As I have understood, hard disks are a real bottleneck for home PC performance. Therefore, I would like to have your suggestions on how to improve disk performance:
Currently, I have a only one regular harddisk (Hitachi, 500GB, 15MB buffer). What I can think of is either:
- get another of the same harddisk and set up a RAID 0 configuration OR
- get a some more expensive harddisk (like a better brand with more cache or whatever you suggest) and use it as my boot harddisk.
Which one of the above solutions would you recommend?
Thanks in advance
MB: Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P
CPU: Phenom II X2 550BE (Unlocked to a X4)
RAM: 4GB DDR3 1600 Corsair
GPU: Saphire 5770
Harddisk: Hitachi 500GB SATA, 15MB buffer
Depends on what kind of performance improvement you want.
If you want to speed up your boot and application load times, you need to reduce the access time of your disk subsystem. RAID will not reduce the access times - the only way to do that is to buy a disk with a higher RPM (ie, a 10Krpm drive like a Velociraptor) or to use a Solid State Disk (SSD). SSD is a lot more expensive on a cost-per-byte basis, but it has access times about 100X faster than a typical hard drive.
If you want to speed up large file copies, or if you use programs that need to read or write large files quickly (video editing, Photoshopping large digital images), then you need something with a higher transfer rate. RAID 0 can help here, as can a hard drive with a higher capacity or faster spin rate. SSDs have very high read transfer rates, but write transfer rates aren't as good and can vary quite a bit by drive. And for the high cost of an SSD you don't really get a corresponding huge improvement in transfer rates like you do in access times.
You can use pretty much any disk in a RAID 0 configuration. There are some "RAID-ready" disks (such as the Western Digital RE3/RE4 drives) whose firmware uses a time-limited error recovery algorithm so that the RAID controller won't flag the disk as dead because it's taking too long to deliver data. But you can use ordinary disks as well, with the slight chance that the RAID controller may flag it as "failed" when it was really just trying to read data from a marginal sector.
The biggest downside to RAID 0 is that if you loose ANY drive in a RAID 0 set, you've lost ALL the data on ALL the drives. This means that a two-drive RAID 0 set puts you at twice the risk of loosing all your data as a single drive would have.
That means backups, while always important, take on a little added urgency.
+1... I would actually do both depending on your drive that you have now... you mentioned it is a Sata drive but is it a 1.5gbps or 3.0gbps, 5400 or 7200, 8 16 or 32mb... if it is relatively new I would buy a second one... if it is older get some new drives (they are so cheap now) and run it in 0 or 1+0 if you want the added protection to your performance.
Knock on wood but I have two Hitachi 150g drives from my Athlon FX-53 (like 4 or 5 years old) that are in raid-0 that I never had a prob with. I am about to upgrade now and will probably keep the raid-0 array I have now for music and things along those lines. As mentioned the only major catalyst is if one of the drives fail you lose everything (which would happen if you had just one drive but now it's twice as likely).