I recently picked up a couple of external drives, which often can be found on discount. At the moment, if looking for the best bang-for-the-buck, the 2GB size seems to be a sweet-spot between price and capacity.
Note that I am only looking at conventional hard-drives, not SSDs.
I formatted both drives using Windows in exFAT format.
Toshiba Canvio Gaming
Western Digital Passport
The Toshiba wins overall in raw read speed, with about 149 MB/s vs. the WD at 123 MB/s. That’s about a 21% increase in speed - not too shabby, but perhaps nothing to get overly excited about. Would you notice the difference in typical usage?
Looking further into the benchmark results, however, the WD is far better in the random access write test, with a big 9.4 BM/s over the Toshiba’s 2.5, but the read times are basically the same.
Note that both drives take advantage of USB 3, turning in performance that is not available with USB 2.
My assumption is that the Toshiba might indeed be better for storing games (such as using it as external storage on a Playstation or Xbox that supports it) or other usage which copies large files, while either might be similar enough to the other for everyday work, if getting constant use (such as actively editing files on the drive). Either should work fine for most tasks. Note that you do not need a “gaming” drive for your games console, but as you can see, it may be optimised to be slightly faster in that task.
Just to get another datapoint, I have a relatively new storage drive in my desktop (also a Toshiba) which scores 199 MB/S in sequential and 1.4 MB/s random-access, both read and write. Better overall performance, but I’d expect a desktop drive to generally outperform a portable one.
If you need much better performance, get an SSD drive. Certainly, for your main system drive, I highly recommend it – your computer will feel like a new machine, if currently running off of a magnetic drive! They are becoming more affordable. However, for most use in backing-up, portability, and particularly in cost-savings, today’s external drives are a good value.