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post #706 of 21760

Those tickets are pretty expensive :)

 

If you're really looking into a laptop, you could get a gaming one. You'd be surprised at how much power they pack into those chassis. Here's the updated, 17 inch version of my own laptop.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834230406

 

It has better specs than Alienware's latest, and costs less too. 

post #707 of 21760
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I mentioned Black Mesa a few pages back. I'm excited about it.

post #708 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coq de Combat View Post

I actually did not know about that when it comes to SSDs. Here's the thing, it has been a long ago since I built my last PC (apart from the life saving upgrades I had to do a couple of years ago because the mobo got fried). So, you mean to tell me that RAID-ing SSDs can become problematic? The thing is that newer laptops come with SSDs in RAID 0. For example the unreleased Asus Zenbook U500 (very promising looking ultrabook that actually packs a punch), and the gaming laptop MSI GT70-0NE. I know this because I am also planning on buying myself a new laptop as well, because my old Vaio is pretty much poo at this point. It's tired. It needs to become my wifes surfing laptop and not a laptop with lots of programming and other heavier tasks, so to say.

 

Thanks for letting me know about RAID-issues with SSDs. I might just have to plan on getting a bigger SSD along with one or two mechanical storage HDDs.

The 690 is just one card, that is capable of SLI (up to quad I believe). That's another good point about the drivers. Sounds more and more like I should aim for the $1000 690.

 

It depends on the RAID controller.

 

The whole mess is a byproduct of the way the flash cells are read from, written to, and erased.  A cell can't just be overwritten, it has to be erased first and that takes extra time.  Often just as much as it takes to write the data so if all you've got filled cells your write speed can be cut in half or more.  That was never an issue with normal magnetic discs.  The software has a logical address it wants to write to and the drive's firmware would convert it to a physical address and write the data.  Deleting a file only needed to remove it from the file system and not write 0s over every sector that was part of the file or something because the head can just as easily write to that sector regardless of what's in it

 

Since an SSD can't do that they act a bit funny.  Left by itself, without any of the tricks I'll explain, an SSD's write speeds will get slower and slower as it's used regardless of free space in the file system.  To increase write speeds the SSD's firmware will change the logical to physical address mapping on the fly in order to prefer writing to empty cells.  Eventually every memory cell has been written to once and because any memory cell that was ever written to has to be erased in a separate step before new data can be written the whole drive will write at something like half the speed it did when it was new.

 

There are ways to get around that though.  Some drives have firmware that can understand some of the more common file systems and actually "know" what they're writing to memory so it can tell what's supposed to be file data, what's leftover data that's been marked as deleted by the file system, and what's supposed to be free space.  Then when the drive is idle it will basically clean house and reorganize things.  It almost ends up like Tetris because of another quirk the the memory cells.  Or maybe garbage collection?  I only do a little programing.

 

The smallest unit of cells that can be written to is larger than the the smallest unit that can be read from which can really slow down write speeds.  It's kind of like cluster size and "slack" in a file system except that the slack space is just much slower to write to instead of completely lost.  To write new data to a half full 'cluster' (I have no idea what the real term for it is...) the controller board has to read the data that's already there, store it in RAM (the controller board's), erase the cluster, and re-write the old data along with the new.  Since this is several times slower than just writing to a blank cell, idle SSDs will try and organize their data so that as there as few partially filled 'clusters' as possible so new writes can always be directed to completely empty, pre-erased 'clusters' and remap as necessary.

 

All that automatic stuff is pretty damn difficult to do well so SSDs have another feature designed to keep their performance up.  It requires help from the OS.  The most common name is 'trim' but there are some others that I can't remember right now.  Basically it's the OS sending a message to the drive that explicitly tells it a file was deleted and the SSD can erase it the next time it's idle.  Windows has had it since Vista IIRC and newer linix and OSX version have it too but I've got no clue exactly which versions.  The problem with trim commands and RAID is that the RAID controller has to read the trim command from the OS, figure out how to split it between it's constituent drives, and then send it's own trim commands to each drive.  That's not all that hard to do, but you have to make sure the RAID controller has that feature.  IIRC they're not very common and mostly pretty new.

