Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

SimCity 4 General Discussion and Tutorials => Tips, Tricks and Tutorials => Topic started by: Durfsurn on June 13, 2020, 04:48:09 AM

Title: Is Running SimCity 4 off a RAMDisk faster?
Post by: Durfsurn on June 13, 2020, 04:48:09 AM
Hello all,

I thought this might be a useful comparison for those of us who've considered using a RAMDisk to load SC4 files from. On my rig it would seem there is little benefit however I concede that my RAM isn't exactly optimal or super-modern and my SSD is only SATA III so results may vary. I found it interesting though that the SSD managed to pretty much keep pace!

Thoughts welcome, as are other peoples experiences!
Title: Re: Is Running SimCity 4 off a RAMDisk faster?
Post by: jeffryfisher on June 13, 2020, 12:08:50 PM
The gain from RAM will come when starting the game, loading your first region, loading a big menu for the first time, and perhaps when switching out of the underground or zone view.

The amount of gain will depend on what other boosts you might have without RAM-drive. DAT-packing is a big one: Modern HD's are great at reading ahead and buffering big files to keep a data bus full, so once each file's DMA gets going, it runs as fast as RAM going through the same bottleneck. If you don't DAT-pack, then RAM-drive will gain against HD seek-time on thousands of plugin files.

The cost of RAM-drive is loading it. How that affects you will depend on how you set it up. I use RAM-drive; it loads my plugins and one region at boot time while I walk to the kitchen for a beer or read email on a separate machine -- in other words, it doesn't leave me twiddling my thumbs.

The risk of a RAM-drive is that you forget to copy your updated region files back to HD (or "saves" may be lost to a power failure). I use a BAT file to start SC4. It not only gives SC4 100% of an isolated physical CPU core, but on game-exit it asks me if I want to save back to HD, and does so automatically if I say yes (xcopy'ing new and changed files).

This has an unexpected side benefit: If I run into a CTD, the problem city is in RAM, and I have a reprieve during which I may backup my HD version to a safe place before committing the problem city to disk.

EDIT: Forgot to say that I still shave about 15% off both game-load and first-city load even after DAT-packing. Switching out of zone-view is not a problem for me, but that could also come from having a good graphics card with good config settings (e.g. no shadows).