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SSDs and game performance – Everything you need to know

ssd and gaming performance

 

SSDs have become a highly sought after storage solution for both professional use and private use. There is no doubt that its high performance has played a key role in its popularization. But we should not forget that the drop in cost per gigabyte has also been fundamental.

Although it is true that the NAND Flash memory has experienced a considerable increase in price over the last few months, the price of SSDs has gradually decreased during the last few years until it reaches almost anyone. They are no longer prohibitive; its use has been extended to all sectors. And there are models with diverse capabilities and benefits that fit almost all budgets.

In general, we all have a clear idea of what an SSD is and how it works, but when it comes to associating it with gaming, some myths still remain that continue to generate certain doubts. For this reason, we wanted to make this special article structured in a question and answer format, in which we will help you to clear your doubts about what the SSDs really contribute in a gaming system and what is not.

Do SSDs increase frames per second in games?

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It is one of the most frequent questions and also an area where people have a great amount of doubt; can an SSD improve raw performance in games? Many believe that it won’t but the reality is totally different.

An SSD can help improve the frame rate per second in games; although it is true that it has a smaller impact and that in many cases the difference can be residual.

When we run a game, it has to perform disc reading operations. This is to load different elements such as textures and shadows. In an SSD the access times are shorter and the load is done faster. This can help reduce the effects of “popping” and give a slight push to the FPS.

The difference in terms of FPS is low (average of 3 to 5 FPS) but it exists. In this case, the most important thing is this improvement in the loading of the textures and the elements of the game. It can greatly improve the experience in many cases.

Is it true that SSDs greatly reduce load times?

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Yes, in fact, it is one of its most important advantages. A game can load up to three times faster on an SSD. Thanks to its shorter access times and higher reading speeds.

For your better understanding consider these two data:

SSD:

  • The average access time of 0.1 ms.
  • The average speed of sequential reading: 500 MB / s.
  • Average random read operations: 10,000 IOPS (Samsung 850 EVO).

HDD:

  • The average access time of 8 ms.
  • The average speed of sequential reading: 150 MB / s.
  • Average operations of random reading: 83 IOPS (WD Black).

In games like GTA V for example, the load of the synthetic performance test loads in 26 seconds using an SSD. On the other hand, with an HDD of 7,200 RPM, it rises to 55 seconds. This is a huge difference that extends to any new generation game in greater or smaller measure.

Taking into account that there are titles with quite frequent and relatively long load screens ( Destiny 2, Fallout 4 and Dark Souls III are three good examples). The advantage of using an SSD is obvious, as we will suffer less waiting and enjoy a better experience.

Recommended Read: SSD vs HDD? Which One to Buy?

Is it bad to use an SSD to install games?

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It is a prevalent myth that is related to the writing cycles that an SSD drive supports before entering read-only mode.

Over the years this type of storage units has undergone a significant improvement in terms of stability and reliability. this has gone to such an extent that it is possible to find units of 500 GB that support tens of terabytes of writing.

This means that its useful life is quite long and that we can use them without problems to install and uninstall games relatively often.

However, in extreme cases, it is better to opt for HDD as a compliment. this will be advantageous if we are going to install and uninstall very heavy games on a daily basis.

Is it essential to buy a PCI-E SSD?

Currently, most users use SSDs with SATA III interface for a very simple reason; they are relatively inexpensive and offer an excellent level of performance.

With the arrival of the PCI-E SSDs in their different versions (direct to the slot and M.2) a new trend has emerged that practically imposes the purchase of these to have a good user experience, but in reality, it does not make sense.

It is true that the differences are enormous since a SATA III SSD is around 500 MB/s and the PCI-E models reach 3,500 MB/s. But the current games are not able to take advantage of these enormous speeds. Which implies that for any user the first option is more than enough to enjoy a totally optimal experience.

Final notes

We think that having an SSD today is important and highly recommended. The only case in which we contemplate the unique use of an HDD is in low-budget equipment in which the storage capacity is essential, as for example in low-cost computers for gaming.

