Run games off Ext. HD for laptop?

Discussion in 'Games' started by fblack, Sep 3, 2006.

  1. fblack macrumors 6502a

    fblack

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Location:
    USA
    #1
    I'm looking at picking up a macbook pro soon and was wondering if anyone has experience running games off an external hard drive? What's the performance like? FW400 or FW800? I'm thinking of possibly getting a raptor 10K and sticking it in an external case.

    What do you guys think? :)
     
  2. displaced macrumors 65816

    displaced

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Location:
    Gravesend, United Kingdom
    #2
    I do exactly this -- a 120GB 7400RPM 2.5" laptop drive in an external Firewire 400 caddy connected to my MacBook Pro.

    My games are all installed on that drive, with all but one of them being played in Windows via Bootcamp.

    Performance is absolutely fine. You might find yourself taking a second or two longer during game loads, but in-game, it's been no problem at all.

    A few that I play regularly are Half Life 2, CS:S, and other Steam-based games,
    Dawn of War, World of Warcraft. All of these are fine running from the external drive. When I'm playing LAN games of Dawn of War, I might take an extra second or so to get into the game than other players with quick desktop internal drives.

    That's probably more to do with the fact that I went for a 2.5" drive rather than a faster 3.5". I'd rather not need any power supply for the drive, so I went for 2.5". Just a single Firewire cable is all I need.
     
  3. fblack thread starter macrumors 6502a

    fblack

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Location:
    USA
    #3
    Wow. That's really interesting that you went without powersupply. Was this because you play games on the go alot or just less wires n such?

    Hmmm...I mainly play at home even though I'd like less wires I think I'll go with a bigger and faster drive. I hope other people chime in, I'm really curious about others experiences (good/bad) with this setup. I was concerned that maybe the firewire on the laptop might turn into a bottleneck for performance. But your setup is looking pretty good. :)

    Thanks for the feedback...:cool:
     
  4. shecky Guest

    shecky

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    May 24, 2003
    Location:
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    #4
    pardon my ignorance here, but i just want to confirm this:

    you have bootcamp running windows on your main internal laptop drive. after booting into windows you installed games like HL2 on an external drive and they run fine. you did NOT install windows itself on the external drive, just the game files.

    right?

    if so that is gonna be a very good thing for me as i wanted to install windows itself as well as all the games i want to play on an external but my understanding is that does not work. but if all i need to do is install windows on my laptop and all the big games can go onto an external thats almost as good.

    just out of curiosity, about how many GB does your windows installation use?
     
  5. Stacc macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2005
    #5
    I wanted to do the same thing, install windows on the external hard drive. Unfortunately, this is not a trivial task when installing windows. It is much easier to install windows on your main hard drive and then install games and such on the external hard drive.

    I have no complaints about performance. You may want to get more memory so you can reduce the amount that the game needs to swap files on and off the hard drive. If you are really concerned about performance, install windows on the main hard drive and leave some space for the swap file.
     
  6. shecky Guest

    shecky

    Joined:
    May 24, 2003
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    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    #6
    yep, i agree. i was planning on giving the windows partition 10GB on my main hard drive and putting everything else on the external. not sure if Steam needs to be on the external or the internal.
     
  7. fblack thread starter macrumors 6502a

    fblack

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Location:
    USA
    #7
    Hmmm...I hadn't thought about the swap file, that's good info to know thanks.
     
  8. displaced macrumors 65816

    displaced

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Location:
    Gravesend, United Kingdom
    #8
    That's exactly how I have my MBP configured!

    10GB for a Windows system (I could've got away with a little less, and much less if I'd taken the time to customise my XP CD to remove all unnecessary stuff), then all games and apps installed to the external drive.

    Steam's great in that it doesn't even need to be installed. You can drag a Steam folder all over the place -- even to another machine -- and all you have to do is delete the ClientRegistry.blob file and relaunch.

    As for why I chose a Firewire-powered 2.5" caddy, well, I didn't want to sacrifice any of the portability of my laptop. This way, I can lay on the sofa for a bit of World of Warcraft, and just sit the tiny drive beside me. It's also cool to be able to take the machine anywhere, and not require a mains power socket even if I want to use the external drive.

    Plus, it looks cool :)
     
  9. GFLPraxis macrumors 604

    GFLPraxis

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    Mar 17, 2004
    #9
    I'm curious how well it would work if I installed Windows games on a FAT32-formatted 30 GB iPod.
     
  10. displaced macrumors 65816

    displaced

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    Jun 23, 2003
    Location:
    Gravesend, United Kingdom
    #10
    This is probably not a particularly good idea for a couple of reasons:

    - The iPod's MicroDrive hard disk is much slower than even the slowest 2.5" laptop drive.

    - Also, the drive isn't designed for the kind of thrashing a game could inflict whilst running. There's going to be much more frequent reads and writes than when it's used as a music player or even when used as a fancy USB drive. You'd probably shorten the life of the drive, although by how much I couldn't say for sure.

    When I first started using OS X 10.2, I installed it to my iPod and booted the Mac from it. Not only was it slow, but the iPod itself got very, very warm to the touch. I didn't use it long before taking the plunge and installing 10.2 on the Mac itself.
     
  11. GFLPraxis macrumors 604

    GFLPraxis

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    #11
    You sure? Outside of when I load a stage and save a game, why would it be reading and writing a lot? I'd use the laptop drive as the scratch disk.
     
  12. displaced macrumors 65816

    displaced

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Location:
    Gravesend, United Kingdom
    #12
    I'm thinking of World of Warcraft for example. Even on my 2GB RAM PC, the drive was being frequently accessed as new terrain was loaded. Even with swap on another drive, there's still an immense amount of data that gets loaded during gaming. Plus, the access patterns during gameplay would be quite different to what the iPod's used to. Instead of sequential reading of files (as in music), the drive would be seeking all over the place... model data from this file, texture data from another, sound from yet another... A whole lot of jumping around which the iPod doesn't usually do.

    Having said all that, the last time I did anything like this was when booting OS X from an iPod, and that was back on a second-gen iPod. In your shoes, I'd probably try it simply out of curiosity... but with one hand on the back of the iPod testing for heat, and another on my wallet just in case it went pear-shaped :D
     

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