RAID 0 - SATA vs. SSD vs. SAS

I'm designing a new build to really utilize the speed of the new i7s and build another rig (my last personal build was back when AMD just released the 64bit).

I've decided I like this mobo:

(btw is it worth paying the extra $50 for the Deluxe as compared to the regular, specs seem about the same...a little off topic I know)

and the basic 920 i7, with 6 gigs of RAM.

So the cpu is fast, ram is fast, graphics are fast...that leaves the HDDs holding me back from speed.

My first thought was to go for a SSD, they are fast, but I quickly found out that a quality drive seemed too expensive for my comfort level.
So RAIDing two SATA drives was my next thought. I've never set up a RAID array before, but I'm using my old computer as a server to store everything (eventually buying an NAS for storage/backups). So redudancy isn't an issue b/c I'll have that seperate for backups and main storage. So RAID 0 it is. The Motherboard seems to support RAID 0 for both SATA and SAS. A little searching around and this new (to me) SAS seems to be the latest incarnate of SCSI. This new SCSI seems a lot more carefree than the old one I've read about. Speeds good, no crazy cabling etc. So now I have a dilemma...

I planned on buying two Velociraptor 10k rpm drives (150g) to raid. 300gigs is more than enough for Vista and a few current game installs (I was honestly hoping for the 74gig model but I'm assuming the speed difference between 150g and 74g isn't that big) so that's that. But the SAS drives are fast too, and I can put those in RAID 0 for that extra little kick. Which setup gives the best performance? (A confession here that I have the nasty habit of leaving the computer on pretty much all the time, although that may change if I really only use this for gaming/rendering/editing and I can keep general use to my laptop. So if uptime matters in this decision...)

2 x 10k raptors in RAID 0, 2 x 10k SAS drives in RAID 0, or a quality SSD? I made the quick assumption of assuming the i7 w/ 6 gigs is enough to cover the onboard RAID controller overhead, or should I really consider a HW raid card? Cost is always a concern but I want a quality setup that is fast, so for a budget assume the 2x raptors ($360). Is any of this trouble worth it?! Will I notice a difference in just everday gaming (1920x1200) and file converting? The decision seems to be part need for speed, part epeen, part trying something new. So I come to seek the wisdom of the ever reliable Tom's Hardware.

tl;dr RAID 0; SATA or SAS or a quality SSD? Worth it for everyday use?
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  1. The more I read on the SAS stuff the less sure I am this is the way to go. I don't think I'll be even close to maximizing the throughput with only 2 drives so maybe the raptors are still the way to go.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.
  2. Deluxe has second NIC and SAS controller onboard. Historically speaking in the ASUS series board theres usually very little different between vanilla > e version > deluxe > premium... you just have to pick the one that suits you.

    Faster hdd's should increase OS boot times, possibly game load times. General file copying will be quicker but thats about it. For gaming its not worth it in my opinion. I assume the "quality" SSD's you are refering to are all SLC drives, but there are some MLC's around now that are getting fast also (namely the intel -M series, OCZ Apex look good too). They still also suffer from lower than desired write speeds and fragmentation issues outlined in this article At the moment i would stick to a single Velociraptor more than likely its way faster than what you currently have.
  3. get a 300gig velociraptor for your main drive and a 1tb drive for your storage and you'll be doing just great.
  4. SAS drives are the new incarnation of SCSI and cost a lot more and require a specialized SAS or SAS RAID controllers and are now pretty much standard on the new servers you buy. Although some better motherboards have a SAS controller built in, typically its low on cache memory so you are better off with getting a separate cards that allows you to add cache memory but this makes for an expensive disk storage system. SAS drives come in 3.5" and 2.5" sizes and are available in faster spindle speeds up to 15k. The 15k SAS drive are going to be the fastest mechanical drive you can get but may be a bit loud in some cases and typically run hot thus requiring some additional cooling considerations - especially if multiple drives are used in an array. The interesting thing about SAS (and SCSI) is that a these drives can execute multiple I/O requests in the space of a single revolution of the platter while SATA can not (although NCQ attempts to improve on this a little). This paralellsm is really SAS's big performance feature so if your need to your drive to perform 5 I/Os for some reason, and the position of the drive head is in a location that can fulfill the I/O request, then you could conceivable get all 5 of those I/Os done in one turn of revolution of the patter, grabbing those 5 pieces of data much faster than SATA. With SATA it would require 5 revolutions. This makes a big difference in servers which are responding to heavy random Disk I/O such as that of a database, busy file server, or now Virtual servers where multiple virtual server disks reside on 1 physical disk (or array). In fact SAS (or SCSI) disks in arrays are pretty much the norm in these examples.

