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2.20.2012

Running Steam from a small Solid State Drive

Solid State Drives are the future of storage.  Everyone knows it, but they’re still just too dang expensive for most people to use for much more than a laptop system.  I would like to move my whole desktop system over to one, but it’s just not plausible.  I don’t want to fuss with reinstalling windows, and I don’t want to drop the cash for a really large SSD when 7200RPM hard drives are still pretty fast.  Then I got to thinking, what tasks do I really want to accelerate with the SSD?  Well, mainly my desktop is used for gaming, web browsing, and photo storage.  I play a lot of games on Steam.  I started to consider getting a 80GB or 120GB SSD just for my Steam install, but that didn’t seem practical from a price perspective.  Fast forward a couple of weeks…I’m at Fry’s with a friend and we find out they have some medium quality 32GB Patriot SSD’s in stock for $50 each with a $10 rebate.  Now we’re talking.   I picked up one of these for my Steam games experiment. 

I used the mounting tray from my Intel 320 retail package, but there are lots of solutions to get a 2.5” drive into a 3.5” drive bay. 

IMG_3981

I installed it on an extra SATA 2 port and got it firmware updated, formatted, and partitioned in Windows.

Once I could see the drive in Vista, I downloaded SteamTool.
http://stefanjones.ca/steam/

I use SteamTool to move just the 1-2 games I’m currently playing over to the SSD.  SteamTool handles moving the files and creating SymLinks so that Steam thinks everything is still on the main conventional hard drive. 

This method is cheap, pretty simple to implement, and a 32 or 40GB SSD will hold several reasonable sized Steam games. 

I’ve been running Skyrim this way & it’s working great.  Load screens are shorter…still not instant, but faster than on the old drive.  Small loads like houses, and courtyards happen almost instantly.  I’ll be testing this as time goes on and seeing how the performance changes in other types of games that use different file structures.  I should see the most benefit on any games that load lots of small files in a random fashion. 

More Cheap SSD's on Amazon that would work for this Project