Still an advantage to installing game files on separate drive from system drive with SSD?

Robert P

Member
I'd been going with the strategy of installing game files - talking games like Battlefield, not solitaire - on a separate HDD from the main drive so the one drive didn't have to do all the work.

Is this still valid when running SSD's? Still better to distribute the workload between the drives instead of making one do all the work?

Running a Core2 Quad 9550, Windows 7, 8 gigs ram.
 

johnb35

Administrator
Staff member
Most FPS games require a decent amount of hard drive space. You really wouldn't want to install to SSD unless it would make the game go faster but then you may be forced to get a bigger SSD as you will run out of space pretty quickly if you only use say a 250gb SSD like I do.
 

Robert P

Member
Most FPS games require a decent amount of hard drive space. You really wouldn't want to install to SSD unless it would make the game go faster but then you may be forced to get a bigger SSD as you will run out of space pretty quickly if you only use say a 250gb SSD like I do.
I currently have five titles that take up about 213 gigs total on a 512 gig SanDisk SSD. My system drive is a 240 gig SanDisk SSD. So yes for the number of titles I need the disk space but I was wondering if it gains you performance to put them on separate drives.
 
I currently have five titles that take up about 213 gigs total on a 512 gig SanDisk SSD. My system drive is a 240 gig SanDisk SSD. So yes for the number of titles I need the disk space but I was wondering if it gains you performance to put them on separate drives.
The only benefit is if one drive is near full capacity
I have both an nvme and a sata ssd, there's no improvement in performance having a game installed on one verses the other
However, that conversation changes if one drive is nearly "full"-The general rule of thumb I follow is that an ssd should have at least 25% free space otherwise performance will degrade
 

Robert P

Member
The only benefit is if one drive is near full capacity
I have both an nvme and a sata ssd, there's no improvement in performance having a game installed on one verses the other
However, that conversation changes if one drive is nearly "full"-The general rule of thumb I follow is that an ssd should have at least 25% free space otherwise performance will degrade
Why is that?
 

beers

Moderator
Staff member
Either or, it's just data volume. If faster access to you is worthwhile then adding more SSD storage to put your games on is a decent play.

Otherwise if you don't notice much of a difference then you might as well place bulk storage like that on your rotational drive.
 

OmniDyne

Active Member
Games may benefit greatly from being installed on a separate drive from the OS drive; usually it doesn't matter if it's an SSD or hard disk. Some games see a massive improvement in boot times from being on a separate hard disk or SSD.

That said, the new WoW expansion requires an SSD, and the newer game consoles will require an SSD. This is because games and the consoles are being designed to take direct, full advantage of an SSD. Something to keep in mind, as this trend will become permanent.

Currently, however, most games see little to no benefit.

The only benefit is if one drive is near full capacity
I have both an nvme and a sata ssd, there's no improvement in performance having a game installed on one verses the other
However, that conversation changes if one drive is nearly "full"-The general rule of thumb I follow is that an ssd should have at least 25% free space otherwise performance will degrade
I'm just going to throw a broad "false" on your entire post.

Some games benefit greatly from an SSD; some titles now require them.

As for performance degradation at 85% capacity or above: that's any drive, spinning or solid. Would you realize you're utilizing an SSD filled to the brim while gaming? Doubt it.
 
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1: Games may benefit greatly from being installed on a separate drive from the OS drive; usually it doesn't matter if it's an SSD or hard disk. Some games see a massive improvement in boot times from being on a separate hard disk or SSD.

That said, the new WoW expansion requires an SSD, and the newer game consoles will require an SSD. This is because games and the consoles are being designed to take direct, full advantage of an SSD. Something to keep in mind, as this trend will become permanent.

Currently, however, most games see little to no benefit.



2: I'm just going to throw a broad "false" on your entire post.

Some games benefit greatly from an SSD; some titles now require them.

