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Thread: Performance storage on a budget

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    Performance storage on a budget

    HDDs, SSDs, RAID arrays, SRT, SATA III, cache. There are bazillions of storage options. But which is best in terms of price for performance? What I'm looking for is one suited to gaming, and not costing over £200. I've found a few options, ranging from slow and cheap to fast and rediculous. Please note that the actual items I've linked to are just examples. I'm sure you have much more experience than me

    A) Single HDD
    I realise that this will be the slowest, and cheapest. I've seen SATA II and SATA III models, giving different speeds. Is the performance increase large between the two of these?
    - Samsung 1Tb Spinpoint F3 Hard Drive (SATA II) : £40
    - 1Tb Western Digital Hard Drive (SATA III) : £50
    - Hitachi 0F12115 2TB Hard Drive (SATA III) : £80


    B) RAID Array
    There are two types of RAID typically used - RAID 0 and RAID 1. I understand RAID 0 to work in an SSD like fashion - you have two HDD, of which you get to use the combined total space as storage, and write half the data to one and half to the other. The only downside to this is that if 1 HDD is damaged, you lose half the data making everything unusable.

    RAID 1 also uses two *identically sized* HDD, but you only get the storage space of one of the disks. It mirrors data on one disk to the other, meaning you have a backup. However, I do not see any real performance increase to this.

    Prices would be double that of A


    C) Hybrid HDD
    From what I can tell, a hybrid is just a normal HDD but uses the SSD as a cache. This gives it much quicker read speeds for commonly used apps. However, due to the size of the SSD, only the most recently used applications will have the speed boost. Would it be possible to have one of these in a RAID 0 array? That would be awesome!

    AnandTech Article *N.B - what is that VelociRaptor in the test? It looks quite decent?

    - Seagate 500GB Momentus XT 2.5" Hybrid SSD/HDD SATAII : £85


    D) HDD + SSD with Smart Response Technology
    This is very similar to the above. However, the SSD and HDD are separate so you can choose whatever size cache you want - I read that over 64GB doesn't yield any better performance than 64GB. I quote "Application & Game Launch Performance: Virtually Indistinguishable from an SSD"

    Another AnandTech article

    - Crucial RealSSD M4 64GB - Solid State Drive : £83
    - Hitachi 0F12115 2TB Hard Drive (SATA III) : £80


    E) SSD + HDD
    I've seen this reccommended everywhere. Basically, it's just a smallish (<120GB) SSD for Windows, applications and frequently used games (I've read about moving Steam games with Juncture) to give them the SSD speed boost. For lite applications and other storage, a HDD is used (perhaps in a RAID array?). I am leaning towards this or the SRT above.

    -120GB SSD Corsair Force Series 3 : £140
    - 1Tb Western Digital Hard Drive (SATA III) : £50


    F) SSD
    Money no object? Unfortunately it is. Meh, I'll put this in just for the sake of it. Over £1/GB!!!

    - Crucial RealSSD M4 512GB : £540



    I would be really appreciative of all of your help and experience!!! Thanks

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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    I would get the following SSD:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/cruci...-write-175mb-s

    SATA 3.0 makes no real difference for a hard drive so I would get a Samsung F3 1TB:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/1tb-s...cache-89ms-ncq


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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    Since you listed gaming as your main concern the answer is simple, any 7200rpm HD. Their is little or no reason to get a SSD based on gaming alone, yes it will speed up access times in game and load maps faster but will actually make no difference once its loaded in fps.

    You can pick up a 2TB Cavlier Black for £105, were as a 120gb SSD costs around the same, once the games loaded they will both perform the same in terms of FPS. Some games do benefit from a SSD oblivion being a obvious one but their so few they don't really warrant spending the money.

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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    So does the extra 3Gb/s make no difference? Is that just raising the limit and the actual HDD doesn't actually change?

    I do actually have Oblivion and Morrowind, both of which I am intending to play soon. I do have quite a tendancy to play RPGs, so there is loading inbetween areas.