 

If your RAID control can't pass on trim commands there's another trick you use called over-provisioning.  It's basically just sacrificing part of the drive's storage capacity to use as a buffer.  You just have to make partitions that don't fill the whole disk the firmware will use the unpartitioned space as the buffer.  If it needs to write new data and the cell it's told to write to isn't already erased it will just write the new data to the empty unpartitioned space, swap the cells logical to physical address assignments, and mark the new unpartitioned cells for erasing when idle.  THe usual amount recommend to leave open for the firmware is 20%.

 

It's important that the unused space be unpartitioned, not just an empty partition, since an empty partition will have to be treated like any other with data that needs to be preserved so the garbage collection doesn't eat your data.  If you get a bare drive without any partitions on it already then just make ones that are 80% of the total size and you're good to go.  If the drive already has a partition on it then you need to do an ATA Secure Erase on the drive to erase all the cells and then make a new partition that's 80% (or whatever you decide to use) of  the total size.

 

EDIT:  It really would have been faster to just find a link.  Once I start I can't stop...


Edited by maverickronin - 9/17/12 at 2:55pm
post #709 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post

Those tickets are pretty expensive :)

 

If you're really looking into a laptop, you could get a gaming one. You'd be surprised at how much power they pack into those chassis. Here's the updated, 17 inch version of my own laptop.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834230406

 

It has better specs than Alienware's latest, and costs less too. 

The thought has struck me more than once. The things that always draw me back a bit, is that:

 

A) Their performance does not really equal the performance of a desktop gaming rig

 

B) Their prices do definitely equal those of desktop gaming rigs relative to performance

 

C) Their battery time usually suck so it wouldn't be something I'd bring along unless it's on a trip

 

So, you get less performance for more money.

 

On the other hand, what always bring me back to contemplating:

 

A) They are very movable and transportable, which obviously leads to my second point..

 

B) ..we do spend some time at my parents in laws summer house on the countryside. Sometimes for a whole vacation.

 

So, this leads me to actually want to have an ordinary desktop gaming rig, and a not-that-good ultrabook, but good enough to bring on trips and vacation. More specifically this one:

 

 

Decisions, decisions ...

 

A gaming laptop with an ultrabook, a gaming rig with a laptop, a gaming rig with a tablet, a gaming rig with a macbook pro ... and so on. 

post #710 of 21760
One of the Big Truths of computer HW is that there's ALWAYS a "xxx coming in a few months"...

Thinking like that will drive you insane! tongue.gif


Edit: A good tech presentation on the problems of SSDs in RAIDs: http://www.research.ibm.com/haifa/conferences/systor2011/present/session5_talk2_systor2011.pdf
Edited by billybob_jcv - 9/17/12 at 3:13pm
post #711 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coq de Combat View Post

 

A) Their performance does not really equal the performance of a desktop gaming rig

 

B) Their prices do definitely equal those of desktop gaming rigs relative to performance

 

C) Their battery time usually suck so it wouldn't be something I'd bring along unless it's on a trip

 

 

That's ultimately the tradeoff for a moving gaming system. I'm a bit biased since I'm constantly flying/moving around, so a high performance laptop serves me very well.

 

For what it's worth, you could get an hour and a half of gaming on battery. A tablet would be great if you get a high capacity model, because you could get the long battery life of an ultrabook with the versatility of a tablet. Keep an eye out for those Microsoft Surface tablets.

post #712 of 21760
The big thing that would turn me off of a gaming laptop is that you are probably really going to be using it as a desktop when you game. You will want your big monitor, your nice keyboard & mouse, your headset and your comfy chair. If you are going to be using it as a desktop, then get a desktop - the cooling aspect alone is worth getting the desktop. There is no way that a laptop form factor is going to provide you the speed & stability of a well-cooled desktop. You said you have a Vaio - Vaio's are infamous for two things: 1) Small, excellent form factor and 2) stability problems & noisy fans due to poor cooling in the small form factor. All of our executives love their Vaios, and I deal with these issues every week!
post #713 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

The big thing that would turn me off of a gaming laptop is that you are probably really going to be using it as a desktop when you game. You will want your big monitor, your nice keyboard & mouse, your headset and your comfy chair. If you are going to be using it as a desktop, then get a desktop - the cooling aspect alone is worth getting the desktop. There is no way that a laptop form factor is going to provide you the speed & stability of a well-cooled desktop. You said you have a Vaio - Vaio's are infamous for two things: 1) Small, excellent form factor and 2) stability problems & noisy fans due to poor cooling in the small form factor. All of our executives love their Vaios, and I deal with these issues every week!