    This said, SAS is most certainly overkill for a home PC and with the cooling and overall noise considerations I would probably pass on it. RAID 0, on the other hand, is something that I have used in my last 2 PCs and like the performance improvement that it offers, specifically when I do multiple things at once, including use VMware Workstation for my testing while I surf, listen to music, etc. I used 2x WD 74GB 10k DATA 1.5GB Raptors and it was fast but a little loud - but not louder than my overall system cooling fan so it was OK. For me it was certainly faster than 1 drive but the real boost was when I used VMware for my testing where I ran a few Virtual PC's on my physical PC. My latest PC is about 2 years old now and has 2 Seagate ST3320620AS 300GB 7.2k SATA3.0G drives and has similar performance to the 2 Raptors due in part to the greater platter density and also do to doubling the SATA bandwidth by going to the 3GB SATA links. The Segates were also a lot cheaper than the Raptors. Fast forward to today. Right now the fastest SATA drive you can get is the WD Velociraptor 300 (also comes in 150GB also I think). It's still SATA3.0GB however borrows from it's SAS based enterprise class cousin. It is a 2.5" disk stuffed into a 3.5" tray that also acts as a heat sink. This is some clever design work integrating the heat sink but necessary since the drive is a 10k spindle speed and the extra RPMs generate more heat in a smaller footprint. Of course at $230 (with $30 rebate currently) these drives cost about 3-4 times more than a regular 300GB drive but if you check the stats it's about twice as fast on many of common specs that indicate performance. Personally I'm looking at 2 these drives RAID0 in my next Intel i7 rig that I'll build later this year. Lastly, if you are working with some budget check out the WD Caviar Black series of hard drives as well as the Samsung Spinpoint F1 series. Both are some of the best single SATA drives that I've worked with out there in terms of performance and would be my next choice after the Veliciraptor. Toms has reviews on all of these so you should be able to research and make a decision quickly. Good luck with your build.
  5. Great info, Autobahn.

    Have you had any problems with RAID 0 crapping out due to power failures or anything like that ?

    That's my biggest concern, although I will probably go with a decent UPS since I live in the boonies.
  6. No problems yet (knock on wood) and I've run this PC pretty hard for about 2 years now. I do have an APC 1500 VA battery backup to smooth out any power issues (not many) plus a rock solid ThermalTake ToughPower 850W running my PC (currently Intel QX6700 @3.47Ghz/core on an EVGA nvidia based i680 mobo). I would strongly suggest a decent brand name battery backup that can correct for brown outs, surges and under voltage if you live in the boonies or where there is poor power. I like to point people to Sam's Club where they sell the APC 1250VA BN1250LCD 8 Outlet UPS for about $140. This is better than anywhere I've looked on the Internet plus no shipping charges on it. Also, I have the Nvidia RAID0 set utilizing the SMART feature on the drives so there would be some warning if IO issues start to crop up (in theory anyway). You do bring up a good point for building a new PC and that is that power is very important - especially on that latest chips like the i7 based PC where even the most basic system with one disk and basic video card will draw over 350W under load and start to cause those pain to troubleshoot random yet persistent issues while gaming or otherwise running the PC hard. I would spend money on a solid power supply then memory before a Velociraptor drive.
  7. I'm tempted towards the BFG 650 PSUs... they sound like they produce good quality power while being efficient and affordable. I may one day crossfire two 4870s, but I gather that should still draw less than 550W during normal use which is in the sweet spot for a 650. The number of people who get 1000W PSUs and are probably drawing less than 450 astounds me. I was tempted to the 550, but that is probably cutting it too close with Crossfire if/when I do that.

    My understanding is that, like a car engine, the PSU works best for a relatively tight range of power draws... above or below that the PSU tends to be less stable.

