[SOLVED] SSD or more RAM?

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SSDs are great if you're coming from an HDD but wouldn't really 'help' when you run out of RAM.
Actually they do help. The big performance hit when you run out of RAM is because the OS starts swapping memory pages to the drive. On a HDD, this means your memory access speed goes from around 15 GB/s to 1 MB/s (for a 4k memory page). A 15,000x slowdown. With a SSD it goes from about 10 GB/s to around 200-300 MB/s, or only a 50-75x slowdown. It's much less noticeable than hitting the pagefile on a HDD (hundreds of times faster than a HDD).

When I first got a laptop with a SSD, it came with only 4 GB of RAM. I ordered an extra 4 GB module, but it took about a week shipping. I ran Photoshop on it and regularly had 6+ GB of RAM allocated. The performance hit was much less noticeable than doing the same Photoshop tasks on my previous system (4 GB and HDD). The computer stays responsive even though it has exceeded RAM and is swapping to the pagefile. And when the extra RAM arrived and I went up to 8 GB, the improvement wasn't very noticeable.

The only real concern is putting additional wear on the SSD from hitting the pagefile so often. But if you're normally at 80% RAM usage then it won't happen that frequently (I was regularly over 100% RAM usage). Just make sure you get a 250+ GB SSD.

As for RAM vs SSD in this case, I'd say it depends on what you're doing. One of the huge benefits of a SSD is that it can handle multiple I/O requests simultaneously without breaking a sweat. A HDD will bog down from a single I/O request - this is why a HDD computer pretty much becomes useless if there's a virus scan running in the background. With a SSD you can run a virus scan, a malware scan, copy your entire MP3 collection, and play a movie file all at the same time, and the system will still start a new program almost as quickly as if none of the other tasks were going on.

So if you're doing stuff with the computer which accesses the HDD a lot, then I'd say get the SSD first. If you tend to just run one program at a time and are encountering slowdowns because it (alone) is pushing you past 8 GB of RAM use, then get the extra RAM first.
 
Actually they do help. The big performance hit when you run out of RAM is because the OS starts swapping memory pages to the drive. On a HDD, this means your memory access speed goes from around 15 GB/s to 1 MB/s (for a 4k memory page). A 15,000x slowdown. With a SSD it goes from about 10 GB/s to around 200-300 MB/s, or only a 50-75x slowdown. It's much less noticeable than hitting the pagefile on a HDD (hundreds of times faster than a HDD).
If you are so low on RAM that you are generating even 20MB/s of swapfile writes, you will burn through a 200TBW endurance SSD in a couple of months. Not particularly smart.

There is no substitute to having a comfortable amount of spare RAM.
 
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If you are so low on RAM that you are generating even 20MB/s of swapfile writes, you will burn through a 200TBW endurance SSD in a couple of months. Not particularly smart.
The pagefile writes are bursty, not continuous. The whole point of the pagefile is to clear less-used data out of RAM and move it to the drive, so you have free RAM for more-used data. So when running Photoshop it would hit the pagefile at 20 MB/s for a few seconds when I loaded an extra photo I wanted to combine with a previous photo, then nothing for the next 5-10 minutes while I worked on just those two photos. When I finished working on those and moved back to another photo I'd opened up earlier, the pagefile would be hit again for a few seconds, then nothing for several more minutes while I worked on that. etc.

If the pagefile writes were continuous as you're implying, there would be no point having a pagefile since performance would drop by a factor of 50-75 any time you exceeded 100% RAM use even with a SSD. The only solution would be adding more RAM.
 

AllanGH

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Easy choice to make for the peace of mind of never having to worry about the next memory pricing boom or getting anywhere close to running out of RAM under normal use
::: nod :::

Precisely why I opted to settle for half the memory capacity of my current MB.
Maybe memory prices will be back down into my personal comfort range, when I decide to bump it up to 128.
 
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So when running Photoshop it would hit the pagefile at 20 MB/s for a few seconds when I loaded an extra photo I wanted to combine with a previous photo, then nothing for the next 5-10 minutes while I worked on just those two photos.
If you are so tight on RAM that you had to swap stuff out to start working on one extra images, chances are that all of the intermediate buffers, history and other stuff will also require more RAM and get more stuff swapped out too. Then, if you ever need to tab out to something else, you will likely be spending several seconds waiting for background windows to get swapped back in for window refreshes and once you eventually tab back to photoshop, you'll have to wait for that to get swapped back in too.

Once you are borderline on RAM (you don't even need to reach 100% usage since Windows will preemptively start swapping stuff out just in case you ever need extra memory and also to free up memory for the file system cache), things get ugly fast.
 

