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Big Micro SD, USB, or NAS-based storage?



  • I've mostly been a Super Nintendo person, only recently experimenting with MAME, but yesterday I discovered Lunar on the Sega CD, and wow. If you like JRPGs, check it out.

    Anyway, since these CD-based games can take up a lot of room it has me thinking about storage. Are you using large(r) Micro SD cards for your RetroPie build, or are you using USB, or even NAS-based storage? From what I've seen, 32GB is the biggest "supported" size, though I've read that some have found larger cards to work. Is a USB stick better in the long run in terms of stability, even if it's slower?



  • @obsidianspider

    I've been hearing a lot lately about incompatible Micro SD cards over 32gb.....but my two 128gb (Samsung Evo+ and Samsung Select brand I believe) have been perfect for months now. Plus, my entire collection of EVERY SINGLE NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, and complete MAME 0.173 collection is only 43 GB... and with only ~209 Sega CD games ever made I'll bet you could actually fit every single one on a 128gb card.

    To the question though: USB 2.0 is pretty slow for an external drive - that maxes out at what 60MB/sec (and a LOT slower in real world use on a Pi). Micro SD cards are pretty slow in the Pi too -max of what 40mb/sec with the Pi's hardware? I don't think you would see much of a performance gain or slump between the two, although there can definitely be price differences between them (and even external spinning drives are dirt cheap now too...).



  • @obsidianspider: I have a 16GB SD card running a dual boot RetroPie/Kodi install. I keep all my smaller systems (nes, snes, megadrive, etc) on the SD card, and all the larger ones (ScummVM, PSX, etc) on a NAS drive (that also holds all my media: movies, music, tv, etc). I haven't noticed any real difference in speed between the SD card and the NAS drive (although, I use the Pi mainly for Kodi, with just the occasional bit of gaming when I get the chance).



  • What you choose will ultimately depend on what you have available. In my case, I built my system inside an old (non-working) NES. If I just had the Pi in there, there is a LOT of available space. So I went the route of buying an external USB hard drive (WD My Passport Ultra 1tb are like $50). The problem with NAS storage, is you have to have your NAS/server ON when you want to play. And if you take your setup to a friends house, your just out of luck. A larger SD card will work to a point. The only problem there is compatibility, as larger disks aren't known to work with the Pi. However, I do have a 64gb Sandisk card I bought for my Kodi installation (another Pi). Before I started with the RetroPie project, I had been using GameStarter inside Kodi to launch RetroArch, and then had a bunch of Roms (including PSX and SegaCD) on it. So I know that works.



  • I'm using a 2gb sd card and a 32GB USB drive that I boot into...Makes the system more reliable and easier to upgrade if you want. I haven't had any speed issues and with USB 3.0 drive being as cheap as they are it makes sense. I just bought 2 Scandisk 128Gb USB 3.0 drives for 20$each that I'm going to transfer everything over to



  • @geneworld The Pi only supports USB 2.0 so you won't see any speed improvements buying USB 3.0 drives.



  • @enderandrew I know, I was only talking about the price of them



  • @hansolo77 said in Big Micro SD, USB, or NAS-based storage?:

    The problem with NAS storage, is you have to have your NAS/server ON when you want to play. And if you take your setup to a friends house, your just out of luck.

    As I mentioned in my other post above, I use the Pi mainly as a Kodi media center, so if I took the Pi somewhere else, I would have to take a bunch of movies and whatnot with me. To that end, I'm going to duplicate my setup on another SD card, then point all my media/games etc to a portable HD instead of the NAS. I have everything I need, I just haven't had the time to set it up yet.

    That way when I want to take it elsewhere I can just swap out the SD card.



  • @obsidianspider I've recently tested a 128GB card from the Sandisk Extreme series which gives great results, especially if you overclock the SD card reader in the Pi. That would be my recommendation. For further details you can check out my thread called SD Card Experience Requested. I included benchmark results for the latest card at the bottom. I really didn't get much insight regarding SD cards and ended up solving my own problem, but figured I would share with the community.



  • @enderandrew This isn't necessarily the case because some USB 2.0 flash drives are a lot slower than what the USB 2.0 standard allows in my experience. With A USB 3.0 flash drive, you will likely see performance much closer to the maximum USB 2.0 is capable of on the Pi as they are built for speed. I bought a low-profile USB 3.0 drive for this reason and in my case, throughput did not disappoint.



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