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For gaming: Single SSD, raid 0 SSD, or PCIe SSD?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
There's surprisingly little information on this topic, and most of it dates from over a year ago so I have to consider it to be outdated. Even then, I can't say that I ever identified a solidly conclusive opinion on the matter.

The trend seems to be that raid 0 and PCIe solutions are faster in most measurements and a bit slower in some. What I'm interested in is gaming. Specifically any areas which traditionally have a perpetual impact on the gaming experience. By that I do not (necessarily) mean pre-action load times but I definitely mean scenarios where things need regular loading off the drive while playing, such as large game worlds that obviously cannot be fully maintained in ram at all times. In the latter case, of course, the gaming experience is at risk of video hiccups while the game engine waits for resources; the impact of instances like this are what I specifically desire to minimize. (I'm not concerned with just how little the improvement would likely be; since this is the only reason for me to consider anything at all beyond the SSD I already own, I will take any improvement.)

A secondary consideration is how Windows itself would function between the three SSD varieties, specifically with regard to how it would affect gaming.
post #2 of 8
I haven't seen a review talking about this in a while. I know when I switched from a HDD to SSD for Arma 2 it made a big difference when flying around in helicopters. However now I don't get frame drops at all and the distance is loading in well before I can see it so there just isn't a problem anymore.

To some extent the problem in Watchdogs may well be related to the fact that a modern SSD can't load the assets fast enough while you are driving around, the highest settings simply exceed the bandwidth available although I haven't tried to see if that is the case (its speculation).

But I think the reason no one is really doing reviews on this is there isn't a lot to see. Most of the SSD reviews show pretty minimal differences in game loading and I haven't seen much in the way of confirmed games that show problems during gameplay, certainly not ones where you require a PCI-E SSD or raid0 SSDs. People aren't even really complaining that their HDD is an issue and a lot of gamers still run games off of them because the space is cheaper and games are pretty big.

I might be something there in one or two games, and I seem to recall maybe alienbabeltech (it was one of the lesser known sites and over 6 months ago) upgraded their rig to an SSD and compared to a HDD and found a few fps downward spikes disappeared with the SSD and come to the conclusion that in that game they needed to use an SSD for a fair comparison but it wasn't across all the games.
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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
It's a funny thing. I was just looking for a pretty basic answer. I feel like I've gotten resistance to the entire idea of comparing these three solutions. At least I have been able to determine that raid 0 is not the way to go. PCIe vs SATA is less clear; the only direct response I've gotten has basically said it (PCIe) is overkill. Since the price difference is actually not insurmountable even by the humble standards of non-enterprise users, this strikes me as curious. Is it or isn't it better for gaming? Obviously the bandwidth is way better, and there would definitely be scenarios where that would be useful - perhaps even while playing, depending on how the game was put together.
post #4 of 8
What makes you think a PCI-E SSD would help in games? What problem are you seeing the an SSD where it appears that is the bottleneck?

I only ask because when I look at most game loading its CPU dominated. In game I have no issues with drive IO causing stutters or dropping my frame rate, and I run pretty entry level SSDs. I literally can't tell the difference between my 2 SSDs in anything and yet one is considerably newer and faster than the other. That is most likely because the SSD isn't the bottleneck.

I am definitely not against someone doing such a review, I would love to see if there is anything there. But I haven't personally seen any smoke so I don't believe there is a fire (if you catch my drift).
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post #5 of 8
Basically you either want a nice fast sata ssd, or wait for new native pci-e ssd's which support NVMe and avoid the bottleneck of AHCI protocols.. And even then for games these aren't really needed. Personally i'd just get a 512GB or 1TB Samsung 850 Pro if I was looking to splurge on a really good ssd for games.

Here's a relevant chart for you: Anandtech Bench Results - Light Workload 2011 - Disk Busy Time

Some notes: Alot of decent ssd's from the last 3-4yrs come in at around 130-150 seconds, 850 PRO, 840 PRo, 840 EVO around 113-120 seconds... Intel SSD DC P3700 1.6TB (pci-e 3.0 x4 with NVMe) took 54 seconds.

For an explanation of NVMe, see Anandtech's Intel SSD DC P3700 Review: The PCIe SSD Transition Begins with NVMe
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post #6 of 8
For gaming a single SSD would be fine if not a little over qualified for the task.

SSDs will cut loading times for large games EG BF3/BF4 and for open world games such as Skyrim. Fast storage is most noticeable when running heavily modified Skyrim and other than that it might not entirely be $100 well spent IMO.

For a single SSD look into the ~240GB capacity range, these are currently the cheapest for $/GB. The MX100 is $113 at the egg. I'd recommend you see how you get on with that at first and if you want more performance and its worth another $113; buy a second and put them in raid 0. Also if you don't think you'll fill the drive you can go with a 128GB ssd for about $65 (OCZ Arc 100).

