Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was looking more recently into building a RAID-10 array for good drive performance and parity, and I started looking into hardware RAID cards. I was thinking I'd be paying under $100 for one, but it seems that the good ones run anywhere from $300 to $500. Why is this so? What about a hardware RAID card makes it so expensive?

share|improve this question
Yea I had the same problem. I got loads of PC's, even servers lying around but these raid cards are just that expensive. It is because they have built in processors to handle the data, organization, CRC all on the fly without denting your server(pc) at the fastest possible speed. Surprisingly I found the HP-Microserver that has 4 bays with RAID (not 10 though :( ) andthe server costs £200 - some 4port Raid cards cost £ the question is pretty valid. Are we paying for the brand only? or what.. – ppumkin Jan 9 '12 at 12:50
Hardware RAID cards use relatively expensive NVRAM as a write cache, to ensure that no data is lost during a power failure. – sblair Jan 9 '12 at 12:59
RAID controllers have always been expensive... I think ppumpkin is slightly confused as you don't need a port per RAID card per drive... Unless using SATA (i think?!). SCSI you can have multiple drives per port (max is 7 i think?). But for multiple arrays then for each you would need a port. Think SAS can be upto 100 drives per port :) – HaydnWVN Jan 9 '12 at 13:05
up vote 6 down vote accepted

It's an indirect effect. There used to be cheaper, less capable solutions ($100), too. However, in that segment they couldn't compete with software RAID solutions. Therefore, only the high-end cards remain viable products.

What makes a card high-end? As sblair already mentioned, NVRAM. Another common feature is a dedicated chip to run the RAID algorithms, offloading the main CPU. Hot-pluggability. Quick rebuild features. Caches.

share|improve this answer
Nice answer, thanks. – Naftuli Tzvi Kay Jan 9 '12 at 17:05

There are not a lot of good reasons for home users to be using raid levels (other than 0, 1 or 10) that require a hardware raid card. Therefore there is not a lot of demand in the consumer market. There is demand in the server/professional market however as it's used more in those kind of machines. However professional users have much more to spend compared to consumers.

I cannot imagine a reason to be using a hardware raid card at home, prices of harddisks are so low that you can easily create a raid 10 array instead of raid 5 which increases performance/durability but doesn't need any parity checks. If you're looking for speed an ssd (though still expensive) is a better way to go.

share|improve this answer
Call me crazy, but I'm looking to build a 6-drive RAID-50 array out of SSDs. Does that qualify me as a professional user? ;) – Naftuli Tzvi Kay Jan 9 '12 at 16:48
Maybe not a professional user but your usage profile is very different from an average consumer :). – thekip Jan 9 '12 at 17:00
Doesn't it make a bit more sense, disk-utilization-wise, to go with RAID-50 over RAID-10? Sure, there's a bit of a performance difference, but 66% storage utilization is a lot better than 50%. – Naftuli Tzvi Kay Jan 9 '12 at 17:05
And which one of those is cheaper? I think you can buy much more disks for your expensive hardware raid card :). Plus you get extra safety as RAID 10 is (a little) more failsafe compared to RAID 5 (needs rebuilding). – thekip Jan 9 '12 at 20:51
RAID-50 is quite overkill for a 6 SSD setup. It's unlikely that it will give you extra speed, and you're also unlikely to suffer multiple disk losses in quick succession. RAID-6 would be saner (like RAID-5 but with two, not one disks for parity) – MSalters Jan 10 '12 at 8:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .