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Advantages of SSD

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August 4, 2009 4:30:53 AM

I'm a newb when it comes to SSD's. What are the advantages of having one over the standard hard drives? I know they're faster but how so? Does everything load alot faster? Moving files faster, loading applications faster? I appreciate any help.

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a c 415 G Storage
August 4, 2009 5:12:49 AM

Standard mechanical hard drives have to physically move an access arm and wait for the disk platters to rotate past the heads. This takes time - a lot of it in computer terms. It takes about a million times longer to access data on a hard drive than it does to retrieve it from RAM.

SSDs are entirely electronic. The system still has to go through more hoops to get at SSD data than RAM data, but all of the mechanical delay is eliminated - so SSDs can retrieve data much faster than a hard drive.

How much faster depends on how you want to measure it. There are two primary measurements for drive performance:

Latency - when you've asked for the data, how long do you have to wait before it starts coming back?

Transfer Rate - once you start getting the data, how much data per second can you get?

Think of latency like looking for a particular passage in a book. It depends on how many pages you have to flip though before you find what you're looking for.

Think of transfer rate like the number of words-per-minute that you can read. Once you've found the right page, how long does it take you to read it?

The latency of an hard drive (how long it takes to find something) is around 150 times longer than that of an SSD. The transfer rate of a hard drive (how fast it reads once it's found the file) is around 2 to 3 times slower than an SSD for reading, and (very roughly) similar to an SSD for writing.

So the exact performance improvement you're going to see depends a lot on how many individual things you have to look for and how big they are (the very much shorter latency of an SSD means it's a LOT faster to look for something, while it's somewhat faster transfer rate is less of an advantage the bigger the item you're reading).

Booting an OS and starting up application programs normally means reading lots and lots of small files from the system drive. This is where SSDs really shine - lots of file finding and relatively small file sizes play to it's big strength over hard drives - very small latencies.

For other uses, the drive will be faster but the difference may not be as dramatic, particularly if you're writing to the drive.
August 4, 2009 5:17:31 AM

Wow, I didn't expect to get a full fledged answer like this but thank you alot for the information. Now I have one last question that might already been answer in there but I'm a slow learner, does having a SSD slightly improve gaming performance. I would be thinking no but hey that's why I'm here on the forums right? Thanks for the help anyone and thank you sminlal
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August 4, 2009 5:35:00 AM

Other advantages in addition to what was already stated, lower power draw: there's no platters to spin up, cooler operating temperatures: again no moving parts to generate all that heat, as a result, usually longer operating life before failure.

As for gaming, it will almost certainly improve your game performance. Most games rely on scratch disks or multiple retrieves from data files off the hard drive throughout the course of your game. Games are so large it really is impossible to load everything it needs into RAM. Games that are level based will obviously have much quicker loads when the level starts, but if you play seamless gaming world type games, having an SSD will cut down on the stuttering when going to new zones and the like.

Also, don't think of SSDs as the holy grail of gaming, yes they'll give you a performance boost, but only if you have the CPU, RAM, and Gfx to support it. Otherwise you're just putting a spoiler and rims on a Pinto.
August 4, 2009 5:39:20 AM

Would a intel core 2 quad 3.15, 8GB DDR2, 2GTX 275's with 9800GT PhsyX be good enough lol? Would it be good for FPS online games such as Call of Duty 4, Left 4 Dead, etc?
a b G Storage
August 4, 2009 7:11:15 AM

In most games, a SSD would be nearly useless for the main game (regardless of the above poster's statements). It will help significantly on the loading, but once in the game, there will be no difference. It will make windows snappier though. There are very few games that won't fit into 2-4GB of RAM, so once you have it loaded, it shouldn't be hitting the hard drive much unless you haven't got much RAM (and since you said you have 8GB, that shouldn't be a problem).
August 4, 2009 12:19:10 PM

cjl said:
In most games, a SSD would be nearly useless for the main game (regardless of the above poster's statements). It will help significantly on the loading, but once in the game, there will be no difference. It will make windows snappier though. There are very few games that won't fit into 2-4GB of RAM, so once you have it loaded, it shouldn't be hitting the hard drive much unless you haven't got much RAM (and since you said you have 8GB, that shouldn't be a problem).

Minimum FPS is very important for gaming. This obviously isn't one of the biggest advantages to a good SSD, but it shouldn't be discounted.



http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3403&p=...
a c 127 G Storage
August 4, 2009 12:39:54 PM

As multi-GB games don't all fit in the system RAM; disk access may be necessary when accessing new content or entering another location, but also during the game.

Simple example: in World of Warcraft you open the inventory. At that moment i sometimes notice a small hickup because of disk I/O. It had to lookup one icon in a large data file. That's where the 'minimum FPS' difference comes from: small hickups.

Because normally, I/O performance would not affect FPS. But using an SSD may prevent hickups while playing. Personally i don't think this is a reason to buy an SSD.
August 4, 2009 2:10:07 PM

Even if you do have enough RAM to put the entire game, with all necessary resource databases expanded, sometimes the game will still try to access the HD or even use the virtual memory as a scratch disk for some operations regardless of having plenty of system RAM. Some games may just be hard coded that way. I did a little test to see what would happen by turning off virtual memory while playing a game the first time I built a system that had maxed out on RAM. It did not go well. The next time I build a high end system, I might test it out again.

Basically, as sub mesa rcpratt were also getting at, there will be a performance gain with an SSD since your games will always rely on your HD to some extent, and how fast you can send data to and from the HD will impact your game performance.
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