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Windows 7: Gaming off of an External HDD boosts performance?

28 May 2011   #1

7 Ultimate x64 SP1
Gaming off of an External HDD boosts performance?

Has anyone else also gaming on an External noticed any performance increases at all?

It's like I'm gaming on a whole new, improved system. Not exaggerating. This thing doesn't heat up as much anymore, loading times have been cut in half, games respond better (less 'lag', not that there was a ton before) and I've been able to boost up the graphics in most games (where previously I was held back due to it overheating). This is all over USB 2.0 also - no eSATA/Firewire etc.

How is this possible? Granted, the HDD inside the system is only running @ 5400RPM and the External @ 7200RPM, but that can't possibly account for all of these improvements... could it? Not that I'm complaining! Just blown away and curious...

My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 May 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64/Windows 8 Consumer Preview x64/Ubuntu 11.04

By 'over and external HDD' do you mean having the game saved on there? All of my games are installed/saved onto my HDD if that's what you mean. :/
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 May 2011   #3

7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by JaidynM View Post
By 'over and external HDD' do you mean having the game saved on there? All of my games are installed/saved onto my HDD if that's what you mean. :/
That's exactly what I mean. Just wondering if this is typical, or if I just got lucky lol.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

30 May 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Well, of course there is going to be some sort of benefit from having your games installed on an external HDD, the read and write speed might give you slow loading times, the reason it gives you a boost is you've freed up the primary hard drive for windows to use up all and any resources for background tasks, I install all my games on a secondary hard drive (internal) because of the performance.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2011   #5

7 Ultimate x64

Other than map loading, games don't use hard drives... they just don't, so any in game "performance increase" can only be an illusion... probably caused by the joy of getting and playing with a new toy... happens to me all the time.

Also, it's not that Windows is "finally getting to breath". You have 4GB of RAM and no game uses more than 2. So, Windows was breathing fine all along. Again, new toy syndrome.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2011   #6


You can experience improvments during load phases by putting games on a seperate drive but the gains are minor.

the fact stated above by fumz is correct your hdd has little to no effect on game performance as it preloads the game and caches data accordingly as well as move relevent data to the ram ahead of time, giving massive idle times on the hdd during gameplay, it does however improve load times as proven by the speed of ssd drives.

it sounds to me like your either seeing it because it's a new toy or your filesystem is a complete disaster.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2011   #7

7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Well, I'm not so sure its non-effective... this is a Notebook. I'm noticing that the internal HDD does not make noises while gaming anymore, and it doesn't feel blisteringly hot to my fingers (HDD bay sits right under the pointer pad and into the keyboard a ways). I'd been having some problems with the heat, especially on Oblivion, holding some of my system's potential performance back because if I put them on "High" it would overheat and shut the system down. That's not an issue anymore, and I'm thinking that's because the External's being slammed instead of the one inside, lowering the overall ambient temps, which frees up the main hardware to get a little hotter on their own. Could be wrong, but that's all I can think to thank for these slight (though to me, major increases).

All I really know besides that is the loading times have been more than halved, especially with massive games like 'The Sims 3' (mine is well over 15GB overall with the expansions and stuff packs, store stuff etc). I once counted it taking 10 minutes just to load up before the main game screen! Now it is more like 3 minutes, and to me that's a huge difference.

However, even if it was an 'illusion', its still faster and behaving better. I think everyone should try this, especially on portable PC's. But no, this is certainly not 'new toy syndrome'... have had the External these are on for about 4 years now, but only thought to put all of the games onto it once I'd retired its main purpose to a new 2TB drive (had to do something with the 500GB, wasn't going to toss it or sell it lol).

All of this said, and as I've said before, it is most likely that this External has a bigger cache and runs more RPM than the Internal HDD. Just thought it interesting to discuss... thought maybe it could help others who game on portable PC's as well. Whatever the true cause of these increases, I'm grateful all the same and the only thing I've changed is putting the games on the External, so it has to be something to do with it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Gaming off of an External HDD boosts performance?

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