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  1. #1
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    Hard Drive Comparison - SSD vs HDD vs Pendrive via both USB 2.0 and 3.0

    For moderator: Due to no reaction from Turbine Support to my request to move original thread from General Discussion forum to this one I have created new thread. If you don't want cloned threads, please delete the one from General Discussion forum and keep this one.

    Hard Drive Comparison


    There are a lot o myths around about hard drives and how they are affecting gameplay, loading times and framerate, so I decided to make some measurements to find out how important it is to have fast drive in LOTRO. Benchmarks contain performance and loading times measurements on SSD, HDD, and while playing on client launched directly from my Pendrive, via both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.

    For detailed analysis on game performance and performance guide visit Performance Guide and Stuttering Analysis
    For detailed description on what each graphics setting does visually, visit my Graphics Settings Breakdown.


    Basic computer Specs:

    CPU: Intel i3-4150 3.50 Ghz 3.50 Ghz
    GPU: Asus Radeon R9 270x 2GB DDR5 (256 bit)
    RAM: HyperX 2x4GB 1600MHz DDR3
    System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (installed on SSD disk)
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H81M-HD3


    Hard drives used:

    SSD: Crucial MX100 256GB SATA3 2.5" 550/330 MB/s 7mm (CT256MX100SSD1)
    HDD: Seagate 1TB, SATAIII, 7200RPM, 64MB cache (ST1000DM003)
    Pendrive: Kingston 32GB USB 3.0 DataTraveler G4 - (DTIG4/32GB)


    Graphics settings:

    DX 11, 1920x1080, 60 Hz, Ultra High, AA x8


    Used programs:

    AS SSD Benchmark
    HD Tune
    Fraps


    Measurements from AS SSD Benchmark of Read and Write rates


    SSD HDD USB 3.0 USB 2.0
    Write[MB/s] 329,43 140,63 68,34 39,35
    Read[MB/s] 508,87 207,90 149,26 42,34

    As you can see, differences between them are very noticeable.


    Measurements from HD Tune for Average Transfer and Average Access Time:


    SSD HDD USB 3.0 USB 2.0
    Average Transfer[MB/s] 300 168 115 42
    Average Access Time[ms] 0.1 15.7 0.5 0.2

    As you can see, differences between Average Transfer rates are very noticeable. But what is the most noticeable its a great difference in Average Access Time rates between HDD and the rest of hard drives. Average Access Time of HDD disk is 79 times longer than time of Pendrive via USB 2.0, 31 times longer than via USB 3.0, and 157 times longer than access time of SSD. What is also interesting, access time of USB 3.0 is longer than of USB 2.0, while all previous rates are better for USB 3.0 option quite decisively.


    Measurements of loading times for SSD, HDD, USB 3.0 and 2.0:

    Launcher Load Time - from clicking on Lord of the Rings Online icon to pressing Start Button in Launcher(entering password doesn't count)
    Character Screen Load Time - from pressing Start Button in launcher to Character Screen appearance(everything skipped on the way)
    Game World Load Time - from pressing Enter Middle-Earth Button to entering game world(moment when everything around me is fully loaded and FPS stabilized)


    SSD HDD USB 3.0 USB 2.0
    Launcher Load Time[s] 20.6 34 43.3 59.5
    Character Screen Load Time[s] 19.6 30.7 24.1 24.9
    Game World Load Time[s] 30.7 71.1 33.2 32.5

    As you can see, SSD disk is the fastest in every single measurement. What is very noticeable here is that Pendrive via both USB 3.0 and 2.0 has a very bad Launcher Load Times. For USB 3.0 you need to wait 2 times longer than on SSD, and almost 3 times longer if you are using USB 2.0 option. But everything changes with Character Screen Load Times. SSD is again the fastest, but you need to wait only 5 seconds longer with USB 3.0 and 2.0 options. You can also see that USB options have almost the same loading time of Character Screen. HDD is the slowest one in this measurement, and you need to wait 10 seconds longer than on SSD, and 5-6 seconds longer than on USB options. But the most decisive difference in those measurements are Game World Loading Times, where HDD disk is over 2 times slower than all other options. What is also worth seeing, USB options are almost as fast as much more expensive SSD disk.

    However, you can disable launcher loading screens. Simply right click on lotro_ad_pregame file in Program Files\Turbine\The Lord of the Rings Online\raw\en\logo, click Get Info and check Locked to make it read-only. From now your launcher is not going to download en, de and fr loading screens every time. It reduces Launcher Load Time significantly and makes differences between SSD and USB option less noticeable:


    SSD HDD USB 3.0 USB 2.0
    Launcher Load Time[s] 9.96 12.10 14.31 22.45

    Launcher Load Time is reduces twice for SSD and thrice for other options. Now even on USB 2.0 launcher is loading quickly which decreases disadvantage of very long Launcher Load Time for this option.


