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Old July 16, 2008, 12:46 AM
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Default Which Hardware RAID5 Card?

I'm concidering getting a hardware RAID card that supports RAID5 but I don't really want to spend a fortune (if possible). I was wondering what you would recommend for a home server, as well as if it is really worth it to get a hardware RAID5 card over just a regular software one.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that I'll be using SATA.
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Old July 16, 2008, 03:36 PM
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It is definitely worth the money for a hardware RAID card for RAID5. RAID5 is very CPU intensive. Also lets say your motherboard dies. Your RAID array is useless to you unless you get the another board with the exact same chipest.

I myself bought a Dell Perc5/i controller recently. It is a great card considering the price you can get them on ebay ($100 generally). Although the downside is they aren't compatible with a lot of boards. You can comb through this thread here and see if anyone says anything about your board.

Dell Perc 5/i - Mainboard Compatibility List - 2CPU.com Discussion Forums

A lot of other DFI boards are listed as supported so you might be in luck.

The Perc5/i isn't an amazing controller, but it is significantly better than software/onboard. If you are willing to spend more on a controller, you might look at an Areca ARC-1210/1220. They are $400+ but they will perform better. The High Point RocketRaid3510/3520 is also another good card, generally in the $350+ range.

One last point, you generally want a battery backup with the RAID card, or otherwise you won't be able to use the cache on the controller card.
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Old July 16, 2008, 03:54 PM
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I'm actually looking at putting this into my HTPC/home server which uses a Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L (780G chipset). The motherboard has onboard video so the PCIe slot is empty, so would It be best to get a RAID card that is PCIe, or would that likely lead to more issues? And how big of a batter backup thing would I need? The system jsut uses the onboard GPU and has a 4600+ X2 for the processor as well as 3x500GB drives + an 80GB drive. I wouldnt expect to keep the system running for more than a few minutes, just enough time to get it shut down safely (not much point having an HTPC running if there is no power to the TV!) Thanks a ton for the help as I'm pretty much clueless when it comes to hardware RAID. I'm also going to be using Vista x64 (I figured it has better support over XP x64).
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Old July 16, 2008, 03:59 PM
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The battery backup isn't a UPS, it is a little battery specifically for the RAID card. It connects directly to the RAID card and sits inside the case. They all require different battery backups. When you look for a card, just check the manufactures website, they'll generally have the part number for the battery backup listed on the product page.
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Old July 16, 2008, 04:23 PM
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I was looking at the Highpoint RocketRAID 1740 and 2310 on ebay (they are much more affordable for someone who works part time in retail) but wasn't sure if they are worth the money. I don't NEED any crazy fast performance if I can save myself a couple hundred bucks, but I also don't want to get a cheap card if it will mean my data is less safe.

EDIT: Well with a bit of research I see that these are both just accelerated software RAID so they aren't worth it.
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Last edited by CanadaRox; July 16, 2008 at 04:29 PM.
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Old July 16, 2008, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanadaRox View Post
I was looking at the Highpoint RocketRAID 1740 and 2310 on ebay (they are much more affordable for someone who works part time in retail) but wasn't sure if they are worth the money. I don't NEED any crazy fast performance if I can save myself a couple hundred bucks, but I also don't want to get a cheap card if it will mean my data is less safe.

EDIT: Well with a bit of research I see that these are both just accelerated software RAID so they aren't worth it.
Neither of those cards are hardware raid cards AFAIK. They are just software RAID cards.
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Old July 16, 2008, 06:27 PM
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I would say those 2 High Point cards aren't hardware as a quality 2 port RAID card is $200. Also even if it is hardware you should still avoid High Point like the plague. I would expect a decent (meaning not software) 4 port RAID card to be near $300.
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Old July 19, 2008, 09:25 PM
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Try to stay away from PCI raid cards in general, If your looking for raid 5, your looking for drive performance over 3 drives, just ONE modern 7200rpm hard drive will saturate a pci bus. they typically max out at between 100-110 mb/s. A modern hard drive will do between 80 and 100 mb/s, 3 in raid 5 might get you 160mb/s raid 0 will get you more. I would suggest at least a PCIE 4x card so you dont max out the bandwith and loose the speed you were hoping to gain.
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Old July 20, 2008, 12:04 AM
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I just wanted to mention something that might not interest you at all, or you might already know... you've already mentioned that your planning to go with raid 5, so i assume you want the performance, but arnt confident enough to have no redundancy. After a couple tests with 3 drives i noticed there was quite a signifigant performance loss with raid 5 over 0 (though it was most definatly better than mirroring or single drives) You might be interested to know that with raid cards you can partition the raid drives to give you the first saaaaay 30 gigs of each drive (making a 90 gig partition) and then make another raid array with raid 5 with the remainder of the drive space. the first 20 or 30 gigs of each drive are going to be the best performing part of the drives anyway so you can have a raid 0 OS drive with 90 gigs that is of a very fast consistant speed across the partition, and a storage drive that is as big as you have left in raid 5, that is still quite fast as well as being secure. Just make sure you partition it within the add on controller's bios and not in windows.

so yea... there you go, if you knew that already... meby someone that didnt can read the post on say "eh? i didnt know that..." an if you didnt know that, well there... you can have your cake and eat it too ;D
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Old July 20, 2008, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanadaRox View Post
I'm actually looking at putting this into my HTPC/home server which uses a Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L (780G chipset). The motherboard has onboard video so the PCIe slot is empty, so would It be best to get a RAID card that is PCIe, or would that likely lead to more issues? And how big of a batter backup thing would I need? The system jsut uses the onboard GPU and has a 4600+ X2 for the processor as well as 3x500GB drives + an 80GB drive. I wouldnt expect to keep the system running for more than a few minutes, just enough time to get it shut down safely (not much point having an HTPC running if there is no power to the TV!) Thanks a ton for the help as I'm pretty much clueless when it comes to hardware RAID. I'm also going to be using Vista x64 (I figured it has better support over XP x64).
Maybe RAID 5 is not the right fit for your purpose. You are never going to need the performance. Even if you set this thing up as a media server and constantly streamed 2 video and 5 audio feeds off of it you are not going to be able to choke even the most craptacular fake-RAID system. Also, RAID 5 with just 3 disks is using (wasting) a lot of the disk space for redundancy. That is why RAID 5 sets are usually 5 or 7 disk gangs. Also, more drives means more heat and more noise.

For the price of a controller you could just buy a 4th drive. Run two in the HTPC and two in your main computer or an external enclosure or NAS. Back the HTPC drives up to the other drives. You could RAID 0 (stripe) them but is that even worth it? Would having two buckets-O-media be that much of a pain over one? If you do not really know how this works and you do not really have the time or interest to dive into the guides and HOWTOs it might just be best to go simple.

If you really want the 3 disk RAID 5 I would just use Vista's built in software fake-raid. You have a separate boot disk so there is no complication there. It is easy to use and a no cost addition.
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