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HDD and SDD for serving up different types of files?

splashsplash Registered User regular
edited September 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey there, (Edit, I always accidentally spell SSD as SDD)

I'm doing this thing were I'm slowly building a new desktop PC with the best components I can find at the best discounted prices. I'd like to finish it near the end of the year. I have the case and power supply. Since I'm not in a rush, I'm trying to think long-term about where components are headed in the future.

I know the general difference between SSDs and HDDs in what they are and I've heard about how SSDs excel at random files and HDDs can be as good when it comes to sequential files. So I'm wondering if there should be any change in my plans for what type of files to put where.

Keep in mind that I'm maybe a unique situation in that I don't need a lot of storage. I enjoy photography, but as an infrequent hobby, and otherwise I've started doing web development. Currently I'm only using 1.5GB in pictures. Documents are less than 1GB. I like music and movies, but not very many, and of that I only keep the ones I like a lot. Currently my music folder is about 2.5GB. I'd like to start getting music in higher format than mp3. I like downloading movies in 720p, which I'm sure at some point I'll start getting in 1080p when it becomes more common to do so. Currently my movies folder is 92GB. For games I use Steam frequently but tend to play only a handful of games per year, some demos, (and one or two games installed at one time). And I'll get SCII...

To put it into more perspective, my current 250 GB HDD has been more than enough space for about 3 years, but would run out in a couple years if I started downloading movies in 1080p.

As the price of things are going I'd probably get around a 120GB SSD and get a new HDD of 640GB both to run in the new machine. My questions are:

- I love when things load near-instantly.. Would keeping my documents, photos, and or music on the SSD be a good idea? Is there advantage to these file types running on the SSD rather than the HDD? Obviously I plan to put all movies on the HDD.

- Windows 7, Photoshop CS4, Dreamweaver CS4, Adobe Bridge, Steam, other games, and MS Office running on the SSD would all be the best idea? Other than that I don't have any other large applications. Should web browsers or uTorrent go on the SSD?

- What type of HDD should I buy at the end of the year? Is there not enough reason to go beyond 7200rpm 32mb cache SATA 3.0GB/s? I'm seeing SATA 6.0GB/s but people say current drives never need that much. What about 64mb cache versus 32? Would 10,000 rpm be louder than 7,200rpm? I want very quiet, low heat components.

Thanks if you indulge me in answering these minor details. I probably wrote way more than I needed to ask these questions.

splash on


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    Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I'm not really an expert, so I'll just let you know what I've read and you can decide how much of it is bs.

    I have also heard the SSD>HDD for non sequential files thing, but generally all the advice I see says to put programs on the SSD and data files on the HDD. I'm not really sure if that is because of the sequential/non sequential thing, but that's usually what you hear. If you are getting both anyway then there is nothing wrong with a little trail and error. Copy a word/music/photo file onto both and see which on loads faster.

    As for the SATA speeds, it's not really going to matter for general day to day stuff, it's more important for backups/data transfers. Long story short, if you are going to have one of the new interfaces (USB 3.0, eSATA 6 Gb, or Firewire 6.4Gb) then it might be worthwhile to get the newest SATA connections. Right now though I don't think anyone uses this interfaces yet.

    Jebus314 on
    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
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    BlochWaveBlochWave Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    <had some stuff here I deleted, didn't realize you said what size drives you were getting>
    Would 10,000 rpm be louder than 7,200rpm? I want very quiet, low heat components.

    Yes, but I've never found HDDs to be particularly loud. As for heat, also yes but your HDD just isn't a significant source of heat compared to your CPU and GPU. Same thing with power draw. If low power and heat are concerns, focus on those. If you like playing games, then give up on that goal ^_^

    Now about the SSDs. It's not that they're good at random files and bad at sequential, and vice versa for a HDD. It's that SSDs are really properly RAM (but of course we reserve that term for our slightly faster volatile memory). Random-access, it makes no difference on heaven or earth WHERE that actual magnetized bit is, it's gonna get it in the same time as it takes any other bit and deliver it to the CPU. Wheras for the HDD, if it gets a bit, then the next one it needs is behind it, you have to wait the nanosecond or so it takes for the head to travel all the way around. Doesn't sound like much, but a billion nanoseconds is a whole second!

    <my bad, you already said you're getting a 120 gig SSD> The idea at this point is to put your OS on it, because then you boot up super fast. If you have Win7 or Vista, that'll take up about 15 gigs. That leaves you enough space for a game or two, which will have faster loading times, and I would think you WOULD want to put things like a movie on it, but I guess movies play smooth even on old 5400 rpm drives.

    I RAGED at the ad so I didn't check, but I think this video compares boot times: so you can actually see how much faster it is.

    If you're going to get a SSD, I'd say just stick with the much cheaper 7200 RPM HDDs, and put the files you want to be accessed fast (OS and games) on the SSD. It's not about size, it's about how fast you want them. You don't really care whether your picture opens in 0.2 seconds or 0.1 seconds, but you care if you have to wait 15 seconds every time you die in DA vs. 7. At least if you suck like I do :)

    EDIT: Additional thought
    You mentioned putting your browser on your SSD. I don't think that'd help much. I guess it writes to the temporary internet files and stuff like that, but I would think that's pretty insignificant. It's like "oh no this web page won't load until the disk finishes reading something..." Also I just notice

    BlochWave on
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    splashsplash Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I plan to get a motherboard with about 2 USB 3.0 and 2 SATA 6GB ports just to be future-proof as I've been checking the motherboards out there and they seem to be including this now. I'll skip the Sata 6.0gb/s for the regular HDD for now.

    For sure I'll have to deal with heat for the cpu and gpu but I'll try to get custom solutions for those to decrease the heat and noise and so for the other components I don't want to have to worry about that (the hard drive for example).

    So I'm thinking for music and movies they can go on the HDD since after a movie or playlist loads there really isn't a problem with it ever not playing smoothly. I've checked a 1080p movie before and that was a-okay. I guess the GPU was more important in being able to play that file once its loaded.

    After watching the SSD versus HDD video I'm thinking about the difference between the program that loads a file and the file size itself. Like loading a 40Mb Photoshop file. How much is the difference in speed the fact that Photoshop the program loads from an SSD versus if the 40MB image file is on the HDD. It makes me think that I'll put my photos on the SSD because I'm starting to have some large photoshop files and such.

    splash on
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    BlochWaveBlochWave Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Yes, I think you have the right idea (or at least it's in line with what I understand the right idea to be), a 40 MB picture certainly laughs at my 0.2 second picture opening example.

    I was reading about HDD heating and power, and noticed if you go about halfway down on this link you can see some plots comparing power draws during start up (which I don't think you should worry about except for making sure the PSU can deal with it) and comparing like while idle and seeking, and trying to average out those numbers for a typical vs. intensive user. Since HDDs don't have their own cooling methods (heat sinks or fans) and are all the same form factor, I think it's fair to compare the power draws of different ones and assume you can compare the resulting heat build up too.

    It looks to me like power draw between 7200 and 10k isn't much, but the 15k jumps way up, which sounds right since it's newer technology and a larger jump anyways.

    BlochWave on
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