Satan-IR

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Actually they do help. The big performance hit when you run out of RAM is because the OS starts swapping memory pages to the drive. On a HDD, this means your memory access speed goes from around 15 GB/s to 1 MB/s (for a 4k memory page). A 15,000x slowdown. With a SSD it goes from about 10 GB/s to around 200-300 MB/s, or only a 50-75x slowdown. It's much less noticeable than hitting the pagefile on a HDD (hundreds of times faster than a HDD).

When I first got a laptop with a SSD, it came with only 4 GB of RAM. I ordered an extra 4 GB module, but it took about a week shipping. I ran Photoshop on it and regularly had 6+ GB of RAM allocated. The performance hit was much less noticeable than doing the same Photoshop tasks on my previous system (4 GB and HDD). The computer stays responsive even though it has exceeded RAM and is swapping to the pagefile. And when the extra RAM arrived and I went up to 8 GB, the improvement wasn't very noticeable.

The only real concern is putting additional wear on the SSD from hitting the pagefile so often. But if you're normally at 80% RAM usage then it won't happen that frequently (I was regularly over 100% RAM usage). Just make sure you get a 250+ GB SSD.

As for RAM vs SSD in this case, I'd say it depends on what you're doing. One of the huge benefits of a SSD is that it can handle multiple I/O requests simultaneously without breaking a sweat. A HDD will bog down from a single I/O request - this is why a HDD computer pretty much becomes useless if there's a virus scan running in the background. With a SSD you can run a virus scan, a malware scan, copy your entire MP3 collection, and play a movie file all at the same time, and the system will still start a new program almost as quickly as if none of the other tasks were going on.

So if you're doing stuff with the computer which accesses the HDD a lot, then I'd say get the SSD first. If you tend to just run one program at a time and are encountering slowdowns because it (alone) is pushing you past 8 GB of RAM use, then get the extra RAM first.

That's exactly why I didn't say get an SSD to have and to provide the system with more/faster pagefile, the wear and tear on the drive would be too much for my comfort and the complications it'd probably cause trying to joggle being a storage and being a RAM substitute eould be quite real.

The wear would be too much for any SSD over time and I wouldn't call it the best solution to substitute more RAM with faster storage to act as a pagefile tank.

Yes it depends on what you do with the system on how the SSD would play in all this (also a great deal on how good the SSD is and how optimized is the controller and the firmware etc.) but from whatever angle I personally wouldn't forgo having enough RAM to opt for storage to mitigate that need for more RAM in the first place.

Also I think no normal use would consist of just a few repetitive usage patterns that'd be necessarily comfortable for the SSD to handle as storage and RAM/pagefile.
 
If all those parts hadn't already been "Purchased", I'd cut back elsewhere, in favor of more RAM and an SSD.

Speakers, WiFi, DVD, headphones.
That's $250+ right there.
That parts list is my current 15 month old computer and a lot of those parts I harvested from my old i5-2500k system like the Noctua fan, Speakers, Headphones, etc.
Heck I'm not even sure how old the DVD R/W drive is, I think I purchased it in 2006.

I won't be making a purchase till next week and I haven't been able to make up my mind. 250GB SSD or RAM. I have an old Crucial Ballastix Tactical 4x2GB DDR3 1600 CAS 8 set I am going to try and sell. This will give me enough $$ to buy a proper 2x8GB kit or 480-512GB TLC SSD.
 
Also I think no normal use would consist of just a few repetitive usage patterns that'd be necessarily comfortable for the SSD to handle as storage and RAM/pagefile.
As I said, my regular RAM allocation was 6 GB on 4 GB of RAM, and I only did this while waiting for the extra memory module I'd ordered to arrive. I was merely sharing how well it worked as a real-life data point of how much better a SSD handles it than a HDD.

OP said he's normally at 80% RAM allocation, not 150% like me. The additional wear on a SSD in his case would be zero except for the occasional times he goes over 8 GB.

You guys keep talking as if the system will be constantly writing to the SSD if you so much as slightly go over 100% RAM allocation. That's not how it works. The pagefile isn't used as active memory, least-used memory is dumped to it first. Things like browser tabs that you haven't viewed in days. If you're so short of RAM that a pagefile is in constant use, a system with a HDD would be completely unusable because of the constant swapping. I see that occasionally with systems with 4 GB which have a ton of TSRs loaded. But those cases are horrible enough that they've hired me to figure out what's wrong with their system. Pagefiles aren't designed to handle cases like that - you need to get more RAM.