Or, as we discussed in part 1 of this thread  - get both.  A gaming laptop for hotel rooms and visits to family, and a desktop for the big monitor and easy chair.

 

My gaming desktop (actually a Small Form Factor mATX system) is in my office, and when my gaming laptop isn't traveling it's hooked to the big TV in my living room.

 

The other advantage to getting both is it may inspire you to settle for a little bit lower specs on the laptop, and game at medium detail on that one, and then save the high detail gaming for the desktop.

post #714 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

The big thing that would turn me off of a gaming laptop is that you are probably really going to be using it as a desktop when you game. You will want your big monitor, your nice keyboard & mouse, your headset and your comfy chair. If you are going to be using it as a desktop, then get a desktop - the cooling aspect alone is worth getting the desktop. There is no way that a laptop form factor is going to provide you the speed & stability of a well-cooled desktop. You said you have a Vaio - Vaio's are infamous for two things: 1) Small, excellent form factor and 2) stability problems & noisy fans due to poor cooling in the small form factor. All of our executives love their Vaios, and I deal with these issues every week!

This has always been in my mind, but it's simply not feasible for me. For one thing, I'm always flying back to my home country and staying there for 2 months annually (well it should end this year...). So for me, a a student who wants the speed of a good, capable desktop setup, but can't really live without it for an extended amount of time (2 months is freaking long), gaming laptop/desktop replacement is the only way to go for me. And yes, my laptop bag alone with the power adapter, mouse and external hard disc is as heavy as my cabin luggage LOL.

But for the love of me, this 15 inch beast is as heavy as my previous 14 inch laptop. confused.gif
post #715 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

The big thing that would turn me off of a gaming laptop is that you are probably really going to be using it as a desktop when you game. You will want your big monitor, your nice keyboard & mouse, your headset and your comfy chair. If you are going to be using it as a desktop, then get a desktop - the cooling aspect alone is worth getting the desktop. There is no way that a laptop form factor is going to provide you the speed & stability of a well-cooled desktop. You said you have a Vaio - Vaio's are infamous for two things: 1) Small, excellent form factor and 2) stability problems & noisy fans due to poor cooling in the small form factor. All of our executives love their Vaios, and I deal with these issues every week!

 

I can't argue with the monitor part, but the keyboard and mouse part don't make much sense to me..you should see the hardware available on the laptop now. Plus, this is head-fi...we all have awesome head(phones)sets.

 

BTW, sorry if I'm coming off as argumentative. I haven't slept in 36 hours.

 


 

Now this I can get down with. They took an annoying song, and turned it into something beautiful. Please listen with headphones, it would be an injustice if you didn't.

 

post #716 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post

I can't argue with the monitor part, but the keyboard and mouse part don't make much sense to me..you should see the hardware available on the laptop now. Plus, this is head-fi...we all have awesome head(phones)sets.

BTW, sorry if I'm coming off as argumentative. I haven't slept in 36 hours.


Nah - no worries! I was just assuming that all you L33t gamers have your favorite "gaming keyboard" and "gaming mouse" that is festooned with more buttons than an F22, and that gaming with a laptop keyboard and trackpad would be like cutting off your left nut... tongue.giftongue.giftongue.giftongue.gif
post #717 of 21760

Well my 4.ai's JUST got here, man these sound awesome!

plus i got s/n 0011


Edited by SixthFall - 9/17/12 at 3:53pm
post #718 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post

 

 

Quote (Click to show)

 

It depends on the RAID controller.

