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Will I get any extra genuine added performance and RAID stability if I insert a basic RAID card into a PCI-E x1 slot?

I am considering the Adaptec 1220SA - 2 port SATA, PCI-express (1x), RAID 0/1. Ok, it only supports two SATA drives.

The purpose is to help support the eight internal hard drives (1TB each), a DVD drive and an external e-SATA connected 2TB hard drive (by dealing with two of the internal hard drives).

My current configuration of eight internal 1TB Barracuda (7200.12) SATA hard drives, one external 2TB SATA Western Digital Green Drive (e-SATA) and one DVD drive can already be supported by the Intel P55 & JMicron controllers on the ASUS motherboard in the following configuration:

  • The Intel P55 (controls six HDD; configured as three x RAID 1)
  • The JMicron (controls two HDD as one RAID 1, as well as the DVD drive and the external SATA drive via the motherboard's e-SATA port (controlled by the JMicron)).

Bigger picture details :

I have an ASUS motherboard designed for the LGA1156 type processor and it includes the Intel P55 Express Chipset and JMicron. I am using the Intel Core i7-870 processor, and have 8GB DDR3 (1333) memory (four x 2GB Corsair DIMMs). Enough overall power.

The power supply is more than sufficicient for the system (Corsair AX850). The system will never need the full 850 watts (future : second graphics card).

The RAID card would provide hardware RAID 1 for two of the eight intrnal drives. That would either reduce the load on:

  • the Intel P55 firmware RAID support, or
  • replace the JMicron controller's RAID 1 set.

I am busy installing the above configuration using Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit as the OS. The RAID card is a last minute addition to the plan.

Is it worth spending the extra R700 - R900 on the Adaptec 1220SA, or equivalent RAID card? I cannot afford to spend yet another R2000 - R3000 on a RAID card that would support many SATA2 hard drives, with a better RAID, example the RAID 5.

My Issue & assumption :

I am trusting that the Intel P55 chipset can properly handle six drives, configured as three * RAID 1. I am assuming that the JMicron can handle, using its RED SATA ports, one RAID-1 (two HDDs).

The DVD drive connects to the JMicron optical SATA port 1 (white port 1). White port 2 is not used. The e-SATA connection is from the JMicron straight to, and through the motherboard - to an on-board (rear panel) e-SATA port.

  • Am I being a little hopeful in only using the on-board Intel P55 and the JMicron?
  • Is it a waste of money to install a RAID card that handles two SATA2 drives?
    or
  • Is it wisdom to take the pressure a little off the Intel P55?

Obviously I am interested in data security, hence RAID 1, not RAID Zero. RAID 5 would be nice.

The CPU, Intel Core i7-870 will provide the clout.

Context to nine drives: I am using virtualisation with Windows 7 Ultimate (bootable VMs).

  • The operating system gets a mirror.
  • Loaded apps gets a mirror.
  • The current design data is kept in another mirror and
  • Another mirror is back-up one and / or VM territory.

Then the external 2TB drive (via e-SATA) is the next layer of data security and then finally, I use off-site data security.

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1 Answer 1

Great question and actually the same debate I went through when building my home media server, although I'm only running 7xHDD, 1DVD and 1 Bluray.

Best bet is to use a RAID controller operating on a faster slot as the PCIEx1 would provide only marginal gains and likely wouldn't justify the cost. If you can find a x16 version with only 2 ports, put it in your second PCIEx16 slot and use this controller for the OS. You will see some gains on the OS drive this way.

In either instance you would save a small amount of overhead by reducing the number of drives on the onboard controller as it is already limited by not keeping up to the data throughput of 3 logical drives.

I just finished writing an answer that covers this Here

Hope this helps narrow down the options for you.

Chris

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