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03-28-2013 05:43 PM #1
- Join Date
- Aug 2012
To SSd or not to SSD. A look into ram caching on a stock drive.
As we all know SSd's can be expensive unless you pick a cheap drive. And then you roll the dice on having problems or not. We all know the stock drives are slow. For this guide we will be using a stock 1tb 5,300 rpm drive from a G75VX with a full windows install as well as a few games on there to simulate some use on the drive.
Caching is not something new. The Seagate XT drives offer this and they do it well. However ram caching is must faster and in most cases cheaper. So lets look at a break down of some prices.
120GB SSD will run $80 on sale to $140
4GB of Ram will run $25-$40
Seagate Momentus XT will run about $130
Four the testing i am using the stock 5,300 RPM 1tb drive that came with the G75VX. 2Gb of additional ram was installed for a total of 10gb. 4gb of that was used for a Ram Cache giving the rest of the system 6gb of ram what is enough for gaming.
1tb 5,300 RPM drive with a 4GB Ram Cache Pass 1
1tb 5,300 RPM drive with a 4GB Ram Cache Pass 2
1tb 5,300 RPM drive with a 4GB Ram Cache Pass 3
As you can see in the benchmarks there is a huge performance gain however this does not translate into that large of a gain in real world performance. However you will see a nice gain in performance across the board. Why this may not be as fast as a true SSD in some regards in others it is faster. This is a nice cheap and easy alternative to a SSD if money is tight. Simply adding a additional 2GB of memory allows you to take advantage of 4GB of ram cache and still have enough ram left over for for gaming. However this is much faster then the XT drives and will only run you about $20 to do this and will get you much closer to true SSD speeds then a XT ever will.
As a controlled test i had a friend use the system with the stock drive running the 4GB ram cache and play some wow and do some normal use. I told him i just put a new intel 530 in it and i wanted him to see he thought it was faster with a new firmware. He said it felt faster but it was hard to tell but he said it was pretty fast.
SSD replacement? No.
Good SSD Alternative? Yes
Easy to set up and install? Yes
Gives you huge numbers in bench's so yo can be cool online? Yes
You don't need to toss down $100+ on a SSD to have a fast storage solution. For a few bucks you can improve your disk performance by a large margin.
Later this week i will go ahead and short stoke some 750gig XT's then RAID them and run them with a ram cache and see how fast we can get mechanic drives and how they would compare to a SSD.
03-28-2013 09:12 PM #2
There's a number of reliability risks associated with RAM caching that need to be taken into account before this can truly be recommended.
As from a pretty good review of FancyCache:
"But there are some caveats. First, since RAM is volatile, the cache is not persistent. When the system turns off, the cache disappears. More importantly, the risk of data loss is omnipresent — if FC is caching writes to RAM, any fault with the RAM or sudden system crash could result in lost or corrupted data. Using ECC RAM where possible could help in this respect, but it is seldom seen in most enthusiast systems."
So while is may be a good idea for people not concerned about data reliability, it could be potentially disastrous for those of us who use the G series for non-gaming purposes.
However, thanks for posting your little review. I'm sure it'll help those who are on the fence about this tech
03-28-2013 11:15 PM #3
- Join Date
- Aug 2012
Your not really saving data to the ram. Simply using it as a cache. And even if you do lose power the laptop will still keep the ram powered off the battery so the risk are really min. I mean if people are worried about reliability they will be using enterprise grade drives and not concerned about speed.
I mean if you crash even on a ssd during a write its going to cause some data corruption. 9/10 users on here are only concerned about read speeds. Most just don't write big files and reading off a ram cache is pretty rare to run into problems. I seen more issues with SSD's then i have with ram caching if done right. The whole point is you can get close to the performance of a SSD off the stock 5,300 rpm drive? I guess i should of pointed this out. But would i write to a ram cache? Well yes i do but 9/10 uses this will be pointless as gaming does not do a ton of writes and the gans your going to see in a SSD are from the reads so i would only recamend that people read from a cache. Yes the writes will be slow but most people only want the faster reads for games.
It is good to point out however but i never seen any issues from caching off ram. I have beat this ram cache up and down and never had one issues however i will locate a stick of memory that has some bad sectors and run it on that and see if that will cause any issues for people.
But most of the ram caching results are off the better drives and not the stock crap 5,300 drive that most OEM's use. But as people can see in the bench's as well as some real world test i did its worth it if you only have a 5,300 rpm drive and need more speed.
03-29-2013 02:32 PM #4
Actually yes you are.
The reason you see a speed increase is because the data is being written to your RAM as if it was a hard drive. There's a great deal less overhead with RAM vs a physical drive.
So for example, lets say you have your RAM disk set up and loaded with word docs for faster access. Let's pretend you've made a number of changes and then your computer BSOD's. Everything that was located in your RAM disk is now gone forever, which means all your changes are now void.
If you use your RAM disk to store a videogame (Which, isn't really feasible due to the 10GB+ avg file size) as long as the save files we're offloaded to a physical disk you'd be perfectly fine and would see a significant increase in load times and performance.
For maximum reliability you have to set your RAM disk to dump it's data on a system shutdown. This will cause a delay in shutdown that's pretty noticeable
With using caching on your RAM disk you can run into similar issues depending on what you are exactly caching.
If your caching something simple like temp internet files, there's very little risk (besides some possible stability issues) you would see a fair increase in performance.
Not trying to nitpick, but I want to make sure people understand the potential risks of this technology.
03-30-2013 03:00 AM #5
- Join Date
- May 2012
- Guangzhou, China
Also, if you're not using an SSD (seriously just get a Samsung SSD they are not expensive and very hq), you can plug in a (preferably decent/fast) flashdrive and use readyboost.
03-30-2013 03:25 AM #6
- Join Date
- Aug 2012
I mean what might be cheap for you and me might be expensive for other people. I have $4,000 alone in Titans in my desktop. So $300-$500 to me for a SSD is not to expensive. $120 is dirt cheap to me. However most people dont dump anything close to this in their systems so a $120 SSD may seem a bit pricy to them. They could go cheaper but you lose the space. Anything less then 120gb is not useable for me as its just not big enough for games, windows and the space needed to overprovision.
The whole point of this was value. For a few bucks in ram in every synthetic benchmark you can destroy a SSD. However your boot times wont really improve but game load times will be on par or close to speeds on a SSD. Not quite ramdisk speeds but in all honestly you need about 64gb or ram just to make a drive worth the while for a game and that kills the SSD's all day long. However you are paying the prem for it just like a SSD. You want more speed your going to pay bottom line. But the ram caching on even a stock drove proves to be worth the while and offer the biggest bang for the buck in terms of a performance gain. Its also much easyer to set up then installing a SSD. You just launch some software and with some its just 2 clicks and your done. No need to reinstall windows or clone the drive.
All that being said i got 2 new XT's in the mail today so they should be here some time next week and well see how well bread drive's respond to this and then how well they respond in raid short stroked. So this will be the fastest mechanical setup you can get for a laptop running in the fastest config.
03-30-2013 05:59 AM #7
^ You go above and beyond man!