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So do you still need specific software/drivers (intel matrix?) installed to manage the raid controller, setup the array. If the raid chipset is on-board the motherboard and it uses the CPU, and say I am using a Core 2 Quad Q9550, would a hardware based card still out perform the motherboard chipset? This is for a home workstation and I could spend $300 on a areca ARC-1210 PCI-Express x8 SATA II but I want to be able to justify the money for the raid card.

My motherboard is a GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P

UPDATE: I was going to RAID5 using 4 500 GB drives, and I was going to buy a controller card but this article got me thinking hmmm....Toms-Southbridge Battle

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Yes, it's software RAID. To get hardware RAID you need a RAID card, and the cheaper ones aren't even hardware RAID. A good hardware RAID card will almost always outperform a software solution, but with your CPU you shouldn't notice the difference.

You're better off using the Windows RAID tools for Dynamic Disks. The only advantage to using the onboard RAID (which is still software RAID) is that you can RAID a boot volume, but there are a ton of drawbacks.

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Do you care to elaborate on the drawbacks. Please see my update also! –  Breadtruck Aug 30 '09 at 6:32
    
If your motherboard dies, you need to replace it with one that has the same RAID controller onboard, otherwise your volume isn't accessible, if it's done in windows, you can move that volume to a new computer and just import the RAID. The overhead for RAID 5 is decent, but on a C2Q you should be more than fine with software RAID. Pump the money into RAM/Video –  MDMarra Aug 30 '09 at 6:58
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Just curious, wouldn't I need to replace a raid card if it died also with the same manufacturer series raid card? –  Breadtruck Aug 30 '09 at 7:19
    
Yup, the point was that a software RAID volume created within Windows via dynamic disks does not have this problem, and can be moved to any other windows machine with minimal hassle. –  MDMarra Aug 30 '09 at 8:20
    
Last time I looked, a while ago, windows only allowed mirrored disks (Raid 1), has that changed, I really want RAID 5 –  Breadtruck Aug 30 '09 at 18:40
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Mark is right on the money. A dedicated card is best if you want to include your boot drive and OS files in the RAID array. But it really depends what you are doing, because using software RAID in Windows management will suffice for most things.

And as of Windows 7 Ultimate I know for a fact that it does support RAID 5. Not sure about Vista or XP.

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