RID Lookup Or Key Lookup?

Aaron Bertrand asks which is faster, RID lookups or key lookups?

I’ve seen multiple people state that a heap can be better than a clustered index for certain scenarios. I cannot disagree with that. One of the interesting reasons I’ve seen stated, though, is that a RID Lookup is faster than a Key Lookup. I’m a big fan of clustered indexes and not a huge fan of heaps, so I felt this needed some testing.

So, let’s test it!

I thought it would be good to create a database with two tables, identical except that one had a clustered primary key, and the other had a non-clustered primary key. I would time loading some rows into the table, updating a bunch of rows in a loop, and selecting from an index (forcing either a Key or RID Lookup).

It looks like RID lookups are slightly faster than key lookups.  But check out the comments:  this is a best-case scenario.

Related Posts

Comparing System Metadata Between SQL Server Versions

Aaron Bertrand shows how he finds hidden features in new SQL Server builds: One of the areas I like to focus on is new features in SQL Server. Under both MVP and Microsoft Partner programs, I get to see a lot of builds of SQL Server that don’t make it to the public, and documentation […]

Read More

The Problems With NOLOCK

Rob Farley demonstrates the downside of the READ UNCOMMITTED isolation level: I’m going to create a table and insert exactly 1 million rows. This particular table will be a clustered index, and will contain 1 million GUIDs. 1 2 CREATE TABLE dbo.demoNOLOCK (someguid uniqueidentifier NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY); INSERT dbo.demoNOLOCK (someguid) SELECT TOP (1000000) NEWID() […]

Read More


May 2016
« Apr Jun »