A Q about External Hard Drives and Games

By nat154
Jan 31, 2007
  1. Hi people,

    I own a notebook/laptop and have previously installed Sims 2 on it
    but had to uninstall it again as it slowed down the whole laptop.
    If I buy an external hard drive, could I use it to play the game from that? And would it slow down the laptop again? Also, if yes, which external hard drives would you recommend for gaming?
    Sorry if this questions been asked before, but I can't find another topic similar to mine.
  2. foozy

    foozy TS Rookie Posts: 139

    Hard drives really aren't limiting factors when it comes to game performance. They affect it, but it isn't critical.

    What are the specs of the laptop? How much background junk do you have running?
  3. nat154

    nat154 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Oh.. I'm not good with technical stuff..good job I left all the stickers on the laptop.
    Not sure if any of this is relevant:


    Intel Graphic Media Accelerator
    802.11b/g Wireless
    Its a Phillips freevents X50 notebook

    Does this help at all?

    I also have a lot of programs for data analysis etc for university work. Some media stuff, adobe, microsoft office, itunes and all that usual stuff
  4. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    You are probably limited somewhat by the video graphics system on the laptop... but you are also going to find better performance by increasing the memory to 1 GB or more. That model has a 533 MHz FSB, and 128 MB of video memory, so the memory might be enough.
  5. foozy

    foozy TS Rookie Posts: 139

    I'm not sure about Sims 2, but I remember Sims 1 being pretty graphic intensive for its time. I would agree with Raybay, though, RAM and VRAM are your limiting factors.

    Just dump more RAM in and it should work considerably better.

    Also, make sure that lots of crap isn't running while you're playing the game. I've seen people run limewire, itunes, and nero while playing a game and wonder why the game is running slow. Do an ad-aware/spybot SD scan too and nix any background programs that aren't supposed to be there.
  6. nat154

    nat154 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Sorry, but how do I go about doing that? About putting more RAM in? Thanks
  7. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    Before you go out buying things let me answer you differently than those above.
    The Sims 2 doesn't have anything loaded up when the game itself is not launched as far as I know. So it doesn't matter where you install it your system shouldn't slow down from just having it installed, with the possible exception of an extremely full and fragmented hard drive. An external hard drive will not be faster than the internal you have in there so no reason to spend money hoping it will prevent your computer from slowing down. But yes, technically you would be able to buy one and install the game there.
  8. nat154

    nat154 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Oh right, I meant that the game was loading very slow and couldn't play it properly because it kept freezing and crashing. Would it be wise to invest in an external hard drive? Because I've heard that they're not very reliable.
  9. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    They are just as reliable as internals provided you don't treat them bad (moving abruptly while they are on, or treating them rough while off), because all they are just internals in an external enclosure. They are a wise investement to use as backups or to transfer large files between computers.

    Then follow the advice in the posts above mine.
  10. nat154

    nat154 TS Rookie Topic Starter should I get an external hard drive or RAM?
    What makes and models are suitable for my notebook please?
  11. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    RAM. An external hard drive will have no impact on performance, if anything it will be lower. (unless you have an internal hd that can't sustain speeds higher than usb 2.0 hispeed, and even then its questionable)
  12. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,573   +65

    I somewhat disagree, an external drive will improve drive performance substantially in this scenario. The problem here is laptop hard drives REALLY ARE that slow. With a 2.5 incher, you're lucky if you're pushing half of what a 3.5" USB 2.0 drive can offer in throughput. The access times are substantially slower when compared to a 3.5"-drive-in-box as well, so springing for an external will be a good, solid way to improve performance.

    Yes, your hard drive is a limiting factor
    Yes, your graphics chip is a limiting factor
    Yes, your memory is a limiting factor.

    You won't see a great increase in performance unless you address all three, but if you take care of one of these problems, you should see a slight increase in performance. The best bang for your buck will probably be a memory upgrade as suggested and I would definitely add another 512MB or more.

    The first thing to to do is upgrade your video driver (if possible). If Philips doesn't have a recent video driver, then perhaps Intel will. Also, look into updating your game with the latest game patch available from the developer of the Sims. Drivers and game updates will be about your only way you can increase stability, unless you have other system issues.
  13. nat154

    nat154 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok then. So are there any recommended external hard drives? If yes, what make and what kind of GB am I looking for to play games? Thanks
  14. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,573   +65

    If you're considering an external drive, get one that is 7200 RPM or higher and one that contains a 3.5" internal drive.

    It doesn't really matter what you get - it will be considerably faster than your laptop drive. Size is a matter of preference and price and any drive you pick up now will be many, many, many times larger than your Sims install. Keep in mind that even though it will be much faster, that increase in speed really isn't going to translate to amazing Sims performance... But it will help.

    The idea with buying more memory is to minimize hard disk usage during play, so go for the memory first, then the hard drive.

    And I would actually suggest putting together your external drive. It's quite easy. Just make sure you get a solid, quality drive enclosure.
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