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New system, 2 SSD in RAID or Separate drives?

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February 15, 2013 11:33:35 PM

Hi guys,

I have been more of an observer than contributor in Tom's Forums over the years, but this is ALWAYS the first place I come when I need answers to my computer related questions and almost always find them without having to even ask myself, but I wanted to see if you guys could provide an answer specific to my hardware and such since i respect the Tom's community greatly.

I have been an interested follower rather than active participant in the computer world for a while now but decided to get some hardware to bring my machine up to respectable standards and couple the new parts with existing parts. I have 2 ssds i have had for a few years that have seen relatively light usage, my question is: Should I run the SSDs in RAID or as a system drive and applications drive? No particularly sensitive data will be on either drive, so if one fails or the raid fails, no big deal really...

Existing hardware:

2 x G.SKILL Phoenix Pro 120gb sata 2 SSD

Antec 300 case

PNY GT240 512mb GDDR5 video card

New hardware:

GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD7 AM3+ mobo

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition

G.SKILL Ares Series 16GB DDR3 1600

I think that should be enough pertinent hardware info

So please let me know what you think! Do you think performance would be better with a RAID setup holding OS and applications or would I be better off with 2 separate volumes?

Mainly I will be doing normal web browsing and the like, some light gaming, mostly of the strategy variety with mostly older titles, and using the Vizterra 3d design software for modeling back yards and the like. I think at the most demanding settings Vizterra should basically mirror a somewhat modern fps(hl2?), judging by the i5 machine with a 640gt video card and 6 gb of ram I have been using at the office.

Thank you greatly for your advice in advance, and please, if you have any other suggestions or comments about my new build they are definitely welcome! I haven't really built a machine from scratch in a while and definitely not with the caliber of motherboard I got and you may see me seeking more help with setup and overclocking and such :wahoo: 

Again, thanks

Dave
February 15, 2013 11:38:00 PM

If nothing of importance goes on them there's nothing to lose and only speed to gain :) 
I say go for it!
February 15, 2013 11:41:24 PM

Indeed, I was unsure whether the drives would perform better as a single volume being accessed for both or as different volumes with both being accessed simultaneously, in my past installations using similarly spec'd HDDs I have always had an os drive and an applications drive, so they could operate independently and am not sure how well that principle applies to SSDs
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February 16, 2013 8:17:14 PM

Any other thoughts? My shipment arrived and i'm going to start setting up pretty soon and have to make the call! thanks
February 17, 2013 12:46:45 AM

are the ssd's the only storage drives you plan to use?
February 17, 2013 1:24:42 AM

HoboCannibaL said:
are the ssd's the only storage drives you plan to use?

yes, rather, I will keep any photos, media etc. on either an external or internal standard HDD


The SSDs will be for os and applications only
February 17, 2013 2:06:16 AM

I have had 2-Sata II SSD's in raid 0 for about 3yrs now without issues. You will get Sata III like performance that way.

Here is my ATTO benchmark:


You will have a greater chance of loosing your OS since if any one of the 2-SSD's fail your OS will be toast and a decent battery back-up is always recommended for any raid array.

You also won't have trim but, the SandForce firmware you have on your SSD's has superior garbage collection and will have no problem keeping up.

I would go raid 0 if I were you and I in fact have for 3 yrs due to crappy 1st gen Marvell Sata III controllers. :sol: 
February 17, 2013 2:45:42 AM

i'd go for it if i had 2 of 'em in your case {=^.^=}
February 17, 2013 5:17:21 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone, seems like raid is the runaway favorite. if 120 gb is enough for my purposes I guess I could always go with mirror instead of stripe and retain the fast read capability too, hadn't thought of that initially
February 17, 2013 5:52:28 PM

raid0 doesn't allow you to mirror
February 17, 2013 6:35:26 PM

HoboCannibaL said:
raid0 doesn't allow you to mirror

Yea, but if you really read what he wrote it's obvious he's aware of that. :sol: 
February 17, 2013 7:51:39 PM

i simply responded to this statement "if 120 gb is enough for my purposes I guess I could always go with mirror instead of stripe and retain the fast read capability too, hadn't thought of that initially" that would require a raid1 setup is what i'm getting at.

instead of setting up raid0 setup a raid1 if op wants to do it that way
a c 279 G Storage
February 17, 2013 8:12:22 PM

Okay, I'm late to the ball. I always recommend _against_ any kind of RAID for SSDs. It clobbers the TRIM command, which is used to keep the drive fresh, clean, and fast. And I have yet to see anyone who reports a noticeable real-world improvement. It's great for benchmarks, not so useful for working.

Idonno - you may be the one who changes my mind. Benchmarking aside, do you see any improvement in performance or response over a single SSD?
a b G Storage
February 17, 2013 8:57:43 PM

I agree with WyomingKnott, go with a single larger SSD. The speed increase from RAID0 with SSDs is not really noticeable in real-world use and RAID0 adds complexity and doubles your chance of a failure with little real-world performance gain.
February 17, 2013 9:03:15 PM

tokencode said:
I agree with WyomingKnott, go with a single larger SSD. The speed increase from RAID0 with SSDs is not really noticeable in real-world use and RAID0 adds complexity and doubles your chance of a failure with little real-world performance gain.