 

The whole mess is a byproduct of the way the flash cells are read from, written to, and erased.  A cell can't just be overwritten, it has to be erased first and that takes extra time.  Often just as much as it takes to write the data so if all you've got filled cells your write speed can be cut in half or more.  That was never an issue with normal magnetic discs.  The software has a logical address it wants to write to and the drive's firmware would convert it to a physical address and write the data.  Deleting a file only needed to remove it from the file system and not write 0s over every sector that was part of the file or something because the head can just as easily write to that sector regardless of what's in it

 

Since an SSD can't do that they act a bit funny.  Left by itself, without any of the tricks I'll explain, an SSD's write speeds will get slower and slower as it's used regardless of free space in the file system.  To increase write speeds the SSD's firmware will change the logical to physical address mapping on the fly in order to prefer writing to empty cells.  Eventually every memory cell has been written to once and because any memory cell that was ever written to has to be erased in a separate step before new data can be written the whole drive will write at something like half the speed it did when it was new.

 

There are ways to get around that though.  Some drives have firmware that can understand some of the more common file systems and actually "know" what they're writing to memory so it can tell what's supposed to be file data, what's leftover data that's been marked as deleted by the file system, and what's supposed to be free space.  Then when the drive is idle it will basically clean house and reorganize things.  It almost ends up like Tetris because of another quirk the the memory cells.  Or maybe garbage collection?  I only do a little programing.

 

The smallest unit of cells that can be written to is larger than the the smallest unit that can be read from which can really slow down write speeds.  It's kind of like cluster size and "slack" in a file system except that the slack space is just much slower to write to instead of completely lost.  To write new data to a half full 'cluster' (I have no idea what the real term for it is...) the controller board has to read the data that's already there, store it in RAM (the controller board's), erase the cluster, and re-write the old data along with the new.  Since this is several times slower than just writing to a blank cell, idle SSDs will try and organize their data so that as there as few partially filled 'clusters' as possible so new writes can always be directed to completely empty, pre-erased 'clusters' and remap as necessary.

 

All that automatic stuff is pretty damn difficult to do well so SSDs have another feature designed to keep their performance up.  It requires help from the OS.  The most common name is 'trim' but there are some others that I can't remember right now.  Basically it's the OS sending a message to the drive that explicitly tells it a file was deleted and the SSD can erase it the next time it's idle.  Windows has had it since Vista IIRC and newer linix and OSX version have it too but I've got no clue exactly which versions.  The problem with trim commands and RAID is that the RAID controller has to read the trim command from the OS, figure out how to split it between it's constituent drives, and then send it's own trim commands to each drive.  That's not all that hard to do, but you have to make sure the RAID controller has that feature.  IIRC they're not very common and mostly pretty new.

 

If your RAID control can't pass on trim commands there's another trick you use called over-provisioning.  It's basically just sacrificing part of the drive's storage capacity to use as a buffer.  You just have to make partitions that don't fill the whole disk the firmware will use the unpartitioned space as the buffer.  If it needs to write new data and the cell it's told to write to isn't already erased it will just write the new data to the empty unpartitioned space, swap the cells logical to physical address assignments, and mark the new unpartitioned cells for erasing when idle.  THe usual amount recommend to leave open for the firmware is 20%.

 

It's important that the unused space be unpartitioned, not just an empty partition, since an empty partition will have to be treated like any other with data that needs to be preserved so the garbage collection doesn't eat your data.  If you get a bare drive without any partitions on it already then just make ones that are 80% of the total size and you're good to go.  If the drive already has a partition on it then you need to do an ATA Secure Erase on the drive to erase all the cells and then make a new partition that's 80% (or whatever you decide to use) of  the total size.

 

EDIT:  It really would have been faster to just find a link.  Once I start I can't stop...

 

 

 

Wow, thanks for the text. It did give a much clearer view on the issue with RAID:ing SSDs. It does put me off a bit to sacrifice 20% of the storage to get it to work, particularly since SSD space is quite expensive. In other words, I'd need a newer and more complex RAID controller, with its possible flaws, or just wait until these SSD RAID controllers become more established and "ironed out" (and I'm guessing, economically more available).

