Skip to main content

SSD Performance In Crysis 2, World Of Warcraft, And Civilization V

A Gamer's Guide To SSD Performance

SSDs cost a lot more than hard drives; that much is well-established fact. Depending on the drives you're comparing, the difference in price per gigabyte can be as much as 30x.

So why on earth would anyone want to buy a solid-state drive, then? Shave down Windows' boot time? Fire up applications faster? Accelerate file transfers? Sure, on all accounts. But if you're a gamer, first and foremost, you want to spend your money on the components that'll give you the best possible performance. And if that means giving up CPU or graphics budget to score an SSD, you want to know if the trade-off is worth it, right?

Storage TypeMagneticSolid-State
ModelBarracudaAgility 3
Capacity1 TB120 GB
Price Per Gigabyte$0.06$1.75

That evaluation isn't an easy one to make, though. When you read through an SSD review, you typically see a handful of measurements that try putting performance in context compared to other solid-state and magnetic products. But you generally don't get any frame of reference when it comes to gaming. Those familiar metrics include:

  • 4 KB random writes
  • 4 KB random reads
  • 128 KB sequential reads
  • 128 KB sequential writes

But what do input/output operations per second and megabytes per second really mean to the enthusiast interested in knowing how storage technology affects the launch times and game play of the latest and greatest first-person shooter?

In the lab, we’ve already seen situations where dropping in a cutting-edge SSD doesn't have a big effect on performance. The reasons why aren't particularly complicated. However, we thought it'd be a good idea to break down the way three popular games affect storage performance in order to give you a better understanding of how they tax your storage subsystem. Crysis 2, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and Civilization V are all going to get tested.

It might surprise you to learn that the "one size fits all" approach doesn't apply to SSDs and it doesn't apply to games. If you want to better understand storage reviews when it comes to gaming, this information will help you make a more informed purchase.