As for performance degradation at 85% capacity or above: that's any drive, spinning or solid. Would you realize you're utilizing an SSD filled to the brim while gaming? Doubt it.
1: Can you provide us with a reliable source for that statement?? Or is that a personal opinion..

Since most SSDs today are fast, and so is the "channel" it communicates through, I would say there are NO noticeable difference, so you could do either way.. But the question was if there is a benefit from installing to a second drive.. If you can not notice a difference, then the answer would be NO!

But that is my opinion, Feel free to tell me yours...

2: It has been known for long that SSDs need some "left over-space" to operate at best.. Has that fact changed?
 

Cromewell

Administrator
Staff member

strollin

Well-Known Member
I'm not a gamer so my opinion is from a different perspective. When SSDs first appeared on the scene they were expensive so it made sense to only have a small SSD, just large enough for the OS. Everything else got installed on an HDD.

However, in the current market, SSDs are very competitively priced so it's not that big of a deal to get a larger SSD and install everything on the SSD and only use the HDD for data storage. My personal system currently has a 500GB SSD and I have the OS and all installed programs on it.

Another factor in my perspective in regards to the affordability of a larger SSD stems from the fact that I paid $500 for my first 20MB HDD back in 1985 ($25 per MEGAbyte) so paying $100 for an SSD (at around $0.30 per GIGAbyte) seems very reasonable to me.
 
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beers

Moderator
Staff member
I remember dropping $250 on a 128G Crucial C300 in like 2010.

I'm glad that gets you like 2TB these days.
 
I'm just going to throw a broad "false" on your entire post.

Some games benefit greatly from an SSD; some titles now require them.

As for performance degradation at 85% capacity or above: that's any drive, spinning or solid. Would you realize you're utilizing an SSD filled to the brim while gaming? Doubt it.
I do not understand the context of your post, no one is (and I never was) debating the benefits of an SSD itself
OP was asking about a performance benefit of putting them on separate drives, if he is already running them on SSDs then there would only see a benefit if one is at capacity which is true since an SSD filled to near capacity will suffer performance loss
If it is not near capacity then there is literally no benefit
EDIT: Bolded text
 

OmniDyne

Active Member
Can you provide us with a reliable source for that statement?? Or is that a personal opinion..
I've tested Clausewitz-engine games (as you list) on my SSDs and found that load times work on a strange principle. Namely, you want the game on a separate drive from the OS, but it doesn't much matter what kind of drive. Has to do with the preparation of small files off the OS drive (Users folder). Having a faster OS drive can improve the load time but having the game on that same drive will increase load times. Yes, I've tested this. I had it load as fast on a HDD (yes, mechanical) as NVMe - the speed is limited by the OS files, and moreover having the game on the OS drive made is slower than a HDD. (the game I tested here was HOI4 - tracking the I/O, it seems bottlenecked by files in Users that are generated on startup)

But more generally: depends on the game. Unity-engine games, for example Pathfinder, Pillars of Eternity, etc., can find some benefit on NVMe (up to 15% in my testing). Online games also can sometimes benefit. I would say the majority of games see little to no benefit, however. I think this might change in the future as the upcoming consoles are designed to leverage NVMe for game loading. As for now, the best indicator does tend to be low queue depth 4K read performance - which is why Optane leads the way, followed by SMI-based drives, with E12-based falling behind. But these differences are small and even DRAM-less drives (like the SN550) can load fast under the right circumstances (general read performance), since you're bottlenecked elsewhere.
It has been known for long that SSDs need some "left over-space" to operate at best.. Has that fact changed?
Most - if not all - consumer SSDs utilize at least 7% over-provisioning; space on flash reserved for the controller that the end user typically cannot see or touch.
OP was asking about a performance benefit of putting them on separate drives, if he is already running them on SSDs then there would only see a benefit if one is at capacity which is true since an SSD filled to near capacity will suffer performance loss
Separate drive from the OS drive. Any drive filled to capacity will suffer performance degradation; this performance loss generally would not be noticeable under OS or gaming workloads.
 
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