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RAID for OS, SATA for storage?

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August 3, 2007 1:34:39 PM

I am thinking about a new build and I haven't made a comp since ATA100 days. I thought SATA II was the great new technology, but it seems like people say you should be using RAID because it's faster. I don't really know the technology now (haven't kept up with it). What is the best recommendation for a new build, primarily for gaming, for having hard drive setup? Is it like, one smaller (60ish) gb HD on RAID for the OS, then a big SATA II for storage?

Any suggestions you have would be appreciated.

More about : raid sata storage

August 3, 2007 2:07:32 PM

Raid isn't an alternative to SATA. It's an additional layer on top of it. It makes multiple drives appear as one drive for the purpose of increased speed and/or redundancy (depending on what mode you configure it in: 0, 1, 5, etc.).

Volumes have already been written on raid, so I won't go into detail on it. I just wanted to try to address that misperception.
August 3, 2007 2:45:15 PM

ah ok, right. So you can put your SATA drives into RAID format..which will simply make response quicker? And I assume it is an essential for a good gaming platform?
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a c 167 G Storage
August 3, 2007 3:08:07 PM

Short answer: Forget raid; put everything on WD raptor150 gb drive. When/if 150gb is not enough capacity, add a second 7200rpm drive.
For a good hard drive performance tutorial, go to www.storagereview.com .
Raid-0 which some people advocate shows impressive performance in synthetic benchmarks, but does not offer any real improvement in typical environments. A dated but valid study: http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=2101&p=...
Sata is a hard drive communication protocol as like ide and scsi. For the desktpo pc user, sata of any kind is the best choice. Sata, sataII and sataIII indicate the maximum speed at which data can be transferred to the PC. Today, it does not matter because two of the fastest drives operating concurrently cannot overload even basic sata.
August 3, 2007 3:18:05 PM

There is no such thing as SATA II, just SATA 1.5Gbps and SATA 3Gbps, they are backwards compatible.

Forget RAID for the desktop computer, I agree with the above poster go for a Raptor
August 3, 2007 3:31:08 PM

Fair enough. So should I look for a WD raptor 36 or 74 for my OS and then just get a standard 7200 RPM 300+ gb seagate somethin or other for my data storage?

Also...should I be looking to put games on the same HD as my OS or does it make no difference if I put them on the secondary data drive?
a c 167 G Storage
August 3, 2007 4:13:31 PM

For any data that you want to be accessed quickly, put it on the raptor. For games, the value may depend on how it operates. If the only disk access is at load time, then there may not be too much value. If the game constantly loads data from the disk, then there is good value in the speed of the raptor. Look for a raptor that has ADFD in the model #, this is the latest revision, and is faster than the earlier models which might be selling for discounted prices. A 150gb raptor costs $195, a 74gb raptor costs $140 after rebate. For the difference, I would get the 150gb unit.

For large amounts of data that is not particularly sensitive to speed such as pictures, backups, or video files, then put it on cheaper units.
August 3, 2007 4:16:20 PM

A lot has changed since that AnandTech article was written 3 years ago. Depending on what you use your PC for a properly set up RAID 0 configuration can increase performance. You will see no benefit if you just use your PC to surf the web, play the occasional game, or do word processing. RAID 1,5,10... set up properly will offer data security and also a performance boost depending on what you use it for.
For those that say RAID is useless in a desktop, well it is about as useless as your 10,000-RPM Raptors considering the same performance can be had with 2 of today’s 7200-RPM drives in RAID 0 at half the cost.
The reason desktop RAID has gotten such a bad rap is due to the fact that there are way too many uninformed/uneducated people out there attempting to use it.
August 3, 2007 5:18:38 PM

raid can be faster when used properly, it is strongest when transferring large files, so for storage it can be better, but for smaller files a raptor is better. with large files being 100MB or larger.
August 4, 2007 5:08:51 AM

I am really not that concerned with how fast I transfer large files. I am much more concerned with my HD slowing down gaming performance on the new build. Would it make much difference at all doing RAID in that context? It seems like the raptor would function just as well when it comes to load times/gaming performance, but it is also far more expensive.
August 4, 2007 5:51:04 AM

