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What is the best solution for 1TB of gaming storage?

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June 14, 2012 1:03:38 PM

Hello, I have a question concerning storage for my new build. I am currently compiling a list of components for a new X79 gaming/work computer. My current rig uses a 300GB WD Velociraptor to store all of my game installs and steam. However, after about 1.5 years I had filled the 300GB and needed to start deleting game installs in order to install more games. With my new X79 build I would like to have roughly 1TB of storage just for game installs. I am trying to decide between SSD's or HDD's.

I thought about trying 2x Intel 520 SSD 480GB in RAID 0 but that is an expensive solution ($780/each $1560/total) for something to only be used only for game installs. I am also thinking about using the 1TB WD Velociraptor which would be a much cheaper solution ($300). Or possibly 2 Velociraptors in RAID 0 ($600) or 4 Velociraptors in RAID 10 ($1200).

Current list of components:
Intel i7 3930k
Asrock Fatal1ty Champion mobo
Intel 520 SSD 240GB (OS-Boot Drive)
2 x WD Caviar Black 2TB HDD for Storage (RAID 1)
Corsair Dominator 2133 16 GB (4x4) RAM CAS 9

Any suggestions that you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
June 14, 2012 1:41:43 PM

honestly, even just two 1TB black drives in raid 0 would be fine. but If you do have the cash, i would probably get one or two velociraptors.

thats just my opinion, i would not use SSD's as storage or only for game installs, personally.
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June 14, 2012 3:47:12 PM

It's really just a simple tradeoff. The relationship between price and speed is pretty much 1:1 (until you get into RAID, where you can up speeds but you wont get as much bang for your buck).

For pure speed, SSDs are by far the fastest. You will notice massive speed boosts over either 7200 or 10000 RPM drives. The only problem is, like you said, they are crazy expensive at that size (300GB or >). If you truly want to go the SSD route without burning your pockets, you'd need to be a little more choosy about which games you want the maps to load more quickly on.

I would also mention that I don't really thing Velociraptors are really worth the speed boost when compared to what you can pull out of SSDs. They may be a bit cheaper and require a little less maintenance, but SSDs are just such a huge step above HDDs.



Now for RAID. If you are a millionaire, just go RAID 10 with SSDs. But, on a serious note, RAID will give you a little speed boost, possibly more space and potentially some redundancy. In terms of performance, everyone says something different. You can look around online for specific performance gains, but here's what I've seen that seems to make sense.

RAID 0 - about a 20 - 30% speed boost for reading large files (maps), but increased failure rate since if any of the participating drives fail, you los everything. You don't, however, waste any space, so you get the total storage capacity of your included drives.

RAID 1 - Maybe a 10 - 20% increase in speed with large files. You do, however, get redundancy but you lose the capacity of one of your drives. So two 500GB drives in RAID 1 will only give you 500GB.

RAID 5 - More trouble than it's worth, requires 3+ drives, you lose 1, maybe 20-30% speed increase with redundancy. The issue here is you will only be able to use SATA 2 ports since Intel mobos only have 2 SATA 3 ports, so you'll a percentage of speed there, depending on your drive type.

RAID 10 - More craziness, but fun and relatively popular. Basically RAID 1 and 0 combined, requires 4+ drives, basically same benefits as RAID 5 but you lose 50% of your capacity.

I'd say RAID 0 and 1 are really all you'd want to consider.


The decision is really up to you. If loading maps super fast is really worth it to you (and don't worry, it is to me too), go with an SSD and just save the games you don't care as much about elsewhere. Otherwise, two 7200 ro 10000 RPM drives in a RAID array would be a nice choice.
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June 14, 2012 4:30:03 PM

Why SSD RAID 0 ???
I think SSD and RAID is a waste of money.

M4 512GB $399.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That should be enough, but if you want more capacity and the cash worries you why not try a RAID 0 with Caviar Black ( or the cheaper blue )

Having fast HDD or SSD only will affect loading times, not actual gameplay.
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June 14, 2012 5:02:29 PM

Dangi said:
Why SSD RAID 0 ???
I think SSD and RAID is a waste of money.

M4 512GB $399.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That should be enough, but if you want more capacity and the cash worries you why not try a RAID 0 with Caviar Black ( or the cheaper blue )

Having fast HDD or SSD only will affect loading times, not actual gameplay.


When I said RAID 0 and 1 are all you should consider, I actually meant to add: if you were to consider RAID at all.

And the only reason I did RAID 0 with my SSDs was to get that major sequential read boost (for gaming mostly, being the first to spawn in BF has some advantages haha) and since I wanted about 250GB, I just got 2 120GBs for not much more.

But yeah my recommendation, if you really just want top speed, would be something like that M4 (I like Intel, but that's be super expensive) and to just be a little more picky with which games you put on it.
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June 14, 2012 5:40:30 PM

First of all, thanks for all of the quick replies. After reading everyone's comments I believe that the best option would be to use a SSD for my primary games (Skyrim, The Witcher 2, etc.) and use either a Velociraptor or Caviar Black for the rest. I would really like to fit all my games on a SSD because I don't like load times but that is not very cost effective. Even though I do have the cash (roughly a budget of $9,000), I don't want to piss away thousands of dollars just so all my games load faster.

This will be my 3rd complete build so I am not a complete novice but I have never used any form of RAID before.... which is why I came to Tom's Forums. The contributors on Tom's Forums have always given me great advice.

Looking at the M4, it appears to be a good drive at a great price. I will do a little more investigating after I get home from work but it may very well find a place in my new build.

Thanks again to all contributors.
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June 14, 2012 6:08:10 PM

don't use raid it adds unnecessary complexity, escpecially with ssds you dont want that at the moment

get a big ssd for your os/games and a hd for your storage

for example, me (a poorer person) got a crucial m4 128gb for windows/games and 1tb wd cav black for storage

im guessing you'd go with a 512gb ssd

make sure to make a backup image of the ssd (acronis trueimage home) as even though i got the "most reliable" ssd at the time it recently started crashing after 1h and i found out it was a firmware problem (had it for 8 months though)

updated the firmware and now its working again

new tech, little flakey, but way better

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June 14, 2012 6:13:25 PM

Best answer selected by jmack5864.
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June 14, 2012 6:35:04 PM

shwick said:
don't use raid it adds unnecessary complexity, escpecially with ssds you dont want that at the moment

get a big ssd for your os/games and a hd for your storage

for example, me (a poorer person) got a crucial m4 128gb for windows/games and 1tb wd cav black for storage

im guessing you'd go with a 512gb ssd

make sure to make a backup image of the ssd (acronis trueimage home) as even though i got the "most reliable" ssd at the time it recently started crashing after 1h and i found out it was a firmware problem (had it for 8 months though)

updated the firmware and now its working again

new tech, little flakey, but way better



I don't know why everyone is so afraid of RAID. Setting up a RAID 0 or 1 array is unbelieveably easy, and the tech itself is not complex whatsoever. If you have the cash, and want some redundancy or extra speed, it's a perfectly viable option. By all means, it's not a game changer, but saying 'don't use RAID' is like saying don't embrace the capabilities or your technology and the depth of your pockets.
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