptop
You can install and play games from your external hard drive. Source: WD Black P10

Well you most certainly can.

Gone are the days when the speed of the external hard disk was bottle necked by a slow USB port.

With the newer USB ports particularly the USB 3.2 Gen1 and Gen2 port, and especially the thunderbolt 3.0 port, the installation and the playing time should be quite smooth.

However, just make certain the you have connected the external hard disk to atleast a USB 3.0 if you lack the newer gen USB ports.

An average external HDD can do about 150MB/s transfer speeds. A USB 3.0 port can do about 5 gbps or 625 MB/s transfer speed.

Hence, the only relative issue should be initialization of the game as it takes a little more while for the processor to go through the code sequence to access the USB port as compared to SATA.

Just make sure that your USB cable is secured properly because the last thing you would want is for an accidental touch to disconnect you from your game.

Also, it is important to make sure that the drive letter of your external hard drive stays the same at all times. Changing the drive letter may stop your installed games from working.

Also Read: Best External Hard Drives for Steam Games

How to Find the Right External Storage for Gaming Laptop?

Storage space on a gaming rig can be easily upgraded by getting multiple drives. On a laptop, however, you may be limited by the number of drives you can have.

In this case, an external hard drive to store your games will come in handy.

If you have one that is fast enough, you can even play your games off it and leave the internal space for your documents and other software.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to consider when getting the hard drive.

Storage Capacity

wd my book
For storing large collection of games and multimedia 3.5″ Desktop harddisks are recommended but they are the least portable.

For users with a large offline library of games, the external hard drive to consider should be one with the adequate space to store the games in.

When it comes to large storage capacities, you will often need to go with an HDD over an SSD and this is mainly a cost issue.

HDDs tend to be cheaper than SSDs but at the same time, you will not get the best performance.

In addition to that, you choice of HDD also matters. For instance a desktop external HDD with the 3.5″ form factor offers much larger storage at cheap as compared to the portable 2.5″ HDD.

Unfortunately, the 3.5″ requires external power source to operate so it is something that you can use an archive but not for moving around.

Speed

For users who prefer speed, especially those who intend to install their games on the external drive, a high-performance external hard drive will be necessary.

With a performance-centered external drive, loading times will be reduced and also, if you ever need to transfer games between computers, you will get faster transfer speeds.

In this case, an SSD will be more beneficial. You will get great performance with the ideal read and write speeds.

An SSD is at least about 5 times as fast as a normal HDD and here we are talking about the slower SATA SSDs.

If you take into consideration the NVME SSDs, they are 5-7 times as fast as a SATA SSD.

However, it should be noted that while NVME SSDs are fast, they are limited by the speed of the USB port itself.

Nevertheless while a SATA external SSD offers upto 550 MB/s, an NVME external SSD can easily offer more than 900 MB/s of transfer speeds.

Unfortunately though, SSDs are expensive and hence not ideal if you have a collection to store.

Also Read: Best External SSDs for Video Editing

Portability

External SSD SanDisk
External SSDs are expensive, but they are highly portable. Source: SanDisk

Because you will likely be moving around with your laptop, chances are you’d want a portable hard drive.

A compact hard drive built for portability will be great in this case and if you get one that has improved durability features then even better.

Rugged hard drives are great at shock resistance which is important if you travel a lot. The hard drive should survive a busy schedule.

We recommend at least a 2.5″ HDD or SSD if you move around too much. If portability is not a big concern for you, then even a 3.5″ external hard disk may do the job for you.

Cost

The cost of the drive is an important aspect to consider. If you intend to use it for just storage and all you need are the basic features then it’s better to not go overboard with your budget.

Likewise, when looking for high performance, great features, and a lot of storage, you should consider having a higher-than-average budget.

Be that as it may, external hard drives have gotten a lot cheaper so you won’t have to spend too much.

All in all, having clearly defined needs will help with the decision-making process.

Final Words

In this article we looked at some of the best external hard drives for gaming laptop and also talked about what features to look for in one.

The bottom line here is that the choice depends upon your budget, the amount of data you want to store and the speed you want.

The choices range from a large 3.5″ HDD to very small NVME external SSDs.

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