I've just ordered two new hard drives for my main desktop and a copy of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. I'd like to do a clean install of Windows 7 onto the new drives (leaving my old Windows XP Professional boot partition around for a while in case something goes disastrously wrong, etc.). I want to have them set up in mirrored (RAID 1) mode.
My understanding is that Windows 7 Pro can do software mirroring, but can I set this up directly at install time? If so, how? Note that I'd like the disk to be split into three partitions (OS, applications and data, and bulk data), all of which should be mirrored.
Would it be better (more reliable or faster) to use my motherboard's hardware RAID support? My motherboard is an older nVidia nForce 680i SLI, which is not the most stable of motherboards, and I'm not sure how trustworthy its RAID 1 configuration might be (or if Windows 7 could even detect and install onto a hardware-mirrored volume). Also, the performance characteristics of RAID 1 are rather different than RAID 0 or RAID 5, and I'm wondering if Windows 7's software mirroring might actually be faster than hardware RAID 1 (for example, I'm more of a Unix administrator when I have to wear the system administrator hat, and I've had great success deploying ZFS; most hardware RAID 1 implementations have to read both disks and compare results to look for data errors, but ZFS can read from only one disk in the mirror and just use the built-in checksum, meaning it can have up to 2x the number of reads in-flight, as long as there's no data corruption).
Edit: Okay, my question about whether Windows 7 can do software mirroring has been answered, and it can. I'm still unsure whether Windows software RAID or my motherboard's hardware "fake RAID" function is a better choice, though. Remember, I'm only interested in mirroring -- not the more complicated striping or parity operations that generally show the poor performance of crappy motherboard RAID solutions.