Thanks for your thoughtful responses critiquing my first build. I received the pieces and have the system up and running.
I haven't gotten a different PSU yet, but I probably will eventually. So far the Ultra is quiet, cool, and the voltages are stable and only about 2% high. In the long tem though, I will probably get a PSU from a more trusted vendor.
My P5W-DH arrived with BIOS rev 1101 so I had no problem booting with the Core2 Duo E6600.
The OCZ Platinum DDR2-800 RAM was defaulted to DDR2-533 just as the Mobo manual said it would, but I was able to manually select VDimm=2.1 V, DDR2-800 and CAS 4-5-4-15 timing without problem.
Now I have a follow on question: Is it a good or bad idea to set up the two Seagate 160 GB SATA drives as a mirrored RAID 1 array?
One drive is an older 7200.7 1.5 Gb/sec model and the other is a newer 7200.9 3 Gb/sec model. I know the general suggestion is to use identical drives in RAID arrays, but given that I have these two should I go RAID 1 or just use them as separate drives?
I don't need the doubled capacity of separate drives. Will the reliability or performance of the RAID array suffer because of the difference in the drives?
As a reminder the system configuration follows:
Intel Core2 Duo E6600 Retail
Asus P5W-DH Mobo
Sapphire X1900XT 512MB Video card
Antec Super LANBoy Case w 2 120mm fans
Ultra XFinity 500 2nd gen PSU (ATX12V 2.0, dual rails, SLI certified, 120mm fan)
OCZ Platinum PC2-6400 2GB Dual Channel RAM Kit (DDR2-800 CAS 4-5-4-15)
2 Seagate 160 GB SATA Hard Drives
Sony DRU-820A DVD writer
Mitsumi FA404M Floppy / card reader
Windows XP Home with SP2
It's easy to assure you of this fact, because it's the HDD which takes care of itself and its speed. The controller card on the bottom (top?) of an HDD instructs the HDD how to behave, and not the RAID controller.
The RAID controller simply sends data to the disc when it needs writing, and handles requests for data slightly differently based on whizz-bang(tm) technology which can allow a RAID1 array to improve read times by up to 100%. Please not the words "up to" clearly include the figure "zero" depending on a variety of factors.
In general, you will get very slightly degraded write performance due to the Mirroring Overhead (unless you have a good RAID controller) and you will notice an overall improvement in read-performance, particularly when loading very large files (a la games) where a RAID1 array can really get its teeth into some streaming data.
Remember: RAID means Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. It is designed to allow the usage of almost any drives in almost any combination - that was the whole point of the "Inexpensive" part of the RAID definition.
Good luck sir!
And may I compliment you on your wise choice: RAID 1 is a very very good idea. As opposed to RAID 0 which is the dumbest thing anyone ever did, unless they ran it with a RAID 1 array at the same time.
I've gone ahead and tried to use the two drives in RAID 1 without success. Perhaps one of you can help me get RAID working?
The User Guide for the P5W-DH states that the ASUS EZ-Backup feature allows you to build a RAID set without any configuration or BIOS setting required: "You can create a RAID 1 set by simply plugging in two Serial ATA hard disks to the onboard EZ_RAID connectors."
Specifically, I moved the 7200.9 and 7200.7 drives from the P5W-DH's SATA1 and SATA3 connectors respectively to its EZ_RAID1 and EZ_RAID2 connectors. I got a POST message saying that a disk error had occured.
I then disconnected the 7200.7 and was able to boot sucessfully into Windows with the 7200.9 connected to the EZ_RAID1 connector.
I then tried moving the 7200.9 to the EZ_RAID2 connector and got a POST message saying no boot drive was present.
This all seems to suggest that the EZ_RAID2 port is not functioning or that the BIOS doesn't support a boot drive on the EZ_RAID2 port.
Does anyone have any suggestion other than to contact ASUS tech support and see if they want to RMA the P5W-DH?