How to debottleneck my system?!? Need advice!


Need your help here.

Here is what I have:

E8400 OCed @ 3.6
Asus P5N-D
8 Gb RAM DDR2800 OCZ
BFG 8800GT 512mb SLI
SoundBlaster X-FI XtremeGammer PCI
3x Seagate 7200.10 500 Gb in RAID-0
1x WD Caviar GP 1 Tb
Antec 900
Zalman 9500
Vista 64 Home Premium

I'm happy with the system overall, but I would like to improve my Hard Drive performance. Right now I'm running RAID-0 with three Seagates and using the WD only for daily/monthly backups (daily for general files and monthly with Acronis True Image).

In Sandra Benchmark I am getting about 180 Mb/s read performance, which it seems to be consistent compared to the other drives listed in the software. However, I would like to know if there is a way to improve this.

I have a few options in mind, but I don't know if they will be effective or if the investment would be worthwhile.

1 - Upgrade to a Q9550, since my RAID is being done by software/MB and AFAIK this consumes some processing power.

2 - Add a dedicated RAID card, but I don't know if I can find one regular PCI or PCIx 1x because I don't have any PCIx 16x available to other cards, due to my SLI set up.

3 - Move to one or two Velociraptors and RAID-0 them.

4 - Move to one or two SSDs and RAID-0 them.

Problem is that I would not like to spend a lot and I would like to have about 1TB in the fast drive arrangement to put all my current files there and still leave the WD for backups. I don't plan to have more than 800 gb of data in about 1 to 2 years.

After I completely boot the drive and run for the first time some of the programs I use the most, the system is very fast and snappy, probably because all of these programs (browser, office, email, itunes, newsletter, etc) are cached in the 8 Gb. However, when I have to run something new or reboot or the backup comes in place, the performance is not what I would like to have.

I have already set up all page file to be in the RAM memory and, until now, haven't had any problems with some performance improvement noticed.

Could you guys please give me some advice (and cost estimates) on how to improve this in a cost/efficient way? If I have to spend more than 200-300 dollars to get there probably I will not do it and stay with what I have for another two years, until I completely build another system with an I7, DDR3, SSDs and a new GFX (assuming that these parts will be cheaper in a year or two).

Thanks in advance for your help!

2 answers Last reply
More about debottleneck system advice
  1. Well you can't really tell your hard drives to spin faster. If you want more HD performance you'll just have to buck up and buy faster drives.
  2. I don't think you'd see much improvement from a quad CPU in those programs.

    You could buy two Velociraptors and put them in RAID 0. You'd end up with an average transfer rate of 190 MB/s or so, depending on settings.

    I doubt it's worth it, since they are tiny and expensive drives and you're already at 180 MB/s.

    Four Velociraptors 300GB in RAID 0 would give you 370MB/s average read rate, but that's $800.
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