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Single 32MB cache vs. 16MB RAID 0

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October 21, 2008 8:30:31 PM

I'm building a new gaming rig. Money is a little tight, so I'm looking for people's opinion on the performance of a single 500GB 32MB cache SATA vs. two 16MB cache drives (250GB) in RAID 0.

Will I notice a huge game performance gain due to the RAID?

Or will the 32MB cache of the single be enough to satisfy me? The problem is that if I go RAID, I'll have to pick a different mobo, because the one I was going to get for the single drive (Asus P5QL) doesn't have an on-board raid controller. Is it worth the extra money for the performance gain (if any)?
October 21, 2008 8:48:55 PM

Even 2 drives with 8mb cache in RAID 0 will put a spanking on a single 32mb cache drive.
When doing RAID 0, it is wise to have a place to back up your data to. You have twice the likelihood of data loss. Hard disks are notorious for failing, and if your lose your RAID 0 set, your hosed.
I use 2 wd 320gig 16mb cache drives in RAID 0 and it flies. The advantages are numerous, most people use RAID 0 for improved OS load times and improved game load times.
Today's 32mb cache drives are very fast, but the cost of disks and motherboards with the ICH10R or ICH9R are so low, it seems silly not to use RAID.
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October 21, 2008 9:00:07 PM

The age old question, to RAID or not to RAID. You will get many opinions for and against it.

However, basing your decision on the amount of cache memory the drive has is irrelevant.

On a tight budget, the drive listed in the post above is a fast, solid performer at a great price.
October 21, 2008 9:18:20 PM

Amount of cache is not as important as the industry would like you to think. Other factors are usually the case when you see an improvement. Namely: Newer drives have more cache, but they're faster because of the drive mechanism, not the cache.
Also, although RAID 0 will improve your sequential read speeds it will do nothing for random access times. In most cases this will lead to very little improvement in day to day tasks. I used to have 2x160GB WD drives (7200RPM 8MB, JS series) in RAID 0 and my 640GB WD AAKS is faster in both synthetic sequential read tests, random access, and real world performance.

-mcg
October 21, 2008 9:20:03 PM

It depends, games that look at the drive constantly will take a hit in performance in a raid 0 - because you basically double the read time - I believe. Its a tough question because I too have seen both arguements and both of them make sense. My only real experience with raid 0 compared to not raiding was for World of Warcraft - with raid 0 I noticed at times the game would studder, however, it could of been something else causing the issue. All I do know is that now with it being not raided - I experience no studdering in the game. I hope that helps. As for the drive, I would go with the non raided large cache drive and wait for ssd drives to come down in price and buy that for your game harddrive in the future.
October 22, 2008 10:21:19 PM

MrCommunistGen said:
I used to have 2x160GB WD drives (7200RPM 8MB, JS series) in RAID 0 and my 640GB WD AAKS is faster in both synthetic sequential read tests, random access, and real world performance.

-mcg


Eh, that sounds like you had a really bad software controller or something then.

@OP,

The cache won't make such an impact that you should worry about it.

I would suggest you build a nice RAID0 array using two 80gig drives, something cheap. I'm a RAID0 user and when I try to load games on my other PC, that is nearly the same, without RAID on a normal 7200rpm drive, I feel it. For me, loading times are a pain in a lot of games when you move around fast (think about Oblivion and map traveling). So I like to zippy load things. RAID0 helps with that. Once things are loaded, the RAID0 no longer has anything to do with the speed.

Cheers,
October 22, 2008 11:07:53 PM

I have decided to build a 320 gig raid. The price is exactly the same (even including a different, better mobo). And yes, clearly after doing lots of research, raid 0 will smoke a single drive when gaming. Thanks for everyone's help. I freaking love these forums :D 
!