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I currently have a single 640 WD HDD with 16MB cache. Sometimes during heavy I/O usage the machine slows down.

Would I benefit much by getting a second HDD identical to the first and setting up a RAID-0 array?

My current setup is as follows:

Core i5-750 cpu
4gb ram
asus p7p55-m motherboard
9800gt nvidia gpu
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If you add a second disk and stripe them, you should see a performance increase as the wait time per disk will decrease. This is with the caveat that if one of the disks fails, you will essentially lose your data. Backups will be very important.

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In the question, you say that you are trying to avoid your computer slowing down during heavy I/O. This could be slow-down caused by CPU-load from the OS co-ordinating the I/O. Unless you buy an expensive RAID controller, you may find that going RAID-0 actually slows the system further, as the RAID controllers commonly found included on the motherboard typically do some of the work in software (the drivers).

If you can afford it, I would recommend you get an SSD. The hype is true, they are awesomely quick - much quicker than a 2 disk RAID-0 array, particularly for random access across many files.

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Agreed with the SSD suggestion, but good luck finding a big enough disk for an affordable price. :) – TheOne May 12 '10 at 12:21

Obviously, yes, since you gonna stripe the data across two disks, thereby using both heads in those drives for IO.

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