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Should I bother with a Raid setup for a mainly gaming rig?

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September 29, 2010 3:35:20 AM

I am in the middle of building a new i7 rig. I already received one Samsung Spinpoint F3 1tb drive but I was thinking about ordering a second for a raid setup. I have searched and searched but I can't find any reviews comparing the same drive in a raid 0 setup compared to a raid 1 setup. What I would like to know is approximately how much faster the raid 0 setup is when it comes to loading windows, loading maps, opening programs, etc. I know SSDs are still much faster but this same question could be applied to them as well.

How much faster is raid 0 versus raid 1 with the same drives?
a b 4 Gaming
a b G Storage
September 29, 2010 4:57:39 AM

AID0 would be faster then RAID 1 in many cases. Good RAID1 cards would actually be the same as it would read from both drives at the same time. As I understand it this is not the case with RAID controllers found on motherboards. This means the READ part of loading a game/level would be faster on the AID0 system then the RAID1 system most of the time. Keep in mind there is a lot more then reading data off a drive when loading a level/game so spending the $$$ you would have spent on the drive on more RAM or a faster CPU is probably a better idea.

I also suggest you NEVER use AID0 on an OS drive. Your just asking for trouble.
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September 29, 2010 5:09:34 AM

So I shouldn't use the raid controller on the EVGA X58 sli mobo? If that is the case then I am not going to bother with a raid setup at all. I was only considering it if was going to be easy and I didn't have to buy anything besides another drive.

What I would like to see is some real world benchmarks using the same drive in a raid 0, raid 1 and single drive setup. I understand that there are many other factors that affect perfomance. I would like to see reviews in the same setup just changing the drive configuration. BTW, I will be using an I7 950, 3x2gb of 1600 ram, 2 GTX460s in SLI and an EVGA X58 mobo.

I understand this would be very time consuming test but I imagine this type of comparison has been done before. I've been searching for hours but all I can find is very old information.
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September 29, 2010 5:51:11 AM

beekermartin said:
I am in the middle of building a new i7 rig. I already received one Samsung Spinpoint F3 1tb drive but I was thinking about ordering a second for a raid setup. I have searched and searched but I can't find any reviews comparing the same drive in a raid 0 setup compared to a raid 1 setup. What I would like to know is approximately how much faster the raid 0 setup is when it comes to loading windows, loading maps, opening programs, etc. I know SSDs are still much faster but this same question could be applied to them as well.

How much faster is raid 0 versus raid 1 with the same drives?


Well, why not make a contrast between them?
Tips 1: When it comes to RAID0 and RAID1, a 3rd party all-hardware controller will make next to no difference in performance compared to a software fakeRAID controller on your motherboard. There's zero calculation going on. It's just splitting data up. You would only need a hardware controller when it comes to RAID levels that have parity and other calculations, like RAID5 and RAID6. So don't sweat hardware stuff. You definitely do not need it for RAID0.
If you truly want to see an increase in usage performance, you would probably need to go to Solid State Discs. Two of those in RAID0 (two good ones, that is) will have you booting faster and doing everything literally quite faster, with next to no access time (making RAIDing all the better) so it will be very snappy. You can get some decent 30gig SSD's for about $70~$90 each on NewEgg. If you really want to see a usage performance increase, I'd go that direction (specifically, the 30~32g Patriot).

Tips 2: Watch how fast it takes to load a saved game from scratch. And then run around in the world, how fast it loads areas, moves around, etc. That's at high image settings with just RAID0 loading the massive content to memory for use.

Going up to 4x RAID0 drives will be much faster. I'm only using old 80g drives here. Two newer drives (like the 320's or the 640's will be much faster than even just two older drives; just due to better tech in the drives themselves).
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a b 4 Gaming
a b G Storage
September 29, 2010 6:43:01 AM

Anandtech.com used to do a bit of RAID testing. You can try looking there. Storagereview.com probably also has some articles. They are the ones that helped turn me off of RAID. You have a really good setup going, so if you have the $$$ for raid its something you can do. If I were you I'd get an SSD for my OS, and setup an AID0 array for games/programs that need speed. Again, I personally hate having to reload not only windows but all the things needed to make it work well so I'd never run AID0 on my system drive. When the driver gets borked, its to much of a PITA (for me, others don't care) to load windows and make it the way it was.

Quote:
When it comes to RAID0 and RAID1, a 3rd party all-hardware controller will make next to no difference in performance compared to a software fakeRAID controller on your motherboard. There's zero calculation going on. It's just splitting data up. You would only need a hardware controller when it comes to RAID levels that have parity and other calculations, like RAID5 and RAID6.


Uhm, ??? RAID1 is a raid array with parity, and have you seen the number of motherboards that support RAID5? Not sure what your trying to say there as it doesn't jive with what I know.

Quote:
If you truly want to see an increase in usage performance, you would probably need to go to Solid State Discs. Two of those in RAID0 (two good ones, that is) will have you booting faster and doing everything literally quite faster


If you do this you need to make sure your RAID controller supports TRIM. SSDs will degrade without using the TRIM command, and most RAID controllers don't support it. Seeing as SSDs are already rather fast, I'd just run the one SSD.

