Improving Game Performance with DimmDrive

I brought up the idea of using a Ramdrive to speed up games a few months ago, so with the big Steam sale, I decided to get DimmDrive and try it out. The main focus was to improve load times for Shroud of the Avatar, which is still in pre-alpha and hasn’t been through the optimization process.

As the name suggests, you need a fair amount of ram to see an improvement. I’ve got 32GB installed on my gaming machine so it seems right for the task.

The specs look like this:

AMD FX 8350 at 4Ghz, 32GB Ram, GTX 660, 1.5TB Western Digital drive with no SSD.

So here we go.

Installing DimmDrive was easy, just like any other app from Steam.

Like a game, you Launch DimmDrive to get your config screen, which shows the games you have installed (not everything in your library) that can be copied into memory and how big of a ram drive you want. The recommended size of the ram drive was 24GB, which I went with.

I chose Shroud of the Avatar at 8+GB, which took around a minute to copy into ram. It stays there until you remove it.

Launch the game from the DimmDrive Launcher. If you launch the game from the Steam client, you’re using the drive copy, not the new ram copy.

Since SotA isn’t optimized and loads tons of assets per scene, running from ram is faster. It’s not instantaneous, far from it, but yes, it is faster.

I don’t have raw numbers to support the improvement, just that it doesn’t take as long to load a new scene. The load percent moves quicker and in towns where there would be a stutter at loading textures and assets went by without noticing.

I’ve played multiple hours and haven’t experienced any issues or glitches. Everything has been stable and acts the same as though it been run from the drive.

I tried a couple other games like Hand of Fate and Windward which work fine, but without any real performance gains. They don’t continually load assets or new parts of a map. They don’t have the same need to access the hard drive.

That is another thing to point out. Just because you have a DimmDrive, doesn’t mean the game will be faster. Seems like Map based games like SotA, Skyrim, Dark Souls and Just Cause¬† will benefit. New parts of the world will be loaded and displayed quicker because of the faster access. Smaller, self contained games won’t show much of a difference. Hand of Fate and Windward felt exactly the same to me.

People also fail to take into account their video card and CPU. The game should already be running well before you go messing with ram drives. And turn off all that background junk like browsers, IM clients and email clients. As an aside use Ashampoo Core Tuner 2 to build a gaming profile to save ram and processing.

Network also has an impact. Congestion will slow down the game regardless of system. Since SotA is an MMO, I see this in congested areas when tons of creatures have to update.

With all that, DimmDrive does what it says, it integrates into Steam and speeds up gameplay by placing the whole thing in memory. The $20 sale price feels pretty reasonable to me and I’m happy with the purchase.

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