I want to buy a hard disk for my new sytem. I can get them with 8MB or 2MB cache. the price difference is about 30$ in the area I life. I saw benchmarks, where a 8MB (80GB) drive from Western Digital whas about 50% faster than a 2MB drive from the same brand (It was an older 20GB model).
I will use my system mostly for gaming. Can someone tell me if the cache makes a big difference in gaming performance? I dont care a lot about loading times. I will use 512MB RAM, so I dont think that the swapfile wil be used alot.
The hard drive is the slowest part of your system, and the cache is a faster memory on which the most frequently used date is stored, so you don't have to wait until its read from the disk. So the 8MB cache makes it faster, but definitely not 50% faster, assuming the cache size is the only difference between both disks. Since you state that you don't care a lot about loading times, then you probably wont notice the difference.
It's not important to know all the answers, as long as you know how to contact someone who does.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by gaviota on 03/25/03 03:36 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
I agree with you that getting the 8MB cache HD is worthwhile. But if the guy doesn't care much about loading times, and he will use the HD mostly for gaming, and he wants to save some money, then there's nothing wrong going for the 2MB cache HD.
Ok, the big lowdown on Chaches is that they will definately increase the <i>burst</i> speed of a drive. The bigger the cache the bigger the improvement in <i>burst</i> speed. However, this does little or anything to increase transfer speeds for data that is not in the cache or is bigger than the cache, there you must rely on the drive's native speed.
I have a 8meg cached Maxtor I use all the time. Pulling in a complete track or two from the disk is like lightning 80mb/sec or so. Reading random files across the entire surface of the platter, it averages about 20mb/sec.
There is a definate performance boost... but only in burst transfers.
yaaa. cache is best utilised by small file transfers, keeping things better optimised.
Fortunately alot of things involve small file transfers... copying stuff, booting up windows, defragging, loading and saving, divx/mp3 encoding.
plus one cant go past the 3 year warantee... a rarety nowerdays
A lot of it is in the way the cache is loaded from the platter.
The important thing to understand is this is not file based reading, this is sequential sector read. Starting from LBA position X, it will load the cashe to X+8mb. There is some strategy/guesswork involved. The bet is that you will want more stuff from the current location on your next read. To hedge this bet, the cache is not loaded immediately. The drive controller will wait a few milliseconds after all commands are finished before it will fully load the cache. In periods of high activity it only loads the current cylinder, which it can do in one platter revolution. This prevents it from wasting time fully loading the cache on every seek.
Were it to actually load the full 8mb on every seek, you would actually see situations (eg. fast file access on a badly fragmented drive) where overall performance was degraded by the cache.