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USB or SD Card for gamelist.xml & images/snaps

  • So is it better to run the gamelist.xml and or the images/snaps from a USB or SD Card. (Which would be the fastest load times?)

    I have all my roms on a usb along with the gamelist.xml and images/snaps, but noticed the sd card also has them ther (But not the roms) look like I forgot to remove them and it loads the SD card version first. So just wondering what is best?

  • I think the USB hard drive should be faster in most cases. You can check their speed by installing the tool hdparm and running some tests:

    Install hdparm:

    sudo apt install hdparm

    Get your disks' device names:


    Here, the leftmost entries unter "NAME" are your drives' names, e.g. mmcblk0 for an SD card or sdafor a hard drive.

    Test their speed with their read cache:

    sudo hdparm -tT /dev/mmcblk0   # test the sd card
    sudo hdparm -tT /dev/sda       # test the hard drive

    Test their speed without their read cache:

    sudo hdparm -tT --direct /dev/mmcblk0   # test the sd card
    sudo hdparm -tT --direct /dev/sda       # test the hard drive

    The faster one should be used for your gamelist.xml and snaps/videos.

  • administrators

    @almulder I keep it all on the USB because if I ever reimage I never have to scrape them again, just a basic plug and play at that point

  • @clyde Thnaks for the info I will test this this week and find out. :) Just got a high end SD with fast read write and was going to OC the SD card reader. eo see what is faster or how far apart they are. :)

  • @almulder Be sure to repeat each test a couple of times (3-5 should suffice), because they tend to fluctuate a little. Also, the non-cached values should match real conditions more, since the cache shouldn't count much if the data hasn't been read before.

    Although the Pi's USB 2 ports do limit modern hard drives severely, my Samsung EVO 840 ssd beats my Toshiba Exceria Pro U3 sd card with approx. 36 MB/s to approx. 22 MB/s non-cached reading speed.

    Also consider @herb_fargus' point about portability.

  • Just incase anyone wants my numbers: Ran each test 10 times and got the average.


  • I had been wondering about this, thank you!

  • Going to create a script people can run so they can test it without knowing command lines.

  • @almulder Good idea. :)

  • Ok I have created the script if anyone whats to try it out.

    Let me know what you think.

  • @almulder I will, but not immediately, because I'm about to leave. Stay tuned.

    One small thing I noticed in your In this sentence, there seems to be something missing before the word drivetest.png:

    Anyways grab the file and put it in your ./home/pi/RetroPie/retropiemenu drivetest.png and put it in your ./home/pi/RetroPie/retropiemenu/icons

  • Thanks it was the way they format what I type in. I modified it for easier reading.

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