    I'm fond of Sams Club for their UPSs also. I also found a nice 24" 1920x1200 Samsung LCD there for $340. There are cheaper alternatives only but I like to be able to see the LCD before I buy one.
  8. I dunno - I think 650 is cutting it close if you plan on 2x video cards (for 1 it would be no sweat) - I might go for 700-750w. There are a lot of good ones out there including BFG, although I think BFG is kinda new to power supplies. I like to check out Newegg for the top sellers, best rated, etc. then read some of the reviews to see if any of the configs remotely matches what I'm building. Most recently I purchased a PC Power & Cooling 650W for a friend of mine and liked it - except there were a lot of cables to ties up since it's not modular design. The PC Power & Cooling tends to be a bit longer too so maybe not right for a very tight case. I like PC Power & Cooling because they build single 12V rail power supplies rather than multiple rail units. Technically it probably doesn't make a difference but I just like the idea that all units are drawing from the same pool e of energy rather than worrying if any component is getting enough power. Right now NewEgg is doing free shipping and discounts on a lot of good ones - maybe check it out. As far as sizing the power supply to run in a range under load I believe that running a power supply in the sweet spot affects efficiency more so than output quality. A good quality power supply will produce the appropriate voltages under any load within spec. Also I like the 80+ certified ones not only because they are greener but they should generate less heat in the case.
  9. You can put two (2) Solid State Drives (SSD's) in RAID 0 just as easily as the SATA or SAS drives -- if you have the cash! I am going to buy two (2) Intel X25 160-GB SSD drives and configure them as RAID 0 for a dual-boot Vista & XP OS drive. Then, I'm going to buy two (2) WD Velociraptor 300-GB SATA drives and configure them as RAID 0 for storage. Ideally, I would buy four (4) of the WD Velociraptor 300-GB drives for the storage drive and configure them as RAID 0 + 1 (i.e. Mirrored sets of RAID 0), but that might be too expensive.
  10. This thread is three months old, the OP likely won't read your message.

    Also, using fast Velociraptors for storage doesn't make sense. For mass storage, only sequential performance is important. Those are done very well by 1-2TB large 5400rpm disks, such as the WD Green. The speeds should be comparable to the velociraptor. Use velociraptor as system/boot disk if SSD is no option.
  11. Thx autobahn.

    i have been troubled with what direction and have to say, the info you provided answered every question i needed.

    stick with velociraptors.

    im building a new desktop and started considering SAS but really, i'll be gaming and doing some playing around. There's better things to spend my money on then SAS.
  12. fzq50 said:
    You can put two (2) Solid State Drives (SSD's) in RAID 0 just as easily as the SATA or SAS drives -- if you have the cash! I am going to buy two (2) Intel X25 160-GB SSD drives and configure them as RAID 0 for a dual-boot Vista & XP OS drive. Then, I'm going to buy two (2) WD Velociraptor 300-GB SATA drives and configure them as RAID 0 for storage. Ideally, I would buy four (4) of the WD Velociraptor 300-GB drives for the storage drive and configure them as RAID 0 + 1 (i.e. Mirrored sets of RAID 0), but that might be too expensive.

    Sounds Like a Great Plan , As far as the Two SSD for Boot -up ,And Running Window's, I plan on do the Same exact Thing ( Although in re-gard to you Storage Drive, Just get a nice Large T- bite ( 7200-RPM ) will be fine save your self some Buck's And or Put it into Getting the Best Raid-0 controller and or SSD Drives you can get. Storage does not need to be acessed at mock-5 no- need and the extra mojo can be better spent on other up-grading.
    I had 2- SSD Drives 212-GB Each Drive Set-up in RAID-0 in my Aleinware M17X Laptop, along with 6-GB of DDR-3 Ram , and there top offering dual core 2.53 GHZ Processor I believe. Windows Vista Home Premium edition 64-Bit. Jus sold it for a Elite HP E9180T
    Intel Quad core i 975 @ 3.33 GHZ , With 9-GB of of DDR-3 Memory. 1066-MHZ only, Blu/Ray/CD/RW All- in one, Comes with 2--500-GB SATA- 7200RPM Hard Drives Set-up in RAID-0 , MY Plan is to Swap out the 2-Sata 7200-RPM Drives and up- the best two SSD Drives in Raid-0 that I can afford , that willl comfortably but up- Windows Visat-64 Bit Home Premium nicely ?
    And how much SSD RAID-0 Hard Drive Could I get away with and Run it all comfortably. I will use my massive Storage external Hard Drives for storing all non- operating progtam information. These Drives can be set-up to Automatically UPdate OR Back-up Data every-24-Hours.
  13. SSD - this is a hot topic - but it seems that people have passed up the whole idea of SAS drives
    SSD with 250 GB is the cost of 2 146GB SAS drives - and the old man RAID is under rated.
    RAID is not scary its not hard you just actually have to follow instuctions.