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

One of the Big Truths of computer HW is that there's ALWAYS a "xxx coming in a few months"...
Thinking like that will drive you insane! tongue.gif
Edit: A good tech presentation on the problems of SSDs in RAIDs: http://www.research.ibm.com/haifa/conferences/systor2011/present/session5_talk2_systor2011.pdf

Yes, this is very true. There's always something better coming out, and hardware does become old quite fast.

 

It's just one of things we have to accept, I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post

 

That's ultimately the tradeoff for a moving gaming system. I'm a bit biased since I'm constantly flying/moving around, so a high performance laptop serves me very well.

 

For what it's worth, you could get an hour and a half of gaming on battery. A tablet would be great if you get a high capacity model, because you could get the long battery life of an ultrabook with the versatility of a tablet. Keep an eye out for those Microsoft Surface tablets.

1½ hour of gaming? That's actually very good. From my understanding, most gaming laptops/desktop replacements just do not last very long on battery, OR downclocks the hardware quite a bit. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

The big thing that would turn me off of a gaming laptop is that you are probably really going to be using it as a desktop when you game. You will want your big monitor, your nice keyboard & mouse, your headset and your comfy chair. If you are going to be using it as a desktop, then get a desktop - the cooling aspect alone is worth getting the desktop. There is no way that a laptop form factor is going to provide you the speed & stability of a well-cooled desktop. You said you have a Vaio - Vaio's are infamous for two things: 1) Small, excellent form factor and 2) stability problems & noisy fans due to poor cooling in the small form factor. All of our executives love their Vaios, and I deal with these issues every week!

That's pretty much my thoughts as well. There's just so many positives to having a good desktop gaming rig as opposed to a transportable one. The transportable is on the hand ... transportable. Although, the modern ones, like Alienware, does seem to have pretty good cooling systems in place - so I'm not entirely sure that cooling is that much of an issue anymore - especially with the new ivy bridge and kepler architecture.

 

I'm kind of wondering how much haswell will improve as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by barleyguy View Post


Or, as we discussed in part 1 of this thread  - get both.  A gaming laptop for hotel rooms and visits to family, and a desktop for the big monitor and easy chair.

 

My gaming desktop (actually a Small Form Factor mATX system) is in my office, and when my gaming laptop isn't traveling it's hooked to the big TV in my living room.

 

The other advantage to getting both is it may inspire you to settle for a little bit lower specs on the laptop, and game at medium detail on that one, and then save the high detail gaming for the desktop.

LOL

 

That particular thought has struck me as well. Ultimately I kind of brush it off though, mostly because of one thing: it's an extremely expensive solution.

 

Also, the particular ultrabook I linked earlier, uses a GTX 650m with 2 GB of VRAM, which should be enough to run most games at medium settings. It's not a gaming laptop though, and gaming on it could be pretty far from gaming on a dedicated desktop system. However, the ability and power is there for the occasional run on the battlefield when out and about.

post #719 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post


Nah - no worries! I was just assuming that all you L33t gamers have your favorite "gaming keyboard" and "gaming mouse" that is festooned with more buttons than an F22, and that gaming with a laptop keyboard and trackpad would be like cutting off your left nut... tongue.giftongue.giftongue.giftongue.gif

 

Ha, no. I don't even use my keyboard when I'm not playing an FPS, my xbox 360 controller works perfectly with Windows. Even then, there are only a few games I look forward to: Assassin's Creed, Crysis, Far Cry, Need for Speed, and Call of Duty (though it's been the same recycled crap for 4 years now), and a couple of others.

post #720 of 21760
Quote:
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post

 

Ha, no. I don't even use my keyboard when I'm not playing an FPS, my xbox 360 controller works perfectly with Windows. Even then, there are only a few games I look forward to: Assassin's Creed, Crysis, Far Cry, Need for Speed, and Call of Duty (though it's been the same recycled crap for 4 years now), and a couple of others.


That's typically how I play too.  A gamepad is my preferred controller, and I use a keyboard and mouse for strategy games.  I don't generally play FPSs.  Mice plug in to laptops just fine..

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