Q&A Is a NVMe SSD better for running virtual machines?

shmu26

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I often run Windows 10 in a virtual machine on a Linux host, using VirtualBox.
I am looking to improve the responsiveness of the VM as much as possible.
I run both host and guest on a SATA SSD.
Will I see a noticeable improvement in VM responsiveness if I switch to a NVMe SSD? Anyone tried it?
 

mazskolnieces

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Jul 25, 2020
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I often run Windows 10 in a virtual machine on a Linux host, using VirtualBox.
I am looking to improve the responsiveness of the VM as much as possible.
I run both host and guest on a SATA SSD.
Will I see a noticeable improvement in VM responsiveness if I switch to a NVMe SSD? Anyone tried it?
The difference between 7200 rpm HDD and NVMe SSD is that SSD is about 32X faster. On SSD, VBox launches and reach the OS desktop within ~ 25 secs and VM performance without lag.

I would never run anything on HDD except data storage or where cost is the primary factor. HDD is obsolete for both OS and program speed.
 

shmu26

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The difference between 7200 rpm HDD and NVMe SSD is that SSD is about 32X faster. On SSD, VBox launches and reach the OS desktop within ~ 25 secs and VM performance without lag.

I would never run anything on HDD except data storage or where cost is the primary factor. HDD is obsolete for both OS and program speed.
Agreed. HDD is much too slow to run a Win10 VM. The question is between SATA SSD and NVMe SSD.
 

MacDefender

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Might be worth looking at benchmarks between your SATA SSD and the NVMe one you want to buy. I would guess it’s probably twice as fast. One important difference is that NVME is capable of deeper queues which means better parallel IO, which can help with multiple VMs not getting choked on IO.

It won’t be anywhere near the jump from HDD to SSD though.
 

mazskolnieces

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Jul 25, 2020
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Agreed. HDD is much too slow to run a Win10 VM. The question is between SATA SSD and NVMe SSD.
To be honest with you, I didn't notice much difference between SATA and NVMe SSD. Here's the thing though... for $30 to $50 more, you can get a 2 TB NVMe SSD versus a SATA SSD. So for an additional $30 to $50 more, the NVMe is better future proofing.

This system is NVMe SSD and I run VBox on it. It is fast enough that it doesn't annoy me. I can run 4 Linux VMs simultaneously. For Windows OS in VMs, things can get noticeably slower. The bottle neck is the CPU (i7 6 core), and not the SSD. But be aware that VMs don't load in 2 sec on any SSD. They all seem to load in under 30 sec for sure. But if you have 4 or more VMs open, you will experience some stuttering even with the fastest $2,000 SSD and 128 GB RAM.
 

MacDefender

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It really depends on what SATA and what NVMe SSD you had. NVME SSDs can reach blazing speeds beyond 2000MB/s which is faster than RAM on computers before NVMe SSDs. However you can also just make a cheap NVMe drive (many exist and are sold as gaming drives — large capacity lower speed) and they wouldn’t be remarkable. Same with SATA, some of the SATA SSDs are excellent but remember too that the first few SSDs on SATA were not that remarkable and couldn’t even go over 200-300MB/s consistently and some 10k RPM enterprise hard drives can beat them today.
 

Local Host

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It really depends on what SATA and what NVMe SSD you had. NVME SSDs can reach blazing speeds beyond 2000MB/s which is faster than RAM on computers before NVMe SSDs. However you can also just make a cheap NVMe drive (many exist and are sold as gaming drives — large capacity lower speed) and they wouldn’t be remarkable. Same with SATA, some of the SATA SSDs are excellent but remember too that the first few SSDs on SATA were not that remarkable and couldn’t even go over 200-300MB/s consistently and some 10k RPM enterprise hard drives can beat them today.
Is more future proof than anything else, very few Software is optimized for NVMEs, not to mention the rest of your build needs to keep up.

NVMEs are more for specific tasks like video editing, where you relying on I/O (as said before the rest of the build needs to keep up to have any advantage over a regular SSD).

I also wouldn't count HDDs at useless yet, there barely any difference between it and SSDs when you using Software that doesn't rely to much on I/O.
 

blackice

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I don’t run VMs but games load faster on my NVME vs SATA SSD. Basically I upgraded just to sit in a Call of Duty pre-match telling me I’m waiting on other players for a minute or so, because nobody else has loaded yet. But open world games load incredibly fast. WD Blue SN550 NVME vs WD Blue SATA SSD. The difference isn’t as big as HDD to SSD though.
 

Local Host

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I don’t run VMs but games load faster on my NVME vs SATA SSD. Basically I upgraded just to sit in a Call of Duty pre-match telling me I’m waiting on other players for a minute or so, because nobody else has loaded yet. But open world games load incredibly fast. WD Blue SN550 NVME vs WD Blue SATA SSD. The difference isn’t as big as HDD to SSD though.
As someone who has multiple triple AAA games installed, I run most of them on my HDD and there's barely any difference between it and my Crucial SSD (which is way faster).

Games barely rely on I/O and will mostly only affect the loading screens, when we talking Multi-Player you relying more on Internet speed than anything else, even with the games installed on HDD I always waiting for others to load.

I would say you should waste time installing games on SSDs, when they rely more on I/O for asset streaming, it can make the difference between smooth frame-rate and stuttering (this is extremely rare still, as most developers didn't count HDDs out yet).
 

blackice

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As someone who has multiple triple AAA games installed, I run most of them on my HDD and there's barely any difference between it and my Crucial SSD (which is way faster).

Games barely rely on I/O and will mostly only affect the loading screens, when we talking Multi-Player you relying more on Internet speed than anything else, even with the games installed on HDD I always waiting for others to load.

I would say you should waste time installing games on SSDs, when they rely more on I/O for asset streaming, it can make the difference between smooth frame-rate and stuttering (this is extremely rare still, as most developers didn't count HDDs out yet).
With two small children and limited time the value of shorter loading screens is worth it. Time is at a premium for me right now. The NVME wasn’t actually and upgrade, but just because I was building a new machine.
 

Local Host

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With two small children and limited time the value of shorter loading screens is worth it. Time is at a premium for me right now. The NVME wasn’t actually and upgrade, but just because I was building a new machine.
I spare my NMVE and SSD for heavier tasks like in Visual Studio, it compiles in record time, obviously I have the rest of the build to keep up with them.

I don't know how it will affect @shmu26 VMs, I not expecting miracles however, VMs will always run slower than native.
 

Lightning_Brian

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In most real life scenarios I cannot notice the difference between a high qualilty SATA SSD vs. a high quality NVME. Again, as some have mentioned if you have heavy (and I mean **heavy**) I/O you might then notice some good speed increases with NVME far beyond SATA SSDs.

Now if it was me.. I would go for NVME all day any day for future proofing and usability. The speeds of NVME is always going to be super fast compared to SATA SSDs.

Take it from a Sys. admin who does a lot of work in VMs! ;):)

~Brian
 

shmu26

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In most real life scenarios I cannot notice the difference between a high qualilty SATA SSD vs. a high quality NVME. Again, as some have mentioned if you have heavy (and I mean **heavy**) I/O you might then notice some good speed increases with NVME far beyond SATA SSDs.

Now if it was me.. I would go for NVME all day any day for future proofing and usability. The speeds of NVME is always going to be super fast compared to SATA SSDs.

Take it from a Sys. admin who does a lot of work in VMs! ;):)

~Brian
Thanks, @Lightning_Brian!
 
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