    Performance and stuttering:

    For detailed analysis on this matter visit Performance Guide and Stuttering Analysis. There you will see that stuttering frequency is over 3 times higher on HDD than on SSD.


    Conclusion

    As you can see, differences are quite substantial. While launcher loading time and character panel loading time may not be that important, because you are loading it once, game world loading times and stuttering frequency are very important things to consider. Three times reduced stuttering frequency on an SSD is a true game changer, and loading times affecting everything, whether your relog, use swift travel or enter the instance, you will be doing that 2 times longer on HDD than on SSD and Pendrive.


    Recommendations

    If you have some money to spend and for some reason you don't have SSD yet, buy it and setup your system on it. HDDs are slow and very loud, while SSDs are very fast and are not making any noises. Going from HDD to SSD is the one if the biggest upgrades you can make to your machine. Especially for LOTRO that is hugely benefiting from faster drives.

    If you are not willing to spend on an SSD or your machine is not compatible, Pendrive is fast, easy and cheap solution. It is almost as fast as SSD with loading times, doesn't require any knowledge, and you can take your game anywhere with you.

    Running LOTRO on HDD is not recommended because of much higher stuttering frequency. You can have the fastest CPU and GPU on the market but if you run LOTRO on HDD, you will be getting much more stuttering than on an SSD.
    Last edited by Unthariel; Feb 28 2017 at 07:35 AM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unthariel View Post
    If you have some money to spend and you want to increase performance of your PC overall, not only in-game, go for at least 256 GB SSD disk to have enough room for system, drivers, antivirus and your favorite games and programs.
    If you just want to increase loading times and overall performance of in-game mechanics, go for Pendrive and enjoy almost SSD performance for less than 20 dollars, even if you are playing on old PC without USB 3.0 port, 2.0 will do well enough, and much better than almost newly bought and highly recommended by experts good quality HDD, as you can see from my tests.
    If you are in good relations with you old friend HDD, then stay with him, but remember that there are much better options at hand, and he will still not lose his job if you go for them. There will be always gigabytes of trash to store somewhere
    Great analysis. I didn't go through the painstaking process of measuring everything you did, I used another form of feedback. My wife...

    She has a decent dual core laptop, but had been complaining of it's lack of speed starting the web browser and other programs. It has 8gb of RAM, I decided to try a 240gb SSD. The improvement was remarkable, over a twofold increase in load and boot speeds!

    Well, I bought myself a 480gb and my Win 7 load times went from 4 minutes (yeah, I really need to blow it all away and re-install) to under 20 seconds now. The game loads faster, etc.

    To everyone:

    Run a "Windows Experience Index" on your machine (right-click my computer, go from there), I guarantee your lowest score will be attributed to your mechanical HD, guaranteed unless your rig is garbage.

    Now that you're convinced to upgrade, you need to do two things...

    You can clone your old OS hard drive to the new SSD (even if they are different sizes, I did) using an application called Acronis True Image. Worked like a dream for me! I run Win 7, the only caution is this - some newer machines, laptops, somehow embed the CD key for Win 8 into the hardware, so I haven't experimented with how a cloning would work in that case. It *should* work provided the cloned SSD goes back in the same machine.

    Finally, spend money on a quality SSD. Samsung, the high end Crucials. You can get crummy ones that fail early or "forget" data.

    Anyway, that's my two cents...
    Irin r8 Hunter // Arngar r8 Burg // Akthuri r15 LM // Vishus r5 Captain // Curad r11 (active) Mini

  3. #3
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    Excellent analysis and very solid recommendations from Unthariel and Irin19. I have used SSDs in my desktop LOTRO gaming systems for the last 4 years, and USB Pendrives on my non-SSD (older, budget) laptops. The USBs are an easy step, and a big performance boost - cheap and can be 'installed' by the most technophobic user at little risk. An SSD, sized as Irin19 suggests, offers more benefits and IMO offers an excellent cost/benefit balance and is the Best Solution, but the Not-Quite-Ideal world many of us have to live in, the Pendrive option offers a nice, lower-cost option with a better cost/benefit ratio for me, especially for folks with limited budgets and concerns about self-installing hardware.

    Thank you both for your contributions to LOTRO users, gamers and computer users in general.
    Be well and good questing, all! See you about Middle Earth another time!

  4. #4
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    Threads in this forum are disappearing after some time, so bump

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Irin19 View Post
    Great analysis. I didn't go through the painstaking process of measuring everything you did, I used another form of feedback. My wife...

