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#1 z929669

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 01:13 PM

Hardware Guide

A simple guide to choosing efficient computer hardware that's appropriate for gaming with some Skyrim specific bias.

#2 bpr5016

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 02:41 PM

Hey, I was looking over the Skyrim Installation guide as was recommended to me. All of my Steam files and folders are currently stored under program files and I've been experiencing issues with Wrye Bash. The installation guide recommends installing steam (and skyrim) to an SSD without Windows. So I've been looking into getting "an SSD with SATA 6GB/s provided my mobo can support it through AHCI". These SSDs are fairly expensive (running from 100-200 USD on newegg) so I want to be sure it is a smart purchase. I'm also unsure if I possess the competency to install it correctly (I'm an amateur at best) or if my machine can even handle it. Just thought I'd ask if anyone had any suggestions or pointers! Thanks. Here are my specs: OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit CPU: Intel i7 Core 930, 2.80 ghz RAM: 9GB Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 *Also, I have a C: drive and a D: drive already on my computer. The D: is titled FACTORY_IMAGE and has 1.6GB free of 11.0GB. Not sure if this is an SSD or just for system recovery or something.
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#3 Besidilo

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 02:47 PM

There's no need to install Steam on the SSD, assuming that you have other games in your Library, you'd quickly bloat the SSD with games that don't need to be there.It's true that an SSD improves loading times in many games, sometimes helps to reduce or even completely remove stuttering in games, improves the overall performance of the OS and boot times.
For that you only need to install the OS, main applications and a few games that can benefit from the extra access times that the SSD provides.
I'd opt for something around 120-256GB, depending on your budget.
The most reliable drives are from Crucial and Intel, particularly the new series.
EDIT: This Mushkin drive is a brilliant SSD for the money if you don't mind sacrificing a bit in the reliability department for the sake of having a very fast and large drive.
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#4 z929669

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 04:42 PM

an SSD is great but not really necessary. I use RAID0, which is a big advantage over a single HDD, as you get about double the read/write speeds, but still not necessary. The main point is that you want to install Steam to a different drive if possible to get around Windows 7 security issues (but that is still not necessary if you turn off UAC or set that up appropriately). In your case, creating a new partition using about 50-75% of the remaining empty space on your C: drive would work (this would become a new E: drive in your case); however, doing this or properly configuring UAC are both on the advanced-user side (as is installing the SSD). It is all pretty simple to do though.

#5 Besidilo

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 05:22 PM

an SSD is great but not really necessary. I use RAID0, which is a big advantage over a single HDD, as you get about double the read/write speeds, but still not necessary.
The main point is that you want to install Steam to a different drive if possible to get around Windows 7 security issues (but that is still not necessary if you turn off UAC or set that up appropriately). In your case, creating a new partition using about 50-75% of the remaining empty space on your C: drive would work (this would become a new E: drive in your case); however, doing this or properly configuring UAC are both on the advanced-user side (as is installing the SSD). It is all pretty simple to do though.

Sequential speeds don't matter in loading times so your RAID 0 setup won't give you any advantage over a single HDD.

No issues with default UAC settings either and moving a single game to another drive is as simple as choosing the new directory in GameSaveManager and its Steam Spreader tool will create an NTFS junction for you.
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#6 bpr5016

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 05:42 PM

Wow great advice, thanks! Would it be possible/worthwhile to have both an HDD and SSD installed? I'm currently running a single HDD on my system and think it'd be neat if I could just transfer my steam files, games etc onto an SSD while keeping the HDD running other processes. I also read that there can be some disadvantages to HDD disk partitioning (reducing disk performance, increases fragmentation etc). Since I'm the only one using my PC, would turning off the UAC be a better option? I'm still trying to weigh my options.
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#7 frihyland

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 06:05 PM

I'm actually buying 2 of the mushkin drives one for windows and one for games. Just pick the size you can afford, the larger the size the more games you will be able to have installed at once. The 60GB one is just as fast as the rest so it may be all that you need.

Keep in mind that these drives are only likely to be reliable for about 3 years then they will start degrading. If you want something that lasts longer buy one with a 5 year manufacturer warranty it will cost quite a bit more.

Make sure your motherboard supports AHCI natively, you will have to look that up on their website. If not you will be missing out on a lot of the benefits of using the SSD.

You will definitely want to keep your regular HD to install regular programs and to store stuff like all your music and videos on.
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#8 frihyland

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 06:17 PM

No issues with default UAC settings either and moving a single game to another drive is as simple as choosing the new directory in GameSaveManager and its Steam Spreader tool will create an NTFS junction for you.

Are you referring to bundled software with the SSD?
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#9 Besidilo

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 06:34 PM

No issues with default UAC settings either and moving a single game to another drive is as simple as choosing the new directory in GameSaveManager and its Steam Spreader tool will create an NTFS junction for you.

Are you referring to bundled software with the SSD?

No, GameSave Manager is a program that allows you to back up and restore save games from a large catalogue of games, move Steam games from one drive to another, enable sync with your Dropbox account and many other things.

http://www.gamesave-manager.com/
 

Wow great advice, thanks! Would it be possible/worthwhile to have both an HDD and SSD installed? I'm currently running a single HDD on my system and think it'd be neat if I could just transfer my steam files, games etc onto an SSD while keeping the HDD running other processes.
I also read that there can be some disadvantages to HDD disk partitioning (reducing disk performance, increases fragmentation etc). Since I'm the only one using my PC, would turning off the UAC be a better option? I'm still trying to weigh my options.

