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  Computers > Computer technologies > Hardware > RAM
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How to Set Up a RAM Drive
I received a lot of emails from the 128 Meg Vs 256 Meg article. A few of them talked about using the extra RAM to setup a RAM Drive. I do believe this would be a good way to use 256 MB RAM in a gaming system, especially for the Quake 3 Test.

The LAN 605 system has a 17.2 GIG 5400 RPM Maxtor hard drive. Whenever I play Quake 3 on the Project 620 system I always get into the Quake level before LAN 605. This is because Project 620 loads the level from a faster 7200 RPM Seagate hard drive. While the LAN 605 system is loading the level, Project 620 is already in the level, taking all the rocket launchers. :-)

There is a way for LAN 605 to beat Project 620 to the Quake 3 levels even with its slower hard drive. The answer is to use a RAM drive. A RAM drive is just like any other drive in your system. Most computers have a hard drive, a floppy drive and a CD Rom drive. In terms of speed, the floppy is the slowest and the hard drive would be the fastest. However even the fastest SCSI hard drive is no where near as fast as your system RAM. If you have a lot of RAM in your system you can assign some of it to be used as a RAM drive. This drive is treated just like any other drive. It gets a drive letter and you can install programs and read and write to it. If you have ever booted your computer using a Windows 98 boot disk, you will notice it creates a "virtual" drive where it loads all the tools. This virtual drive was created on your system RAM. It is not on your hard drive.

The problem is that the Microsoft RAM drive can only load in config.sys (bumping your CD-ROM a letter) and has a 32 MB limit. To hell with that! My buddy Zap over at Brawley OnLine (He's the guy who supplied me with the Celerons that does 605Mhz) found a tiny RAM drive program that loads in the autoexec.bat and you can assign it whatever drive letter you want (in conjunction with the lastdrive= line in config.sys) and whatever amount of physical RAM you want to use, up to 2 GB! It uses RAM from top-down, and is fully compliant with Win95/98 (so Device Manager doesn't freak out and say it is in MS-DOS compatibility mode).

With 256 MB RAM, just use between 80-100 MB of RAM for the RAM drive, and once in Windows, install Quake 3 to the RAM drive and run it from there. Then, you will be the first one in the levels every time. Loading Quake 3 from a RAM drive is a whole new experience. The game loads like right NOW! You'll beat everyone to the level by up to 10 seconds.

The main problem with using a RAM drive for games is that the RAM you assign for the RAM drive is no longer available to system RAM. In other words, if you have 256 megs of RAM and you assign 100 megs for a RAM drive, your system RAM is now down to 156 Megs. This is why you need a lot of RAM to be able to setup a RAM drive. Also the average new game on the market today is like 400 megs. Way too much to put onto a RAM drive (Unless you have more money than you know what to do with, in which case you can buy 1 gig of RAM and setup a 400 meg RAM drive). Quake 3 Test is "only" 65 megs because it's just a test right now but rest assure when the final game comes out it'll be pushing 400 megs or more. In the mean time, you can use the RAM drive to get a nice advantage in the Quake 3 test, which works great with a RAM drive. If you have a large amount of RAM in your computer, give it a try and take those rocket launchers before those guys with the 10,000 RPM SCSI drives. :-)

Games aren't the only programs you can use on a RAM drive. Any program will load much faster from RAM than from a hard drive. You just have to make sure the program isn't larger than your RAM drive. You can download the RAM Drive program from The Tech Zone download page or click here to download now. It's only 75K. Complete instructions are in the read me file.

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