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RAID Advice: To RAID or not to RAID?

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July 14, 2008 8:17:34 PM

Hi,

I recently got a Gigabyte EP45-DS3 mobo (ICH10) and I was thinking of buying a RAID controller and going for RAID 0 with 3 or 4 HDs.

I will put my data HDs on SW Raid 5 via XP or Vista. No extra cost :) 

Would it be really worth spending some cash on this?? And what kind of performance I can expect for about 150 $?? Which model??

Your input will be highly appreciated.

Thanks :) 

More about : raid advice raid raid

a b G Storage
July 14, 2008 8:24:32 PM

What do you do with your computer? What does your computer consist of?

Without any details, we will only be guessing if AID0RAID5 will pay off for you.
July 14, 2008 8:33:18 PM

OK Sorry I was a bit lazy in typing the details. Here goes,

Mobo http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Product...

CPU Q9300

Corsair DHX2 RAM 4 GB DDR2 800 MHz

MSI ATI Radeon 4850 512 MB GDDR3

Mostly I plan to play games and just like everybody I want my system to be fast :)  I mean less load times, fast booting etc.

Hope this is enough.

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a b G Storage
July 14, 2008 8:48:38 PM

What about monitor? A 21/22" at 1680:1050 is ok, but I'd be looking to upgrade to a nice 24-30" that can do 1920:1200. The 4850 is pretty good, but there is better out there. You didn't mention what PSU you are using, I'd make sure its a good one before upgrading ANYTHING. Also, don't forget your ears.

Game play happens a lot more then game loading. I would make sure I had a good system for my eyes and ears before I worry about how long it takes to load a level. Loading a game might take a minute, loading a level can take even less. (depends on the game, there are some out there that can take another minute.) Playing a game however can take hours. Which is more important?

The modern 1TB drives are as fast as the old raptors. These are also the first drives where you'd need a SATA connection as they can max out the older IDE. These drives can do 100MB+ AID0 these together won't do much, perhaps shave a second or two off your load times. Remember that there is a lot of CPU time when loading a game. AID0 won't help that.
July 14, 2008 9:15:14 PM

The PSU is a Corsair HX-620.

Using the built-in audio. I might be adding a second 4850 in crossfire mode soon.

I will definitely buy a new display though (quite soon). Probably a new Samsung 2253BW.

I am not using any IDE HD's in this system. Well as I said speed is important :)  but I can buy some good HD's also if that will help. I will go through the HD benchmarks once I guess.
a b G Storage
July 15, 2008 12:05:41 AM

You have a good system, so now might be the time to add AID0/RAID5. You have a quad core CPU, 4GBs of ram, a good video card, and a good PSU, so you have no pressing upgrade issues. You now need to decide what to upgrade next.

You could upgrade your monitor, not sure I'd go with that one. I'm sure its a fine 22" model, but seeing as you seem to have the $$$, shoot for a 1900x1200 screen. This will be best for your viewing pleasure.

You could upgrade your soundcard/speakers. This is a bit more subjective. If you play a lot of RTS/RPG games, then you can probably skip this. Having a good 5.1/7.1 surround setup with a "real" soundcard will make your ears very happy. There isn't anything else like it then hearing your enemy come up behind you and you hear him approaching.

Or, you could upgrade your harddrives. I wouldn't put your OS on a RAID array, to many chances something will go wrong. (you can put your swap file on the array to help speed that up.) Put all your replaceable files on the array. These would be games, seeing as you should still have the CDs as a reinstall backup. I'm not sure the Corsair can power two 4850's, a quad core, and as many harddrives as you've mentioned. If you want to add that many harddrives and a second 4850, you will probably need something bigger.

The question to you is how much money do you have, and what is the more pressing upgrade? (eyes, ears, or wait time?)
July 15, 2008 9:42:59 AM

What I was planning to do was to put the OS, all games & replaceable files on a 3 or 4 disk RAID0 array. And I will put all my data on a RAID1 soft array using the OS. The new HD's from WD are only using 8 watt max! (at least according to them)

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?driveid=298

And the Radeon 4850 is using 75W IIRC.

Since the Mobo does not have RAID support I am looking for a suitable RAID card in the range of 150$ (have some $$ but there is a limit :) .

I mean I have seen the transfer rates are pretty good but RAID 0 would be faster still :) .

Which RAID controller would be a good choice??
July 15, 2008 11:07:20 AM

I always setup a system with C(System), D(Work) and E(Games) as 3 partitions on a raid0 array, then F(archive) as a large non-raid drive for backups.

Having the OS on the raid helps everything since a lot of file access is to shared DLLs in \windows\system32.

Ignore the people who worry about the increase in failure chance due to having multiple drives that could fail. In 20 years, I've only ever had 1 drive fail and it was a 2GB drive (yes, two gig. shows how long ago that was!).

Of course, do GOOD backups to that archive drive and you will never worry about drive failure. I recommend Acronis True Image for backups.
a b G Storage
July 15, 2008 12:19:35 PM

I do not suggest putting your windows build on an AID0 setup. To much of a PITA when your AID0 drivers get hosed and you need to reinstall windows.

Again, if you decide to get AID0, you should get one harddrive for your OS/backup. (a nice 1TB drive for example.) Get 3 to 4 160-320GB drives for the array. Depending on the number of drives and size, this could give you another TB. Install the games to the array, and away you go. I can't suggest a card, I've never used one.

