I'm looking for an opinion while I put together a little beast of a computer right now. Just got an i7 4930K on an Asus x79 Deluxe, and I am in the process of putting it together right now in my living room. I've been wrestling with a couple hard drive options and I'm looking for opinions. The purpose of my data array is to store Movies and Television shows. And just to preempt "RAID is not an alternative to a backup", I have a weekly incremental backup over my network to my HTPC currently. As well, whichever drives I don't use of the options below, I will be using to build my own NAS sometime in the near future for backup.
I got the x79 deluxe because I love storage space. Originally I had 2x3tb Baracuda drives in a Raid 0 array on my old i7 970 build, but decided that I would be more sensible and opt for a redundant Raid 10 array so picked up an extra two Barracuda's about a month ago when I ordered my new processor.
But low and behold I then got given a small stockpile of 2tb WD Black drives (10 total).
So I am sitting here piecing together my new rig and wondering if anyone has any opinions on which route I should go! The board has 12 Sata ports across the following controllers:
2 SATA 6.0gbs + 4 SATA 3.0gbs on the Intel Controller (Support Raids 0,1,5, and 1+0)
4 SATA 6.0gbs on a Marvel 9128 Controller (Support Raids 0,1,5, and 1+0)
2 SATA 6.0gbs on a ASMedia® ASM1061 Controller (does not support RAID).
256gb Neutron SSD on one of the 2 SATA 6.0gbs off the Intel Controller (boot)
4x 3tb Barracuda drives in Raid 1+0 on the Intel Controller on the SATA 3.0gbs port
My front facing hot-swap bay will be used with the 4 SATA 6.0gbs on the Marvel Controller
Downside to this is that I don't get to take advantage of the (potential) speed of a 10 drive array nor the increased capacity. Upside is that it's a straightforward RAID configuration and I get to keep using my hotswap front faced bays for HDD activities (I have used them for everything from cloning friends drives to new HDDs to mounting other computers HDDs and booting off them in VMWare Workstation to troubleshoot issues).
256gb Neutron SSD on one of the 2 SATA 6.0gbs off the ASMedia Controller (boot)
10x 2tb WD Blacks across the Intel and Marvel controller. RAID 1 pairs on the Motherboard, RAID 0 all five sets within Windows 7
Downside to this is that I don't get to use my front-facing hot-swap trays for my various HDD activities as outlined above, and it is far from a conventional RAID setup. Not even sure if the performance gains will be realized because of the use of all the multiple controllers, not sure how monitoring will work with a motherboard/OS mix, and I don't have high confidence in the ASMedia controller which my OS SSD would be on. Upside is that if it works, I get a massive amount of storage space and performance, as well as a high level of redundancy.
Buy a real raid card, get a hardware raid of my choosing, and avoid using the onboard controllers for the array entirely.
Downside to this is the cost for the benefit. I know that hardware raid offers a safer environment for the array, as well as offers troubleshooting abilities that you cannot get without a dedicated RAID card. I also know that battery backups ensure smooth operation for years to come. However, if i did this, I would likely want a card that would support the 10 disk array, and I would want something that I knew could support the potential throughput of the array (which is a tough sell without seeing benchmarks for a specific RAID card, which is hard to come by).
Additionally, given the power of the rig and the fact that I am making no parity calculations in these arrays, I really don't believe that the software raid is going to have a drain on processing resources. The onboard controllers each have two PCI lanes to the chipset, so I'm pretty confident that they will not be a bottleneck for throughput.
I should also mention that I have a total of 11 drive bays (including my front facing bays), and could squeeze a 12th one between my ODD and the hot swap bays.
I'm also open to other suggestions for use of the drives and controllers, if you have any other ideas for how to utilize the hardware above, let me know! I also have a very cheap SATA 4 port PCIe card if you can think of a way that can be utilized effectively.