I already possess 2 SSDs, the question is the best application for them, either 2 individual volumes, one for os and one for applications, or as a single volume containing os and applications. And whether there is a noticible performance edge one way or the other. If there is no noticible increase, it seems more sensible to run them separately
February 17, 2013 10:11:38 PM

you'll get more out of them i think by not going raid and using one as a primary, and the other as your secondary(storage)
February 17, 2013 10:18:25 PM

depends on what you're putting on them. i can eat up 6 of those in a day if i installed all my games to them lol....if you have 2 ssd's and an hdd maybe use the other ssd as storage as well....so your setup would be "os(ssd)/really fast storage (ssd)/slower storage"
February 17, 2013 10:28:46 PM

WyomingKnott said:
Okay, Benchmarking aside, do you see any improvement in performance or response over a single SSD?

Yes, absolutely. Boot times, loading (starting) large programs/games and especially transferring large files (by large I mean greater than 1 GB). Although admittedly if you don't have something equally as fast to transfer to you wont see an improvement in file transfers. I use a ram cache to buffer my transfers to a 3-disk raid 0 storage array that has all important info backed up externally.

But, you are correct in the sense that for normal operation of your OS once you are booted and any large program that you may be using is already loaded wont see any profound improvement other than what I already posted above.

While I think I can still see an improvement in the overall snappiness of the OS's feel during the average users normal operation, Indeed it is very minimal since the OS depends largely on very small reads and writes and the most important factor "access time" doesn't improve at all with Raid 0

But even then (for me) the improvements that it does provide are well worth it. like I said before "You also won't have trim but, the SandForce firmware you have on your SSD's has superior garbage collection and will have no problem keeping up." So not having trim is not an issue.

Like Crossfire (which I also run) there are some very real benefits as long as you can live with the negatives (no trim, twice the failure rate, etc.) :sol: 
February 18, 2013 12:17:26 AM

Well guys, I decided to try the RAID 0 thing out, if it doesnt work out to my liking i can always undo it. Never had a RAID setup so we will see how it goes, Thanks for all your help so far, new system has windows installing as we speak and I will keep you posted as to how it goes and what I think of it if you care....haha Thanks again
February 18, 2013 12:47:30 AM

Good choice and good luck! :sol: 
February 18, 2013 1:53:42 AM

ssd drives are pretty awesome i think you'll enjoy the setup a lot, u never know, raid0 may make you wanna go raid10 eventually {=^.^=}
February 18, 2013 12:08:27 PM

I got everything up and running and ran atto bench showing between 440 and 445 mb/s reads, I can deal with that! My system wouldn't boot with 2 dimms in though, only one...going to have to try and figure that one out
February 18, 2013 12:17:56 PM

are they in the right slots, dual channel requires you to put them in something like slot 1 and slot 3, or slot 2 and slot 4
February 18, 2013 1:46:08 PM

yeah, I think I got that part right, I took out the working one from slot one and put in the other and nothing, unfortunately I think I got a bad stick :/ 
February 18, 2013 2:03:26 PM

rma it and use one stick while you wait...could be worse, could've been a bad dimm
February 18, 2013 4:17:01 PM

true, I've never had to rma, do you know if newegg will replace just one stick if I got a 2x8gb kit? or will I have to send the whole thing back
February 18, 2013 5:17:07 PM

honestly, they'll probably have you go through the manufacturer and they'll just mail one to you, thats how it usually works...ram is so cheap that they typically don't even ask for it back lol
February 18, 2013 6:33:18 PM

awesome lol
February 18, 2013 9:36:56 PM

drbyq9 said:
true, I've never had to rma, do you know if newegg will replace just one stick if I got a 2x8gb kit? or will I have to send the whole thing back

Both Newegg and G.Skill will require you to send the entire kit back for an RMA. No exceptions, neither G.Skill or Newegg will break up a kit. If it's under 30 days you can send it back to Newegg. If it's over 30 days you will have to RMA to G. Skill. Either way, both are very good about RMA's :sol: 
February 19, 2013 2:44:01 AM

i dunno, i guess it depends, i've never had to return defective ram in order to get a replacement, but its been years since i've had defective ram
February 19, 2013 4:24:16 AM

HoboCannibaL said:
i dunno, i guess it depends, i've never had to return defective ram in order to get a replacement, but its been years since i've had defective ram

When I built this PC I went through 3 G. Skill kits before finally settling on a Corsair kit that just works. As a matter of fact I still have a G. Skill 24GB 6 module kit that needs to be returned due to two bad modules and yes I have to return the entire kit.

G.Skill will not accept partial returns on ram kits since all kits are matched and tested to work together. The same goes for Newegg.

Been there / Done that! :sol: 
February 19, 2013 4:52:17 PM

with the capability of this beastly motherboard do you guys think that since I will have to send both sticks back anyway I may be better served getting faster memory or is it really moot beyond 1600 with am3+?
February 19, 2013 5:55:48 PM

nothing wrong with 1600....and most ram can be overclocked (not recommended without some sort of ram cooler)

if you can find faster ram for a good deal (maybe newegg or somewhere has a sale for some) then i would....but most people use 1600, thats the most common
February 20, 2013 8:36:41 AM

There is nothing wrong with going for faster ram if you want to. The difference between 1600 and say 2133 is not very noticeable. It's there but, whether you will notice it of not is debatable.

If you were going All out with a $1,000 CPU, a $500 motherboard, the best video card(s), etc. I'd say go for it but, other than that my recommendation is to just keep what you already have.
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