    Would there be much difference in 2x1TB HDD in RAID 0 compared to 1x2TB HDD?

    Thanks for the quick responses

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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    I installed Sins of a Solar Empire and startup and loading is extremely quick with my OCZ Vertex 60GB. Perhaps this Kingston SSD will interest you:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/246998-kingsto...s-svp100s2-96g

    It is not the fastest in the world(but neither is my OCZ Vertex) but 96GB for £83 is well under a £1/GB.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 22-08-2011 at 08:37 PM.


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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    There's another article about caching with a larger drive, retaining more data so that they're faster in apps used longer ago. You can find it here.

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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    Does anyone know if caching will work on an SSD which is partitioned?

    Take an 80GB intel drive for example, you would have windows install on half of it and use the
    other half as a cache. That seems like a reasonable way to improve all your apps and games
    Rather than a handful of your most used.

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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumagoro View Post
    Does anyone know if caching will work on an SSD which is partitioned?

    Take an 80GB intel drive for example, you would have windows install on half of it and use the
    other half as a cache. That seems like a reasonable way to improve all your apps and games
    Rather than a handful of your most used.
    The maximum it can use is 64GB anyways, so it will leave you with 16GB to spare if you use maximum. The minimum you can use is 18.6GB, and you can do the same again. From this picture, it doesn't look like it is possible.



    I'm no expert though, so don't take my word for it

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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    I was looking at this recently. I went for the SDD + HDD combo.

    SSD: 128gb Crucial m4 (£152)
    HDD: 2TB sata3 5900 rpm green thing. (£51)

    I did want to get the £80 7200pm but it was out of stock. I've also read that the 5900rpm is stilll reasonably fast and I'm only really going to be using it as storage

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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    Ooh. Just found something about RAID 0 for games:

    "a faster HDD system has a huge benefit for games like Everquest2 where you need to load a zone over and over."

    "OMG tell me about it, I went nuts while playing that game on a 7200 drive, once I upgraded to RAID0 it was like heaven....except the game is still programmed like crap since it doesn't utilize the GPU..."
    So a RAID 0 of two Samsung F3's looks pretty good. Needs no maintainence like a SSD+HDD of moving around stuff, and it's more than a cache. However I've also seen stuff like this:

    The likely hood of a single drive failing is quite low, but by being dependant on two drives, you effectiveky double the risk. RAID 0 offers very little to a gamer, because it can only help with load times, and even those are not decreased a massive amount. Its better to consider a faster single hard disk, then doubling two up in an array.
    Anandtech also had an article on it (here), and basically says RAID 0 is useless.

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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    RAID...

    RAID 0 with HDDs seems worthless to me now-a-days. The performance benefits you get are minuscule compared to when you RAID SSDs (SSDs in RAID pretty much scale linearly, it's sick), plus you have the issue of data loss....and with todays HDDs, your probably going to have a BIG array...

    RAID1 can give performance benefits....it depends on the RAID controller though. Some will split the reads between the two mirrored disks, basically giving you RAID0 read performance.

    Personally, I love RAID, especially with SSDs. Striping data across drives massively increases the life of the SSD and the performance is considerably higher then with one drive.....and with HDDs being so cheap and SSDs being so small, it's not a problem to backup your SSD RAID regularly and quickly (MS Backup and Restore is in Windows for you to use )

    Not long ago I would have said it was a no-brainer to get 2 smaller SSDs and RAID them but prices have now shifted and larger SSDs are now cheaper/GB then the smaller capacities....but I still think paying the extra and RAIDing them is worthwhile. Double the performance, double the lifespan.
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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    I've been running Raid 0 for my OS disks for a number of years. Firstly using 2xWD Raptors (36GB, then 72Gb, then 150GB, and now 300gb ones), then I've moved up to 2xM225 Crucial 128Gb drives. The effects?

