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12gb Ram Best Performance: No swapfile; swap on SSD; swap on Ramdrive?

Last response: in Windows 7
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October 7, 2010 10:32:15 PM

Assuming Win7 64 w/12gb DDR3, which is probably best performance for 32 bit office apps & occasional gaming (not server, not graphics rendering, etc.):
A. No swapfile (no pagefile)
B. Swapfile ONLY on SSD drive (of course sys will be fastest if entire OS loaded on SSD, just talking about pagefile now!)
C. Swapfile on Ramdrive (i.e., system ram set aside as logical drive using Ramdisk Enterprise or the like).

CHOOSE ONLY A, B, OR C -- NO FAIR CHANGING THE QUESTION! State your reasoning please.
October 7, 2010 11:02:09 PM

B: As there SHOULD be even a small swap file for Windows to be 100% reliable
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a b $ Windows 7
October 7, 2010 11:29:17 PM

1. A RAM drive will not really benefit by having the swapfile there. I tried it and I didn't notice much of a difference. However, using a RAM drive to copy and keep temp files,etc while working works out really well (esp. when working with a a lot of files that require quick access, ie server,etc). I have a 4GB RAM file that I use when editing RAW images, vids,VMs,etc. I use this: http://memory.dataram.com/products-and-services/softwar...

To give you an idea as to exactly how fast a RAM drive is:

This is on my laptop with DDR3 1333 RAM. On DDR3 1600 it a a bit faster.

2. You should have at least a 512MB swapfile as some programs won't work with out a swapfile.

3. Load the ENTIRE OS on the SSD. There is NO POINT is just having the swapfile on the SSD. Infact, most people don't put the swapfile on the SSD or use only a small swapfile on the SSD. On my X25-M G2 80GB I only have a 512MB swapfile and that is for the entire system.
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
October 8, 2010 12:04:08 AM

I've been running 64-bit Windows 7 for over a year (started with the RC version) with no swapfile whatsoever. My system has been rock-solid stable running 64-bit applications such as Photoshop as well as lots of 32-bit applications including MS Office, Visual Studio, etc.

As long as you don't have older applications that require a swap file (Photoshop 6 was one), and as long as your peak loading doesn't use up nearly all of your physical memory, I can see no good reason to use a swap file.

The idea that Windows is unstable without a swapfile is just plain wrong. You WILL have problems if you use up all your memory, but with 12GB that's pretty unlikely. I actually deliberately ran a program to use up all my memory and the system ended up unable to open new windows (including re-opening minimized windows for already-running programs). However I was able to bring up Task Manager and kill my memory-hog test program and the system immediately went back to normal. No crash, no problems - other programs continued running, completely unfazed.

I don't use RAM drive file for temporary storage because with 12GB of memory the file system cache effectively does the same thing.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 8, 2010 1:26:15 AM

^ There are a few, very few, software that absolutely needed a swapfile, hence why I usually recommend even a small swapfile. Also, if you DO BSOD, crash reports will not be saved with out a pagefile. You need a min of 200MB swap in order to generate crash reports on Win 7/Vista.

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I don't use RAM drive file for temporary storage because with 12GB of memory the file system cache effectively does the same thing.

Yes, but seriously. Try copying 4GB file(s) between 2 RAM drives. It virtually takes no time to do it. :D .

@OP: Btw, why do you have 12GB RAM? CAD work?
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October 8, 2010 2:05:45 PM

Props to all for their considered responses. I very much appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge with a noobie.

I am running 6gb ram now with Win7-64 and Office 2010 (32 bit for compatibility), but am trying to improve system performance (I sit at the computer ALL DAY LONG, so even a "perceived" speed up of a few split seconds makes me feel better). I primarily work simultaneously on three or four 32 bit apps (Word, Excel, Outlook, Acrobat Pro, Browser, and specialized legal apps) and occasionally (for fun on the weekend) do image processing (NEF mostly). My rig maxes at 24gb.

I know there are MILLIONS of ways and tweaks to speed up a system, but I wanted to narrow the discussion to a specific issue for which I couldn't find much information.

The "12gb DDR3 RAM" is about the same cost as a hot SSD ($350-400), so I proposed the question because I couldn't find discussion comparing a VERY fast swap file in a RAMdrive with NO swapfile or a "slower" swapfile on an SSD in a system with copious RAM.

AGAIN, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR THOUGHTS! :) 
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October 8, 2010 2:08:36 PM

Best answer selected by masterspykiller.
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
October 8, 2010 4:17:52 PM

In performance terms, you want to avoid ANY pagefile activity no matter where the pagefile is. If your system is paging, you need to add memory to stop the paging. You're working at cross purposes if you take some of that memory out of commission to use it for the pagefile. A pagefile in RAM may be fast, but it's still not as fast as eliminating the paging in the first place.

Paging is caused by lack of memory, and is solved by adding memory. An SSD, on the other hand, solves I/O bottlenecks. They're two different problems, and two different solutions. You need to understand what the problem is and choose the appropriate solution.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 9, 2010 2:39:23 AM

^ Agreed, but however, like I said before, there are a very few set of programs out there that need a pagefile so it is kind of impossible to avoid not having a pagefile.

Also, IIRC, in one of the TechNet emails, one of the MSFT devs said that you can't really "disable" the pagefile as the OS would still reserve a small amount on the HDD as a "invisible" page file. Do note that this was with XP, but I think it's the same on Vista/7.

And an SSD vs RAM are different things. At the end of the day, if you have 6GB RAM, you are pretty darn OK for a while.

HOWEVER, adding an SSD WILL make your system more responsive over all by eliminating the disk as a bottle neck. Currently, in a modern system, the HDD is the main bottleneck. Right now, an SSD is the best upgrade you can make.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 10, 2010 8:02:04 AM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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