Installing games to an external HD--doable?

I just got a brand-new LaCie 1TB external HD, USB 2.0. Is it feasible to install games to it, or is the USB 2.0 connection too slow?

If it’s too slow, would it help if I exchanged it for a Firewire drive?

I’m not sure if Firewire would provide the needed transfer speeds, but USB 2.0 would definitely be a bottleneck.

Yes, it will work just fine. You may find it “slow”. Slow is subjective. Unless you provide a reference as to what “slow” means to you, no one can answer that for you.

Short answer, yes you can, but it will run like shit.

Long winded reason, transfer speed is way too low:
SATA 1.5 = 150 MB/s
SATA 3.0 = 300 MB/s
USB 2.0 = 60 MB/s
Firewire 400 = 49 MB/s
Firewire 800 = 98 MB/s

Anything beyond that gets out of home use range of pricing and more into server product style pricing (like higher end firewire, iSCSI, fibre channel, or SAS.)

One thing that would work but doesn’t match your HD enclosure is eSATA, which would put you back up to internal speeds.

Yep, exchange it for a eSATA drive.

AHCI hot-swappable eSATA is the future.


Installing games to a external drive is fine. I have a USB 2.0 500gb drive that I use all the time for games. The loading times when loading new levels or launching the game is a little longer but its pretty minor.

Everyone here seems to forget that most games really only use the hard drive for loading up levels and such. During actual gameplay the hard drive is rarely used.

Try it yourself.

I have, I run applications off a spare drive and some older games (for business travel.) But they are a little sluggish. When playing on a work laptop I really don’t care though.

I guess it would depend on the game.

Do consumer hard drives really ever get up to 100+ MB/s transfer rates? My understanding was that most consumer drives still couldn’t max out what SATA is capable of.

I’ve gotten up to 60MB/s out of some of my drives in straight linear scan benchmarks, and I’d imagine newer and 10k and 15k RPM drives would be able to do better than that.

Looking at some other benchmark reports though, it looks like the best you can expect from an external USB-connected drive is around 30-32 MB/s, while FireWire can hit 60-70 and eSATA is whatever the drive itself is capable of.

They can… if they deliver data from the built-in cache rather than the disk itself!

i peak at 105-110mb file copy rates between my two samsung f1 1tb sata drives according to teracopy.
it goes anywhere from 50-70-90 mb/sec.

I play games of an external HD all of the time. No problem.

Firewire and USB 2.0 are near identical in speed, so that is not an issue. I haven’t tried to play any super fancy or new games off of it… but things worked fine.

Wait… come to think of it… I have ArmA on my external, and things run fine.

I don’t notice a difference really.

Then again… I don’t run any super-new games, because the computer I have is old and slow. The newest game I run is TF2, but I have that on my regular HD.

My external is mostly for storage of audio/video files.


Playing Oblivion from USB would not be fun. Waste of good graphics cards as the drive can’t keep up with the settings you’d want on a modern system.

RTS, TBS games would suffer very little, if any. First-person 3D extravaganzas should be avoided.