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New Soundcard vs New HardDisk

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February 5, 2007 3:05:34 PM

I'm going to upgrade my system and I'm torn between either upgrading my soundcard or my harddisk, which one will give me the best performance increase?

The soundcard would be a: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS Edition 7.1 Soundcard.

And the harddisk would be: Western Digital Raptor X 150GB WD1500AHFD 10,000RPM SATA 16MB Cache.

Which would give me "more bang for my buck"?

More about : soundcard harddisk

February 5, 2007 6:00:59 PM

What are you upgrading from?
Without knowing where you are coming from cannot estimate the increase.

In addition, use and preference make a big difference. These are very dissimilar components. What do you use system for and which of the two features seems to be holding you back the most?
February 5, 2007 8:48:12 PM

OK needs some clarification...

I currently use onboard 7.1 surround sound, and I use two 500GB 7200rpm SATA hd.

My main use is for gaming.

I understand that the fast hd can greatly reduce loading times, but I've also heard that the Fatality soundcard can greatly increase FPS. I don't know how true that is though?

Thanks.
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February 5, 2007 10:44:56 PM

A good sound card won't greatly increase your performance. You would get maybe 1-3 FPS (maybe more I can't say for certain) for games that don't support X-RAM, and very few games support it. You would be better off putting it towards another stick of RAM or a more powerful Video card.

I still have no idea whether this would help you though because we need your FULL system specs.
February 6, 2007 11:33:08 AM

I'd just add the HDD. You should be getting a great FPS in any game with that setup. 1-3 more isn't going to change anything and everyone could use more HDD storage.
February 6, 2007 11:52:19 AM

The raptor will quite clearly offer you better performance when it comes to windows and loading times etc, and possibly at a few points in game. The soundcard wont make much of a noticeable difference, maybe 3 fps, but will offer this difference consistently throughout games. However, I would get the raptor, no question about it.
February 6, 2007 12:07:46 PM

Raptor will give better performance.

Although I might suggest going for a 74Gb Raptor and getting a cheaper sound card - something like an X-Fi Gamer, or similar.
February 6, 2007 12:28:43 PM

yeah, although the 74GB ADFD raptor is half the size, its even faster than the 150GB raptor, even if only marginally in most cases, and its also about $100 less than the 150GB usually

so i agree, unless you need the extra space of the 150GB raptor, you can get both the 74GB ADFD raptor, and x-fi sound card instead of choosing between one or the other, which definetly gives you the best bang for the buck then too, as you were wanting
February 6, 2007 12:48:20 PM

>faster

Well, it's got better access times, cos it's only a 1 platter design! The 2 platter 150Gb has a better transfer rate, though.

Still not sure which I'd go for, but I'm leaning ever so slightly towards the 74Gb one :) 
February 6, 2007 12:58:33 PM

If you mainly just game, I'd save the money and just put your 2 drives you have now into a RAID 0 setup. Just be sure to back up you any important data you do have on the machine.
I'd do that first, and see what you think before spending any money.
If you just need the feel to upgrade though, and don't mind spending the money, the raptor is the way to go.
February 6, 2007 1:18:28 PM

Quote:
>faster

Well, it's got better access times, cos it's only a 1 platter design! The 2 platter 150Gb has a better transfer rate, though.

Still not sure which I'd go for, but I'm leaning ever so slightly towards the 74Gb one :) 


the 150GB is actually a tad slower, check toms hard drive charts, comparing the 150GB version to the 74GB adfd version... the 74GB adfd has virtually identical access times to the 150GB, but marginally faster transfer rates for most benchmarks
February 6, 2007 1:27:34 PM

Quote:
I'm going to upgrade my system and I'm torn between either upgrading my soundcard or my harddisk, which one will give me the best performance increase?

The soundcard would be a: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS Edition 7.1 Soundcard.

And the harddisk would be: Western Digital Raptor X 150GB WD1500AHFD 10,000RPM SATA 16MB Cache.

Which would give me "more bang for my buck"?