The 4850 needs more then 75W btw. Thats simply how much it can pull from the PCIe socket. It gets the rest from the 6 pin PCIe plug.
a b G Storage
July 15, 2008 12:33:24 PM

Alright. If I am reading this correct, what you are getting ready to do is not in your best interest for performance.Software RAID is going to do nothing for you peformance wise. In fact it will only lessen your performance of the drive. Any RAID add in card that you can buy for less than $150 is not going to be much of a card from a performance standpoint.

For gaming and general home desktop use, you will get better performance from a single fast drive than 2,3,4,5 lesser drives in RAID.
For what you are doing, your PC needs to access many small files much, much more often than it does a large file move. RAID will speed up a large file move, but searching for smaller files it will be slower. The more drives you add to the array, the longer the seek times and latencies become. Read this again.....RAID will definetly help moving large files. For general gaming and PC use, you will benefit more from very fast SEEK times and low latencies. Putting drives into a RAID array hurts the drives performance from this standpoint.

I run RAID 0. I have 2 cheap 100gig maxtors in RAID. If I were to do it all over again, or I decided to buy a new drive, the RAID is going and being replaced with a single fast drive.

With the speed of todays modern drives, for gaming and general home use, a large fast drive is a better overall performer than putting 2 or more lesser drives into RAID. If you have several identical old drives laying around, have a RAID controller on your board, then I'd say might as well. But don't go out and spend money purposely to put RAID 0 on a home gaming/general use PC. It's really not worth it......no baloney here......it's really not. Stay away from SW RAID all together.
July 15, 2008 10:07:57 PM

@jitpublisher: For the RAID 0 I was thinking of using a RAID card and having the RAID 1 drives on soft raid.

Thanks everyone for the input. I think until I get a mobo with built in RAID support I am probably going to stay away from it.

I will put in two new WD 320 GB drives and of course the new monitor :) 
July 16, 2008 1:57:32 AM

I'm glad we caught your ear Paul (and others).

I had planned on doing a Matrix raid with my MSI p35 Neo2 board, which has the Matrix raid ICH9 chipset. So.....

The plan was to buy 2 of the new 6400AAKS 640 GB WD drives, which are considered pretty much on par with the last generation of Raptor drives (but not the new ones). $89 each, now on the 'egg. I would create a RAID0 partition for OS and videogames (2 x 25 GB enough??). Then RAID1 the remainder for music, photos, misc files.

If I understand you correctly, would I be better off performance wise going with a 25 GB NON-raid partition for games on one disc, another 25 GB NON-raid partition for OS on the other disc, then RAID1 on the remainder of both?

Also, when you say "software" RAID sucks, does that mean Intel matrix RAID via the chipset? Anything that is not done on a discrete RAID card? Or simply just software?

Thanks for the advice!
July 16, 2008 3:09:28 PM

You can always check newegg to see what offerings they have for RAID controllers and stick with AMCC (3Ware), LSI, or Adaptec for a controller.

RAID 0 will help with boot times as Random or Seq reads benefit from multiple drives regardless of what it is reading.

I would only place your O/S and Apps on the RAID 0 and have another drive for your music, etc.

Also RamDisk is using your RAM as a logical disk in the computers eyes, and comparing RAM to mechanical drives is absurd, plus if you lose power by chance that whole "Ram Drive" is gone.

Always remember tho RAID is not a backup so always backup any important data on a RAID to a independent drive.
July 16, 2008 3:17:53 PM

Hovaucf said:


Always remember tho RAID is not a backup so always backup any important data on a RAID to a independent drive.


I don't understand. Isn't RAID1 a back up by nature? If I am RAID1'ing all of my content, docs, pics., music, etc., isn't it backed up?

Clearly my OS would not be (if on a different RAID0 partition), but that is OK. An OS reinstall now and then isn't a bad thing.
a b G Storage
July 16, 2008 10:41:17 PM

No, RAID1 is not a backup. If you delete something on one drive, its copy is deleted from the other drive also. (in real time no less.) The only way RAID1 is a backup is in the form of harddrive failure. If one drive dies, the other drive will still hold the data.
July 16, 2008 11:15:42 PM

Thanks 474. That's what I thought, and its all the back up I need.
July 16, 2008 11:41:19 PM

RAID1 also doesn't protect against user error or viruses, so as 4745454b said, it's not a backup in the sense of software/OS-based failure, but in form of a drive crash.

If you want to back up certain files and folders, which is a better strategy for someone who doesn't want to lose their important data, you're better off using an USB-attached external hard disk.
July 17, 2008 12:15:55 AM

Thanks Syntax.

I guess I should be specific:

I want 2 big drives so that I can perhaps speed up my game loading and OS via Matrix RAID0, and then RAID1 my music collection and family pics, docs., etc. And for documents, I will use a smaller 160 GB USB drive for a back up, since the constant use of Word/excel/PPT/PDF docs implies greater risk of deletion, etc.

Does this sound reasonable? Recommended?

I already have the 160 GB USB backup drive. And a 250 internal drive that I could also use for back up. But the plan is to get 2 x WD6400 drives for that Matrixing. That will cost me 2 x ~$90 = ~$180.

Is there a better way? (supremelaw, I am calling you out for suggestions!) Cheaper way?

I don't want to hijack the thread, but if I am getting too far astray, please let me know.

Thanks for your help!
July 18, 2008 8:38:31 AM

Hi husky,

No problem actually that's what I wanted to do as well except I needed a RAID card and I wanted to know which one would be a good choice for around 150$.

To RAID or not to RAID: Seems the world is divided on this question as well :) 
July 18, 2008 12:50:28 PM

I'd go with RAID0, it's pretty much faster at moving huge files, or extracting large archives, there's a little positive impact on gaming, barely noticeable though.
Be sure you get one backup drive, which will be outside of raid array. I'm using WD 500GB, USB one.
!