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Best use of 2 HDD's on gaming rig?

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January 19, 2011 12:05:33 AM

Hi all,

I'm completely new to this world, but I'm building my first budget PC gaming computer anyway.
My question is, based on the components below, what would be the best use of two 500 GB hard drives for gaming?

I have:
ASUS P5G41C-M LGA 775 Intel G41 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core 2 Quad CPU
4 GB RAM
2 Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives
Windows 7 Home Premium

I'd like to have both Windows 7 and Ubuntu on my computer, and to be able to choose what I boot into.

I've been reading hundreds of forums that talk about the benefits/hazards of RAID (my situation calls for a software RAID if I do it), of using VMWare and of just using 2 HDD's separately.

At this point, I want something efficient and not too complicated for now. Most of my important files will probably be backed up on an external HDD.

Do I:
-Dual boot both OS's in one drive and use the second drive for data?
-RAID0 both drives?
-RAID1 both drives?
-Boot Ubuntu on one drive and Windows 7 on the other?
-Use each drive separately and partition?
-RAID AND partition?
-Use another option all together???

These questions still remain even after I've read so much! If you can help me, I would truly appreciate it.
Also, if you have a preference for any of these, could you point me in the direction of step-by-step instructions on how to do these things?

Thank you so much!
Janine

More about : hdd gaming rig

a c 289 G Storage
January 19, 2011 1:00:38 PM

That's like asking a question on religion - you will get fervent believers in many different solutions. I'm gonna throw out a few ideas with pluses and minuses, for you to decide.

RAID: Really cool, but not very portable or recoverable. If you fry your motherboard, you can attach a non-Raid disk to any other machine. Attaching a Raid pair, even one of a Raid one pair, is a non-trivial operation.

Raid0: Twice as fast. Twice as likely to fail. Do frequent system backups.

Raid1: Much less likely to fail. If one drive goes, the other keeps chugging along while you replace the failed one. Some Raid1 solutions read faster than a single drive.

In either case: If you Raid them, your OS installation sees them as one disk and you have to have multiple partitions. One (small and hidden by the Win7 installation) Windows system partition, one for booting Windows, one for booting Linux and, I suggest, one for any data that both OSes use.

Separate drives: I have a strong personal preference for installing both my OSes on the same drive, in separate partitions. I personally keep one drive strictly for OSes, and the other (eleven, mostly removable) for data.

The exact arrangement depends somewhat on what you are going to do: Video or other huge-file editing pretty much requires that the OS and swapfile be on one disk, the data on another. If you are doing a lot of swapping, and not munging huge amounts of data (gaming?), it makes sense to put the swap file on the other drive.

----

I would install Windows before Ubuntu. The Linux installers are kinder to foreign OSes than the Windows ones. However, can someone else please weigh in on how well Ubuntu plays with that silly 100 MB hidden partition?
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January 19, 2011 1:14:42 PM

Good thoughts there. I am definitely using this machine mostly as a gaming rig.

I did almost succeed in installing Windows but the mobo fried itself very quickly. I'm waiting for the replacement. What I observed was that when I tried to partition the one HDD that I had (I'm going to stick with the 2-500 Gigs listed), every time I created a partition, Windows would created an extra 100 Mb partition that I couldn't delete. So annoying!

In addition to my first questions, I second WyomingKnott's question: how does Ubuntu play with that partition?
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a c 289 G Storage
January 19, 2011 2:24:12 PM

kivarocket said:
Good thoughts there. I am definitely using this machine mostly as a gaming rig.

I did almost succeed in installing Windows but the mobo fried itself very quickly. I'm waiting for the replacement. What I observed was that when I tried to partition the one HDD that I had (I'm going to stick with the 2-500 Gigs listed), every time I created a partition, Windows would created an extra 100 Mb partition that I couldn't delete. So annoying!

Is that extra 100 Mb partition being create for _each_ partition, or only when you install Windows 7 on an unpartioned drive? As I alluded to in my first post, Win7 likes to create a hidden, 100 Mb partition as the first partition on the drive, but it only creates one, not one per partition. If you are seeing

1) 100 Mb hidden
2) Windows 7
3) Ubuntu
4) Data

then it's just the boot partition that 7 creates. It's actually a reasonable idea - the boot manager is separate from the OS partition, making it easier to move OS partitions around. And easier to override and boot with a Linux boot manager.

If you see
1) 100 Mb hidden
2) Win 7
3) 100 Mb hidden
4) Ubuntu
5) 100 Mb hidden
6) Data

then something weird is going on. Post a capture of your Drive Manager.
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January 19, 2011 2:46:49 PM

WyomingKnott said:
Is that extra 100 Mb partition being create for _each_ partition, or only when you install Windows 7 on an unpartioned drive? As I alluded to in my first post, Win7 likes to create a hidden, 100 Mb partition as the first partition on the drive, but it only creates one, not one per partition. If you are seeing

1) 100 Mb hidden
2) Windows 7
3) Ubuntu
4) Data

then it's just the boot partition that 7 creates. It's actually a reasonable idea - the boot manager is separate from the OS partition, making it easier to move OS partitions around. And easier to override and boot with a Linux boot manager.

If you see
1) 100 Mb hidden
2) Win 7
3) 100 Mb hidden
4) Ubuntu
5) 100 Mb hidden
6) Data

then something weird is going on. Post a capture of your Drive Manager.



...
Before the mobo fried, I had only gotten as far as the Windows 7 installation process. I was asked to select where I wanted to install the OS, and it looked like I could add partitions (although it didn't say that)...so whenever I added a partition of any given size, the 100 MB partition would come up in your "something weird" scenario.
I just found THIS, however that says, before I install Windows 7, I should partition first and NOT in unallocated space. That was something I did not do--why would this be helpful? My replacement mobo and HDD's are coming in tomorrow, so hopefully I don't have to capture an image of the Drive Mgr. I will if it comes up again!
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a c 289 G Storage
January 19, 2011 3:43:13 PM

It is true that, on a pre-partitioned disk, it won't create the first scenario. I happen to prefer the first scenario, so I would
1) Delete all partitions on disk
2) Install Win7, creating one tiny and one large partition
3) Create other partitions before doing any other installs. Keep in mind that you can only have four primary partitions; more on one drive requires an extended partition containing multiple logical partitions. Booting from a logical partition requires a particularly good boot manager; I have never done it so I can't recommend one.

Let us know what happens with the new mobo. Don't fry this one ;) 
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January 20, 2011 5:41:55 PM

So here's what I'm thinking right now...thoughts?
First 500GB drive: one partition with Win7 with Ubuntu on as a virtual machine, and a second partition for programs/games.

Second 500GB drive: Have the first partition be the pagefile (I'm trying to figure out how to do this) to boost productivity, and one more partition for data/storage.

It seems like running Ubuntu as a VM would be easier to deal with...
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January 30, 2011 12:57:40 PM

Best answer selected by kivarocket.
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