I am going to get 2X Raptor drives and i want to use RAID. I read the FAQ and found out raid 0 would be best because i want high performance.
I am going to get the Asus Maximus Formula motherboard and i will be using Windows Vista. Is there anything else i need to buy for RAID to work? Do i need any extra cables or a RAID controller or does all that come with my motherboard or raptors?
How hard is it to setup and install? I will be doing a fresh install of Windows Vista. Would i just put both the disk drives in and install Vista as normal or do i need to do other things?
It's not difficult. I have 2 raptors, I like them.
You won't need any extra cables, and the RAID controller is built in to the motherboard. So you're pretty much set.
You just connect the two drives like normal on the SATA 1 & 2 ports. Boot up and hit Delete to go into your BIOS. Then you'll enable RAID in the bios, I believe for your board it's under the Main section, there's an option called SATA Configuration. It should be in there, you can check the manual to be sure.
Then you reboot and usually you have to hit Ctrl+F or Ctrl+G (it's different on some boards, but it should tell you on boot up) this will take you into the RAID setup. Where you choose to RAID 0 the two drives, you can also usually set the stripe size (for this, the lowest setting is generally the best for gaming and performance).
Then you install Vista, and I believe Vista includes RAID drivers so you should be good there too.
Just from the questions you are asking, it would be unwise to even attempt setting up an array without first gathering more knowledge. There is a lot to know and understand about what you are getting ready to do, or you will become very frustrated trying to set it up, and even more frustrated when 1 of about 100 things can go wrong and you lose everything on the array. Having said that, I AM a RAID 0 fan, and I run RAID 0, but.....
if you are so inclined to set up a RAID 0 array, you should use good old Google and research some of the many, many articles that will give you answers to everything you are asking.
Unless you spend a lot of time moving very large files, you don't need it, won't get any benefit from it, and yes, there is a substantially higher degree of possibility that you can lose everything on the drives in several different ways.
It's really not that hard. I didn't really know what I was doing the first time I set one up, but a person has to learn somehow! I think the best way is just to get in there and do it. Just make sure you set everything up in the bios first (the manual that comes on your mobo CD might have a lot more info in that area than the printed one in the box). Don't let others dissuade you. If you have problems you can't figure out there's always the forum.
My biggest suggestion would be to keep an old drive hooked up (or an external or whatever you have around) to make regular backups of your important data, at least once a week. I have a raid 0 array and an old 40g IDE drive which is plenty just for backing up my irreplaceable data. There is a higher possibility of failure since you have 2 drives running, that's twice as many moving parts. But, drives are made much better these days and don't fail nearly as often as they did years ago so I don't worry too much. My 40g has been running pretty much 24/7 for 7 or 8 years now.
You won't get a lot better performance, but it will load games faster and move files faster. Actual gameplay won't be any faster.
Most newer motherboards have the RAID controller built into them, what is your motherboard? Yes, you can set up the RAID array and use the other drive as a backup. You could use software like Acronis to image the contents of your array to the other drive. I do the exact same thing. That way I have a perfect image of my OS and programs on a single drive in case of a RAID problem.
I keep reading on places saying that i need a seperate raid controller card for raid to work. What are the cards for if i dont need one?
The RAID controller on your motherboard will be perfectly fine. Some people recommend separate controllers for more complex RAID arrays, and some extra performace. It definitely wouldn't be worth the extra money, you wouldn't gain anything from having a separate controller for your setup.
I currently have a 280 GB sata drive which i can use as storage. Would it be possible to use 2 raptors in RAID 0 and make everything mirror onto my current 280gb sata drive as a backup drive?
No, you won't be able to "mirror" onto the 280gb. You'd have to use software (like jitpublisher said) to copy onto the 280gb.
Personally, I have my 2 raptors in RAID 0 with Windows and all my programs installed on it. Then, I have a 3rd Seagate drive that I store music, movies, and even drivers for everything in case Windows fails and I have to reinstall. I don't even bother to backup Windows, cause reinstalling doesn't take that long for me.