I've decided to type up this rather lengthy tutorial since it benefitted me with amazing real game performance results. I hope this tutorial helps other people wishing for some better performance out of their games. It is not meant to increase FPS
, this is meant to help with the disk bottleneck. If you have issues in your game like I did then please read on and enjoy.
If you are suffering from a game that HITCHES because the game you are using accesses the HD too much??? A perfect example is when your mouselooking hitches and stutters OR when you move in the world that your avatar will stutter step. A common misperception is server-side lag, not a fast enough vid card, or cpu, whatever. Well if you see your HD light constantly lighting up while playing your favorite game chances are you can improve the performance by taking the disk bottleneck out of the equation. MMOs as a whole will benefit the most from this tutorial as generally there is a lot of disk access going on caching world data etc.
This works on ALL games
if you take some extra time to evaluate & monitor them.
Use this information at your own risk if you end up losing your game data don't come crying to me... back up any game data first that you may try this with. This tutorial is "fairly" advanced and you shouldn't mess with this tutorial at all if you are not comfortable browsing directories in a command prompt or moving folders around. I provide no support whatsoever.
If this tutorial is followed correctly data loss will not be a concern.
How to Supercharge your games HD access times with 4GB+ RAM & Vista
Vista***, Ramdisk, Excess System RAM
1) If you have a 64bit version of Vista, great! You can make a nice Ramdisk 1GB+ easily that will run in microseconds vs. milliseconds.
2) Process Monitor to monitor your game's access of the HD
3) Ramdisk software
4) Creating a symbolic link to the Ramdisk so that the game will transparently hit the Ramdisk.
Once completed you should notice a drastic performance improvement IF you migrate the proper data for your game to the Ramdisk.
I am going to loosely describe what to do as I am assuming if you are going to follow this tutorial you have some understanding of MS-Dos commands and are familiar with digging and figuring out how to use basic programs.
1) Find a Ramdisk program. There is a free one MS was including in Vista however I haven't even messed with it since the reading I did said the drives were limited to very small sizes. These are the 2 that I've tested and work very well, however they are not free, but you get what you pay for:
Both of these can save the drive image to a file at system shutdown/start:
Cenatek Ramdisk 30 trial uses: http://www.cenatek.com/product_page_ramdisk.php
Superspeed 15 day evaluation: http://www.superspeed.com/desktop/ramdisk.php
(Cenatek's Ramdisk seemed to run better for me in my testing. Even though Superspeed's seems more robust.)
2) Install Process Monitor and setup a filter by process for your game executable. Start your game and give it a good play session. Drop to the desktop occasionally and see that the monitor is capturing what you'd expect. Get back in and play some more. After you play it for about 30 min or so and have a good capture, take a look scroll through the captured data and look what directories or files are called upon the most. Then decide upon what would best be moved to a ramdisk.
Get it here: http://technet.microsoft.com/e...nternals/bb896645.aspx
3) Based on your system RAM you have some decisions to make... how much can I move, and how large a ramdisk to I need? I leave this to you to test and decide as it's a game by game basis.
4) Create a Ramdisk the size you came up with. Go into Disk Management and initialize and format it, give it a drive letter. (I formatted mine FAT32)
4a Recommended) if you are using one of the 2 programs I suggested... you can set them up to save to HD image file at shutdown and load the HD image file at start up. Highly recommended.
5) Backup what you are going to move to the Ramdisk!
6) Move the data to the Ramdisk. MOVE, NOT COPY. The next step needs the data to be OFF the hard drive.
7) Make a symbolic link to the data so that the game has no clue anything changed at all. This step is tricks the game to go to the Ramdisk.
7a) Drop to a command prompt.
7b) Change directories to where the folder or file WAS on the HD.
7c) Create the symbolic link:
Type: MKLINK /D <filename or foldername> <x
filename or foldername>
MKLINK /D bin e
MKLINK /D superpakfile.file e
8) ENJOY! Start up your game and see if the data you chose is indeed what was needed to speed up your performance. If not rinse & repeat until you do get the proper data into the ramdisk for your particular game.
In my case the game I am reaping the most benefits from is the old MMO Vanguard which was severely impacted with Stuttering and Hitching. Most people thought it was CPU, Video Card related.... TOTAL BULL$Hit... It's the hard drive access. Too bad it wasn't ready for primetime it's a beautiful game. Sigh but that's not the meat of this topic. If you are interested in Vanguard the below is what I moved:
I moved .\Vanguard\bin & .\Vanguard\Assets\Sound directories to a Ramdisk and all hitching its GONE! Zone loading is insane! Crossing zone lines "CHUNKING" as they call it is like 1 1/2 seconds. Used to be like 5-10 seconds for me.
I have survived countless graceful reboots over the past week with no lost of data.
JUST BACKUP your data before moving the data to the Ramdisk and you should have no worries. Worst case scenario you are reloading your game LOL!
I hope this will help some of you out there, Game On!
Next Ramdisk Project: Warhammer Online! This game peggs a HD constantly during combat! My LED is light up all the time. Going to monitor it and post here what I moved at a later date. Wish me luck.