Games on external SSD?

Hey y’all!

I just looked through some prime day offers and noticed that you can get some “older” (550MB/s) SSDs such as the Samsung 860 series reasonably cheap. Some of them are external.

So I wondered… I now have FS2020 on my old 250G SSD (a Samsung 840 IIRC) and I can see already that it will be too small soon. Loading times seem to be OK.

An SSD, even a “slow” one isn’t too shabby for sims and the M2 slot on my board is taken anyway.

Then I thought: If I use an external drive I could also use it for other stuff. And USB 3.0 is faster than an SSD anyway…
…but then… I don’t know whether the USB controllers slow things down…

In short: has anyone of y’all used external SSDs for gaming? Should I get an external one if I can get 2TB for 30% off?

USB is too flakey for my taste. One little hickup and the drive is gone, if only for a second. The game will not be able to cope.

Under permanent heavy load it can get hot and instable. eSATA is better suited for that use case, have you considered it?

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I haven’t used any eSATA yet so I have no experience. All my SSDs (of different ages, the oldest one is a Samsung 840, the newest one a Samsung EVO 970 M2) are internal.

Any manufacturers to avoid? I’ve read mean things about Crucial for example but also decent reviews.

I am mainly browsing around right now. I don’t really need a new SSD super urgently but then 30% off is some money…

I threw an old SSD I replaced (with a larger unit) in to a cheap external enclosure which I use for my Xbox One. Works great - so long as the USB port doesn’t go to sleep and you can mount it where you won’t bump in to it etc, should be fine.

If buying an enclosure just check reviews and make sure the controller chip is rated for the speeds you want.

If buying one pre-enclosed, some reviews are in order but if it’s from Samsung, WD or Seagate you’re probably fine.

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Can’t say that but I can say I have used:


All with good results. Zero issues and most are well past the “tech expiry date” for capacity/speed.

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It‘s not that simple. Here, have a nerd explain it to you:

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Thanks a lot!

I decided to take a little risk and will likely get a WD 2TB for 167€ (it is a TLC SSD with 5 years warranty, still faster than my old Samsung by a fair bit and 35% off).

Never had a WD disk since… 20 years or so when my HD crashed, taking my savegames with it and sending me into a fist-shaking rage, during which I decided not to get a WD again. But we use similar ones at work so it will probably do. :smiley:

I had a crucial ssd an old M4 that had issues until I managed a firmware update which fixed things, I have also had a few WD drives including my old raptor which at the time was the fastest money could buy. I also have 2x300 Gb WD HDD running in RAID striped they are over 10 years old and apart from a broken temp sensor on 1 are running perfectly

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I have 2 Samsung (850 and 970) and 2 WD SSDs. While the 970 is of course the fastest (and is my C: drive), the other 3 SATA models are all equivalent in speed and such. I haven’t needed to try and run a program on an external drive yet, all mine have been standard HDDs for storage only, so let us know of any pitfalls you may experience with an SSD one.

TBH I don’t notice a difference in load times from the NVMe to the SATAs for games, although I don’t have too many on C: beyond DCS. I’m glad I have it for the major Windows updates, though, because those take so long as it is so the extra speed helps cut that down.

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Ok, this is evolving into a “learn from my fails”:

Today I received the SSD and the SATA cable that I had ordered.

Then I opened my PC case…
…and noticed that all SATA ports of my board were already in use. Should have thought of that.

So I spent two hours, went into three stores (one didn’t have any, one had just sold the last one) to get a PCI → SATA card.

I installed it. Which took longer than anticipated because

  • a screw was not included
  • the only free slots in my case were in a spot where the case has a weird shape, making it harder to put the card in
  • someone (presumably my kids) had stolen my screw driver, so I had to search for it.

Then I noticed that my power supply didn’t have any cables anymore that fit. I searched my old computer parts box (back from before I became a snob who doesn’t build his PCs himself) for a screw and an adapter cable.

