Advice on raid set up

motorhead12

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I currently have 2 x 36GB raptors which I have just sold on good old ebay, and financed 4 x 200gb seagate barracudas with what I got for the raptors, the reason for doing so is the extra storage.

My machine is quite a decent one,
Asus A8N-Sli
opteron175
2Gb ram
7800GTX GFX

I mainly use my machine for gaming, battlefield 2 and CS1.6 (yes yes some of us hate source)
I have noticed with the load up times in BF2 I enter a server way before a nyone else, probably due to the raid 0 array I used with the raptors.

I like this as it helps me to spawn into what I want so I fully intend to keep the raid set up going, however as Im going to now have 4 drives, what would you suggest for the type of raid set up to use?

I am tempted to go with a raid 0 but I dont know how much of an improvement I would see?

your advice is appreiciated ;-)
 

Flakes

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would i be right in assumming you have more than the four drives?

so you have 4seagates and 1 for OS?

if so i would raid 5 them.

but if you really want that little extra speed then raid 0 them its really up to you.

Raid 5 will give you similiar read speeds as raid 0, but will increase your write times a little, but then youve also got data redundency so if one drive failed you can still play/work.
 

motorhead12

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I will have the 4 drives, ik on a lappy at the moment, would you go for a I/O card or just use the onboard raid function?
 

Flakes

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well heres the thing, for gaming raid doesnt increase performance at all apart from the loading times..

if i were you i would have one seagate as the OS and programs, and create a RAID 5 array with the other three, the raid 5 will have 400GB of space with a read comparible to the speed of a raid 0 raptor(the new seagates are almost as fast as the raptor in read write times) then if you want the faster load times you could install the game on the raid 5 and not worry about a drive failure.

edit i would just use Onboard, it does not slow down your pc others will bash it but with todays cpus you wont even notice.
 

choirbass

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im going to say no to using raid 0 for gaming. you will see virtually no benefit above a single hdd for the vast majority of games (~1 second improvement in loading times on average), unless the game maps themselves consist of mostly large bitmaps and such... for game load times, a faster single hdd, more system memory, or a faster cpu, will provide much more of an improvement

the reason being because raid 0 provides higher STRs when dealing with larger files (editing/transferring video, audio, etc), up to ~15% improvement optimally over a single hdd... but games themselves dont usually benefit from that

for the 4 hdds, i would recommend using them either in redundant arrays, or as individual drives... unless youre going to actually be doing a lot of disk intensive stuff, then raid 0 may be more worth it
 

Red_Frog

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Go for the RAID 0. You're using it mostly for games, which in the event of a (unlikely) drive failure everything will be easily reinstalled from disc.
Any critical information you should backup to something more permanent anyway, like tape or disc media.

I find that most people who say you won't notice a difference while gaming do little or no gaming themselves. Overall your system will be much more responsive.
 

choirbass

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well, where load times are concerned, there wont be a noteworthy improvement by using raid 0 over a single hdd (googling for 'raid 0 game load times' will net you quite a few benchmark reviews from reputable sites)

as far as smoothness while playing, he already has enough system memory for things to run smoothly in game without depending on hdd performance really, unless a game hes playing is going to take more than 2GB to run... the only thing that would really matter then is the pagefile, incase he did run out of available system memory, and its always better to place the pagefile on a seperate physical disk then anyhow, to seperate reads and writes (or on a seperate raid 0 array in this case, again, ~15% max improvement above a single hdd), or, to just simply invest in more system memory, for the largest improvement in this situation... solid state memory is much faster than an array of mechanical hdds are, being used for virtual memory

as far as system responsiveness, i can agree there, os usage in general is marginally more responsive using raid 0 (and boot times are faster of coarse too)... i had 4 raptors in raid 0 myself, for gaming and all... the largest improvement overall however, as far as hdd performance, was seen from simply upgrading to a faster single hdd, in all honesty... moving from 4*36GB 8MB GD raptors in raid 0, to a single 74GB 16MB ADFD raptor... not to mention much less heat being generated from the hdds, and as a result less noise from fans to compensate for that... on a positive note though, im able to use the raptors to upgrade relatives systems
 

mkaibear

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Don't fuss around with RAID 0. It's useless for desktop systems unless you're planning on doing a lot of working with large data sets - content creation or statistical work.

For gaming it will make no difference. In general desktop use it will make no difference.

