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RAID 0 Without the Hassle

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December 7, 2009 3:37:51 PM

Hi,

I currently have a Core i7 running on Windows 7 Professional with a single 750 GB WD Caviar Black 7200RPM Hard Drive. I wish to buy a new hard drive and go to RAID 0 setup to speed up performance. Is there any way to accomplish this without having to reformat the original single hard drive and reinstall Windows and all other software? Thanks, I appreciate the help.

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a c 415 G Storage
December 7, 2009 9:02:23 PM

I ran a test using two WD Green drives when I first set up my system. With one drive it took Windows 21 seconds to boot (after the completion of the BIOS POST), with two in a motherboard RAID 0 set Windows took 18 seconds. That's about a 15% difference. It's even less of an impact when you consider that 3-second difference in a 20-second boot time comes after a 30-second wait for the BIOS POST. You can time the difference with a stopwatch, but you sure don't notice it in practice.

RAID 0 can make a noticeable difference for sequential transfers, but for the kind of booting and application startup performance that most people are looking for it really doesn't do much of anything for you.
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December 7, 2009 9:29:27 PM

Hmmm. I remember reading an article stating that RAID 0 provided about 30-40% performance boost. I don't care too much about Windows boot times. I do care about file transfer times and game loading times. If anyone else can attest to the weak performance boost, as stated by sminlal, then maybe formatting my entire drive and having to reinstall everything isn't really worth it after all.

But RAID 0 just looks and sounds too cool. =)
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a c 115 G Storage
December 7, 2009 9:57:05 PM

You can get a 30-40$ performance increase in doing workstation I/O and heavy database work. In booting, it speeds things up about 15%....in gaming, anywhere between 2 and 7% should be expected.

In some instances performance can decrease.
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a b G Storage
December 7, 2009 10:13:35 PM

Booting windows or a game, it should be the same. It isn't really going to do much. Even SSDs should show limited improvement. Sure it can transfer really fast, but you'd need a powerful CPU to handle it. Add in the fact that there are driver issues and possible loss of a drive and you have the reasons I tell people to avoid AID0 for your OS.
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a b G Storage
December 7, 2009 10:36:37 PM

Here are links for good reading; Does RAID0 Really Increase Disk Performance?, and RAID Matrix Charts. There are plenty of articles and opinions when it comes to the practical implementation of RAID0. The biggest issue to be aware of when considering RAID0 for your OS and apps is the fact that if there is a mechanical hard drive failure, the data is (for all intents and purposes) gone. If the RAID array fails as a result of a software, driver, cable, or power surge, more times than not, the data is recoverable. Regular back-ups of all important data and files is more than recommended, it should be considered a basic computer skill. Using a RAID0 for the OS and apps combined with a large single drive for storage purposes is a favored configuration. Lastly, SSD's are the BOMB-DIGGITY! Cost aside, a single SSD is better than any RAID0.

When you look at the benchmarks RAID0 will always be faster than a single drive; that is the intent of RAID0. When it comes to boot times and application load times, RAID0 is also a question of perceived performance improvements. Does 15% on some comparison chart directly relate to faster load times and less waiting? I dunno...prolly...actually it does but that also depends on how you configure the RAID0 array. The RAID scaling charts show that RAID0 scales very well as more drives are added. Interesting...

I like using RAID0 for my OS and apps, been doing it for several builds. Currently running a Highpoint 2310 with 4-80GB WD's and I'm happy with it, I will attest that it does load WinXP 64bit and Ubuntu 9.04 nicely as well as reduce load times. Many small single platter drives (4+) offer better performance over two large GB drives with 3+ platters and you still have plenty of disk space.

Geek drool RAID0 configuration --> 3Ware 9650SE-4LP with 4 - 150GB WD VelociRaptors :bounce: 
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a c 415 G Storage
December 8, 2009 1:49:19 AM

chunkymonster said:
Here are links for good reading; Does RAID0 Really Increase Disk Performance?
Interesting article, thanks for the link. It seems to pretty much confirm my findings - a performance increase of up to around 15% for most general-purpose stuff.

I think a lot of folks get the idea that 2 drives = 2X the performance. Under the right conditions you can get close to that for sequential transfer rates, but in general all-round terms 15% is much closer to the mark. And, sorry to say, 15% is measurable but really not all that noticeable.

Everyone's different, but for me with that minor a difference the hassles of RAID 0 really aren't worth it.
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a b G Storage
December 8, 2009 3:25:26 AM

Just to answer the question and not discuss why not to do it. If you have setup your intel controller in your bios as RAID and not AHCI or IDE, then this is simple. Just install the drive, boot into windows, then open the matrix storage manager. I dont know the exact steps, but you can take the current drive and add the new drive to it in a raid 1 or raid 0 array of your choice. This step will complete IN WINDOWS correctly. All you need to do after is reboot to see the extra space in the case of a raid 0. It should take a few hours to complete in the case of the raid 0.

On a personal note, I would stay away from raid 0. Just wait for SSD's to get to a size and price you are comfortable with. You will probably be ok, and you will occasionally notice a difference. But one drive failure and all that saved time is bye bye, not to mention anything else. Drives fail, and you just increased your chance of having one fail by two.

Oh, I almost forgot, if you did not set your bios to RAID for the intel controller, either reinstall windows or do a search on how to force an install of your raid drivers. Windows 7 and probably every other version will not boot without the RAID drivers installed.


If you need help on the exact steps, I can try in on my mobo. I have not setup my drives yet and can step through this. Its all in the menus and there are not too many options in there to begin with.
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December 8, 2009 12:48:07 PM

Hmm I think I should just stick to 1 hard drive then. It's not like I do much file transferring. Just mainly games.
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a b G Storage
December 8, 2009 3:37:57 PM

Is your CPU stock or OC'd at all? How long does it take to load a game? 750 is an odd size, you could get a new 500GB/1TB drive with the new 500GB platters. They will be a bit faster then your 750GB drive. Not sure if its worth the $$$ though.
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December 9, 2009 1:18:23 PM

CPU is stock for now but will definitely be OC'd in the immediate future. I have a cooler master V8 on it right now. Does that make a difference?

Also, I've been getting alot of flak about choosing this WD Caviar Black in 750GB. I'm guessing its not a single platter drive. Should I have gotten a 640GB hard drive instead?
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a b G Storage
December 9, 2009 3:48:46 PM

I don't think the 640s are single platters either. The largest platters that I know of are the new 500GB per platter drives. The 640s would have two of the previous best 320GB/platter. The new drives with 500GB platters would be 500GB, 1TB, etc. According to this the 750 is a three platter drive.

http://www.techpowerup.com/index.php?62580

I'm not sure if they are using the even older 250GB platters, or newer 320GB platters and only using the outer edges.

Overall I wouldn't worry to much about it. 1-2-3 platters I doubt you'd notice much difference. Sure harddrive test programs will be able to tell you how much faster the other drive is, but 80MB vs 60MB doesn't make a huge difference.
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