    She has a decent dual core laptop, but had been complaining of it's lack of speed starting the web browser and other programs. It has 8gb of RAM, I decided to try a 240gb SSD. The improvement was remarkable, over a twofold increase in load and boot speeds!

    Well, I bought myself a 480gb and my Win 7 load times went from 4 minutes (yeah, I really need to blow it all away and re-install) to under 20 seconds now. The game loads faster, etc.

    To everyone:

    Run a "Windows Experience Index" on your machine (right-click my computer, go from there), I guarantee your lowest score will be attributed to your mechanical HD, guaranteed unless your rig is garbage.

    Now that you're convinced to upgrade, you need to do two things...

    You can clone your old OS hard drive to the new SSD (even if they are different sizes, I did) using an application called Acronis True Image. Worked like a dream for me! I run Win 7, the only caution is this - some newer machines, laptops, somehow embed the CD key for Win 8 into the hardware, so I haven't experimented with how a cloning would work in that case. It *should* work provided the cloned SSD goes back in the same machine.

    Finally, spend money on a quality SSD. Samsung, the high end Crucials. You can get crummy ones that fail early or "forget" data.

    Anyway, that's my two cents...
    I had a very similar experience, even used the same cloning software.

    Don't agree with the 'quality SSD' recommendation though. You could get a bad SSD in the past (I had the infamous OCZ Vertex), but the last time such a really flawed SSD surfaced was years ago.
    Benchmarking programs will show marked differences between low and fast SSDs and even massive differences with a fast one on a modern M.2 connection, but they do that by asking the drive to do many things at the same time over a longer period. Actual PC usage is much lighter and you'll notice little difference. That is why reviews that rely on real life scenarios tend to recommend budget drives and the reviewers relying on benchmark software tend to favour the expensive ones.

    In practice, going from HDD to any SSD will make you go Wow! Going from SSD to a better SSD will be hardly noticeable. If you have $100 to spend, your first SSD will be the best upgrade you ever had.

  6. #6
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    SSds are great, but HDDs still have their place.

    I learnt that the hard way.

    When a HDD fails, it tends to do so gracefully; you get plenty of warnings, and even fairly late into the failure process, you can save most of the data stored on it.

    When a SSD fails, it is supposed to fail to "Read" mode, but my experience, and that of others, is that it just dies, no warning; and with total data loss.

    In my case, the SSD was only weeks old, and only 25% full.

    So SSD - great for OS and programs/games, bad for family photos/important documents.

    Yes, make back ups, but when a drive can fail in an instant, you may lose that brand new, once in a life-time family photo. In my case, it was 25% of the RAW photos taken of my daughters first proper Christmas (being old enough to open and play with her presents).

    The USB 2 & 3 scores were interesting though, were you using the same USB drive for both?

    My experience is that USB2 drives are a lot faster in a USB3 port, although obviously not up to USB3 speeds; in a USB2 port, they are MUCH slower than the figures you quote.

  7. #7
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    Cool tech info.
    Community Manager, Lord of the Rings Online
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    coolcool

  8. #8
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    Good to see this popping back up...

    I think the data is still basically accurate, even after Win10 has arrived.
    Be well and good questing, all! See you about Middle Earth another time!

  9. #9
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    I have edited this thread a bit and replaced those overly long and confusing descriptions with short and simple ones.

    I am also going to make some more in depth tests on how performance is affected by your hard drive. Now I have access to very old HDD drive with crazy 20 000+ hours power on time, so I will test it against typical ~3 year old HDD and 2 year old SSD, for performance and stuttering.

  10. #10
    My hard drive configuration;
    * Full system specs available here; https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing

    1xSSD 512 Mb for my System, Applications and Games.
    * The idea here is that I could wipe my system or replace the SSD drive without losing any important data.
    Sequential 2,542 Read / 1,446 Write
    Random 307,224 Read / 102,867 Write

    4xSATAII 7200 RPM in RAID10 total 1 Tb for all data.
    * This set-up is several years old but still performs really well.
    Sequential 890 Read / 863 Write
    Random 21,913 Read / 21,880 Write

    1xSATAIII 4 Tb for entire household complete system backups.
    * As a backup drive these speeds are acceptable, but SATAIII on its own is very slow.
    Sequential 127 Read / 126 Write
    Random 672 Read / 364 Write

    I use a 3-tier system for my system to minimize wear on my SSD while maintaining satisfactory speeds for data usage, with everything being backed up onto a separate large NAS.

    I used to use external USB drives for backing up but for whatever reason every week or two I'd have to unplug and plug the drives back into the system otherwise they'd get stuck in read-only mode. Since having the backup drive internal to the NAS PC I haven't had any issues.

