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Best Performance HDD setup for i7 system

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December 17, 2011 4:52:31 PM

I posted back in January a former link:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/265420-32-drive-raid0

Which when I went to resurrect gave me the impression I should start over. The hardware has changed since then anyway. I currently have:

MOBO: ASUS P8Z68-V LX

Processor: Intel i7 2600k

RAM: Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 CL7

Video Card: XFX 6970

HDD: WD Raptor 10k 150GB (RAID 0)

OS: W7 Ult 64-bit


Now what I originally ended up doing with respect to that post is I upgraded to 8GB of memory and I didn't see any performance increase even when playing Civ V or Dragon Age on max settings. I also ended up using both my 10k Raptor drives in a RAID0 off the motherboard which seemed to fly like the wind for quite a while.

Recently though, I upgraded to an i7 2600k as stated above and I got the same raid setup but the Windows Experience score gives that core a 5.9 vs. everything else being a 7.9. I ask this, what is the best but yet economical HDD setup for this system as to alleviate the bottleneck?

I gathered from the previous post that a SATA6 upgrade wouldn't do much better however the RPM was the big factor and so I'm happy purchasing additional of the same drive if that is highly suggested to stick with if a 15k upgrade isn't over the top in price. I also haven't heard much about SSD and their performance worth.

I have mixed feelings on a Raid 0/5/10 setup as I prefer data redundancy on this system as previously I set the computer to auto start at 3am, backup to a NAS, and then shut itself down. Great right, well if a Raid 5/10 will give noticeable performance loss then I'll continue to do that on a Raid0 otherwise I'd prefer the redundancy.

It was also suggested that if I go with a Raid 5/10 that I should probably consider getting a card and understandably so. What should one look for in a card? Noticeable difference between interfaces PCI, PCI-E x1 or x16? Any other specific spec to consider?


So in short, my questions are:

Which HDD RPM: SATA 10k or SAS 15k?

Which Raid configuration: 0 / 5 / 10?

Which Raid card interface: pci / pci-e x1 / pci-e 2.0 x16?
a c 261 G Storage
December 17, 2011 5:01:36 PM

Your WEI score is based on that you have SATA 150 drives! If you want improvement then get a SATA6GB 120-128GB SSD for your OS and favorite games using the raptors as storage for user files.
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December 17, 2011 5:54:12 PM

So really I should strongly consider SSD vs. upgrading my existing Raid0 SATA150's to either a Raid 5/10 or 15k HDD? I thought SSD had a shorter life cycle than a conventional HDD with read/writes? T or F? My Storage is a Seagate SATA6 1TB HDD.


This now adds a few more questions:

I'd presume that for the OS / Apps partitions that I really only need about 250GB.

Newegg also gives very high reviews for two models:

Crucial M4 64GB -and- Crucial M4 128GB

Would it be beneficial to have the OS on a separate Raid setup than the APPS partition?

Would performance be best suited to upgrade the OS and/or the APPS Raid setup to SSD?

My presumption would be just the OS partition would see the overall boost as the APPS would probably only see the boost during program load.

So what would you think of the OS partition on a SSD 64GBx3 Raid5 and the Apps partition on a HDD 150GBx3 10k Raid0/5?
-or-
Would you still suggest a SSD 128GBx3 Raid5 for both the OS and APPS?

The question still remains if the Raid5/10 investment over Raid0 would be worth it as a performance boost as well as which Raid card interface would be best suited for the job?

I can always stay with the Raid0 configuration of the above scenarios and just keep up with a nightly auto backup if suggested. Thank you for your suggestion so far.
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a c 82 G Storage
December 17, 2011 6:45:55 PM

Why would you RAID SSDs and lose TRIM in the process? An SSD is much faster than your Raptors in RAID 0 or 15K SAS drives in a RAID 5 or a RAID 10 configuration.
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December 17, 2011 8:58:34 PM

Very interesting. I did some reading up on TRIM as I never heard of that before and from what I gather, it is disabled when in RAID mode correct? So technically, RAID is an aging technology with the HDD...

So you would suggest one 128GB SSD for the OS and one 128GB SSD for the APPS as I would like to keep them separate. Then I would still keep my SATA6 1TB for storage. That sounds rather simple, mean no RAID, no card, just a simple drive.

Now is it true that SSD has a limited number of reads/writes? Or is it as durable and long lasting as a HDD?
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a c 261 G Storage
December 17, 2011 9:03:43 PM

cts6288 said:
Very interesting. I did some reading up on TRIM as I never heard of that before and from what I gather, it is disabled when in RAID mode correct? So technically, RAID is an aging technology with the HDD...

