Seagate Gears 5 Game Drive External HDD review: Deep ice storage with sluggish speeds

Showcasing Seagate's rather epic Gears 5 Special Edition HDD, complete with 1-months of Xbox Game Pass.

Seagate's excellent lineup of collector's HDDs took an icy turn for Gears 5, sporting the same designs as the amazing limited edition Gears 5 Xbox One X console. Is it worth buying, though?

Here's a closer look at this incredibly frosty accessory.

A frost-bitten HDD masterpiece

I'm not sure I ever expected to be sitting here, praising the design of an external USB HDD, but it's 2019 and apparently, anything is possible. Seagate may have built the sexiest external HDD in existence, which also feels like one of the strangest sentences I've ever written. Seeing this thing up close and personal, though, is quite a delight.

The design work is the real headline here, in what would otherwise be a standard Seagate USB 3.0 external HDD. It sports the same attention to detail of Microsoft's internal products. It has textured frost on the upper side, the Locust symbol on the underside, and the incredible layering effect on the Gears omen, making it appear as though it's underneath the ice. It's hard to reproduce on video, but trust me when I say it's hypnotically stunning.

Beyond that, there isn't a huge amount to say about its design. It's simply excellent, and well worthy of a Gears fan's collection. It also comes with a month of Xbox Game Pass for good measure, and an in-game skin for the Lancer. It's powered entirely via USB, so there's no need to dedicate a power outlet to it. We've seen some 5TB versions floating around online, but they may be a store exclusive somewhere since Amazon seems to only carry a 2TB version for $100 (opens in new tab).

For Gears of War fans, the design and skin might be enough by themselves to push you over. If you're looking for storage though, the purchase decision gets a little blurry.

Should you actually buy the Seagate Gears 5 HDD?

Whether or not you'll want to buy this HDD hinges entirely on whether or not you actually need an external storage device. In 2019, USB HDDs just feel painfully slow, as SSD prices continue to come down. Using a cheap USB SSD enclosure (opens in new tab) and an internal SSD (opens in new tab), you can get far faster speeds with decent storage space for around $100. Seagate's own Xbox SSD vastly outperforms their HDDs on speed, although you'll be paying a lot more (opens in new tab) for the same amount of storage.

The Gears 5 HDD (left) vs. Seagate's Xbox SSD speeds (right). Higher is better.

The Gears 5 Seagate HDD has an incredibly sexy design, but the limitations of HDD tech are becoming increasingly apparent in 2019, as loading times ramp up across the board. Rumors suggest that the next-gen consoles will ship with SSDs too, putting external HDDs on the backfoot. Additionally, Seagate does comparable USB HDDs for half the price (opens in new tab), albeit without the sexy Gears 5 design.

Whether or not you'll want this rests entirely on whether or not you want the awesome design work and the Lancer skin, ultimately. There are better, cheaper storage options out there otherwise, including from Seagate itself.

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!