Skip to main content

Experiment: Can Adding RAM Improve Your SSD's Endurance?

More System Memory Means Fewer Writes To Your SSD

As car enthusiasts say, there's no replacement for displacement. It's hard to say if this is still true nowadays with all of the forced induction and electric motors being used. But at least as far as PCs are concerned, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with piling on the memory. Of course, we know from previous stories that cramming RAM into your PC is no guarantee of better performance in our benchmark suite. In many cases, it does nothing at all for test results.

In this case, however, we were able to observe fewer writes to our old Samsung SSD with 16 GB of memory installed. Writes are what chip away at a solid-state drive's endurance, so anything you can do to minimize them is going to stretch out the useful life of the NAND flash inside. In just the three quick little tests we ran using Autodesk's 3ds Max 2012, Adobe Photoshop CS6, and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, we saw an average reduction of 45%. That's a lot of information living in main memory that never gets written to the SSD.

At the same time, each write that doesn't go from RAM to the SSD helps improve responsiveness, even if it doesn't reflect directly in our benchmark numbers (those tests are quite definitely CPU-bound, so they scale most significantly as we throw more processing performance at them). Still, Windows doesn’t have to move as much data to the SSD. Swapping or paging to an SSD, while faster than writing to mechanical storage, is a relatively slow operation. Clearly, this is something we'll have to take into consideration when we're making upgrade recommendations. At the end of the day, we can't always let ourselves get hung up on what our CPU-bound productivity and GPU-bound gaming metrics tell us.

Of course, the numbers we generated today are specific to the drive and modules used on our test bench, and we'll need to do more testing to see if they apply just as relevantly to other memory kits (we don't see any reason why they wouldn't) or SSDs (the same logic would seem to apply there as well). But we were interested to see that adding memory cut back on the writes so many enthusiasts worry about when it comes to SSD endurance. With RAM prices at near-historic lows, we thought it might be a good time to consider an upgrade.

  • lunyone
    How is RAM at "Historic Lows"?? RAM in 2012 was about half the price today. I bought 32 gb's of RAM in late 2012 for $100 on sale. Today it's about >$200 for similar set.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    11135305 said:
    How is RAM at "Historic Lows"?? RAM in 2012 was about half the price today. I bought 32 gb's of RAM in late 2012 for $100 on sale. Today it's about >$200 for similar set.

    Considering that 4GB of DDR2 used to cost ($250) you can easily get 32GB of DDR3. And it will go down again with DDR4 since DDR4 should have 16GB sticks in mass.
    Reply
  • CommentariesAnd More
    I did feel the difference when I added 8GB RAM to my rig. It was in my pocket , not the SSD though. :P
    Reply
  • agnickolov
    I've happily been running with 12GB for over 2 1/2 years now, upgraded from initially only 6GB. I probably won't be going for 24GB though, since my system is rather old running an i7-920. However, 16GB or maybe even 32GB is definitely in the cards for the next build. If only Intel were to release a CPU worth upgrading to, 4.5 years later the current Haswell i7s are not even twice faster...
    Reply
  • rdc85
    IMO more test needed to see better picture, like test when gaming, light browsing office, watching movie, etc..

    I think the test in this article all high memory usage apps, the average reduction of disk write may be lower/none in light workload...

    And also what the effect if the page/swap files is moved to hdd (not in the ssd) in some computer configuration (like mine)....
    Reply
  • lunyone
    11135315 said:
    11135305 said:
    How is RAM at "Historic Lows"?? RAM in 2012 was about half the price today. I bought 32 gb's of RAM in late 2012 for $100 on sale. Today it's about >$200 for similar set.

    Considering that 4GB of DDR2 used to cost ($250) you can easily get 32GB of DDR3. And it will go down again with DDR4 since DDR4 should have 16GB sticks in mass.
    How does this relate to my statement? I know RAM was expensive when they first came out, but over the last 6-8 months time frame RAM has more than doubled in price, so your point is just moot as far as this article is concerned, IMHO.
    Reply
  • Soma42
    Is this not just reflecting the reduction of the page file? I would think that by reducing the page file down to a minimum size you would achieve the same effect. You can probably turn it off at 16GB ram, maybe even at 8GB and really increase your SSD life.
    Reply
  • vinhn
    Yeah, last year, 2x4GB RAM were around ~$45, not it is ~$70. Not that I am complaining, it is low but not historic low.
    Reply
  • smeezekitty
    I don't suggest putting your swap file on your SSD. It will eat up the write cycles as well as valuable gigabytes.

    Put it on your data drive instead. Although it is slower if you have enough RAM it won't be a problem.
    Reply
  • smeezekitty
    Maybe this article will make 16GB not be considered such overkill now.
    Reply