The prices of high-capacity hard drives have dropped so much recently that it makes sense to upgrade everything from desktop computers to laptops and game consoles. For iMacs, Mac Pros and MacBooks, my strong recommendation has been Solid State Drives (SSDs), which combine increasingly attractive capacities with super-fast speeds, but for game consoles, traditional hard disks are the right choice. Nintendo actively warns Wii U owners against using SSDs, while Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 provide little reason to prefer them.
Why the difference? Unlike Macs, where solid state drives deliver huge speed increases across OS X and apps, game consoles tend to achieve only modestly better loading times with SSDs — a few seconds here or there. Traditional hard drives also deliver much higher storage capacities, fixing an obvious issue with game consoles where 40-50GB patch downloads are becoming the new normal. A 500GB PlayStation 4 arrives with only around 400GB of free space, versus 360GB on a 500GB Xbox One, and a mere 25GB on a 32GB Wii U. Whether you’re updating Halo or downloading DLC for Mario Kart 8, you’re eating up a big chunk of your hard drive’s space.
What are the best hard drives for your console? Most of my top picks are currently available for $100 or less, and I tend to focus on great value for the dollar rather than cheap picks that will break quickly. I’ll run through the options below.