    Massively improved read speeds.
    Write does not appear any different, certainly no slower.
    My Apps DEFINITELY load quicker, as does Windows 7, but I've never measured this to quantify by how much. Windows loads in 20-30 secs was a massive improvement over Vista which is when I moved from my 2x300Gb raptors to the crucial drives

    To say that Raid 0 offers no benefit is definitely untrue. As for risk, I keep all docs on a raid 5 array (4x1tb plus 1 hot spare) and back up my OS drive periodically, so I'm content. If the only drives you have are in Raid0 then you are taking a risk, but please put that in a context... When was the last time that you your OS drive fail? I've never in the 15 years I've been building.... maybe I'm just lucky? Can't even put that down to low usage as my machines are on 24/7 folding.

    If considering Raid0, be warned that SSD's do not support trim in Raid 0, so you will experience degraded performance.... When the drives become fuller. Mine's been up and running for over a year now, and I can't discern a difference.

    Just my pennies worth...
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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    TRIM should be too much longer, the spec got ratified a while ago and I am sure most vendors are beavering away on TRIM firmware releases.
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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Tattysnuc View Post
    I've been running Raid 0 for my OS disks for a number of years. Firstly using 2xWD Raptors (36GB, then 72Gb, then 150GB, and now 300gb ones), then I've moved up to 2xM225 Crucial 128Gb drives. The effects?

    Massively improved read speeds.
    Write does not appear any different, certainly no slower.
    My Apps DEFINITELY load quicker, as does Windows 7, but I've never measured this to quantify by how much. Windows loads in 20-30 secs was a massive improvement over Vista which is when I moved from my 2x300Gb raptors to the crucial drives

    To say that Raid 0 offers no benefit is definitely untrue. As for risk, I keep all docs on a raid 5 array (4x1tb plus 1 hot spare) and back up my OS drive periodically, so I'm content. If the only drives you have are in Raid0 then you are taking a risk, but please put that in a context... When was the last time that you your OS drive fail? I've never in the 15 years I've been building.... maybe I'm just lucky? Can't even put that down to low usage as my machines are on 24/7 folding.

    Hmm, that's interesting. TBH, I'm not too worried about disc failure. I've never had a HDD fail on me.

    As Wikipedia (all-knowing ) and Shaithis above says:
    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    RAID 0 is also used in some gaming systems where performance is desired and data integrity is not very important. However, real-world tests with games have shown that RAID-0 performance gains are minimal, although some desktop applications will benefit.[1][2] Another article examined these claims and concludes: "Striping does not always increase performance (in certain situations it will actually be slower than a non-RAID setup), but in most situations it will yield a significant improvement in performance." [3]
    I don't quite understand why results are so different. Some say it works brilliantly, some say it makes no difference.

    I wouldn't have enough money to have SSDs as my main storage, so having two in RAID-0 is a definite no-no...

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    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    I'd definitely go for SSD + normal hard disk.

    In my main rig I have 2 x 40gb SSDs in raid 0 and have been running them for a couple of years no problems, with a 1tb a 320gb and an external for storage.

    In my media computer I just have a 500gb hard disk at the moment running xbmc and ubuntu. Its an amd 550BE cpu so not too slow but the SSDs put the main rig into another world.

    I also run a ssd in my netbook , a 64gb kingston one and that for general usage (internet some office etc) feels much faster than my media computer, even though the media one is 3.1 ghz x 2 and the netbook is a 1.2ghz single core! (Acer AO501 netbook with an amd processor)

    I'd get an ssd any day of the week and just trying to get the money to buy one for my media pc it really does make a huge difference to the feel of the pc. The 96 gb kingston is a great deal at the moment and although its not the fastest its still so much better than a traditional drive.

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      • Crappy Sky

    Re: Performance storage on a budget

    What sizes would be best in a SSD/HDD combo? I'm looking at about an 80GB, maybe 120GB, SSD. And then a 1TB Samsung F3?

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