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I'm recently setting up a new computer and was trying to decide if I should set up RAID 1 on my computer.

My setup has a small (240gb) SSD for Windows and maybe one or two games I play most often, but I know the space won't last long if I put everything on it. So I am planning on getting a 2TB HDD as well or considering 2x 2TB HDD in RAID 1. This is where I am planning on installing the majority of my games.

Is RAID 1 a good idea in terms of the performance of gaming? Will there be issues doing it this way?

I've heard that RAID 1 has performance improvements the more drives you have. But I have also heard that there are performance hits as well, so I'm not sure what to think. I wasn't planning on getting a dedicated RAID controller and was just planning on letting the mobo (B350M M-ATX, the specs says it supports RAID 0/1/10) do the work, however, I've heard that some mobos don't handle RAID well which is what leads to the performance drops.

So I'm not sure if RAID 1 will be worth it.

I'm looking at RAID partially for the data redundancy in case of hardware failure but partially for the supposed performance improvements.

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Primary purpose of RAID1 is resilience to HDD failure, because you always have same data on both disks and will still have that data even if some of them fails. The potential read performance increase here is a undesired (but nice) side effect.

RAID1 in general has "same" performance on writing because you always write same data to both disks, but it can have "twice" performance for reading, because it can read parts from one disk and parts from the other. This read performance increase, however, depends on the particular RAID implementation; it is possible you won't experience it in your particular case. Also it is unknown how it would perform at all under multithreaded random load.

On the other case, RAID0 is designed for performance, because it always interleaves writes and reads, thus spreading load to devices. It will be twice as fast to both read and write in any implementation. However, it is less resilient than a single drive, and you'll lose all the data if any of drives fails.

If you want to host valuable data, never use RAID0. This might include game saves, which are unique to you and couldn't be restored if lost. Game programs and data, on the other hand, is not unique at all, it could be easily restored by reinstalling (or downloading again). If you want faster map loads, you may very well user RAID0 for that. But I doubt this increase will really improve gaming performance significantly.

Your motherboard's RAID is fake. True hardware RAID controllers begin from $250 alone, you can't expect such function built-in into broadly functional device (motherboard) for $50. Not only I experienced reliability issues with those RAIDs, but also these often harder to monitor and otherwise support. A fake RAID is software RAID supported by the special OS driver. Nobody knows how they wrote their driver and if it could improve read from RAID1 by spreading reads. So I hardly would assume it is more performant in this regard than pure software RAID made with OS volume management. Considering you even don't intend to boot from it, I would recommend to not to use this fake RAID function, and if you want RAID, use what OS provides.

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  • thanks for your answer. Is there any chance of a RAID 1 setup being worse, performance wise, than a single HDD? I don't mind RAID1 being about equal performance to a single HDD if I get the added benefit of redundancy. But if it's going to negatively impact gaming then I will likely not use RAID at all. – Aequitas Oct 29 '19 at 6:10
  • You have two devices sharing the same link (PCIe to SATA controller), so requests could experience sligltly larger delays. A bus saturation is impossible, because two HDDs are not enough (SATA controller often sits on PCIe 3.0 x4, which is roughly 4GB/s). Overall performance could be /slightly/ worse, unnoticeably and you shouldn't concern with that. Treat is as equal performance. See aslo superuser.com/questions/1218199/raid-1-vs-single-drive – Nikita Kipriyanov Oct 29 '19 at 6:24
  • yeah I’ve read a bit on the topic, but there’s little information specifically about the impact on gaming. Thanks again for your advice. – Aequitas Oct 29 '19 at 8:02
  • I just went through a similar decision process. I ended up scrapping the Raid 1 idea, not because it would be "slower", but because I realized the HDD space could be put to better use as part of a NAS. After my googling and foruming I came to the conclusion that R1 was not really "built" with gaming in mind, and that could cause problems. That's as general as it gets, but when you spend as much time troubleshooting as I do, one less maybe helps out a lot. – ZedZero Apr 30 at 20:18

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