If you *must* do RAID, do RAID 5. I wouldn't even do that, I'd possibly consider using RAID 1, but I'd probably just have 4 separate hard drives and either manually or automatically back data up.
 

motorhead12

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Ok, I took all your advice from everyone onboard and this is what I did!
I installed one drive as a normal Sata drive, no raid, nothing, I installed CS Source and BF2 and ran some benchmarks.

I then created a 4 disc raid 0 array and did exactly the same again.
The difference's are lisred below and are from a gamers point of view quite extreme.

sata
BF2 map load time 51 seconds FPS 85 average
Cs Source FPS 137 average

Raid 0
BF2 map load time 34 seconds FPS 98 average
Cs source FPS 172 average

I used exactly the same drivers and exactly the same method of installing everything. I think the reults do speak for themselves, games use high amounts of data these days and it is not all done by the GFX card.
Granted the FPS doesnt really matter as anything about 60FPS is perfectly good enough for gaming, however the load times for BF2 make a huge huge differnence to what the outcome of some battles do make, I had noticed before that I had entered a new map way before other people had "arrived" in the server (15-20 seconds) and gained a territorial advantage. If you play BF2 you will understand how crucial this is.

The raid 0 option does work and I will be sticking with it, But I will be going down too 2 x 2 drives on a raid 0 array as the difference between 2 and 4 drives is very very minimal, I will use the other boot drives for back up and for all my video stuff.

Once again thank you all for your advice and ideas!! :lol:

P.S. block size was 128k
 

SuperFly03

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You netted 13 FPS from RAID.... I don't believe that for a second. Unless you viewed the EXACT same set of detail (i.e. timed demo) you will have skewed results. Nobody can go through and view the same scene the same way at the same time.....

Sorry bud.

Seek Times > RAID 0 for load times.
 

motorhead12

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Well you dont have too ;-)

but in source there is a fixed scene that is always exactly the same , its called the video stress test, and thats what I ran. :lol:
 

SuperFly03

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Well you dont have too ;-)

but in source there is a fixed scene that is always exactly the same , its called the video stress test, and thats what I ran. :lol:
And how old is CS Source?

What about BF2, I don't know about any timed demo inside BF2?

PS-it is possible I just don't know, but to my knowledge there isn't one
 

Flakes

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i also must bring some disbelief to your results, since when i play a game my HDD is never accessed apart from level load so why would it increase my FPS?

the fact is it just doesnt, if anything because you were using a onboard controller the FPS should of been slightly lower ~1-2fps.

and a quick google search shows load times for BF2 reduce by about 4 seconds in a raid array, not the massive drop you report.

but if you have somehow managed to get such an increase then congrats, ive gotta make sure that some noob doesnt come allong expecting the same thing to happen only to find they wasted all there cash.(its a matter of principle really)

games use RAM, CPU and GFX depending on the game one will be used more than the other, a new current game would be supreme commander runs my CPU at 100% but my graphics card doesnt break a sweat.
 

mkaibear

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>13 FPS increase

Sorry, mate, I call BS. If those results are true then you've got something seriously wrong with the single drive.

Every reputable site that's tested this says that there is no performance benefit for gaming.
 

Red_Frog

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As he only has 2GB of RAM, it most certainly could explain a massive jump in a BF2 test.

I don't own BF2 myself, but I did play once on a friend's machine. I think he was using 1GB RAM, and the game appeared to hit the drive quite frequently.

If Motorhead has the graphics cranked (assuming he will as he is using a 7800) it could be looking at the game data itself or attempting to access the swap file during play. Any time spent getting that drive access over and done with would make sure the system isn't sputtering all over itself.



Motor, if you have virtual memory enabled I would run one final test like you have done, but with virtual memory disabled. If your results dip, I would highly recommend a RAM upgrade.

If you do find a RAM upgrade is in your future, I still wouldn't give up the RAID. You already have the tools, material, and knowledge. No sense crippling your rig because people tell you what it should be doing instead of what it is doing.
 

motorhead12

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Well I dont intend too, they say that the hdd is not accessed...mine is, I can hear it going during the game, especially when it gets highly GFX demanding during mass close quarter battles, my 7800GTX is a 256mb not a 512mb.