As a general rule, outer parts of the HDD's disks allow for faster sequential write/read speeds, inner parts have better access times though.

Disk fragmentation occurs when you write to an HDD, whether it's by moving files, removing them or replacing with others. In normal use, it happens all the time. It's not as much of an issue with NTFS partitions though.

SSDs don't suffer from fragmentation in the sense that there is no difference in access times to an SSD.

Partitioning doesn't physically affect the drive so as long as you keep it defragmented and know where the files are, you will get good performance out of it.

I don't recommend turning UAC off, it's a security feature that works very well, preventing any action affecting system files by third party software without your knowledge. Unless you're a power user, it's something you want to leave on.

Just to clear up a bit on it, I have no idea what others are talking about when it comes to UAC and issues with Skyrim, I have none, and both Skyrim and Steam are on separate drives (physically).
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#10 z929669

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 06:45 PM


an SSD is great but not really necessary. I use RAID0, which is a big advantage over a single HDD, as you get about double the read/write speeds, but still not necessary.

The main point is that you want to install Steam to a different drive if possible to get around Windows 7 security issues (but that is still not necessary if you turn off UAC or set that up appropriately). In your case, creating a new partition using about 50-75% of the remaining empty space on your C: drive would work (this would become a new E: drive in your case); however, doing this or properly configuring UAC are both on the advanced-user side (as is installing the SSD). It is all pretty simple to do though.

Sequential speeds don't matter in loading times so your RAID 0 setup won't give you any advantage over a single HDD.

No issues with default UAC settings either and moving a single game to another drive is as simple as choosing the new directory in GameSaveManager and its Steam Spreader tool will create an NTFS junction for you.

Besidilo,

Please qualify the two statements that you make above.... Just saying these things does not make them true :no:

Please describe "sequential speeds" and the context to which they do or do not apply. Same for UAC, and same for GameSave Manager (and how that program circumvents UAC and/or game path issues).

I'd rather KNOW that I am wrong than WONDER if I am right :yes:

Thanks ;)
 
EDIT: just read your post above, but that still does not convince me that RAID0 will not give you an advantage. The reason that an SSD provides advantages is a combination of r/w speed and access time... much faster with SSD. ... and RAID0 is much faster (r/w-wise) than a single drive, so unless Skyrim loads completely from memory, the RAID0 provides an advantage with regard to loading times (and speed) when entering new cells or loading new games in Skyrim.

#11 Besidilo

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 07:31 PM

 
EDIT: just read your post above, but that still does not convince me that RAID0 will not give you an advantage. The reason that an SSD provides advantages is a combination of r/w speed and access time... much faster with SSD. ... and RAID0 is much faster (r/w-wise) than a single drive, so unless Skyrim loads completely from memory, the RAID0 provides an advantage with regard to loading times (and speed) when entering new cells or loading new games in Skyrim.

Indeed, Raid 0 would provide some improvement in loading times as random reads would be faster too. It's been a while since I raided any HDDs.

Let me know what exactly you'd like me to clarify about UAC or GameSave Manager, as I'm not quite sure what the confusion is about.
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#12 stoppingby4now

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 08:18 PM

I'm going to chime in with regards to HDD and Raid 0. It will absolutely improve sequential reads and writes (Skyrim will be primarily reads), and will allow you to hit about 2/3 of the bandwidth cap of SATAII (with diligent de-fragmenting). Raid 0 will NOT assist you in random reads and writes, the performance is still horrible and sub 1MB/s (you might be able to break 1MB/s with 10K drives). Fortunately, random reads and write aren't as common as sequential for most general use. One of the most noticeable times when you can see a vast improvement from moving from HDD to SDD in regards to random reads is when booting Windows.

#13 frihyland

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 08:40 PM

Just to clear up a bit on it, I have no idea what others are talking about when it comes to UAC and issues with Skyrim, I have none, and both Skyrim and Steam are on separate drives (physically).


Thats the point and what I recommend, by default steam and skyrim is installed in program files which is controlled by the UAC.
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#14 frihyland

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 08:44 PM

Let me know what exactly you'd like me to clarify about UAC or GameSave Manager, as I'm not quite sure what the confusion is about.


You may want to read the Skyrim Installation Guide and the Hardware Guide before you respond to a question asking for clarification on it. That way you won't accidentally confuse issues and it will help me see how improve the guides if we are talking in the same context.
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#15 z929669

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 09:31 PM

I'm going to chime in with regards to HDD and Raid 0. It will absolutely improve sequential reads and writes (Skyrim will be primarily reads), and will allow you to hit about 2/3 of the bandwidth cap of SATAII (with diligent de-fragmenting). Raid 0 will NOT assist you in random reads and writes, the performance is still horrible and sub 1MB/s (you might be able to break 1MB/s with 10K drives). Fortunately, random reads and write aren't as common as sequential for most general use. One of the most noticeable times when you can see a vast improvement from moving from HDD to SDD in regards to random reads is when booting Windows.

Totally makes sense that RAID0 will shine with regard to sequential but not random, as the latter obviates the benefit of a "fast read capacity". Thanks for pointing this out. (.. and I religiously defrag my drives :yes: ).



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