Um this one is a "no brainer", Get the X-fi!! THE best sound card ever created! Wait to upgrade your hard drive, prices in the next two months are about to drop and a 400 or 500 gb drive will be dirt cheap. I had a pair or Raptors[in a raid 0] and they really didn't impress... But the X-Fi sure kicks ace!
February 6, 2007 1:55:06 PM

I was looking at an article from storagereview which said that the 150Gb one had better sequential access rates...
February 6, 2007 1:59:25 PM

Quote:
I was looking at an article from storagereview which said that the 150Gb one had better sequential access rates...


this one?:
http://www.storagereview.com/articles/200601/WD1500ADFD...

if it was that one, that review was almost half a year before the 74GB ADFD was released (it was released Oct 2006, i believe)... unless youre talking about a different article though..

THG had an article on it not too long ago actually, shortly after it was released:
http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/10/19/enterprise_stora...
February 6, 2007 4:01:56 PM

Thanks guys,
It looks like the consensus is to go for the HD, but I also like the idea of the 74GB raptor and cheaper soundcard. I already have plenty of disk space for my music and other misc, so can save the fast hd for the operating system and games. (I will however give Raid 0 a go first, is that striping? I always forget what the numbers refer to)

Just one final note....
I upgraded to Vista Ultimate over the weekend, geez it doesn't half slow your system down! Thats one of the reasons why I was looking at soundcards and hard disks.
February 6, 2007 4:34:42 PM

What configuration is your RAM in? Noticed that you had it listed in your specs as 3GB.... if that is 3 1GB sticks, it won't be running dual-channel, which could also affect performance. Another option would be to put your money into more RAM, especially if you are running a 64-bit O/S and can take advantage of 4GB. (If you have 2 x 1GM and 2 x 512, then you can disregard, as that should be running dual-channel then already)

As for HD vs. Sound Card, I would definitely go HD.
February 7, 2007 8:29:04 AM

Yeah I'm running 2 1GB sticks and 2 512MB sticks, unfortunatley I now have no more room for any RAM on my motherboard :( 
February 7, 2007 8:46:49 AM

Quote:
Thanks guys,
It looks like the consensus is to go for the HD, but I also like the idea of the 74GB raptor and cheaper soundcard. I already have plenty of disk space for my music and other misc, so can save the fast hd for the operating system and games. (I will however give Raid 0 a go first, is that striping? I always forget what the numbers refer to)


in regards to raid 0, unless youre dealing with transferring large files (such as movies), raid 0 will offer very little benefit, as raid 0s strongest point is its higher STRs, ill repost something i posted a bit earlier in response to someone else considering raid 0, particularly for games:

Quote:
"concerning game load times and raid 0... regardless of what some people may say, there are absolutely no viable or repeatable benchmarks to back up the claim that having raid 0 does substantially decrease load times for 'most' games... on average, you may receive an improvement of ~1 second, which has in fact been proven time and time again in numerous benchmarks (search on google for something like "raid 0 game load time")... but for games, raid 0 is not the way to go... youre much better off investing in more memory, a faster cpu, or simply a faster single drive, if youre looking to improve loading times

as far as raid 0 also, since youre looking for mainly performance, its best used for transferring large files, such as movies, due to its higher STRs... in real world usage, you may see a boost of around up to ~15% when transferring large files like that"


but, if you already know that, and are still considering going raid 0, then by all means. im just looking to save you some money, incase youre looking for a noticable improvement, where there might not be one :) 
February 7, 2007 10:16:03 AM

If your an online gamer, then load times would probably be important to you.. However, if you're a casual gamer, then you would enjoy good audio quality far more than quicker load times...

Sound Card Pros: Better audio quality for music, Better audio quality for games, Better audio quality for Movies, also more accurate sound reproduction etc...

Faster HDD Pros: Faster Windows load times, faster [/list]game/application load times..

So, which is more important to you?
February 7, 2007 10:45:43 AM

Thanks to both choirbass and AKJ for clarifying some points.

I'm an avid gamer, who prefers online games so loading times would be more important to me.
Then again I have seen some dolby 5.1 surround sound headphones recently and think they may be a cool purchase - I mean 5.1 surround sound in HEADPHONES... thats like garlic bread.
February 7, 2007 10:49:30 AM

OK, cool.. But how good is your onboard sound? Coz if its crappy, then no matter how much you spend on speakers/headphones, its still gona sound crap..
February 7, 2007 1:01:10 PM

I dunno how you would define "dirt cheap" for HD prices, they've been fairly stable for about 1-2 years now, lol. The 300GB hard drives I bought 2 years ago look basically the same price as today, it's just the upper end keeps getting bigger and pricier into the 1TB+ class. 300GB was and still is the sweet spot in $/GB
!