SkateSoft

To SSD or Not to SSD

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Hello everyone

 

What are your opinions of putting a game on both a ssd, and on a RamDisk.  I haven't done much experimentation as my DimmDrive has only been working on and off, but so far tf2 takes about 9 seconds with the RamDisk+SSD combo, and the same 9 seconds only on SSD.  This is the only game I have tested with a ssd.  I am pretty sure my DimmDrive is working though because with Counter Strike Source on my HDD it takes around 9 seconds to boot, and around 4 with the RamDisk.  So far I am thinking to only run my HDD games on the RamDisk.

 

For clarification all of these tests were timed from the second I pressed play on steam, also with the -novid launch command.

 

Opinions?

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You're going to see significant improvement, with a RamDrive over a traditional platter drive.

You're not going to see much difference between an SSD and a RamDrive; the RamDrive will be faster, but probably not noticeably so.

 

MiRai has a thread on RamDrives vs SSDs, on www.dual-boxing.com (although he uses a generic RamDrive and not one specific for gaming).

For peak performance, you'd want your game on one SSD, your operating system on a different SSD, and to have a third drive for Fraps/Recording (if you do that).

 

The automatic synchronization of DimmDrive is a very nice feature to have, that I haven't seen in any other RamDrive type things.

I also like how easy DimmDrive is to setup; it is essentially plug and play.

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I've seen improvement over my SSD(s) with Dimmdrive. I actually have two in RAID 0 for games, and even with my (apparently) relatively slow RAM I test at about 10x the IO speed of those. That's a wider margin than they have over my platter drives. The loading difference is really only noticeable in certain games, though. Honestly the saddest fact is that I pick to install to my SSD array just so they'll load into Dimmdrive faster.

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It's going to depend on your system and the game.

How much is read dependent, for the game you're playing.

A lot of games are more CPU intensive or whatever.

If the game doesn't significantly depend on reading from your hard drive it doesn't matter whether you're using an SSD, a platter drive, or DimmDrive.

 

I'm playing Everquest I, at the moment.

Reading from the disk is important when starting the game, for the initial data... It can be important any time you zone.

I have a 6-core CPU, one per instance of the game that I'm running... I have plenty of ram... and a strong video card with plenty of video ram.

The game is not close to pushing my system.

 

I'd suspect, the more modern your game, the more of an impact you'll have from faster seek/access time.

The newer games have fancier graphics, which means more information that you need to access.

Whether that is the graphics for armor and weapon models, or fancier zones.

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 tf2 takes about 9 seconds with the RamDisk+SSD combo, and the same 9 seconds only on SSD ...  Counter Strike Source on my HDD it takes around 9 seconds to boot, and around 4 with the RamDisk.  

 

You've basically answered it yourself :)

 

PCs and games are so varied in their resources, both in what is available, and what is required.  That is why the blanket statement "faster is better" will always apply.

 

As you've seen, for your particular PC setup, one game benefits a lot more than another.  A lot of PCs, mine included (and I have a beast), TF2 loads a lot faster on Dimmdrive.  There very well could be another PC out there, with slightly different configuration, where CSS is the same, but GameXYZ is a lot faster with Dimmdrive.  

 

Know what I mean?  PC's are so varied in their abilities.  Games are so varied in their requirements.  The blanket rule of faster=better will always apply.  This is probably why people race to pay 300% the price for 30% performance gains.

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Good point there.

 

If you look at the Intel processors...

They usually have one for mainstream, maybe $300.

Another for the performance segment, at around $500.

And then one for those who want the absolute best processor, at basically $1000.

 

The top end $1000 system, is usually 5-10% better than the $500 system.

You pay a premium for the top end.

 

DimmDrive (or another RamDrive, possibly to a lesser degree as its not optimized for gaming) is going to be the fastest option.

It might not be a lot faster than a gaming SSD or several in Raid0.

But you can pretty much guarantee, its not going to be slower ever.

And in a large number of cases, there are going to be significant improvements over other options.

 

Ram is basically dirt cheap at the moment.

DimmDrive is priced quite nicely.

A higher end gaming SSD, is going to cost a fair bit more than DimmDrive.

If you want one, that's definitely an option.

But especially for people on a budget... a lot of system Ram, a 64-bit OS to take advantage of that Ram, and cheaper platter drives for lots of storage... could be the way to go.

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I'm still using a normal platter drive (waiting for an SSD in black friday sales :P) and I didn't really notice a difference between loading LoL on DD and loading it on platter. Sure, the DD gives like 10 GB/s read speed, but it still took around the same time to load a game :/ I think I need to run some different games to really test it.

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To see a significant benefit, you'll need to test a game that induces thrashing in your system.

Something where your hard drive is making grinding noises, because of the constant seeking/reading.

 

If the action is mostly via the CPU or Video Card, faster read times aren't going to be of any benefit or hindrance.

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Well, I would expect to see load times decrease in any case. I put 30% of the BF4 data files onto DD and load times went from 33s to 36s on the same map (test range). Seems totally counter-intuitive but that's what happened. I'd like to try more of the files on DD, but I only have 16GB of RAM and BF4 complained if I made DD more than ~6GB.

