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Gaming PCs: RAID-0 and You.

When performance matters a RAID-0 "Stripeset" can, in theory, cut load times in nearly half for anything stored on the array


Today's competitive PC gamers are constantly looking for an advantage in the titles that they play. These players will study tactics, practice for hours, and consistently upgrade their PC looking for the slightest performance increase. One such upgrade is a RAID array of storage drives.

The acronym RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Drives and is a hardware or software solution that assigns data in different ways to provide fault tolerance or performance increases. Currently, there are four popular RAID formations: RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10. Generally, only RAID 0 is considered as a performance upgrade for gaming PCs.

What Is RAID 0

RAID 0 takes the data that would normally be stored on one drive and then splits it across two drives. Each time a file is written to a RAID 0 set of drives the data is separated into "stripes." Each "stripe" is between 16kb and 256kb depending upon the RAID 0 settings. The "stripes" are then assigned to each disk drive within the RAID configuration.

For example, consider that we are using a two-drive array in RAID 0 and we want to write a 128kb file. The RAID array splits the 128kb files into two equal 64kb stripes and writes one to drive 0 and the other to drive 1, simultaneously. Theoretically, the simultaneous writing of the stripes halves the overall write time of the 128kb file. Reading data works the same way, but in reverse.

The drawback to using a RAID 0 array in a gaming PC is fault tolerance. A RAID 0 drive failure with all of your data split into stripes will render the entire array useless. Should you loose a drive to hardware failure, your array is left with only half the information necessary to operate. It is recommended to have regular backups or to use a second RAID array in RAID 1 to guarantee the safety of data storage.

Will This Improve A Gaming PC?

Yes and no. Faster read and write times will not improve the performance of a game's frames per second, nor it's overall performance. However, the faster seek times from the RAID array will theoretically increase the speed in which the game is able to load and handles transition between zones or maps prodiving an overall benefit to the user experience.

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