A RAID 0 array for gaming is IMO excessive, this will only increase sequential performance, and whether its worth it depends on the games you play, the best case scenario for the array would be heavily modified Skyrim and outside of that situation its not worth it compared to a single drive.

With RAID 0 inherently there is the added risk of data loss, but this won't be a problem as the games can be downloaded again via Steam and the array will also introduce added complexity, this will increase boot times as the array has to initialize. If you are going to put ~$220 towards storage this money would be better spent towards a GPU.

PCIe SSDs really shouldn't be considered for this neither should NVMe drives, they're really expensive atm. Just as a note the NVMe drive to get should be the Samsung SM951, that is if it ever enters retail channels, with the Macbook refresh announced last week they could pop up on eBay by the new year?

While reading your post again I just wanted to mention a few things: it will not be worth going from one ssd to another. Discrepancies between performance with SSDs are minute, that is if we're talking about comparing relatively new SSDS to one another (lets say from 2011). Windows will not have a problem with three different makes and models of drives. The only problem similar to this would be if you tried to create a raid array of different drives.
Edited by vpex - 10/20/14 at 10:04am
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightCandle View Post

What makes you think a PCI-E SSD would help in games? What problem are you seeing the an SSD where it appears that is the bottleneck?
I think what I'm after here is a best-case scenario with no relevant compromises. In this case that means no compromise on 4k random reads or latency, while maximizing other aspects such as bandwidth. I have a suspicion that a PCIe solution would not in fact compromise 4k random reads, vs. a single SATA, and would actually improve latency. The gains involved would, as you suggest, perhaps prove difficult to identify in a blind A/B comparison but they would be real and would at least in some small way improve the experience. Or perhaps the gains would actually be quite tactile and it would depend on the sensitivity of the user as to whether they were perceptible enough to matter. For example, obviously there are a lot of people out there - hardcore gamers, in fact - who are not sensitive to the phenomenon of microstuttering (which I actually have identified as two separate issues), or else nobody would be using Crossfire or SLI. I personally cannot stand it, so until the day comes when GPU handshaking is 100% solid, I will stick with a single GPU.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeritronX View Post

Basically you either want a nice fast sata ssd, or wait for new native pci-e ssd's which support NVMe and avoid the bottleneck of AHCI protocols..
That development has me rethinking matters somewhat, but the prices being thrown around are not aimed at normal users. I won't be throwing down more than $300 on a new SSD, let alone $600-1200. It looks like it'll take a year or two for that technology to stop being targeted exclusively at so-called enterprise users.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeritronX View Post

Personally i'd just get a 512GB or 1TB Samsung 850 Pro if I was looking to splurge on a really good ssd for games.
According to an article I perused, the 256GB seemed to perform the best out of the latest models in the tests that matter, which sounds good to me. What worries me, of course, is the fact that Samsung now has a history of issues with their drives, and even a little bit of "nothing to see here" attitude (re: the non-EVO 840), which is unpromising.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeritronX View Post

Here's a relevant chart for you: Anandtech Bench Results - Light Workload 2011 - Disk Busy Time
Quite informative. It's a shame they didn't test latency while they had access to all those drives. Still, it does increase my interest in the likes of that 256GB XP941; the price is only 30% higher than the 850. Hardly a dealbreaker.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vpex View Post

Fast storage is most noticeable when running heavily modified Skyrim and other than that it might not entirely be $100 well spent IMO.
That's actually sort of the target application: A heavily-modified Skyrim. Heck, I've written my own mods for it. Skyrim with heavy mods pushes the envelope probably more than any other gaming scenario, and better load times / latency gets more and more important.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vpex View Post

For a single SSD look into the ~240GB capacity range, these are currently the cheapest for $/GB. The MX100 is $113 at the egg. I'd recommend you see how you get on with that at first and if you want more performance and its worth another $113; buy a second and put them in raid 0. Also if you don't think you'll fill the drive you can go with a 128GB ssd for about $65 (OCZ Arc 100).
The 256GB 850 Pro seems to be the one to get as long as there aren't any curious little flaws with it. The MX100 apparently has longstanding problems being detected upon boot, with no fix hinted at. I've actually been using an old 120GB 830 so I am familiar with the performance and the areas where it still lacks a bit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vpex View Post

A RAID 0 array for gaming is IMO excessive, this will only increase sequential performance, and whether its worth it depends on the games you play, the best case scenario for the array would be heavily modified Skyrim and outside of that situation its not worth it compared to a single drive.
I had determined that a raid 0 solution increases latency measurably, so it's off the table.
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asterra View Post


The 256GB 850 Pro seems to be the one to get as long as there aren't any curious little flaws with it.

today 850pro no doubt.
Flaws can happen, the crucial M4 I use had a 5000hour bug and I updated FW 4 times without any issues with the flash etc..
can the 850 pro have some bug maybe but it uses the same controller as the 840 pro so that seems unlikely.
overall performance, the 850pro would be more consistent.
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