How Much Does Hard Drive Speed Matter?

Discussion in 'General Technical Support' started by Nihil, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. i've done most of the tweaks i've read and i'm still peaking at 33 FPS. i've maxed out RAM. Replace the GPU in my laptop would cost almost as much as a new desktop and get rather little benefit (even the best it can take is two generations behind).

    Someone suggested going to an SSD would help by decreasing load time for objects. How much does hard drive speed affect frame rate? Have you experienced an improvement in performance after going to a faster drive?

    VVT

    or V1 for you n00bs.
  2. It will not help you get better fps (luckily 1 or 2 more fps) but it will help alot with loading screens etc.
    I have played on my friends computer who doesn't have a SSD(he has 7200rpm hard drive) and the loading times are horrible... I have a SSD.
    • Up x 1
  3. Hard drive speed will not affect frame rate. What it will affect is resource loading into memory. If your game ever "hitches" or skips a little then suddenly runs smooth again that is the hard drive loading assets into memory. Other wise called Hard Drive Seek. You can usually hear the hard drive wind up when this happens.

    The game runs from memory, not directly from the hard drive.
    So if you use all of your memory the game will move some of the resources to the Page-File which is on the Hard Drive and load the new resources into memory. This will just cause your game to again hitch or skip until the load finishes.

    An SSD can be useful here if you put the Page-File onto the SSD. As it is tremendously faster it will significantly decrease the "seek" time, to almost 0, and resource loading will no longer show a noticeable affect.

    Another setting you can look into Now is if your Hard Drive has a power state setting, allowing it to stop spinning when not in use. This is good for Laptop power saving but bad for active games, as now you have to wait til the drive spins back up before loading. Setting Windows into High Performance Power mode in Power Management settings should prevent the hard drive from "sleeping".
  4. In terms of direct performance, not really much at all. You're looking at 1-2 fps less if you have a 5400RPM drive versus an SSD or good RAID array.

    Loading times will be different. The game loads in 8.5 seconds off of my SSD versus 10-11 seconds off of the 2x1TB Raid 0 array that I used before. On a single decent 7200RPM drive, you're looking at maybe 13-16 seconds load time. Not a major deal.

    Your problem is going to be the other specs of your laptop. Speaking of which, what are they?

    This will also increase writes to your limited-write-lifetime SSD, which is generally not recommended. The best practice is to simply have enough RAM that you don't need to go into page file. RAM isn't that expensive either.
  5. Assuming your plan is to add an SSD to run games vs reloading the OS using the SSD as a boot drive:

    Although it will not help your fps, it will greatly reduce the time you wait for all those operations that require hard disk access (loading maps, for example, or launching the game). Then multiply this by every time thereafter you will use the drive for access. It adds up to a lot, quickly.

    And it's not a little difference, SSDs absolutely destroy platter hard drives and since you can get them now often @ less than a buck per Gb, its wholly worth your dollars. I often see good SSDs @ 120Gb going for $80-$90. Just find a reputable make/model based on peer/customer reviews and if your motherboard has SATA III 6Gb ports, buy an SSD of the same nomenclature, and be sure to use a 6Gb p/s cable or you'll be stuck at SATA II speeds (still respectable, so not a deal breaker). Attaching a SATA III drive to a SATA III port is not enough, you MUST use an equally rated cable as well to keep SATA III speeds. Check to see if one came with your motherboard (they normally do if you buy a mobo with SATA III ports) or with the drive. All you need is one.

    Also check to see if your case will naturally allow install of a 2.5 inch drive. If it does, you're golden. If not, you will need a 2.5 inch adapter to hold the drive, which itself will then install to a 3.5 inch bay. Some allow 5.25 bay installs but you get the idea. The newer the case model/revision, the more likely it will grace you with a bay that natively takes SSDs. If not, you will need an adapter. Some come with SSDs, so check.

    Overall, a faster hard drive like an SSD is a performance issue, but not one that deals with fps. FPS is mostly dictated by GPU, and in some cases, CPU as well. This varies. But a fast subsystem including your hard drive does have a large impact in the overall performance of your system and should never be ignored in lieu of a faster GPU.

    I run a Muskhin Enhanced Chronos 240GB as my Windows boot drive, and a 90GB Corsair Force Series 3 as my games drive, if that helps at all. My platter 750Gb drive has been demoted to media storage or running apps I don't care about performance-wise.

    If you want to boot Windows with an SSD, that's a little different ball of wax but if you plan on doing that I can help if you need it.

    If hardrives are lollipops, then SSDs are a Marie Calendar's Banana Cream Pie. And I like pie.
  6. SSD life is a non-issue for regular consumers. Instead of 30 years it might last 28 years setup for OS and Page-File use.
    Yes, the more memory your system has the less time it will need to access the Page-File.

    As for cables. SATA cables are exactly the same. A SATA, SATAII, and SATA6 cable all provide the same bandwidth. The only benefit to an expensive cable over a $1.50 one is length. If you decide you need 15 ft of SATA cable length the expensive ones are a little better.
  7. Yes, this is no longer a concern for current-gen SSD's, certainly no more so than the chance of mechanical failure on a 5 year old conventional drive.
  8. wtf ?

    Same influence as the color of your mousepad.
    How it can anything change except loading times ?
  9. SATA = 1.5Gb/s, SATA II = 3Gb/s, SATA III = 6Gb/s.
    SSDs have write and read speeds that are over 200MB/s...
  10. Quite a lot actually - Your CPU and GPU still have to wait for your harddrive to catch up constantly. It is the number one bottleneck in a modern gaming computer. Upgrading to an SSD will often reduce a lot of "microstutter" as I personally like to call it. It won't boost your MAX FPS, but you'll notice that your minimum FPS is a lot more smooth and that models update faster.
  11. The cables are still the same...

    And Gb != GB. Your run of the mill SATA3 SSD will get you around 4-500MBps at most.
    • Up x 1
  12. Well.. atleast I learned something new :)
  13. Hydragarium covered it, but further reading and a benchmark as full proof if you're interested: http://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/SATA-cables-Is-there-a-difference-97

    Just don't use ultra-cheap terrible cables and it doesn't matter.

    I agree, my main point as you concurred with was that the elimination of page file use is a superior option. I wouldn't say 30 years, but the point is it will live more than long enough that you would be upgrading it anyway.

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