I have an ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe motherboard which comes with a JMicron RAID controller. I have two SATA hard drives, 300gb and 320gb. I just installed Windows 7 on the 300 gb and had the idea of setting up a RAID 0 for a performance boost, since I have an external to backup my data. I have two questions:
1) Would I need to configure the drives for RAID 0 BEFORE installing the OS?
2) I read that one should use two identical drives. Will the 20gb difference cause an issue. I was wondering if I could setup two identical partitions to get around this.
There are also some pretty fast and inexpensive newer drives. The WD 640GB is an excellent drive.
RAID0 will give you faster load times, but basic multi-tasking is more dependent on SEEK TIMES which RAID does not address but a better hard drive will. RAID0 can be good. I encourage you to experiment if you are comfortable backing up.
I HIGHLY encourage you to creat an exact image of your C-Drive using Acronis True Image and put it on your second drive. I have a boot CD, and I can RESTORE a basic copy (with all programs, settings, tweaks etc) in less than half an hour but less than 1 minute of my time!
As a guy with tonnes of games, my Velociraptor keeps getting full. I'm keeping it for now and just delete when needed (STEAM can make backups on DVD which is nice). I just found the WD 2TB Black version, just released, that is rated at up to 138MB/second but benchmarked at over 150MB/second.
One thing about hard drives. The maximum read and write speeds (the main reason for RAID0) are dependent on the speed the disc is moving at a given point. A drive with a maximum speed of 100MB/second (on the outside edge) will access the data on the inner edge at about 50MB/second maximum. If a drive like the 2TB Black can access data at 150MB/second it won't have dropped much at all after 300MB/second (less than 10%) so it will be accessing data over that 300GB's at about 142->150MB/s but with faster seek times than a 300GB drive.
but basic multi-tasking is more dependent on SEEK TIMES which RAID does not address but a better hard drive will.
Though RAID cannot lower the access time of one particular I/O, it can lower the access time of a bunch of I/O's because they can be processed in parallel. i.e. you have two drives that can seek at the same time, to different sectors.
However, even with 500 mechanical drives in RAID0 you won't beat a good SSD in terms of access time and IOps. I do agree with you that focussing on backups would be key, any additional speed is welcome as long as you can guarantee the safety of your precious data.