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Recently, I assembled a new computer for personal use. With a top-notch CPU and video card installed, and reasonably fast RAM, the hard disk is now the main bottleneck in the system. The 3TB seagate drive, running 7200rpm, is easily brought to 100% workload when stressing the system, and seems to be keeping other components back.

I'm looking to replace this hard disk with a better solution (SSD), but I have no idea how to best do this. I would like to use a PCIe device, due to their speed ratings, but read a lot about people having trouble booting from those. Is it, generally, possible to use a PCIe SSD as windows system drive?

I have 3 PCIe slots on my MB (x16/x8/x16). However, I also have a high end video card (Radeon HD 7990) running. Will the MB PCIe bus be able to handle both the video card AND SSD?

What would be the other problems I need to be aware of?

I visited Asrock's website for my board, but found no clues as to whether it allows PCIe booting.

Roundup of my system hardware

The SSD I had my eye on is the OCZ Revodrive 3 X2. Unfortunately, I read one buyer review of someone who was unable to use it as boot device. If that is the card or his MB, I don't know.

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So what is the question? We cant give you advice on hardware shopping here! And seconds your HDD should not be doing 100% you have some serious issues there. Ask a proper localised question not some essay. –  ppumkin Jun 14 '13 at 8:57
    
The hard drive doesn't constantly do 100%, I should've nuanced that. It easily reaches 100% workload when I stress the system, while all other components easily manage. Furthermore, the question is how I should improve my hard drive bottleneck situation, as I lack expertise. Concretely, my questions are in the list. Lastly, stackexchange meta told me this was the place to ask this question. –  Mark Tielemans Jun 14 '13 at 9:02
    
A little bit more nuance would certainly help - I think this question would boil down to, really "Can I, and what should I look at, when using a PCIe SSD as a primary boot drive" –  Journeyman Geek Jun 14 '13 at 9:09
    
How- What can you be possibly doing that you are getting bottleneck problems with a modern hard drive? –  ppumkin Jun 14 '13 at 9:16
    
I've cleaned up the question somewhat, removing a lot of information which made it look like a purchase recommendation. Its a lot simpler now, and I believe should be more answerable. –  Journeyman Geek Jun 14 '13 at 9:17

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It really depends on what you are doing. For games the initial load speed and possible level changing can be increased significantly. BUt you don't need PCIe to do that.

Your motherboard supports SATA3 600MB/s. A normal hard drive does about 50~80mbs.

Most medium SSD's perform around 300MB's so you not even getting half the bandwidth. It seems you got enough dosh to splash out so you can read this comparision and realise that the fastest on there only goes up to 550MB/s (but it is linear read not random)

So that is already up to 12 times faster than your traditional hard drive.

Fine. PCIExpress gives you 1Terabye/s because they use RAID and special techniques to increase linearly read.Like a Revo Drive.

I would suggest use a normal SATA SSD for your OS, then load all your games, applications and intensive stuff onto the PCIexpress card. With 16GB ram that should be a cracking PC (You could put your swap on the PCI Express)

PS- You can put your PC into sleep mode instead of booting each time. Windows 7 and 8 is built for that. Press button, Windows is active in 1 seconds. No need to boot each time.

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With a 64GB SSD at 500MB/s rw speed not costing much these days, this seems a very attractive option. Does this mean, however, it is indeed not (realistically) possible to boot from a PCIe device? –  Mark Tielemans Jun 14 '13 at 9:48
    
It is realistic but as you already know it is difficult in some cases. Keep It Simple - ANd use a good SATA Drive as your OS and if you r REALLY need that 1GB/s then use a PCIe drive as a scratch drive or application container. –  ppumkin Jun 14 '13 at 9:51
    
Thanks for the help, this is my option of choice! –  Mark Tielemans Jun 14 '13 at 10:00
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Thanks for your advise, SATA and PCIe SSD's are the way to go for me! :) –  Mark Tielemans Jun 14 '13 at 12:23
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I am gonna buy an OCZ Vertex 450 soon for gaming - Load times are blasted away. No prob. Sorry for rough start. –  ppumkin Jun 14 '13 at 12:27

PCIe SSDs aren't going to enter the mainstream until 2H 2015 at this point. You're going to be paying a huge price premium for a gain in performance that you honestly won't notice over a SATA SSD.

Since you're currently on 3TB platter drive, I offer the following advice, as a Z77 Extreme 4 owner who made this switch several years ago.

1) The cheapest (and also biggest bang for the buck) solution is to keep the 3TB and buy nearly any SSD on the market that fits your budget for boot sector and games. You'll notice an enormous difference when playing games, especially level load times. It's like night and day. Everything else (including games you don't have room for) can hide on the 3TB drive until you need it again.

2) Instead of buying a single 512gb drive for 200 bucks, buy two 256gb drives for 100 each and run them in Raid 0 for the exact same price. Or buy 4 and run them in Raid 10. I was going to suggest Raid 5, but the parity calculations apparently make Raid 5 a performance killer for SSD use.

I've personally had nothing but good luck with SSDs so far in terms of reliability but your mileage may vary. Incidentally, most people that have tried raided SSDs have gotten great looking benchmark results, but the real world benefits are marginal at best.

3) Buy a PCIe drive, which is not really a mainstream technology yet. You'll basically be beta testing and paying a huge premium to do so. And again, the benefits over regular SSD will be marginal at best. Once PCIe becomes mainstream, the prices will come down extremely low (IMO, obviously) and you can pick one up for the prices we currently pay for SATA, at which point it's stupid not to get one.

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Not long after I bought the RevoDrive it went EOL. Mine broke and I got my money back, but no same price replacement. The current RevoDrive 350 is even more expensive than it was (ocz.com/consumer/revodrive-350-pcie-ssd). What makes you say PCIe SSDs will become mainstream anytime soon at all? Edit: for compiling software, the revoDrive saved me many minutes each day. Also, it was very reliable until it plain broke, which I think was just bad luck. –  Mark Tielemans Feb 17 at 16:20
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Apparently Samsung has begun placing PCIe drives into OEM channels recently and it is expected that Intel and a few other vendors will be debuting PCIe drives at computex this year. I mean, the bus is not a new technology and ssd drives are no longer a new technology, so I think it was only a matter of time before they began combining them. It's the only way to differentiate their products at the high end- currently the bargain and the high performance Sata SSD drives are a few percentage points in performance from one another. –  Jim W Feb 17 at 16:37
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I still think that we're a couple of years away from affordable PCIe drives. If you really the need bandwidth, raided half-capacity SSDs are probably the way to go. –  Jim W Feb 17 at 16:39
    
That's what I'm doing for a couple of months now, and I can confirm it works very well! –  Mark Tielemans Feb 17 at 16:42

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