How much should I spend on a raid card?

I'm looking to build an i7 system for gaming and media storage in the coming months. I like the idea of raid 1 for my media, and raid 0 for my os and applications.

Poking around on newegg, I see a wide range of prices for raid cards. They range from $20 to $1000. What's the sweet spot for performance?

I currently have a $20 raid card but it occasionally flashes raid error messages when the computer boots, but the drives show up in windows fine so I'm not sure if I trust it or just don't understand what's going on with it. Will the more expensive models be easier to use?

I plan to start with two spinpoint f1's in raid 1 for my new system, eventually adding a couple of ssd's or velociraptors down the line.

I'd like to maybe do raid 5 for storage down the line, but I can always get an external box for that, and it will probably be a little cheaper than a high end raid card that will handle that.

What would be a good match for this system?

Is this any good?

card The price is right and it has four ports.
5 answers Last reply
More about spend raid card
  1. Note that most motherboards, and definately i7 ones, will handle RAID.

    Obviously a dedicated RAID card, in some cases would be a more powerful option. But I am unsure if that stands on a $100 card. I am unsure of the relavtive performance.

    Currently I run 4x 500Gb Spinpoint F1's in RAID 0 from my Intel P35 chipset. Containing Vista 64bit and all data.

    In your case I might be tempted to go 2x RAID0 for OS and programs and 2xRAID1 for data. Though disks fail so infrequently it would be hard to argue that 4xRAID 0 would be an unsustainable solution.

    Probably in terms for Windows boot time SSD is the way to go, if you can afford a good one.
  2. LSI 3080X, LSI 3041X, LSI 3081E
  3. Those look decent, but I was surprised that they only support raid 0 and 1. No raid 5?
  4. If I was you I would get a 120gb Vertex and add MFT for huge IOP performance, or an x25-m. I would then put a couple of 1tb drives in raid 5 from the mobo.

    With this setup I would ditch the idea of a raid card, as it will simply add latency to the SSD. Any card in your price range will likely double the access time of the SSD. Hence why a raid card would not actually benefit this setup and would just be a wast of money.
  5. Quote:
    I'd like to maybe do raid 5 for storage down the line...

    If you aren't going to use it now then there's little point in picking hardware RAID over software one such as Intel Matrix RAID.
    Even for software RAID5 I find Windows Server to be a safer option than that provided by Intel. If the motherboard fails or want to migrate to another one I'd have to replace/stick with another Intel chipset supporting Matrix RAID, but with Windows Server it does not matter. The write performance between the two software RAID5 solutions is minimal and since RAID5 is primarily used for archival storage anyway speed isn't of high priority.

    If you want a bit more write speed with RAID5 only then should hardware RAID5 be considered. I bought a Dell PERC 5/i 512MB cheaply not only because I needed the increased write speed as I frequently move multi-GB files around, but also due to being used as a fileserver by multiple users accessing it concurrently.
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