Quote:
Watch how fast it takes to load a saved game from scratch. And then run around in the world, how fast it loads areas, moves around, etc. That's at high image settings with just RAID0 loading the massive content to memory for use.


I'm not sure what your trying to claim here either. As I already mentioned there is more to loading a level/game then just reading the data off of the disk. Uncompressing files or transferring data to the GPU doesn't require any disk activity, so having an AID0 array or SSD won't change this at all. Seeing as this happens more then just a level read I'd rather pour the $$$ into a faster CPU then another drive. Doesn't apply in this case seeing as the OP already has a good CPU.
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September 29, 2010 4:25:16 PM

4745454b said:
I also suggest you NEVER use AID0 on an OS drive. Your just asking for trouble.

Could you tell us why? I am just curious...
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a b 4 Gaming
a b G Storage
September 30, 2010 12:27:56 AM

While many claim the biggest problem with AID0 is that you lose all your data if one drive should fail, what I find that happens more often is something happens to the RAID driver. If for some reason the driver gets messed up, windows will no long boot. Say goodbye then to all your data, OS, games, etc. The fix is to recreate the array, and load EVERYTHING all over again. I don't know about you, but I find loading windows ok but loading your AV, unzip, video player, music player, picture viewer, real alternative, quicktime alternative, spyware, etc programs all over again that I find a PITA. Putting your OS on a single drive, and then moving the swap file over to an array for the speed is a better idea. Takes three disks to do this, but when something fails you won't have to redo windows. (and all the stuff you really need.)
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a b G Storage
September 30, 2010 12:46:45 AM

4745454b said:
Uhm, ??? RAID1 is a raid array with parity

RAID1 doesn't need parity because it is an exact data replica. If a disk fails you still have all the data so no reconstruction is needed.
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a b 4 Gaming
a b G Storage
September 30, 2010 6:34:31 AM

Ok fine, use facts. See if I care:p  Pretty sure the rest of what I wrote is ok.

Why the change in avatar?
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a b G Storage
September 30, 2010 9:04:50 AM

Something to do.
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a c 353 G Storage
September 30, 2010 3:09:14 PM

First some pros/cons
.. Raid0 Does very little to improve the 4 K random read/writes nor access time. Does improve Sequential Reads/writes. Small file operations and access times being the more important for Boot to OS and program loads. HDDs access time can be improved using short stroke (BUT you do lose HDD space). SSDs the way to go as Access time 0.1-0.2 mSec compared to 9.0->12 mSec for HDDs. 4k files 20 to 60 x faster than HDDs
.. Raid1 Offers better protection from a single drive failure, But offers no advantage over Raid0 for other failures – PSU which can take out both drives, drive corruption that corrupts both drives, virus infections. While there is an increased risk with Raid0 it may be a little overblown. Normally you only hear complaints when one fails, not from people that have had none - too very few problems. I’ve been running raid0 since before SATA – Not one problem still have 2 systems with IDE raid0 running on original HDDs
.. Back-Up – Back-up. No matter what configuration. Most complaints with failed Drives (Single, or Raid0) are the time and hassle with reloading the operating system and ALL their programs – BA-HUMBUG. Took me about 10 minutes to restore OS and programs from a clobbered SSD. Win 7 has an EXCELLENT BU, just image your OS drive to BU drive, Only need to repeat as new programs are installed (Exception are emails). Back up your Data drive as needed

Recommend.
...(1) Best option. Get a SSD for OS and programs, Can image SSD to HDD. But still need a separate Backup drive, either internal, or external.
...(2) Get two HDDs. Place two in Raid0 using short stroke. To do this, when setting up your raid0 array ONLY select 100-200 Gigs. This will be for your OS and programs. Then setup a 2nd array using 50 % of available space, this is for your files/data. Do Nothing with the remaining 50% (YOU LOSE 1 TB when using 2 1 TB drives. But what you lose in space you gain in performance. Your 3rd HDD would be for your Backup. NOTE. This is different than just partitioning a HDD. Windows will treat this HDD as if it were 2 separate HDD and show up in disk manager as Drive0 (OS) and Drive1 Files/Data(Which can be partitioned using disk manager). 3rd HDD for back-up

Added. In terms of performance increase while gaming - Very little difference for most games between raid0 and non raid0
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October 7, 2010 12:59:48 AM

I set it up as raid 0. Unfortunately I have to get a better heatsink before I can start overclocking. Once that is done I am going to reinstall windows and all the drivers then record how long it takes for things to happen. Windows to boot, games to load, etc.

I will then reinstall windows and all the drivers again but this time as raid 1. Then I will do the same thing and compare the times. It may be a few weeks before I can get to it but I will post my results once I do it.
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a b 4 Gaming
a b G Storage
October 7, 2010 5:22:17 AM

Can you include non raid times please? I for one would like to see the improvements.
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October 10, 2010 12:08:51 AM

I probably won't test a non raid setup. It is time consuming enough doing it for Raid 0 and Raid 1. I assume Raid 1 and a non raid setup should be about the same in terms of speed.
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a b 4 Gaming
a b G Storage
October 10, 2010 2:22:18 AM

They will be close. RAID1 will have some overhead making it bit slower. Unless your controller can read from both disks then it will be a bit faster. I just thought I'd ask.
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