Raid Controller Card?

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WarWasp
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Well, I'm faced with a decision to purchase a raid controller card, or utilize my motherboards onboard raid controller. Does anyone have any experience with Raid controller cards? They seem very expensive. I would assume they greatly improve read/write speeds as opposed to using onboard raid. But then again, I'm not sure if the performance increse would be worth it; nor if I even need it. After all, I am quite new to computer building.
I plan to use Raid5 with 3HDDs

Does anyone have input on the subject matter?

A new PC guy.

Razear
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Weigh the pros and cons. For your particular application, onboard RAID should be fine.

Mordeux
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What are your PC habits? A better question is why do you need a RAID setup? I used a RAID setup back during the days of IDE HDDs and I found there to be an immense improvement. Today, we have SSDs which should offer more than enough speed in most personal computer applications. If you are are trying to boost your gaming performance, then I would simply recommend you not worry about RAID. It is an expensive route just to save yourself a few extra seconds of loading. If you are rich and just want to tinker, go nuts.

I was a bit a Negative Nancy, so for fun, let's see what happens with a whole bunch of SSDs in a RAID:

X-Mas 2012 (most of it):
Coolermaster CM Storm || SeaSonic SS-660XP || ASUS P8Z77-V PREMIUM || Intel Core i7-3770K || 16 Gigabytes Corsair-Veng. || eVGA GTX 560ti || Audigy 2 ZS Platinum || 240GB Intel 520/ 2TB Samsung HDD || Liteon Blu-ray || Logitech G700 || Microsoft SIDEWINDER X4 || 20.1" NEC WMGX^2 || Onkyo TX-SR702 Receiver (with Bowers & Wilkins Speakers) || Sennheiser HD600 Headphones

WarWasp
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Thanks for your input sir. I am building an all purpose pc that is capable of playing modern games in 720p. I have a soundbank that I use for music production and audio editing. The soundbank is pretty large (75gb) and loading it takes a while. I was thinking Raid5 would improve read speed.

eire1274
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Soft RAID (which is what is supplied by motherboards and general purpose RAID controllers) handles RAID functions at the driver level, not at the controller. The controller itself provides the lanes for expanded read and write operations, and you will see large read speed improvements as the drives will operate at burst speeds more often the larger your array (number of individual disks) is. However, it must also be noted that RAID5 will see a decrease in the write speeds, due to the fact that data has to be spooled to multiple disks, so it isn't a perfect alternative.

True SAS (Serial attached SCSI) RAID controllers can function with SATA drives, but see better read and write speeds because of the fact that the controller itself will be handling the drives, and Windows / drivers will only receive the result. These cards will start at around the $300-400US mark, and generally need a PCI-e 4x slot or higher. Stepping up to SAS drives offer even more speed gains, due to the enhanced lane structure of SAS, but at this point you are looking at ridiculously priced drives, and this isn't something you would likely want to invest in for a gaming machine.

Nick McDermott

Mordeux
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I think you'd see a marked performance increase just by switching to an SSD. Assuming your sound bank is on the outer part of the HDD platter, a standard 300MB SATA 7200RPM HDD will average a read speed of 100MB/s (as low as 60MB/s on the inner part of the platter). The latest SATA III SSD averages ~500MB/Sec. You will literally have your time chopped by 1/5th just by moving to a SATA III SSD. A SATA III connection is critical for maximum read speeds of an SSD:

Edit:

I almost forgot about this:
OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 series RVD3X2-FHPX4-240G PCI-E 240GB PCI-Express 2.0 x4 MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
1500 MB/s Sequential Read

They also make a hybrid. It is essentially a revo with a 2.5" HDD thrown on top for increased storage capacity.
515 MB/s Sequential Read

If you have a lot of money and don't mind being completely ridiculous, you can get their enterprise cards:

16 TB(yes, tera) Z-Drive R4 CloudServ - Sequential R/W 6000 MB/s