2 Parts: Best SATA III RAID controller and are 2 4 port cards better than 1 8 port?

I need a hardware raid controller that will support 2 separate 2 disk RAID 1 volumes with a hot spare. I have 4TB WD RE drives. My questions is 2 parts:

What is the best value ($200-450 or so) for a PCIE RAID Controller card? I want something very solid as this will be a moderate use file server. I like the looks / price of the 3ware 9650SE but it is not SATA III although I am not sure that matters with mechanical drives. I have also looked at an Intel RT3WB080 as an option plus the LSI LSI00301 (9207-8i). Looks like the LSI 9260 is highly regarded as well but at over $500 is high for this build. Any thoughts? I really like the 3ware capability of having the controller email me if there is a drive failure.

Part 2: Is there any performance benefit to having 2 separate 4 port raid controller cards with 1 volume on each rather than a single 8 port with both volumes?

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  1. Best answer
    You will have worse performance with 2 separate RAID controller cards.
    You just need 1 card with enough ports to handle the number of drives you're going to use.

    You need a RAID controller card with SFF-8087 mini-SAS ports, not SATA ports.
    Each port can handle up to 4 SAS or SATA drives. So if you buy a card with 2 mini-SAS ports you can connect up to 8 SATA drives on it.
    You would need to buy a mini-SAS to SATA connector also.

    Since you like 3ware, here's a card with 1 mini-SAS port:
    Here's the cable you would need to connect your SATA drives:
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