You will have no problems with a 7200 RPM 16Mb cache hard drive in your system. Your processor, video card, and amount/quality of ram will have more effect on gaming performance. The money saved going with a "slower" drive would be put to better use on other componets.
As I have said before RAID has its uses and what you want is not one of them. I'm not knockin' the Raptor they are nice drives but in price/performance and price/Gigabyte they are not worth it.
August 4, 2007 7:15:48 AM

it seems most everything essential has been addressed. that said, if you want a faster OS hdd (and dont mind the additional cost/capacity ratio so much), just go with a raptor (its faster access/seek times will primarily provide the most benefit for typical application uses, game loading, web browsing, etc). as far as storage capacity of a raptor, if its only holding the OS and a few applications, even the 36GB version should work fine, but beyond that, its only really dependant on how much you plan on installing, since performance between them isnt going to differ any. (your music and all that wouldnt be on the raptor anyhow). the 5 year warranty also comes in handy, partially justifying the additional cost thats typical of some server intended hdds, as consumer hdds only have a 1 or 3 year warranty at most usually (which is why it pays to purchase multiples of them even if only for data protection, since the warranty usually runs out before the hdd fails, though not always, whichcase, the warranty would still be good for something then).

for anything else, primarily storage related, just get a large 7200rpm hdd for holding all your music and movies and such, and possibly another 7200rpm hdd in addition to that for added data redundancy of important data. (performance isnt a primary concern here, since the 7200s are only being used for data storage really)

edit: regarding performance... as was pointed out, raid 0 will show the most improvement in only a few select disciplines (primarily involving large files and media editing, rebooting windows, or if youre dealing with more disk intensive and server oriented tasks and such), which your uses should be more geared towards if you are going to use it. if your uses arent geared towards making much use of high STRs and I/Os in those areas, then raid 0 will show very little benefit above a single hdd, for most things that you would probably do, beyond a small perceived boost in OS responsiveness. when taking a look at synthetic benchmarks, the results look fantastic to be honest, but the reality is that those results are mainly only applicable to the few things listed above. for nearly everything else, again, faster access/seek times will provide the most benefit, as the majority of files you will probably deal with are likely going to be rather small (the majority of OS and even application files, for instance)
August 4, 2007 3:36:39 PM

Alright, thanks a lot for the input guys. Really appreciate it.
I just want to clarify...I could put all my games on a 7200 small cache HD and it wouldn't make much difference at all, right? Aside from load times, the games aren't accessing HD's at any rate that will affect gaming?
August 4, 2007 6:27:47 PM

the main difference in practical performance again is going to be access times. for instance, a small cache 7200 as you put it, with access times of 12ms, is going to simply be faster for practical performance than a small cache 7200 with 16ms access times. STRs do matter, but only to a certain extent usually (many times even 30MB/s is more than enough, though not always). as far as the actual cache though, go with something with at least 8MB (16MB helps, but not a lot in most cases).

but as far as actual gaming, if you want to minimize hdd accessing, be sure you stock up on ram, as having more than enough ram will reduce the amount of times the hdd is accessed for its pagefile (virtual memory), due to low available system memory... accessing the pagefile is definetly slower than real memory, regardless of memory speed. and if you have a really slow hdd even, and not enough ram, that definetly makes for a bad situation.

the typical minimum you would want to have nowadays under winXP is at least 1GB (even 512MB will work, but only if you really deal more with web browsing and office and such), however, 2GB is more ideal for gamers for current games (especially if youre wanting to minimize hdd accessing and smooth out performance). and with vista out now, even 2GB is being pushed as more of a minimum for smooth everyday performance (vista is definetly a memory hog).

but, simply put, to address your question... hdd performance isnt going to matter much for most games, IF you have enough memory to negate the need for even accessing the hdd. otherwise, if you dont have enough memory, its really not going to matter how fast or slow your hdd is, as the slow gameplay will most likely be unbearable after a short while, especially if the game is minimized on accident, or even on purpose.
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