Well superfly, you have added many comments to this thread but you havent even bechmarked BF2, I suggest you do, and source is 2 years old? And it is still a benchmark that has proved to me that raid does help, although you say different, you havent even ran the source what from what your saying, please dont respond unless you know the games Im talking about. One thing you dont realise also is that source and bf2 will stutter when you first start playing a map, with raid 0 that does not happen either
 

choirbass

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i really would like to put an end to the endless debating of raid 0 benefits for gaming (as unlikely as that is to happen)... but, i hope this at least helps more people understand when raid 0 does and doesnt help... and you can read beyond the first post, certainly recommended to anyhow:

taken from http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&all=1&t=210839&postdays=0&postorder=asc

just thought i would post this... the posted benefits of raid 0 seem to fall in line with whats 'generally' experienced in game loading times, for the reasons listed in the article (contrasting whats stated by most people who think otherwise about raid 0)...

if anyone cares to verify this, using two or more different cpus, but identical setups otherwise, both in raid 0, and single drive configurations, theyre welcome to...

http://faqs.ign.com/articles/606/606669p1.html


EDIT: hm... apparently this is very true... theres a much easier way to test though than switching out cpus... ...the easiest way is if you have dual core cpu, and a game that supports multithreading, such as quake 4 (it tends to use upwards of 70% of both cores when theyre in use, sometimes as high as 100%, though less often), so, its a good game to test... havent checked other games though... but, setting your cpu affinity from both cores, to only 1 core, will drop the total processing capability up to half... ...i also have 4*36GB raptors (3 of which are in raid 0, for hosting my OS and various applications, and a 4th non raided which is being used for the pagefile, and to keep a few files as an extra backup, in addition to other backups)... i copied quake 4 over to the 4th raptor though

i dont have a watch to time the loading with, so i just had to go by how long it seemed to take to load each level... where the pauses in loading happened, guaging the difference between just one core, and both cores in use, and the difference between 3 raptors in raid 0, and the single raptor... ...apparently the only real difference in loading times, was when i switched the game over to just 1 core, instead of using both cores... ...the 3 raptors in raid 0 had very little impact (compared to the single raptor), or not that i noticed really anyhow...

but, thats an inexpensive way to test; if you already have a dual core cpu on hand, and a game that can take advantage of the second core (which is why i used quake 4, though oblivion is also multithreaded too, as are quite a few other games)... ...and, goes to show, that i guess if you want to load games faster, instead of investing in raid 0, just get a faster cpu/memory configuration (because memory speed also affects overall cpu processing speed)... ...overclocking your existing cpu and memory should help here also... ...thats not to say either, that you should just forget about hdd speed entirely, hdds are slow enough as it is, compared to every other major speed based component lol... so, speed and capacity is definetly the way to go for general use when it comes to hdds...

as far as the raptors i have, yes, i did purchase them a few years ago to benefit game loading times, among other things, such as just helping my computer to be more responsive, lol... but, i never saw much change for games, even when i had all 4 in raid 0...

now, for older games, i suppose this might not quite be the case, because the game levels might not take that much processing and decompressing to load, and raid 0 may benefit better there... but for current games, a faster processor/memory configuration definetly seems to help speed things up, such as this...

anyhow, yeah... this definety is the case so far... have to test some other games though too sometime, just to see if its not just isolated to quake 4 (i wouldnt think it would be, but just to see)
 

cb62fcni

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Well, well, well, I just finished running my own little benchmarks that will hopefully clear some things up for some people.

In the mail two days ago I found the lovely new WD 160AAJS's that I ordered from Newegg for only 50 bucks a pop. Nice. I'll be running this benchmark on my old gaming rig, it's more mainstream. System specs:
Watercooled P4D 805 @ 4.0Ghz
1GB DDR2-533 @667
P5N32 SLI Dlx
74GB Raptor WinXP drive
2X160GB WD160AAJS in RAID 0
7950GX2

Alright, so first I disable RAID, do a quick format, and install SUP COM, BF2, and Oblivion on single WD160.

Sup Com Single Player loading time 20X20 map size: 15 secs
Oblivion start-up load time: 12 secs
BF2 map load (32) Clean sweep: 38 secs

Re-enable raid 0, quick format, 128Kb stripes

Sup Com Single Player loading time 20X20: 15 secs
Oblivion start-up load time: 13 secs
BF2 map load (32) Clean sweep: 37 secs

Overall, little difference was noted in either oblivion or BF2 concerning system responsiveness. Sup Com felt smoother when running off RAID, but I only had time to run one or two games, so this could have been a result of other factors (# of units, combat intensity, etc).

