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onboard raid or separate controller?

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November 17, 2008 4:30:44 AM

I need to order a new system for work use- mostly Autocad right now. My current system (using ASUS motherboard, AMD processor, WinXP, 2GB memory) seems to page to disk a lot, or read DLL's from disk when executing commands that haven't been used in a few minutes, so I've been thinking about RAID 0 for the new system to speed up reads.

The motherboards that our supplier uses typically have onboard RAID controllers. I'm wondering if an onboard RAID controller will give performance equal to a dedicated RAID controller on an expansion card, an ADAPTEC or similar.

(I'm contemplating a machine with E8600 processor, 4GB ram, ATI Firegl graphics, a pair of SATA drives in RAID 0 config., WinXP)
November 17, 2008 4:52:30 AM

Good seperate raid controller cards can offer quite better performance if you get a good one, but there not cheap. I was in the same boat as you , i was going to buy a seperate raid card, i just added 2 more hard drives to my raid 0 array,for a total of 4, im very happy with the performance, its still not as good as a good raid card will do, but im not dropping $400 on a card, when 2 new hard drives cost me $90, so up to you, if you got the money, then i would get a seperate card.
November 17, 2008 9:35:34 PM

For 2 hard drives in RAID-0 you wont notice much difference with a dedicated RAID card. Yes it will be a tad quicker and utilise less CPU usage, however it wont be enough to justify the cash. Its only when you start getting towards 3 or 4 in RAID-0 or other RAID implementations that youll notice the gains with a dedicated card
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November 18, 2008 1:45:53 AM

If your work is critical to your income I would go with a discrete raid 6 controller and 5 hard drives.
November 18, 2008 7:25:46 PM

Your best bet is to use 3 drives (at least) Install the OS on 1 and use the other 2 in a RAID 0 array on the motherboard. RAID 0 for the OS is not good because of the poor seek times. For reads of large files it will be very fast.

As far as 3rd party controllers go yes they are better but you will still suffer poor seek times in a RAID 0 array. At least here you will not be bottlenecked by your onboard controller. Your onboard controller will be fine with 2 drives but as you add 3 and 4 drives you will max out the throughput of most onboard controllers.

So a better solution would be to have a Processor based 3rd party controller and use 1 drive for the OS and 2-3 drives in a RAID 0 array. If you want real speed get a Raptor drive for the single OS drive.

The Adaptec 2405 would be a good controller for this solution. It has 1.2GB of throughput (your not gonna reach this with 3 drives) and it has a dual core processor on it and is VERY fast. Buy.com has it for $195.

http://www.buy.com/prod/adaptec-2405-4-port-sas-sata-ra...
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