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Will encrypting my drives affect performance of steam games?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I was planning on encrypting my drives with trucrypt but I've never done it with steam before.
Will that be a problem or not really?
post #2 of 19
Shouldn't be an issue. smile.gif
post #3 of 19
Here is part of article about that I found
Quote:
For me the critical question was what kind of overhead does encrypting your hard drive have on the performance of the system as a whole. To try and measure this I used HDTune to measure drive performance before and after encryption with TrueCrypt. Before encryption I saw an average transfer rate of about 47MB/s with my laptop's SATA drive in AHCI mode. Max was about 59.9MB/s and a burst rate of 85.8MB/s with an average CPU usage of 4.1% throughout the test.HD Performance before Truecrypt

After encryption I saw an average transfer rate of 46.9MB/s, peak of 59.7 MB/s, burst of 62.9MB/s and an average CPU usage of 26.7%. I didn't expect it, but that's where I saw my hit. It makes sense when you think about it - the encryption/decryption of the data generally doesn't result in reading/writing significantly more data (encryption and decryption is done at the block or sector level not at the entire file level) so you don't see substantially reduced disk performance.

More info

What is the Performance Impact of System Encryption With TrueCrypt
post #4 of 19
Well full disk encryption obviously will slow down the hard drives little but you shouldn't see any gaming performance drops.
post #5 of 19
I would expect to see a fair amount of CPU usage, which is what handles pretty much all encryption/decryption/encoding/decoding/etc.

The overhead may be so little as to be insignificant, or it may be quite a lot, I honestly don't know.

However, consider this....
When you are loading a game (level), it is not loading everything, just what is necessary and can't be done during play. The majority of games, you are CONSTANTLY loading and unloading textures to and from memory (it goes from storage drive to system memory to video memory), as well as other assets. It is this which causes "hitching" or stuttering in a lot of games (running out of space in both video and system memory, thus having to load the texture data from disk, and is also why you can find benchmarks that show an SSD providing 5-10x higher minimum framerates than an HDD due to the thousands of times faster access time, but it is something that is very unlikely to happen in real-world use provided you don't have an inflated concept of your system's capabilities).


The effects of drive encryption quite likely depend upon the type of game, and even the specific game, you are playing.
Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, and Metro LL for example are extremely GPU dependant and thus limited, so playing at 1080p or 1440p, and especially with SSAA/MSAA turned on (FXAA/SMAA are processed in a completely different manner), unless you have 3-4 Titans, 780Ti/780's, 290X/290's, 680/670's or similar, you will very likely never find yourself lacking in CPU grunt provided you have a good processor (high clocked 920-980, 2500-2700, 3570-3770, 4560-4770, 3930/3960/3970/4930/4960, and such; Phenom II 960/970/980, 1065/1085/1100T, and the low-IPC pseudo-8-core 8150/8350 clocked to 5ish MAY be adequate although my experience with the 8350 on a Crosshair V with Samsung @ DDR3-2280 9-10-10/Trident X 2400c9 @ 2448 9-9-11/Mushkin @ 2024 8-9-7, pushing the CPU as high as 5.4Ghz using chilled water, I found that the BD/PD flagship deals very poorly with multiple GPU's especially more than 2, tested with 680Ltg's/7970Ltg's/580 Classy Ultra 3GB/7990's, but sold before I acquired both 780Ti Classy).

However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, games which are heavily CPU dependant and thus limited, such as Civ5, WoW, TESV, SC2, and most other RTS and MMO games, will likely show themmost significant difference in performance.


I am making a semi-educated guess, but I would expect that you would see little or no impact on performance in situations where you now see a good constant framerates. What will likely happen, though, is that the times where the frames DO drop, or where you do experience choppy or stuttery frames, they will be impacted the most.

Short version: you will likely experience significant degradation in performance in the scenarios where you already see performance dips or where you are accessing disk storage for texture/etc loading. The more CPU dependant the game, the greater the negative impact.

You can LIKELY reduce said negative effects by doing one, or more, of the following:
- Increase existing CPU clock speed (SB/IVB/HW/SB-E/IVB-E should aim for 4.5-5)
- Upgrade to a newer, faster, and/or greater-core-count processor
- Upgrade memory capacity (8GB absolutely minimum, 16GB ideal)
- Increase memory speed and improve timings (2133 9-11-10 1T was the best all around for SB-E, and 2400 9-11-11 for IVB, in my testing, for off the shelf speeds; overclocked, 2548 9-12-10-26 1T for SB-E and 2816 11-11-12-25 1T for IVB)
- Increase disk transfer speed (WD10EZEX 1TB best overall, 1TB Raptor if you have money)
- Decrease disk access times (faster RPM drive ie 10/15k, or short stroking)
- RAID0 with or without short-stroking (2+ WD10EZEX or VR, 200-500GB short-stroke each disk; 350-400MBs and as low as 5-8ms access)
- SSD for games (biggest improvement for storage subsystem)
- Keep pagefile on SSD (improve the speed of textures loaded into virtual memory)
- Overclock Video Card Memory (GK104/110 = 7000-8000 effective, less for AMD)
   
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post #6 of 19
Depends on what you're encrypting and the type of encryption you use. HDD with AES, the i5-760 will most likely greatly outpace the performance of the HDD so just a very slight performance degradation there. A SATA3 SSD? You might see sequentials dip down into the 200-300MB range. As long as the game is GPU limited though, you shouldn't have an issue.

Mind, TRIM would obviously not work with SSD's if you encrypt via TrueCrypt so I'd overprovision the SSD if I were you.

Newer processors support hardware acceleration of AES. I'd go that route if you're open to upgrading.
Edited by rui-no-onna - 4/19/14 at 9:22pm
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post #7 of 19
It'll affect performance for games that require data from the drive while playing, like RPG games that load the environment for new areas you enter.

Except for CPUs with AES instruction set.
post #8 of 19
Truecrypt has a built in benchmark and will use hardware accelerated AES if your CPU supports it.

On my 2700k it rated the hardware acceleration above 550 MB/second so it won't be a problem except on the very fastest of drives. If your CPU doesn't support AES acceleration, the built in benchmark will tell you what speeds you can expect with software encryption.
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post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gsa700 View Post

Truecrypt has a built in benchmark and will use hardware accelerated AES if your CPU supports it.

Remember, the benchmark tests at 100% CPU. If you're getting just 200 MB/s max on the benchmarks, that means assuming linear scaling, if your CPU load on a game is already 90%, you can only get 20 MB/s while playing.
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post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by rui-no-onna View Post

Remember, the benchmark tests at 100% CPU. If you're getting just 200 MB/s max on the benchmarks, that means assuming linear scaling, if your CPU load on a game is already 90%, you can only get 20 MB/s while playing.

I'm not 100% but I don't think that is correct. I am under the impression that since the CPU has dedicated hardware support, that it would be able to use both the AES and the x86 at the same time.

Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can chime in.....
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