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RAID 5 Setup Advice

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November 7, 2010 6:30:39 PM

A while back I posted asking some RAID Q's and I realized I didn't really need one at the time, well times change.

I have started doing a lot of video editing, including After Effects which outputs HUGE files, for classes and for fun. I think it is time to upgrade from just HDDs and make an array.

I Am thinking RAID 5 because of the speed and stability increases. I want to do a 3x1TB array I think. My mobo is compatible with RAID 5, although I wonder is a PCI controller will get me better stability and speed?

I am on a budget but I often here people saying the the Spinpoint drives are good, I am wanting to spend less than $100 a drive IF possible, so the RE3 and RE4s are sort of out of the equation for me.

My main fear though is still having things fall out of RAID, although naturally I will back up finished products and files.

My questions boil down to:
Is RAID 5 truly what I need?
Is a PCI controller going to out do my Mobo?
What are the best drives to get without breaking the bank for this set up?

My OS and music and such will stay on my current HDD

I7-860
Corsair XMS3 4x2GB RAM
ASUS P7P55D-E Pro Mobo
ASUS Xonar D2X Sound Card
XFX HD 5870
Corsair PSU
WD Cav Green HDD 1TB


Thanks in advance for any advice.

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November 7, 2010 9:01:08 PM

With video editing, throughput and steady disk IO's are important.

Obviously, a true RAID controller with cache and a hardware XOR processor is preferred, but these are in the $250 and (way) up ranges. The cache smooths out any latency and the XOR processor accelerates parity calculations.

That said, I don't think you really have to go that far. RAID 0 is the best performance you can get, but there is no redundancy. RAID 5 is redundant, but you lose performance with writes, especially with three drives.

You will probably be happy either way, but you should try 4 or 5 drives for RAID 5. Maybe 5x 500's with 7200 RPM instead of 1TB's.

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November 7, 2010 9:10:03 PM
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Assuming your motherboard uses an Intel ICH10R - then getting a dedicated card won't be an advantage. Use the on-board.

A 4 disk RAID10 is more common these days than RAID5. RAID5 was only used when hard discs were uber expensive - duplicating data is considered more reliable than simply storing a parity bit. There is also a fairly big writing delay (where it calculates checksum and writes again for each block).

I installed a 4 disk Raid0 on Saturday. I used Samsung F3 500Gb drives. The 1TB are faster again, but I want to keep it cost effective and the 500Gb drives are sooo cheap! (here anyway).

But I definately recommend the Spinpoint F3, great value and mine were so quiet, don't even notice the extra 4 discs noise wise (mine were single platter though)
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November 7, 2010 9:19:57 PM

One thing I will need to consider though is SATA ports. I have 2 SATA III and 6 SATA II ports on my mobo. The thing I currently have in there that I want to keep in there are 2 optical drives in SATA II and my main HDD in a SATA II.

That leaves 3 SATA II and the 2 SATA III ports open for a mobo RAID.

I liked only using the 3 reaming SATA II ports. Would the backwards compatibility with plugging a SATA II hdd into a SATA III port be OK in raid (I am one of those people with an irrational mistrust of backwards compatible things) thus giving me up to 5 SATA II spots open?

November 7, 2010 9:32:59 PM

I checked the manual as to whether the mobo uses Intel ICH10R and I am not sure, it only discusses use of the P55 chipset in the RAID section. This may be included in the chipset I am not knowledgeable enough about that to be 100% sure though.

November 7, 2010 10:08:31 PM

Ah I forgot it was P55. Don't worry, Intel controllers do a very good job for desktop use, I'd stick with that and put the money towards the drives.
a b G Storage
November 8, 2010 7:38:36 AM

You can use the 2 ports (SATA II) for RAID 0 at 500Gb. I had used 4 500Gb before in my video editing and it is fast. RAID 0 is for performance - as long as your area doesn't have frequent power outage or fluctuation. Also consider buying a cooling fan for your hard disk. This is not to disappoint you but my previous set up serves me well for years until that continuous brown out killed my hard disk - after that I opted for SSD.
a b G Storage
November 8, 2010 6:26:17 PM

I would recomment RAID 10 over RAID 5 unless you get a dedicated controller with cache, RAID 5 is slower than a single hard drive (by alot) for small reads and writes. I got 3x 640GB's for a RAID 5, hated the performance impact and put them all into a RAID 0 (with a backup drive)

The 3x 640GB on RAID 5 using the intel controller was slower than 2x 160GB in RAID 0.
November 8, 2010 6:48:52 PM

Hmmm interesting. I supposed a 3 or 4 disc RAID 0 would give me pretty nice speed, and I only experience power fluctuations once or twice a year tops.

I could at that point just keep backing things up on my externals once or twice a week like I do now, its no huge hassle.

If I went with a RAID 0 or 10 would the Spinpoint F3s still be a good bet to go with?
November 9, 2010 1:36:31 AM

Spinpoint F3's seem to be leading performance by a tiny bit and also seem to be the cheapest. I was impressed by the drives themselves BUT remember this gives you faster throughput for large files, but it doesn't improve access times - so loading windows and many games might not show massive improvements.

I can do 500Mb/s but Windows Startup and loading Team Fortress 2 - doesn't actually feel much quicker, the drives basically spend more time moving the heads around than much else.

A good SSD is the proper cure for access times, but still out of budget for many of us in a decent size (I want to RAID0 a pair of 128's). They're coming down though.
November 20, 2010 12:30:35 AM

Best answer selected by zeuriel.
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