But there's a substantial in-between case where the pagefile does what they were invented for. Dump least-used memory pages to disk to make room for memory which will be actively used. On a HDD it will occasionally thrash the disk as it swaps, then function normally (until you open up a new program). A SSD can handle this type of use while still retaining decades worth of endurance. I sold a 3 year old laptop, and the SSD only had a little over 5 TB of writes to it. I felt a bit silly for babying it so as not to needlessly use up its write endurance (it would've taken 180 years to hit its rated TBW).
 

AllanGH

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If the swapping is of concern, just buy one or more Kingston 120GB SSDs, and let the machine swap to one of those on another SATA channel.

At $19/each, they are the cheapest option for setting-up both ReadyBoost (if you even need that) and PageFile on sacrificial media.
 
You guys keep talking as if the system will be constantly writing to the SSD if you so much as slightly go over 100% RAM allocation. That's not how it works. The pagefile isn't used as active memory, least-used memory is dumped to it first.
Depending on what you do with your system, the "least recently used" data doesn't stay "least recently used" for long (ex.: you tab out of whatever software you were using that caused all of your background stuff to get dumped into swapfile, now you have to wait several seconds for all of that stuff to get un-swapped before their windows can be refreshed) and you do end up going from 0% disk usage to 100% quite quickly and frequently.

BTW, as I wrote before, Windows starts swapping LONG before you reach 100% usage. I have 16GB available right now (out of 32GB installed) and Windows still dumped 660MB of stuff in the swapfile.
 

hopsteriam

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Remember when you have your operating system running off an SSD and your programmes (English spelling) running off a separate HDD, the HDD has less to deal with so it DOES load your programmes faster (also Sata less bottlenecked by transferring 1 lot of data instead of 2 at the same time RE Programmes and OS on seperate drives regardless of their type/bus) than when everything is running from the same HDD (Single Bus running both). Yes programmes are still slower to load than from an SSD even with your OS on the same SSD (Much faster bus) but they are faster than everything on a HDD (Much slower bus needing more stops to set down more passengers). As stated more than once on here, you run out of memory, yet you still have plenty of storage space, so the obvious first priority is MORE RAM!. THEN a new BIGGER SSD as your next upgrade.
 
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Satan-IR

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As I said, my regular RAM allocation was 6 GB on 4 GB of RAM, and I only did this while waiting for the extra memory module I'd ordered to arrive. I was merely sharing how well it worked as a real-life data point of how much better a SSD handles it than a HDD.
Obvoiusly, from any view point, SSDs are better than HDDs, no argument there. I said coming from HDDs it's quite an experience. Then again I wouldn't tell someone who clearly needs more RAM to get an SSD to have and SSD and to 'help' with RAM shortage too.

OP said he's normally at 80% RAM allocation, not 150% like me. The additional wear on a SSD in his case would be zero except for the occasional times he goes over 8 GB.
By that logic, the OP can ditch another 4GB and use 4GB of RAM alongside an SSD.

And it won't be zero, I have 16GB of RAM right now on a Windows 7 machine 3.8GB is atcually used (less than a quarter not three quarters like the OP) and there's almost 500-700MB in the swap. Process Explorer and Windows Resource Monitor show constant writes to the SSD as the swap size changes, I know not all of it is because of the swap but some of it is. Windows does write pagefiles to the disk way before you reach the limits of RAM.

Even if it was really 'zero expect for occasional bursts when he needs/uses up more RAM'; Why shouldn't he get more RAM to have enough and instead settle for fast storage to 'remedy' that? I wouldn't do that.
 
By that logic, the OP can ditch another 4GB and use 4GB of RAM alongside an SSD.
80% of 8 GB = 6.4 GB. How does that equate to dropping down to 4 GB of RAM? If his typical RAM use were 2.4 GB, then yeah I'd say dropping down to 4 GB with a SSD wouldn't be a problem.

And it won't be zero, I have 16GB of RAM right now on a Windows 7 machine 3.8GB is atcually used (less than a quarter not three quarters like the OP) and there's almost 500-700MB in the swap. Process Explorer and Windows Resource Monitor show constant writes to the SSD as the swap size changes, I know not all of it is because of the swap but some of it is. Windows does write pagefiles to the disk way before you reach the limits of RAM.
I didn't say there would be zero writes to the pagefile. I said there would be zero additional writes to the pagefile. The writes you're describing are happening even though you have 16 GB of RAM. So whether he stays at 8 GB or upgrades to 16 GB, they will still happen. They can be ignored for the purposes of this comparison.