Hope this clears things up. If you want better HDD performance, just buy a Raptor. RAID makes very little sense when it comes to gaming, it's a professional tool for specialized uses. RAID 1 or 5 isn't a bad idea for critical data if you have the money. In my opinion, running RAID 0 for your system drive is reckless and bound to lead to headaches. Running a RAID 0 game drive is not neccessary, but don't let me stop you if you'd like to try for yourself.
 

cb62fcni

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Well, in all fairness, this was far from a scientific benchmark. It's possible, however unlikely, that there are games that would specifically benefit from a RAID setup. Maybe Doom 3 with its massive textures turned on. But I doubt it.

I think new hybrid drives have quite a bit of promise. The absolute bottom line is that seek times trump read/write rates when it comes to gaming, and likely will for a long, long time.
 

chunkymonster

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Ok, I took all your advice from everyone onboard and this is what I did!
I installed one drive as a normal Sata drive, no raid, nothing, I installed CS Source and BF2 and ran some benchmarks.

I then created a 4 disc raid 0 array and did exactly the same again.
The difference's are lisred below and are from a gamers point of view quite extreme.

sata
BF2 map load time 51 seconds FPS 85 average
Cs Source FPS 137 average

Raid 0
BF2 map load time 34 seconds FPS 98 average
Cs source FPS 172 average
I can agree with your load times. I have noticed an average 20% read increase, according to HDTach, with RAID0 over a single drive in my system. Games and applications do load faster. Agree with it or not, but my experience with RAID0 is enough for me to continue using RAID0 over a single drive.

Regardless, some folks here seem to get wood "proving" that RAID0 offers no benefit for gaming...makes me laugh...whatever... :roll:
 

choirbass

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the main purpose, above all else, is to prevent people from just wasting money... no other reason... ...IF someone already has the hardware, it really is inconsequential how they go about using it, for perceived benefit, small benefit, etc, and theyre usually aware of the risks at that point too... but for someone who does not have the hardware yet, and is looking an advisable solution to invest in, for their intended uses... it does pay to do research then, beyond forums even... because they might end up misinformed otherwise
 

cb62fcni

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Really, 20%? Wow, I must have done my benchmarking wrong. But oh wait....

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=2101&p=11

http://www.bjorn3d.com/read.php?cID=734&pageID=1211

http://www.overclockers.com/articles1063/index02.asp

I guess I was right after all.

Look, RAID0 only matters in synthetic and professional apps, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It occassionally even INCREASES load times in games due to greater seek times!!!! I didn't spend hours of my time running benchmarks because it makes me happy to disprove RAID's effectiveness. I did it because of people that pull random numbers out of their butts and wind up costing people good money that could be better used elsewhere. I just hope y'all aren't too thick to get it.
 

chunkymonster

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Really, 20%? Wow, I must have done my benchmarking wrong. But oh wait....

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=2101&p=11

http://www.bjorn3d.com/read.php?cID=734&pageID=1211

http://www.overclockers.com/articles1063/index02.asp

I guess I was right after all.

Look, RAID0 only matters in synthetic and professional apps, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It occassionally even INCREASES load times in games due to greater seek times!!!! I didn't spend hours of my time running benchmarks because it makes me happy to disprove RAID's effectiveness. I did it because of people that pull random numbers out of their butts and wind up costing people good money that could be better used elsewhere. I just hope y'all aren't too thick to get it.
Those are my observations and HDTach results, so I don't understand why you feel the need to debate what I have been using and working with on my own machine (in sig). But since you do, I'll say this once more...
Regardless, some folks here seem to get wood "proving" that RAID0 offers no benefit for gaming...makes me laugh...whatever... :roll:
As long as you feel good about it and think you have proven something, more power to you!
 

cb62fcni

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HDtach is synthetic, so it has no relevence to real-world apps. Secondly, it's a pathetically shoddy test, there's a reason few use it to benchmark HDD's.

Look, if you think you've noticed a speed increase, fine. Don't throw random numbers out and decieve people into paying for something that's going to be useless for their needs. Did you read the links I posted? RAID0 has been categorically, scientifically disproven as having ANY benefit for gaming. It's as if you're arguing that the world is flat, or that the sun orbits the earth.
 

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