Friday, January 2, 2009

The weakest link

I've had some hardware problems the last couple of days. My brand new SATA harddisk decided to give up. My system was making random noises and I got a boot failure error twice, so I decided to run a S.M.A.R.T. tool to make sure it was my harddisk that was broken and I could get a new one for free. The tool I used was SeaTools for Windows, which is straight-forward and easy to use. As I expected the test failed.

I removed the broken harddrive and replaced it with my older IDE harddrive. Once XP was installed I installed my copy of GTAIV. I noticed that the performance was a tad worse. Loading the levels, maps, ... was a lot slower all of a sudden! SATA is four times faster then IDE, but I really had no clue that this would affect playing games.. Most game codes are helt in memory, while the graphics card handles rendering. The game only accesses the harddrive to load textures, new opponents, saved games.. I think it's really crazy that playing a game can give such a hard time to a harddrive.

Out of curiosity I decided to test how the temperature of the harddrive is affected by playing GTAIV. I downloaded a tool called HWMonitor. While scrolling to the documentation I saw that they have made a System Monitoring Development Kit for .NET, which is awesome, but costs more then 1000€. After installing, this UI gave me a overview of the temperature of my hardware. As you can see my harddrive was runnin at 42°, which is not great but ok I guess. I couldn't find any temperature references on the Maxtor site, and Google couldn't help me either.

Onto testing.. Let's play a bit!

20 minutes later..

The temperature of my harddrive only went up by 3°, although I'm almost using 100% of it's resources. Interesting to know that the temperature of my harddrive and CPU (!) are pretty stable. The temperature of my graphics card increased with 50%, which is normal due to all the rendering it has to do.

It's funny how one slow(er) component, can downgrade the performance of your system. To the conclusion.. The chain is only as strong as it's weakest link!

All by all I'm satisfied with my system again. My new SATA harddrive should arrive by Saturday. Time to start thinking of a back-up strategy!


  1. It's an interesting post, most people that don't know what they are doing add 8 GB of memory when they aren't even using an x64 OS and rarely go beyond 3. I've always found that the harddrive is the biggest bottleneck for day-to-day computer use for most modern computers.