    Read on..

    I am using (for just over a year now)
    Corei7 920
    12 GB RAM
    Asus P6T (not the deluxe)
    Dual HDMI Video Card
    4x250GB SATA drives using the MB software RAID
    Vista 64 Ultimate

    first I had a 500GB SATA then I read TomHardware on RAID and decided RAID10 was for me (redundant and striped)

    the first thing i noticed was it installed Vista in 1/2 the time - from then on i knew i was in for a treat
    after install and 1 million updates with Norton Antivirus - the boot to windows time went from 3 mins to less than 1

    I have now upgraded the drives
    4x146 15K sas drives on the same system

    The speed is seriously unbelivable. I run vMware, Adobe Suites, I HAVE Zero PAtience - this is why i need this speed.

    If I had to do it all over again - I would get a Core 2 Quad with 8GB RAM and 4 15 SAS drives in RAID10

    The cpu runs ver cool and the speed is superb in every single way

    conclusion - HARD DRIVES are the weakest part of your BOX, don't waste your money on CPU/RAM unless your read/write is smoking fast! (why do you think MACS are slow - 1 drive slower than 5400 RPM notebooks)
  14. I am currently running Windows 7 , 64 bit edition, on an i920 with a Gigabyte 58 board. I have 9 gigs of system ram and my 2-150 gig raptors in raid 0 have sequential reads between 110/MB/s (slowest) and greater than 200 MB/s (topped out HD Tach). Burst speed is rated at 423.6 MB/s

    That's the good news.

    Now the bad news, Random access time is 8.2ms. Random access time on the better SSDs is .01 ms. way, way faster, so while the read/writes may be almost the same, the access time is so much much faster that the impression will be that the SSD's leave them in the dust.

    Now if only I could make up MY mind as fast.
  15. CornMuffin, it's been over a year now and I was kind of curious as to what decision you made. With all the options on HDD's: SATA, SAS, SSD... what road did you take with your Raid 0 config?
  16. If anyone is curious about a ridiculously fast setup:

    3x Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB
    Onboard RAID partitioned to 300GB RAID 0 (100GB from each drive).
    425MB/s Average with HD Tach! 3052.4MB/s Burst!

    Spinpoint F3's are known for their insane burst speeds. The speed change across the 300GB is undetectable (because it's only the top 10% of each disk). Alas, my access time is 8.7ms, but I'll take that for beating the pants of SSD's in nearly every other category.

    1TB Spinpoint F3's can be found for under $60 on strange deals nowadays. I'm using a cheap EVGA 141-BL-e757 mobo that uses Intel Matrix for RAID. My i7-930's at 3.8GHz & my 6GB OCZ Reaper DDR3's at 1800MHz and 7-8-7 (It can run 6-8-6, but I haven't fixed the settings since I tried for 4.0GHz stable).
  17. x25-e was an amazing decision for me. SLC destroys in all aspects (except for price haha).
  18. curiousgeorgieo said:
    x25-e was an amazing decision for me. SLC destroys in all aspects (except for price haha).

    SSDs still immature and all of them suffer from degrade in performance after a little usage (days to weeks depending on usage) which sometimes makes a 5400rpm drive faster than an SSD.
  19. just installed 2 crucial 128 gb sata3 ssd drives in raid 0 on a cheap asrock m/board and the results are excellent. si-sandra shows reads of up to 690 m/ps and cannot try the read benchmark because of data distruction, hope this helps. terrence watts
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