The DD seems to work as I get ~10GB/s transfer on benchmarks, but it doesn't seem to translate into any kind of real world performance gain.

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Take a look at these 2 tests to show DD vs HD on TF2 and World of Warcraft.  These tests show load time only, but the benefit isn't just here.  The important thing is to visualize where things extend beyond just load times of the initial game.  For example, take a huge zoned in area in Skyrim or Bioshock.  The benefits you get will vary LARGELY on 3 things:  Your PC specs,  The game you play,  How you test.  On the test part, a lot of people forget about Windows Superfetch which can skewer results.  For example, if you load TF2 a bunch of times, Windows "learns" and can predict certain behavior by pre-loading that game before you start it.  

 

The general rule of thumb that has applied to PC Gaming for ever and ever:  Faster is better.   How much better, of course, depends on your specs/game, but regardless considering the alternative, faster is always better.

 

For example, you might put 4x of these in a RAID array for 8,000MB/s:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA2E11482941

 

Sure, it'll cost you about $40,000.  If you did that, then even though your ramdisk might be a little faster, you might not know the difference at all.  While this is of course an extreme case, it highlights that PC Specs, as well as game, plays a hefty role on what exactly "better" means and to what degree.

 

That is exactly what Dimmdrive brings to the table.  It gives you the capability of having INSANE speeds.  How you use those speeds is entirely up to your desire :)

 

 

 

 

All my steam games are on my normal HD, which is a good test, especially since SSD speeds vary so much.  I fully expect to do more comparisons in the future, so stay tuned :)

 

Actually, if you guys have any suggestions, let me know on what to test.

 

I'll be getting BF4/Origin soon so that is on the list!

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So to fully test without SuperFetch, would I need to restart pc between each test? Or fully disable SuperFetch?

Here's something though, if SuperFetch brings my load time from HDD to 33 seconds and RAMDisk takes 36 seconds, then it's doing quite a good job. I suppose DD just gives more control over what's going in there.

I'm going to try running Chrome, and some other stuff I've noticed using my hard drive, on DD tomorrow and see how they perform.

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If the game uses lots of RAM and you limited it's RAM use by creating a big DD, that'd explain how your load time increase (one case where "faster is better" doesn't apply as it actually hurt your load times).

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I'm still using a normal platter drive (waiting for an SSD in black friday sales :P) and I didn't really notice a difference between loading LoL on DD and loading it on platter. Sure, the DD gives like 10 GB/s read speed, but it still took around the same time to load a game :/ I think I need to run some different games to really test it.

League load times are bottlenecked by the slowest person, but in game i definitly notice a difference. League will sometimes suffer from FPS drop when A LOT is happening, since i started running it off dimmdrive its less frequent and a lot less drop :P

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League load times are bottlenecked by the slowest person, but in game i definitly notice a difference. League will sometimes suffer from FPS drop when A LOT is happening, since i started running it off dimmdrive its less frequent and a lot less drop :P

 

You can still see individual load times, though it is totally pointless to speed it up seeing as you need to wait for everyone anyway.

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I'd open your Performance Monitor (Control + Shift + Escape), Performance Tab, then Resource Monitor.

See how much RAM your system is actually using, for whatever game your playing.

Be sure to have everything open that you normally do, when you play (iTunes, web browser, etc)... so the numbers are accurate.

 

Once you know how much you need to have available, consider giving windows 1-2GB of extra ram for whatever... as a buffer.

 

Anything left over, is available for your RamDrive.

 

 

 

If you wanted to compare straight Hard Drive vs DimmDrive, disabling prefetch is an option.

For most of us, it's the end result that matters.

 

Since you'd be using, and benefiting from, Pre-Fetch while using your mechanical drive, I'd assume you would want that to act normally.

That way you can get an empirical measurement of the gains, or just note that it feels faster/slower/about the same.

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If you plan on playing a game, you need to leave more than 1-2GB. Last night I was on 4/16GB used, made a 8GB drive to put some BF4 files on (now we're at 12/16GB), started up BF4...

It shouted at me for not having enough RAM. I left it 4 full GB when the requirement is only 4GB (and this 4GB has to hold all background programs and stuff that was already taken care of for me).

 

So the trouble with this is that even though you have files on RAM already, the game will still probably want to copy them on there itself. I might be totally wrong there but that's what BF4 seemed to be up to.

 

I've been testing with prefetch on, just because it's going to be on for the rest of the time anyway so the tests wouldn't really be relevant without it.

 

I've posted a few benchmarks I ran over on the reddit page http://www.reddit.com/r/DimmDrive/comments/1rb3uv/benchmark_megathread/

It's really surprising how well Chrome reacts to being on RAM. Massively more responsive. For me, this is a way better use for DD than BF4 or LoL since it's getting a huge performance boost and (I'm guessing) reducing calls to the hard drive from chrome thus letting games and other programs run better :)

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