Pagefile use does not automatically mean death to the SSD. That's all I'm saying. You admit your 16GB system is writing to the pagefile, yet clearly it is not dying because of it. Obviously you and I don't know exactly how much pagefile use OP is seeing. I'm advising that if it's occasional, then he'll see better improvement getting a SSD now, increasing RAM later if/when his memory footprint increases so he's closer to or over 100%. You however seem to be arguing that any excess pagefile use is unacceptable, and must immediately be remedied with a RAM upgrade, even if it means continuing to suffer with a HDD.

(My apologies if I'm coming across as short or hot-headed. I've had a lot of frustrating discussions/arguments recently with people who clearly don't understand the concept of marginal cost/marginal benefit, and A/B comparison analysis. And I fear I've grown short-tempered when I encounter it.)
 
I'm convinced now to just update the RAM for now. Early next month I will purchase a 2x8GB DDR4 3000 kit. If my current 2x4GB DDR4 3000 Corsair memory works with it then fine I'll have 24GB of RAM. If it doesn't work then I will sell the DDR4-3000 CAS 15 - 2x4GB kit.
 
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Satan-IR

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80% of 8 GB = 6.4 GB. How does that equate to dropping down to 4 GB of RAM? If his typical RAM use were 2.4 GB, then yeah I'd say dropping down to 4 GB with a SSD wouldn't be a problem.


I didn't say there would be zero writes to the pagefile. I said there would be zero additional writes to the pagefile. The writes you're describing are happening even though you have 16 GB of RAM. So whether he stays at 8 GB or upgrades to 16 GB, they will still happen. They can be ignored for the purposes of this comparison.

Pagefile use does not automatically mean death to the SSD. That's all I'm saying. You admit your 16GB system is writing to the pagefile, yet clearly it is not dying because of it. Obviously you and I don't know exactly how much pagefile use OP is seeing. I'm advising that if it's occasional, then he'll see better improvement getting a SSD now, increasing RAM later if/when his memory footprint increases so he's closer to or over 100%. You however seem to be arguing that any excess pagefile use is unacceptable, and must immediately be remedied with a RAM upgrade, even if it means continuing to suffer with a HDD.

(My apologies if I'm coming across as short or hot-headed. I've had a lot of frustrating discussions/arguments recently with people who clearly don't understand the concept of marginal cost/marginal benefit, and A/B comparison analysis. And I fear I've grown short-tempered when I encounter it.)

I didn't say "pagefile use means automatic death to SSD". Gist of what I said is where the 'issue/problem' basically is not enough RAM I'd say the solution is to add RAM and I would not say add storage to make up for that. I never said you're wrong or you shouldn't say what you want to say or make your point.

Also, if there's 16GB of RAM when he's nearing the limit with 8GB there won't be suffering because of the HDD because he can disable pagefiles altogether and benefit from the RAM latency and access time and not suffer the sluggish HDD (compared to RAM or a SSD). He'd be OK with no pagefile unless any of his usage scenarios would later turn out to need more than 16GB of RAM.

I know what 80% of 8GB is. The OP's list has 2x4GB RAM so I said "if less RAM is OK with a SSD" he'd have to ditch a 4GB because he can't eliminate 1.6GB of RAM. Then you turned it into a personal attack by implying I can't understand that "concept" and comparisons and such so I'm done. Have a good one.
 
Also, if there's 16GB of RAM when he's nearing the limit with 8GB there won't be suffering because of the HDD because he can disable pagefiles altogether and benefit from the RAM latency and access time and not suffer the sluggish HDD (compared to RAM or a SSD). He'd be OK with no pagefile unless any of his usage scenarios would later turn out to need more than 16GB of RAM.
Disabling the pagefile isn't necessarily a good idea as some software misbehaves when no swapfile is available. One version of DipTrace I used a few years ago had horrible performance when swapfile was disabled and forced me to turn it back on despite having plenty of RAM to spare, haven't bothered to check if newer versions fixed whatever caused this.
 

Satan-IR

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Disabling the pagefile isn't necessarily a good idea as some software misbehaves when no swapfile is available. One version of DipTrace I used a few years ago had horrible performance when swapfile was disabled and forced me to turn it back on despite having plenty of RAM to spare, haven't bothered to check if newer versions fixed whatever caused this.

Yes, that's right. back in the days I myself had problems with one or two software when it was disabled. I think cases of software going berserk due to lack of swap files are not that common, or frequent if you like, so as to warrant totally avoiding disabling it. Trying to post a less verbose reply I omitted referring to the fact that the user can try to see if it's ok when disabled and if not limit it to smaller sizes.

I was trying to make the point that if the OP's system has more RAM it won't be slowed down by an HDD thrashing to handle large pagefiles. If swaps are needed, given there's enough RAM, it can be set to smaller sizes which are more easily handled by HDDs as well.
 

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