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Looking to build a MacPro.

Reliability question aside, what's a good option?

I feel that if I purchased the RAID option, it should be in the RAID10 configuration -- spinning media needs the reliability.

This is going to be for a developer workstation so the performance needs to be like production without the costs of the reliability.

If SSD, the OCZ Real SSD 256 for about 600 bucks seems to thought of highly but Intel just released lower capacity, cheaper ones the other day.

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migrated from serverfault.com Nov 17 '10 at 9:41

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What are you doing with the server?? developing??? –  Arenstar Nov 16 '10 at 3:16
    
OCZ Real SSD? That's a Crucial. OCZ Makes Vertex, RevoDrive, IBIS, etc. –  Mircea Chirea Nov 16 '10 at 5:27
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3 Answers 3

RAID is for reliability and availability. SSD's give you speed. You'll still need a good backup either way, since RAID isn't a backup system and SSD's won't help you there either.

You may be stressing more than you need to with this. You could stress about your disks for days, finally make up your mind, get the system and have the motherboard or disk controller crap out on you, and no matter how you cut it in another two or three years you'll be wishing for something faster and the technology will be faster and more reliable.

Look at your budget. If you have money to burn and need more speed, get SSD's. If you don't have tons of extra cash, use affordable drives to make a RAID array. Just make sure you have a good backup system in place.

Also the way you're wording your question, I'd not be surprised if you get a lot of people telling you that it's too subjective...everyone has an opinion over what to do, and some may even tell you that you're looking to spend more money than you need and get more complicated than you have to.

Last side note...I personally get a system from Apple with Apple parts, and that way Applecare will cover everything without hassle for the next three years. Aftermarket parts tend to be cheaper, but in my book I prefer the peace of mind that I can just take something to an Apple Store or call Applecare and have them take care of the issue without telling me I voided the warranty by installing something they don't support. But that's me. I've had a notebook go wonky after two and a half years, shipped it to Apple and have it back to me all within three days.

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I have both in the larger of my 2 servers which runs virtual machines.

Here are some numbers from an OS-provided benchmark app taken during idle:

A single SATA Kingston E-series SSD can do this:

BUFFERED READS:    198.52 MB/sec

AVERAGE SEEK TIME: 0.26 ms

FSYNCS/SECOND:     1867.56

And with 6x 7200rpm SATA RAID10 on a PERC 6/i controller they do this:

BUFFERED READS:    315.17 MB/sec

AVERAGE SEEK TIME: 7.18 ms

FSYNCS/SECOND:     2439.31

The SSD is still relatively new to me, less than 6 months.

The OS is installed to the SSD & I don't notice much difference in it, but a firewall VM loads & saves large rulesets in what feels like less than half the time as when it lives on the RAID datastore.

I opted for SLC for the sake of performance, and chose a Kingston-branded Intel device for support. As soon as they arrived I started on documenting a maintenance schedule & found that firmware wasn't available or even mentioned on their site.

Kingston took >4 weeks to provide details on it, so the next one I got was the Intel X25-E, and their self-serve support beats Kingston's marketing jive support hands-down.

I have Dell support, when hit the fan I learned it matters. With that, I'll second Bart's suggestion regarding Applecare.

EDIT:

IMHO, if an SSD is the route you take, don't bother wasting money on a large, lower-end one. Save up & get the quickest you can and put it to work on the apps that really benefit from it. Space is relatively easy to come by, but those kind of seek times aren't.

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Kingstod SSDs are notorious for being extremely low on random access, which is the whole point of an SSD. –  Mircea Chirea Nov 16 '10 at 5:28
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Currently the single best SSD given unknown usage scenarios is the OCZ Vertex 2. If you are thinking of striping several of them for faster sequential speed it's recommended to get a PCI-E SSD instead, like RevoDrive/RevoDrive 2 or IBIS.

For sequential access the Crucial RealSSD C300 currently offers the highest performance/cost ratio, however, it requires SATA 6Gb/s to be effective.

My recommendation is to get a single OCZ Vertex 2 120GB; it's stupidly fast on all usage scenarios (sequential, random, mixed) and has good cost/GB. If you want some raw number you can check them at StorageReview.

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