In case you have a small budget we recommend you to combine an SSD and an HDD. The first should be reserved for the operating system and to install only the essential. While the second would be as an additional solution for everything else.

This will allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds; the operating system will “fly” and everything you have installed in the SSD too. But you will not have to be erasing and installing things constantly since you will have the support of the HDD.

 

5 Things you should not do if you have an SSD

ssd

 

SSD units have become increasingly common thanks to the significant price drop in SATA-based models, as we know that those who use the PCI-E port still have quite high prices.

This boom experienced by hard disks is understandable since even in its most affordable variants make a huge performance difference compared to those, making the operating system and applications “fly”, and reducing load times.

Performance is one of its greatest advantages, but it is not the only one, they are also more efficient due to the lack of mechanical parts. It makes them especially recommended for portable equipment. Although we must be clear that to maximize their use and useful life there is a series of guidelines or tips that we must follow, and that we will tell you in this special article.

#1 Do not use defragmenting tools

SSDs are totally different from HDDs and work differently, which means that they do not need the same maintenance also.

Defragmentation is one of the best examples. The traditional hard drive can achieve a considerable performance improvement by grouping scattered data in sectors, but that benefit cannot be seen in SSDs, but also defragment reduces its life.

That being said, do not forget to disable the automatic defragmentation brought by certain operating systems, such as Windows, for example.

#2 Do not carry out cleanings

In the HDDs when we delete files, the sectors are marked as deleted, but until they are overwritten, those data remains and can be recovered if necessary.

For traditional HDD, tools that allow cleaning residual data are useful, but in the SSDs that have TRIM and are supported by compatible operating systems ( Windows 7 and higher, Mac OS X 10.6.8 and higher or current kernel-based Linux). 2.6.28 or higher) are not necessary.

In those cases when a file is deleted TRIM acts and deletes the data of the sectors immediately so that they can no longer be recovered and it is not necessary to clean, as we indicated.

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#3 Do not use old operating systems

It follows from the previous point, but it is worth specifying it. When we use old operating systems such as Windows XP, we will not have TRIM support.

This means that when you want to delete files you can not complete the sending of this command. The data will remain in the sectors of the disk. This will have an important consequence at the level of performance. When you want to record new data in those sectors, you will have to perform first delete operations and then write.

As you may have imagined this has a clear consequence. It adversely affects the overall performance of the disk and the system. With this in mind, it is clear that you should not disable TRIM either.

#4 Do not fill the SSD

Again it is a peculiarity inherent to the own way of working that the SSDs have, and it is not at all complicated or difficult to understand.

This type of storage solutions acts by storing information in blocks. When we have a lot of free space we have many free blocks. We can carry the writing operations with greater speed.

However, when an  SSD  has little free storage capacity, many of its blocks are partially occupied. It means that when we are going to perform a write operation it has to read the partially filled block in its cache, modify it with the new data that we want to record. and return it to disk.

This process will be repeated with each new operation that we make until the disk runs out, leaving no space, assuming a clear loss of performance.

Where is the optimum point then? Well, according to some media such as Anandtech the ideal is not to occupy more than 75% of an SSD to get the best possible balance.

#5 Do not perform writing operations consistently

As we anticipate an SSD has a certain number of writing operations that mark what is known as its life cycle.

Normally that number is very high. It allows a duration of several years so that we will probably end up changing the disc before it reaches the end of the road, but it is convenient to try to reduce the number of writing operations as much as possible. this maximizes its useful life.

In this sense, it is advisable to avoid the constant and continued installation and uninstallation of applications, especially those that are very heavy, such as games.

Finally a very important point, and we must avoid having very heavy files accumulated that will also be inactive for long periods of time, not because they are going to be a problem in itself for the SSD, but because with them we will be consuming a large amount of space unnecessarily and we will not really take advantage of that unit.

If we need to store large amounts of data that will be inactive for a while, such as diverse multimedia content, it is best to have an SSD as the main unit and complement it with an external hard drive, since they are very cheap and work wonders for these things.