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Old 06-22-2008, 11:58 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
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Default Raid Controllers : Onboard VS PCI?

Tempted to put my 250gb Barricuda's into a Raid0 array again, not sure if I should go with an onboard raid controller (new mobo) or just keep my current setup and grab a PCI Sata/Raid controller.

Thoughts? I'm pretty clueless on this one. (Edit) And let's this a budget of 100$ while we're at it .
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Old 06-23-2008, 01:56 AM   #2
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Default Why Raid 0?

If your disks are more than one year old, I'd not dare use Raid 0 - it's very risky. If you just need a performance boost from your drives, I'd recommend getting a new bigger 7200 rpm disk with 16 MB buffer at least. Tom's hardware has very interesting interactive hard drive charts here.

Regarding onboard or dedicated card, it all depends on the specific chipsets featured, and the details of your computer usage. Is the PC going to boot from the Raid array? If so, you must ensure that your flavor of windows supports a repair installation on these disks to make sure you'll be able to fix any potential problems in the future (meaning several tests are needed). Vista and RAID is most likely to guarantee an adventure - test extensively.

If your application or your data are critical, you'll also want to be able to monitor your disks' health, using some SMART monitoring tool. The general lack of the latter in RAID arrays is the main reason I don't use RAID at all. Last time I checked, very few specific chipsets support SMART (e.g. LSI MegaIDE, 3ware PATA/SATA controllers) or offer their own dedicated SMART reading tools, while the monitoring software available generally supports SCSI arrays and not ATA (IDE) ones.

Returning to your original question, I'd start from the onboard controller (which is likely to be more documented and have more recent drivers), make some tests, ensure good airflow on the disks and research on a way to monitor disks' health. And never forget to check periodically for latest updates to your chipset drivers, especially if on Vista.
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:29 PM   #3
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Drives are less than a year old

This IS going to be a boot drive but I run this rig strictly for performance and already have a "fresh install" image ready. No redundancy is required or I'd be more interested in something like RAID5

Not using Vista, XP32

I did this before on my old A8N-E and was very pleased with the results. I didn't bother getting a raid board this time around because money was an issue when I built the system.

I'm still just wondering; Will PCI raid cards be an issue as far as booting from the raid0 partition goes, and is it worth it (money wise)vs just buying a board that has a raid controller built in.

Edit; It's two of these

The Samsung 500GB I run is for data and will remain outside of the raid array.

Last edited by Naish; 06-23-2008 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 06-23-2008, 06:29 PM   #4
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I'm not sure how much (if any) hardware processing lower end RAID cards actually offer... because if they don't offer any or very much, then then there's no point in having them if the motherboard supports the RAID you need. The CPU would end up covering the overhead anyway.
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Old 06-25-2008, 01:19 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forums UBfusion!

As for the RAID situation, I wouldn't run out and spend $100 when we are dealing with a 250GB drive... might make more sense just to buy a 320GB drive for the same price and use it for manual backups.

I'll always stay away from RAID 0... it's just not worth the risk. I haven't had a drive die in a while, but it would suck to be running for a year and all of a sudden have a drive die and completely ruin your day. Even if you have regular backups, re-installing everything is noones idea of fun.
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Old 07-04-2008, 05:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Rob Williams View Post
re-installing everything is noones idea of fun.
You must think I'm pretty sad then.

I reinstalled XP on my laptop this afternoon...for fun. On the other hand, I keep an extremely low amount of programs installed (less than 20 at most, depends what I'm playing for games that week. VLC and Nvidia Purevideo cover all my movie watching need).
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