Then I noticed that I had no place to put the drive in. I thought I had some 3.5" to 2.5" adapter thingie but I didn’t. So I just put the SSD loosely into the case somewhere. (Yeah I know I shouldn’t, will fix that soon).

Then I started the PC and Windows didn’t recognize the PCI->SATA card. I actually had to install the driver the old way, using the CD.

I rebooted and went into shock again. No drive to be seen!
…then I remembered that the drive would not be mounted automatically if it wasn’t partitioned/formatted.
And indeed it was no problem to do that, even though I haven’t done that on a Windows PC in ages.

Just out of curiosity I ran a speed test of my SSDs to compare them with each other.
The result was interesting.

My M2 SSD (Samsung EVO 970) is unsurprisingly much faster than the other ones, but I was surprised to see that my old Samsung 840 is also significantly faster than my new WD blue. At least in most of the test cases.

…and now I wonder… may the PCI->SATA interface cause that? should I have plugged my old hard disk or BluRay drive in there and instead used the SATA port of the main board for the SSD?

…but if I change it now, will that screw up drive letter assignments or other stuff?
Should have thought of this before putting everything together. I was just too excited I guess.

So I thought: meh. I’ll just test if loading times in FS2020 are still good enough.
I am so glad that I have the Steam Edition, I can easily move the sim from one drive to the other without dowbloading 97GB again using the built-in function Steam provides.
…or so I thought. Because despite immediately changing the package paths, the sim did (unlike DCSW does) NOT recognize that everything was already there! It deleted everything and started from scratch, so now I am stuck with a frickin’ 14 hour download again! HURRAY!
(And I am almost ready to bet that all my settings will be lost as well)

Definitely not my best day today…


Thanks for sharing bud, that sucks.

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The good news is:
The download went faster than expected (6 hours) and the loading times look good so far (even though I could only do a short test).
And my settings are still there. I will fix my remaining issues at some point this week.


What a bummer!

You can change drive letters in Disk Management

Right click the start button to get the pane above.

You still have an optical drive :grinning: how quaint :+1:
I got rid of mine when I filled all the SATA ports with ssd and hdd and my expansion card would not fit my new (then) mobo.

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Yeah, I transferred it over from my old PC.
It is a BluRay writer (and I even used it a few times).

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To jump on this discussion… my Razor Laptop with the 500 GB internal SSD is at 98% full with only 3 games installed… SB Pro PE, DCS World, and FS2020… so if I get an external SSD… would I be able to install the games on it for laptop play via USB… think I also have a smaller C input.

Thanks… tried to follow this thread but I was confused with many of the answers.

The answer is: yes to an extent.

USB is more likely to bottleneck than an internal SSD. On average having more RAM will allow for less disc access which will minimize issue that would appear during gameplay. In general if you get a good SSD and are on a USB 2.0 or 3.0 you probably will still have better performance then you would have seen on a 7200 RPM internal HDD. So long as your expectations aren’t unrealistic I think you’d get what you’re after.


unload that ssd a little! (free some more space)
when the first sdd came out worries were about writing them!
unless traditional drives on ssd writings are not unlimited…
ssd have all a series of technologies to spread the writes among all its cells…
but if data is fixed on 80% of the drive you’ll keep writing and erasing that last 20%

i think newer drives have less and less this problem but having more free space on an ssd is healthy!

many ssd drive had over provisioning (they had more cells than the declared ones just to spread the load on more cells)

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I was going to say buy a 1TB drive and swap it out, but that’s not a trivial exercise on a laptop.

Absolutely, with NVMe there is even less reason for the drive to not be buried in the guts of the machine.

Here is a torn apart HP Probook 450G6 one of the guys at work drowned in coffee:

The mainboard (bottom) you can see the NVMe connector and then the secondary HDD/SSD 2.5” bay (optional) would be below that - neither get an easy access door on the bottom. (Bottom panel - middle - is one large piece here.)

If a laptop has the internal bay for a drive, might as well use it if you are comfortable cracking it open. Although unlike this slim office grade laptop, I’d hope you’d get an access door.