So you would suggest one 128GB SSD for the OS and one 128GB SSD for the APPS as I would like to keep them separate. Then I would still keep my SATA6 1TB for storage. That sounds rather simple, mean no RAID, no card, just a simple drive.

Now is it true that SSD has a limited number of reads/writes? Or is it as durable and long lasting as a HDD?

Good read on the longevity! http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-reliability-fai...
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December 17, 2011 9:22:51 PM

GhislainG - Thanks for the info and rolli59, thank you for the link. So I guess it is a flip of the coin on reliability and what I may just do is disregard RAID and keep doing the nightly backup to NAS idea.

One more question, since SSD is strongly being suggested here then would the Crucial M4 128GB be the top choice in brand/quality? Newegg seemed to give it a pretty good rating.

Plus, since RAID is not the way to go with SSD, would one suggest a single SSD for the OS and another one for the APPS, or one big 256GB SSD and then partition for both? The price difference between the two ideas is miniscule.

Having a bigger capacity is always nice but if two working tandem, with one controlling the OS and the other the APPS, is better then I'd go that route.
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December 17, 2011 10:19:03 PM

rolli59 - Guess you got a good point. I already moved the User files to my Storage drive but I guess it has just been plain habit to have 3 drives/partitions for OS / APPS / STORAGE. I always kept my APPS separate for the simple reason they may store something I don't want wiped in case I need to reinstall.

The link comparing the differenct capacities was a real good one as it crossed off the 64GB due to slower performance and the 512GB for excess storage (for my use) without any real performance gain. It showed the 256GB slightly faster than the 128GB but later on the 128GB performed just as well. Hmm...

I guess now I just need to think it over and figure if I want to either get a Crucial M4 128GB for the OS and just use my Raptor 10k RAID0 for my APPS
-or-
Just go for it and get a Crucial M4 256GB and just merge the two partitions for the first time in many years...

When considering SSD/HDD is the performance bottleneck the OS, the APPS, or both?
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a c 82 G Storage
December 17, 2011 11:31:02 PM

If you can afford SSDs for both the OS and apps, then that would be the best option.
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a c 261 G Storage
December 17, 2011 11:51:22 PM

cts6288 said:
rolli59 - Guess you got a good point. I already moved the User files to my Storage drive but I guess it has just been plain habit to have 3 drives/partitions for OS / APPS / STORAGE. I always kept my APPS separate for the simple reason they may store something I don't want wiped in case I need to reinstall.

The link comparing the differenct capacities was a real good one as it crossed off the 64GB due to slower performance and the 512GB for excess storage (for my use) without any real performance gain. It showed the 256GB slightly faster than the 128GB but later on the 128GB performed just as well. Hmm...

I guess now I just need to think it over and figure if I want to either get a Crucial M4 128GB for the OS and just use my Raptor 10k RAID0 for my APPS
-or-
Just go for it and get a Crucial M4 256GB and just merge the two partitions for the first time in many years...

When considering SSD/HDD is the performance bottleneck the OS, the APPS, or both?

Basically both, load times are amazing compared with HDD just take a look at the video here http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/solid-state-drive-w...
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Best solution

a b G Storage
December 18, 2011 12:31:25 AM

cts6288 said:
rolli59 - Guess you got a good point. I already moved the User files to my Storage drive but I guess it has just been plain habit to have 3 drives/partitions for OS / APPS / STORAGE. I always kept my APPS separate for the simple reason they may store something I don't want wiped in case I need to reinstall.

The link comparing the differenct capacities was a real good one as it crossed off the 64GB due to slower performance and the 512GB for excess storage (for my use) without any real performance gain. It showed the 256GB slightly faster than the 128GB but later on the 128GB performed just as well. Hmm...

I guess now I just need to think it over and figure if I want to either get a Crucial M4 128GB for the OS and just use my Raptor 10k RAID0 for my APPS
-or-
Just go for it and get a Crucial M4 256GB and just merge the two partitions for the first time in many years...

When considering SSD/HDD is the performance bottleneck the OS, the APPS, or both?



Sorry to tell you but having your apps on a separate partition that your OS doesn't mean that you won't have to reinstall them if you do a clean install. There are too many supporting files that are written to the OS partition by all of your apps when they install that you would lose all of them and still have to reinstall all of your apps. I currently have my apps and OS on a separate partition but that if for defrag purposes and my SSD is only 64GB so really its only windows and a few select apps anyways.

