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Build Advice USB 3.0 External Drive vs SATA Internal Drive?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by mangozine, 15 Jan 2011.

  1. mangozine

    mangozine New Member

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    Hi Guys,

    Recently built a new system and VERY pleased with it (RevoDrive rocks...lol), I also recently bought an external USB 3.0 portable HDD which is very quick via a working USB 3.0 port -- I wondered (and yes, have had a search but there's not much out there), is it worth considering using an external drive to install and run games from?

    Basically my system is set-up as such that my games are installed on an internal SATA drive (3 GB connection), and although I don't have many complaints, it is extremely noticeable how quick the external drive is via a USB 3.0 port, and I just wondered whether it was worth considering installing the games on a separate USB 3.0 drive? -- Would this have a noticeable effect on loading times, etc. (am thinking Dawn of War II, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age here) anybody else had any experience with this?

    Like I said, it's very noticeable how quick the USB 3.0 drive is at copying/installing stuff, and I've used it to transfer most of my old files/games from the old PC to the new one, so I am seriously considering whether it's worth investing in a new one just to install my games on.

    Specs: Intel i7-950 3.07MHz (not overclocked yet), Asus PCX58D-E motherboard, NZXT Phantom case, NZXT 750W PSU, Sapphire Radeon HD4890 1GB Vapor-X, 6GB Kingston 1600MHz, 80GB RevoDrive, 500GB WD Green Caviar, 500GB WD My Passport Essential USB 3.0
     
  2. PocketDemon

    PocketDemon New Member

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    A slightly rambling (& probably repetitive) response unfortunately, but it's 8am & haven't slept... :(


    Anyway, whilst USB3 gains dramatically over USB2 in terms of speed, there's a couple of problems with what you're suggesting -

    1stly, you're obviously limited by the speed of the HDD itself -> as there are none that come close to the 3Gb/s limit then even if USB3 were equal in performance to 3Gb/s SATA there would be no improvement.

    & 2ndly, the big problem is that there's extra latency (plus issues with bidirectional transfers were you to use a raid solution) compared to SATA.


    Now, that's not to say that USB3 is a crock, as it does provide a much better alternative to 3Gb/s eSATA for external DAS raid arrays, has some advantages over both (sub 3200) firewire & consumer LAN in terms of speed & cost (these have others - esp power, cable length & (usually) latency) &, of course, (again) is much better than USB2 for single external drives, but it does have its limitations.

    So, forgetting things like video cameras & cheap single drive enclosures (where it will just replace USB2), probably the major usage will be raid DAS enclosures for tasks which depend upon sequential speeds -> video editing being the major one...


    Anyway, back to the original question, putting a HDD on the onboard controller will be quicker than the same drive into a USB3 enclosure so, whilst you 'could' install games on it, it wouldn't exactly be optimal.

    [Edit]

    Just need to make a correction as i've remembered that firewire 3200 'may' be faster than USB3.

    Well, whilst USB3 has a higher theoretical max speed, firewire has consistently been able to better use its potential & so this may make the 3200 version faster.

    Sorry for any confusion.
     
    Last edited: 16 Jan 2011
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  3. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes How many wifi's does it have?

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    Well said +1

    @mangozine, your question should be: Which is faster USB 3.0 or eSATA/eSATAp. eSATA is the internal SATA, just put outside. It requires that your enclosure have power, unless your enclosure and plug is a eSATAp, where power is carried with it (it's actually a USB port with a SATA port, you can plug in USB and eSATA plugs in it)

    SATA controllers are optimized for 1 thing.. data transfer from a storage device, and dual directional transfer, and everything is designed to reduce latency to minimal, for fast data read/write. USB 3.0 is not.

    Also, USB is heavy on the CPU, while SATA was designed to do the pooling for the CPU instead.

    The results?
    Based on the following review: http://hothardware.com/News/USB-30-and-SATA-6G-Performance-Preview/

    The reviewer used a normal 7200 2TB HDD

    USB 3.0:
    [​IMG]

    SATA 6 Gbps:
    [​IMG]

    As the drive doesn't push the new SATA 6Gbps, you should expect the similar results with eSATA or with the normal 3 Gbps SATA.

    In conclusion, we can see that attaching the drive to eSATA or a SATA connector will provide you with better performance overall, and greatly reduce CPU usage (CPU is interrupted only when needed with the SATA controller as the controller does all the work instead).
     
    Last edited: 15 Jan 2011
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  4. PocketDemon

    PocketDemon New Member

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    +1 back again... :)

    Whilst i knew the theory, i'd not seen any bms, so very interesting to see that it holds up...
     
  5. mangozine

    mangozine New Member

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    Thanks for your response, although the external drive is USB 3.0 connected to the motherboard USB 3.0 port, so am not sure if there'd be any advantage in trying to connect it to the eSATA port. By the sounds of it though, the SATA is optimised for faster read/write access, drawing less power from the CPU/motherboard, so that suggests that despite the apparent upturn in speed it won't necessarily be ideal for long-term game storage/playing?
     
  6. RichCreedy

    RichCreedy Hey What Who

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    i still would prefer to see a normal 3Gbps sata result as well
     
  7. PocketDemon

    PocketDemon New Member

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    i should have double checked the link myself first off but was a bit busy & assumed that Goodbytes would have done so...

    ...however, having just done so, i believe we're likely to be misinterpreting these b/ms... ...so apologies...


    Well, whilst the results aren't far from what i'd expect, they don't appear to be comparing apples with apples -

    "we got our hands on an external USB 3.0 hard drive and one of Seagate's new 2TB SATA 6G hard drives"

    - which strongly suggests that there isn't parity between the 2 drives & so it's not a fair comparison.

    [NB they actually appear to be comparing 'random external USB3 drive' on USB 2.0 vs 3.0 & separately 'Seagate XT' on 3Gb/s vs 6Gb/s SATA, so it's not the website's fault - though it would have made much more sense to have directly comparible ones.]


    it's also a slightly limited test of 3Gb/s vs 6Gb/s - this using alt ones which in many cases shows the 3Gb/s connection being better.


    Separately, i'm about to make a slight correction to my first post, as i've remembered that firewire 3200 'may' actually be faster than USB3.
     
  8. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes How many wifi's does it have?

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    Crap... I miss read..
    Sorry everyone!
    :(
     
  9. PocketDemon

    PocketDemon New Member

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    After both of the apologies though & despite the b/m not showing what was thought, the fundamental limitations of USB3 are still there - so it still wouldn't be great to stick your games/apps on an external USB3 device...

    ...we're just missing the b/ms to show the actual difference with a specific HDD.
     
  10. shuffl2me

    shuffl2me New Member

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    hi guys,

    basically i am asking the same question, but not for games this is for music samples in a music production scenario.

    so i have a 1tb USB 3.0 hdd and an old 5900rpm 500gb Samsung sata rive (internal).

    my question is which would be better for storing my music samples on, the internal or the USB 3.0?

    i noticed on the 2 test you have shown in this thread that the read times really aren't that different, but then my hdd spins a fair bit slower (it is only read time i am interested in really)

    thanks guys

    Andy
     

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