    You will want to ensure that scheduled defrags are disabled for your SSD drive as this will decrease the drive's lifespan.

  11. #11
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    I have made SSD vs HDD stuttering analysis and posted it in Performance Guide and Stuttering Analysis, so old performance metrics are removed from this thread.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unthariel View Post
    Recommendations

    If you have some money to spend and for some reason you don't have SSD yet, buy it and setup your system on it. HDDs are slow and very loud, while SSDs are very fast and are not making any noises. Going from HDD to SSD is the one if the biggest upgrades you can make to your machine. Especially for LOTRO that is hugely benefiting from faster drives.
    I agree completely with your recommendations. Excellent work!

    As one with a background in Computer design over the years, the performance improvement ON ANY SYSTEM from swapping a HDD for a SSD cannot be over emphasized.

    LOTRO is a vintage 32-bit game. It can NOT use more than one CPU core, period. The game client was designed long before multiple core CPUs became common. The Client-code simply does not know how to use more than one at a time.
    However, simply swapping a HDD for a SSD is a big winner, where the difference in performance statistics is - "what you see is what you get!"
    The only other thing which comes close to having a similar impact is having at least 4GB, and preferably 8GB of main memory.
    Both of those upgrades impact the performance of your system, not of the LOTRO game client itself.

    The one thing I do not know that much about is how the Graphics aspects of the Game Client relate to the Graphics capabilities of any give card.
    Put another way - I do not know that having a contemporary high-performance GPU will make any significant difference in the game.
    Why?
    Simply because access to the GPU is a function of the Operating System, not the game client.
    Someone with more experience than I have with Graphics coding and design will have to answer that one.

    Computer system design is a collection of compromises -- mostly in the name of keeping costs down. i.e. performance is "good enough" at this price point.

    As many have discovered, especially with LOTRO, having the latest and greatest system, does not necessarily guarantee the greatest performance.
    (Frame Rates, Lag, Rubber Banding, etc.)
    Part of that is because so much of any MMO, and especially LOTRO is related to what everybody else is doing.
    Say you are in a six person Fellowship - the overall performance is going to depend upon the WORST rig in the group AND the SLOWEST ISP connection involved.
    Why?
    Because what you see on your screen is a composite of what the other 5 people in your Fellowship are doing; PLUS what any mobs and game content are being displayed. The performance of the SSG servers is only a small portion of the problem.
    Bill Magill Mac Player Founder/Lifetimer
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Valamar View Post
    As many have discovered, especially with LOTRO, having the latest and greatest system, does not necessarily guarantee the greatest performance.
    (Frame Rates, Lag, Rubber Banding, etc.)
    Part of that is because so much of any MMO, and especially LOTRO is related to what everybody else is doing.
    Say you are in a six person Fellowship - the overall performance is going to depend upon the WORST rig in the group AND the SLOWEST ISP connection involved.
    I'm sorry. But this just isn't accurate.

    I can have someone in a fellowship playing on a toaster and using tin cans connected by string as his ISP. . . and that's not going to cause my LotRO client to "drop frames, lag, or rubber band."

    I will see his toon go herky-jerky, pause, or otherwise act strangely. But his framerates or performance issues shouldn't and don't affect mine. The client-server model doesn't work like that. Unless, of course, it's been (almost purposefully) designed to be bad.

    --H
    Installing LotRO -- One Guide to Rule Them All!
    Purchasing LotRO -- Guide to Building Your Own "Lifetime" Account.

  14. #14
    Ah Good ol' Sap arguments.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by siipperi View Post
    Ah Good ol' Sap arguments.
    To be fair, he never blamed all lag or problems on client computers. He stated that the causes of lag and performance problems can vary from case to case. And in that, he was correct.

    I remember pretty distinctly because I was one of the folks who stuck up for him against the selective and supremely uncharitable parsing of what he had said.

    --H
    Installing LotRO -- One Guide to Rule Them All!
    Purchasing LotRO -- Guide to Building Your Own "Lifetime" Account.

  16. #16
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    Thread disappeared from forum again, refresh.

  17. #17
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    Thread disappeared from forum list again, refresh.

  18. #18
    Hello Everyone!

    Thank you for the time and effort for the thread. I'd never really considered a pen/flash/thumb drive to play off of, and now my old war-horse of a computer is much happier. I'm playing at Very-high again (frill at 50%, because I don't want it to be a jungle), and my HDD no longer sings of its impending doom when going through Bree.

    Picked up a 64g, because it was only $5 more than a 32g. Downloaded, and the game found my plugins with no problem. A night-and-day difference.

    Thanks again... Blunte

 

 

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