With SSDs there is no defraging anyways so there is no reason not to merge your OS and apps partitions on the new system.

Oh and a larger SDD will always have better performance than a smaller one. This is a pretty crude analogy but SDDs add memory blocks to increase storage, except unlike HDDs they can read and write to those blocks basically simultaneously. So a 64GB SDD basically has fewer channels to read and write with than a larger SDD does. I am sure that someone here is willing to take a bit more time and explain it better than that if you would like.
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December 18, 2011 5:32:36 AM

j2j663 - Thanks for the response. I know that I can't simply run the programs again, I guess because after a reinstall I invariably forget what programs I had and it is nice to archive the Program Files folder for a few weeks just in case. Plus, after Quicken saved a friend's database in the Program Files a few versions ago I just figured it was best to keep them separate.

I have gotten so many good answers here that I'm really impressed. Thank you all for your knowledge sharing.

FACT1: Purchasing a 128GB SSD for the OS and a 256GB SSD for the APPS is too expensive right now (~$600).

FACT2: a 128GB SSD for the APPS would be cutting it a little close on capacity.

Therefore, I'm thinking about getting the Crucial M4 128GB for the OS and for now use the Raptor 10k 300GB RAID0 for the APPS, but if the Raptor will actually slow down the system (or hold up the SSD from optimum performance) then I'll just get a 256GB SSD and put it all on there. Your thoughts?
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a c 114 G Storage
December 18, 2011 6:00:56 AM

RAID is something that really doesn't bring a significant return in anything other than benchmarks, large databases / spreadsheets and other specialized apps. One of my employee argued how much more productive he'd be with a RAID 0 pair of SSD's...."but my boot time would be about 8 seconds" .

So I said, lets talk Friday.....and I observed his morning routine for a few days.... He'd come in, boot the box, take off his jacket and go grab a cupa java.

His machine booted in 22 seconds.....
The make coffee trip took about 6 minutes

I didn't see how the SSD was gonna get more productivity outta him :) 

It's kind a like having a Ferrari to commute to work .... the car may be capable of 200 mph but the speed limit don't let that happen. There's some old links below on RAID and measured performance on "everyday apps". certainly we have lost some of the RAID overhead since than but we still have the human operating the computer. When I finish a game level, what stops me from immediately starting the next is the bio trip, snack trip, stretch the legs and arms, shift the seating position to get some blood to the cheeks again.

There's another option and those are Hybrid drives.....they have small built in SSD .... won't offer the blazing benchies that straight SSD's do but again, in real world experience, they do quite well.

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

I have my system set up to boot from either the SSD (15.6 seconds) or the HD (21.2 seconds), via BIOS selection, and no matter which I select, the puter is ready before I am. Here's those links.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID_0#RAID_0

RAID 0 is useful for setups such as large read-only NFS servers where mounting many disks is time-consuming or impossible and redundancy is irrelevant.

RAID 0 is also used in some gaming systems where performance is desired and data integrity is not very important. However, real-world tests with games have shown that RAID-0 performance gains are minimal, although some desktop applications will benefit.[1][2]


http://www.anandtech.com/printarticle.aspx?i=2101
"We were hoping to see some sort of performance increase in the game loading tests, but the RAID array didn't give us that. While the scores put the RAID-0 array slightly slower than the single drive Raptor II, you should also remember that these scores are timed by hand and thus, we're dealing within normal variations in the "benchmark".

Our Unreal Tournament 2004 test uses the full version of the game and leaves all settings on defaults. After launching the game, we select Instant Action from the menu, choose Assault mode and select the Robot Factory level. The stop watch timer is started right after the Play button is clicked, and stopped when the loading screen disappears. The test is repeated three times with the final score reported being an average of the three. In order to avoid the effects of caching, we reboot between runs. All times are reported in seconds; lower scores, obviously, being better. In Unreal Tournament, we're left with exactly no performance improvement, thanks to RAID-0

If you haven't gotten the hint by now, we'll spell it out for you: there is no place, and no need for a RAID-0 array on a desktop computer. The real world performance increases are negligible at best and the reduction in reliability, thanks to a halving of the mean time between failure, makes RAID-0 far from worth it on the desktop.

