Our HDD benchmarks hierarchy shows all of the high-capacity hard drives that we've tested over the years, ranked in order of overall sequential throughput. It's a companion to our guide of the best hard drives, as well as the best SSDs and the SSD benchmarks hierarchy — we strongly recommend any modern PC use an SSD for the OS and boot drive, while HDDs are best as secondary storage.
We regularly review hard drives and update the HDD hierarchy with new models. For now, we've included 20 HDDs that have been tested and reviewed in the past couple of years. Our test PC consists of a Core i9-12900K running Windows 11 22H2, with 32GB of DDR4 memory. If you represent an HDD manufacturer and don't see a particular model in our list, drop me an email, and we can see about testing it.
We have a variety of sizes that we've tested over time, ranging from 6TB up to 22TB, with spindle speeds of 5400 RPM to 7200 RPM. Everything is grouped into a single large table for now, but as we add more models over time, we'll see about separating things according to capacity.
The highest-performing HDDs tend to be larger models, though that alone isn't always the determining factor. In some cases, lower-capacity drives can outperform higher-capacity drives — like the Toshiba X300 Pro 12TB and 20TB models. But while we've ranked everything by performance, pricing is arguably the more important element, and we have the best current price we're tracking listed in the table with the price per TB.
If you're after the best price per TB, the top two options are the Seagate BarraCuda 8TB and the Seagate Exos X20 20TB. The 8TB has a slightly better value at the time of writing, but the 20TB model more than doubles the raw capacity, plus it has a higher 7200 RPM rotational speed, and that's hard to pass up if you're planning to store lots of files. The worst value, looking purely at the cost per GB (TB), is the Seagate FireCuda 8TB at over $30 per TB — that's almost getting into the range of budget SSDs! Almost.
Performance can still matter, though if you're mostly interested in performance you should go with an SSD first. The Seagate Barracuda 8TB, which has the lowest price per TB, was also the slowest drive we tested. That's due in part to the 5400 RPM spindle speed, but also the use of SMR technology — shingled magnetic recording. SMR can help pack more bits per mm^2, increasing areal density, but writes in particular can be much slower as the drives fill up. Still, we'll see more SMR-type technologies in the future as we move into the 30TB and higher range.
The fastest drive overall is the Seagate Exos E20, thanks to its combination of high sequential throughput and improved random IO. Again, considering it's the second-best value overall (not factoring in performance), it's a great option. A few other drives might be slightly faster in the copy test or sequential throughput, but no other drive fully eclipses the Exos E20 — not even the newer Skyhawk AI.
Prices do change on a regular basis, of course, so it's a good idea to look around at similar capacity HDDs before making any purchase decision. A simple price cut could easily turn one of the lower ranking values into the new top option.
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Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.
The EXOS x18 and x20 drives go on sale at places like B&H and Newegg regularly, they are great drives. We have many deployed in NAS and they perform noticably better than WD Red and Ironwolf drives, with a better warranty.Reply
Yeah, I wrote about the Exos X20 going on sale for $269 for Black Friday. It was about $80 cheaper than the next closest 20TB drive for a while. I don't think any other 20TB+ drive went below $300.qwertymac93 said:The EXOS x18 and x20 drives go on sale at places like B&H and Newegg regularly, they are great drives. We have many deployed in NAS and they perform noticably better than WD Red and Ironwolf drives, with a better warranty.
I ended up getting WD Red Pro drives when building my latest server box. It was between them and the Exos as they were about the same price at the time, but every piece of reading I did mentioned how loud the Exos were and I was planning on putting the machine in my bedroom. The Exos drives are really good value and as capacities have gotten bigger their power consumption doesn't seem to have increased as much the consumer drives so they're closer together than they used to be.Reply
Curse this year's sales as most HDDs didn't seem to drop at all really other than Exos.
I am using the WD Red NAS drives and the Seagate Ironwolf NAS drives. The 7200 rpm ones run as much as 20 degrees hotter than the slower drives and with a NAS using a RAID array the data i/o is primarily a function of the NAS CPU and its operating system and the I/O of the drives.Reply