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Gaming with RAID...

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June 11, 2009 11:16:59 PM

I have been reading and studying many forums and tests and documents about RAID with gaming. Many people have different thoughts on how much RAID really helps with gaming PCs...

I'm building my own Gaming PC. I have my Smilodon Raidmax Case, my AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000, and my Gigabyte MA78OG-UD3H.

Im really looking into purchasing either Raptors or Velociraptors for my PC. But I don't know whether it would be the worth the trouble to set up RAID 0 for it.

The only bad thing is is that I've never set up RAID before. I've read all about it... but never done it. And from what I've read, hardware RAID is the way to go... which means I will need to buy a RAID controller.

So, taking from the type of hard drive I want to purchase... will it be worth it? Or would making different partitions on 2 drives do what I need?

Thanks for everything.

BTW... I just signed up to this site finally... Im always using this site for everything... Thanks everyone!

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June 12, 2009 12:40:18 AM

Ok how about this...

Which is better?

-One drive with 2 partitions... 1 for the OS and the other for miscellanious files.
-Two drives with RAID 0 with my games installed.

OR

-One drive with 3 partitions... 1 for OS, 1 for files, 1 for games

OR

-Two drives with RAID 0 with 3 partitions...

Theres just to many posibilities... and idk which one will be best...
June 12, 2009 1:59:28 AM

1. To partition or not? Yes, regardless of whether or not you use multiple drives or RAID. At minimum, a separate partition for the OS. (I have four basic partitions: OS, swap/page, temp, work; plus a few more application-specific.)

In any case, your partition structure isn't fixed in concrete. I'd suggest spending $50 on something like Acronis Disk Director, so if you decide to change your partition structure, it's not a big deal.

2. To RAID-0 or not? Lots of opinions, but IMHO it's not worth it; you aren't likely to see much of a real-world performance improvement. From a cost-performance perspective, you'd be better off spending the money on faster graphics, CPU or more memory.

3. Hardware RAID controller or not? Hardware (with a BBU, or at least a UPS) if you have the budget. Again, however, from a cost-performance perspective, you're getting into serious money for a very questionable performance gain if the only thing you're going to do with it is RAID-0 a couple drives.

In short, would those two Velociraptor's (~$180/ea) + RAID controller ($150-300) in a RAID-0 configuration give you better performance than if you spent that money elsewhere? Very doubtful. With that kind of money, there are quite a few alternatives that would give you much better bang-for-buck.
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June 12, 2009 2:45:53 AM

Alright... good point.

So sticking with maybe... 1 drive for Games and 1 drive for OS and other files....

How would that sound? I think your right... I should probably pull more money out of my a** for these damn video cards... they are so fricken expensive
June 12, 2009 3:56:06 AM

Two drives or one, I doubt you'll notice that much difference. The primary issue (regardless of the number of drives), is whether the disk heads stay near the data that's needed.

Once you reach steady-state (e.g., once you start an app/game), it's generally not going to make much difference, assuming: (1) you're not running other tasks that cause the heads to wander all over the disk; and (2) you have enough memory so that paging isn't an issue.

Proper partitioning can help to ensure "locality" (i.e., the executbale and data/file is nearby). Defragging can help, but doesn't ensure locality (e.g., your game's executable and texture/data files may be contiguous, which is good, but if they're at opposite ends of the disk, and the disk heads are bouncing between them, that's not good, which is why appropriate paritioning is needed).

Unless you need the disk space, and assuming you aren't max'd out on memory (what OS?) I'd put the money into memory/graphics. If you need the disk space, then I'd buy a couple cheaper big drives, and put the rest of the money into memory (or maybe graphics, depending on your needs/budget)....

A couple 1TB+ drives--for the same price as one 300GB velociraptor--would likely get you very similar, if not better, performance. The reason is that those larger drives--even though they spin slower than the velociraptors (7.2K vs. 10K)--have a higher linear density (which translates to a comparable xfer rate, at least in the outer zone, which is where you'd put the OS and game partitions), and because they have to move the heads a much smaller distance to access the same amount of information. (That is, effectively "short-stroking" the larger drives.)
June 12, 2009 4:09:46 AM

jrst said:
Two drives or one, I doubt you'll notice that much difference. The primary issue (regardless of the number of drives), is whether the disk heads stay near the data that's needed.

Once you reach steady-state (e.g., once you start an app/game), it's generally not going to make much difference, assuming: (1) you're not running other tasks that cause the heads to wander all over the disk; and (2) you have enough memory so that paging isn't an issue.

Alright makes sense...

Proper partitioning can help to ensure "locality" (i.e., the executbale and data/file is nearby). Defragging can help, but doesn't ensure locality (e.g., your game's executable and texture/data files may be contiguous, which is good, but if they're at opposite ends of the disk, and the disk heads are bouncing between them, that's not good, which is why appropriate paritioning is needed).

Unless you need the disk space, and assuming you aren't max'd out on memory (what OS?) I'd put the money into memory/graphics. If you need the disk space, then I'd buy a couple cheaper big drives, and put the rest of the money into memory (or maybe graphics, depending on your needs/budget)....

Im either going to use Windows Vista or Windows 7... Im leaning more towards 7 only because I have a test machine at home... and Im really liking what they are doing with it so far. Im also looking at 4 - 8 GB of RAM... video cards im still researching about...

A couple 1TB+ drives--for the same price as one 300GB velociraptor--would likely get you very similar, if not better, performance. The reason is that those larger drives--even though they spin slower than the velociraptors (7.2K vs. 10K)--have a higher linear density (which translates to a comparable xfer rate, at least in the outer zone, which is where you'd put the OS and game partitions), and because they have to move the heads a much smaller distance to access the same amount of information.

Well the thing is I dont really think im going to need anywhere near a Terabyte of space on this PC. I have other PCs im going to use for work and music and etc. But who knows...

Ok.. one last question. So if i go with say... 2 1TB drives... how should I go partitioning those? Have one partitioned for OS (Vista or 7) and files.... and have the other drive just for the games?


(That is, effectively "short-stroking" the larger drives.)


Haha... I like the "short-stroking" comment :D 

Thank you jrst. I appreciate all of your time and knowledge.
June 12, 2009 5:40:51 AM

Throwing my two cents in...

I usually have two partitions:

1 - OS, applications, games, swap file
2 - Media (videos, movies, etc)

Basically 1 is for files/programs that require more read/writes than usual...and 2 is for files that are accessed on non-frequent occasions

I could be wrong, but I though putting games on your primary partition helps a little bit (since some games access files/loads constantly?)
June 12, 2009 6:12:24 AM

With two drives: Make the first partition on the first drive for the OS. Make the first partition on the second drive for games/apps. (That is, make them partitions in the higher density outer zone of each drive.)

Partition the rest of the space on the two drives for whatever... if you're paranoid and have the space to spare: carve out some of that extra space and backup your OS and game partitions.

Also, leave enough space in those partitions--especially the OS and game/app partitions--that you can keep them defrag'd. (One benefit of having bigger drives is you have more room to spare. My rule of thumb for Windows is to allocate 2x as much space as is used. YMMV. You can get by with less, but more free space makes defrag much faster.)

That said, and all other things being equal... If it's a choice between money spent on memory, vs. disk, I'd go for more memory--assuming a 64-bit OS that can use that extra memory--and a single big disk with separate OS, game/app, and other partitions.
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