Bottom line: RAID-0 arrays will win you just about any benchmark, but they'll deliver virtually nothing more than that for real world desktop performance. That's just the cold hard truth."


http://www.techwarelabs.com/articles/hardware/raid-and-...
".....we did not see an increase in FPS through its use. Load times for levels and games was significantly reduced utilizing the Raid controller and array. As we stated we do not expect that the majority of gamers are willing to purchase greater than 4 drives and a controller for this kind of setup. While onboard Raid is an option available to many users you should be aware that using onboard Raid will mean the consumption of CPU time for this task and thus a reduction in performance that may actually lead to worse FPS. An add-on controller will always be the best option until they integrate discreet Raid controllers with their own memory into consumer level motherboards."

http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1001325
"However, many have tried to justify/overlook those shortcomings by simply saying "It's faster." Anyone who does this is wrong, wasting their money, and buying into hype. Nothing more."

http://jeff-sue.suite101.com/how-raid-storage-improves-...
"The real-world performance benefits possible in a single-user PC situation is not a given for most people, because the benefits rely on multiple independent, simultaneous requests. One person running most desktop applications may not see a big payback in performance because they are not written to do asynchronous I/O to disks. Understanding this can help avoid disappointment."

http://www.scs-myung.com/v2/index. [...] om_content
"What about performance? This, we suspect, is the primary reason why so many users doggedly pursue the RAID 0 "holy grail." This inevitably leads to dissapointment by those that notice little or no performance gain.....As stated above, first person shooters rarely benefit from RAID 0.__ Frame rates will almost certainly not improve, as they are determined by your video card and processor above all else. In fact, theoretically your FPS frame rate may decrease, since many low-cost RAID controllers (anything made by Highpoint at the tiem of this writing, and most cards from Promise) implement RAID in software, so the process of splitting and combining data across your drives is done by your CPU, which could better be utilized by your game. That said, the CPU overhead of RAID0 is minimal on high-performance processors."

Even the HD manufacturers limit RAID's advantages to very specific applications and non of them involves gaming:

http://westerndigital.com/en/products/raid/http://weste...

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a c 82 G Storage
December 18, 2011 11:59:42 AM

cts6288 said:
j2j663 - Thanks for the response. I know that I can't simply run the programs again, I guess because after a reinstall I invariably forget what programs I had and it is nice to archive the Program Files folder for a few weeks just in case. Plus, after Quicken saved a friend's database in the Program Files a few versions ago I just figured it was best to keep them separate.

I have gotten so many good answers here that I'm really impressed. Thank you all for your knowledge sharing.

FACT1: Purchasing a 128GB SSD for the OS and a 256GB SSD for the APPS is too expensive right now (~$600).

FACT2: a 128GB SSD for the APPS would be cutting it a little close on capacity.

Therefore, I'm thinking about getting the Crucial M4 128GB for the OS and for now use the Raptor 10k 300GB RAID0 for the APPS, but if the Raptor will actually slow down the system (or hold up the SSD from optimum performance) then I'll just get a 256GB SSD and put it all on there. Your thoughts?

I agree with JackNaylorPE that saving a few seconds doesn't make a huge difference for most people, except when running benchmarks. Loading and saving data to an SSD will definitely be faster, but is the additional cost worth it to you? There will always be a bottleneck somewhere.
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December 19, 2011 2:47:29 AM

JackNaylorPE - Wow...now that is some info! So really a HDD setup is a HDD setup regardless if non-RAID or RAID0. So is investing in a SSD really worth that much more than a Raptor 10k? If so, would a simple 128GB for the OS be enough or should I really get a 256GB to hold both the OS and APPS?

With my fresh install I'm already using 50GB of installed stuff but I know my APPS will get even more full so eventually the 128GB alone would not be able to hold both the OS and APPS.
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a b G Storage
December 25, 2011 6:27:28 AM

If you are careful at all you will have no problem only having a 128GB SSD. Be selective and chose half a dozen or so apps and just put those and you OS on the SSD. I would recommend the ones you use the most but things like Firefox and Eclipse made the top of my list.

Currently I have Windows 7 taking up 25GB of my SSD. That leaves plenty of room for other apps.
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January 4, 2012 10:07:30 PM

Well I went with the Crucial M4 256GB before Christmas and just thought I'd log on and let you all know that I'm rather pleased. I don't know if I'd recommend this $400 part for the common user as most look for an entire system for that price but it definitely sped up the bottleneck. I left my OS and APPS partitions intact and maybe someday, if I run shy of space, I'll purchase a 128GB one just for the OS but for now the one is plenty. Thank you all for your contributions.
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January 4, 2012 10:10:19 PM

Best answer selected by cts6288.
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