TSullivan

How big of an impact do you see running Steam off an SSD?

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Now say you are a gamer who doesn't care how fast his/her computer turns on, or anything except gaming performance.

If you had the choice between 40GB boot drive holding the OS and a standard 7200RPM hard drive holding your Steam folder OR Steam folder on SSD and OS on HDD, which method would work best in practice? Really curious about this since some games might interact with system files more than others just loading stuff into RAM and being done with it.

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I have a *similar* configuration in principle, though not actually involving an SSD.

What I have is my OS on a 2-drive HDD RAID-1 array (treat this as 1 HDD if you wish) and my Steam folder on a seperate, 3-drive HDD RAID-0 array. I find the difference to be tremendous, not because of the seperate RAID array but because it's not on my system drive.

The biggest hate I have is my system drive (RAID1) wants to rebuild itself everytime the machine is not cleanly shut-down, meaning it'll thrash for an hour or two after a restart during which time it'll take 20 minutes to launch a Steam game. Running Steam from the second array while the system drive is thrashing works at full speed, suggesting launching Steam games barely touches standard system files, if at all. Certainly, a horribly slow system drive doesn't slow down game loading and running when said Steam folder is on a second drive.

I would say then, in practice, game files don't interact with system files any appreciable amount and you'd get full benefit from a second drive (or SSD) for running your games from.

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Very interesting... also kind of goes against what most people think right now with the "install OS on 40GB SSD and everything else on HDD" idea that is floating around right now.

I have never been into timing game load times because a lot ends up getting cached (looked into this before we brought out our redesigned traces) but if I could get some repeatable numbers it would make for some interesting content to say the least.

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Bunch of old Hitachis - T7K500 250GB. They used to be in my storage server but they got too small so I cascaded them onto general desktop use.

They're not hugely fast, but it's really the extra set of spindles that makes the difference. In this scenario, the gaming array is about 10x faster than the system drive, because the system drive is generally stuck rebuilding but regardless the scale of the difference makes it a similar scenario to an SSD next to a HDD. Can't give concrete numbers but it's an order of magnitude difference. Principle remains - Steam game loads will take advantage of a faster drive, and having a slower OS drive doesn't slow it down.

After the first game load, yeah it is mostly cached - though only if you have enough RAM. I do notice a huge difference between cached and uncached loads, for one particular game it'll load in 10 seconds if I have >1.5GB RAM free, otherwise it'll thrash at the disk for a minute or so. I think it'd be quite interesting to see as not everyone has enough RAM free for all games to be properly cached, and when they don't, then disk speeds make a whole lot more difference.

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I'm not deliberately mean, it's simply that the only time my computer ever gets restarted is following a crash or power cut, hence almost every shutdown is an unclean shutdown and results in a rebuild at startup...

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I usually go os on ssd + everything else on HD's because I have alot of crap. Right now my desktop has a 60Gb ssd boot drive, 750GB documents/programs hd, 750GB Steam Drive, and 2x160GB Media Drives. Even Though my desktop is basically only used for games, I hate waiting for win7 to load. HateHateHate. Much rather have a fast os + slow(er) games.

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See, I'm quite the opposite. I only load Windows once a week or two, whereas I load up games several times a day... Still, waiting for the day SSDs big enough to not require a HDD in the same system are affordable..

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Awww, you had to put the affordable qualifier in there ;)

We're about to see a whole slew of notebooks released with boot SSDs. I love that idea, wonder how many consumers are going to pay for the upgrade.

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I probably wouldn't, as I'll be picking and buying my own SSD to put into any new laptop I get anyway. But the majority of the average consumers I deal with would probably be quite happy with 80-120GB of space on their system drive. Personally I'll be getting an optical bay adapter to fit a HDD into my laptop in addition to the SSD in the main bay.

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Thats what I'm doing in my T400, 60gb agility + 500GB Scorpio Blu. Works decently well, esp with win7's libraries I added one for downloads and have all my libraries set to use the ultrabay as the main spot, with the exception of documents which uses the sd card.

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The only thing i have on my Intel x25-m 80 gig drive besides windows 7 and office, is World of Warcraft.

And im never ever going back to running it on a harddrive. Zoning around the places takes 3-4 seconds compared to 30-60 seconds on a harddrive!

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So, on a system with gobs of RAM (say 12 - 16 GB), will Windows 7 generally cache (prefetch / superfetch / whatever) most game files after bootup, for whatever game you're playing most at the moment? After loading all the other stuff like browser, office apps and email client that you use even more often than you game, assuming there's still RAM free?

If you have huge amounts of RAM, does that reduce the benefit of an SSD for launching games, at least once bootup and all the prefetching is done? You can get 4x 4GB of RAM for about the same price as a ~128 GB SSD. Ignoring boot times & security scans, is it worth it for gaming?

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Well I couldn't answer that right at this moment, but we just got the bulk of our next-gen equipment in today. Still remaining are some cables, graphics cards, and a motherboard... but once those are in we will have 24GB of DDR3 to play with between our systems.

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Don't forget that the version of Windows 7 that most people are using can only handle 16GB RAM from what I understand.

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