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Recommended Controller? Home user needs reliable array. Cost matters.

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May 3, 2011 12:48:29 AM

Firstly, I don't know much about add-in controller cards. I have no idea what SAS is or if I need it, etc.

My goal is to have a solid 3TB minimum usable RAID 10 (or 5 if I need to) array for mostly temp storage until i can get it uploaded to CrashPlan. Uploading to crashPlan takes a long while for me since the best upload speed I can get in my area, without a business account, is 1000mbps.

On this array I would keep readily available movies and music that I already have backed up. This will be available to my home network.


So, the card I need should have at minimum 4 ports. It can be SATA (150) because I use 5400 or possibly later 7200 spindle speed drives that will only burst at max to 120mb. Probably never over 150. It may not be much more to get a SATA II controller though I don't see much sense in it.

I do not know what makes a true hardware controller or a superior one and I'm looking for general advice or specific recommendations. I know LSI is outstanding, 3Ware is excellent, Highpoint is very good but other brands I'm not sure about.

I need some help shopping. I know it won't be cheap. I'm currently using NVIDIA MediaShield and I've read that even the Intel ICH9R is twice as good (and I have an ABIT IP35 Pro collecting dust) so this should be a good investment. Warranty and customer service ie. warranty exchange and years of warranty are a huge plus with me -reliability.

Recap: I need a fast hardware RAID controller from a good company without paying for what I can't use in technology. This is a Land of The Lost for me.

RAID 10 a must with RAID 5 a plus.
4 ports minimum but 5 or more keeps me from buying new drives right now.
SATA I is just fine but so is SATA II ....III if the cost doesn't rise.

If you love the RAID stuff I need your help here. :pt1cable: 

EDIT: I have changed my need for RAID a bit. Looking for the best value. I already learned I am going to be getting technology I don't need with a controller I do need. I was trying to minimize that. I purchased a new Adaptech RAID 5805 kit for $455.00. More than I need but everything I want.
a c 289 G Storage
May 3, 2011 6:04:23 PM

FirewWire2 has had good results with this gizmo that will raid up to five SATA drives and appear to your hardware as if it were one SATA drive: http://www.datoptic.com/esata-hardware-raid-controller.... . He/She built this monster using the neater version: http://www.datoptic.com/esata-hardware-raid-controller-... , see the pictures in this thread: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/265641-32-40tb-server... . A little over the top for your needs, but fun to see what can be done with less expensive parts.
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a c 415 G Storage
May 3, 2011 10:30:35 PM

Are you really just going to use this temporarily until you've got it backed up? Because if that's the case why don't you just get some external drives and simply copy the movies, etc. to them? It's a heckuva lot simpler, and if you store the drives in some hidden-away location you won't have to worry about loosing everything when the thieves break in and steal your system.
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May 4, 2011 6:27:16 AM

sminlal said:
Are you really just going to use this temporarily until you've got it backed up? Because if that's the case why don't you just get some external drives and simply copy the movies, etc. to them? It's a heckuva lot simpler, and if you store the drives in some hidden-away location you won't have to worry about loosing everything when the thieves break in and steal your system.



No thieves to worry about.

Are you talking about a NAS? Isn't that eSATA RAID? I need at least 3.7TB because my upload speed is slow I upload constantly. If I have to wait on my upload bandwidth for downloading or ripping anything I will be waiting too long. I can see using separate drives but the security, albeit temporary, of RAID 5 or 10 (even 0+1) is far better than a single drive.

I'm trying to talk myself into spending about $500 for an Adaptec 8 internal port controller. 3 year warranty plus a reputable extended warranty like what Tiger Direct offers (and they don't sell Adaptec) would give me about 5 years total for the extra $35. Thats about $100 a year for excellent hardware assisted RAID management.

Still, the initial investment is obviously painful. $500 better spent on a RAID controller than a video card in my opinion.

@WyomingKnot - Best use of FireWire 2 I have ever seen.
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a b G Storage
May 4, 2011 9:11:25 AM

I've recently been looking into hardware raid cards recently and I ordered the Areca ARC-1880i after it was recommended in another thread here.

It'll suit your RAID 10 or RAID 5 needs and it's SATA3 compatible. It actually supports 128 drives if you need it! Doesn't come with SFF 8087 to SATA cables though just SFF 8087 to SFF 8087.

It's more pricey than the Areca you linked to (Although you called it an Adaptec card) but I thought this was better.
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May 4, 2011 6:05:31 PM

I bought the "Adaptec 2244100-R 5805 8-Channel SATA/SAS 512MB PCI-Express LP RAID Controller with Cable Kit" from a seller with high (perfect) ratings on Amazon.com. This is the kit retail package UNOPENED for.... $455.48.

Most people will think, "well gee, that's cheap -lol" but it really is for that card.

I figured take the plunge. I'll get my money's worth with reliability and less worry. Adaptec has good customer service and the specs were the best. USA headquarters is s slight plus. Their website is easy to navigate and they update their firmware/drivers very regularly. The card also rates very high with owners.

Went ahead and bought 5 x Western Digital RE4-GP 2TB (RAID 10 with a hot-swap extra) recertified drives off Newegg also. I was ignorantly using regular WD Green drives and after educating myself on this technology some I discovered the reason my drives drop out regularly. Enterprise drives are far and away less likely to drop out of the array because they're made for RAID. The extra info was included to help anyone who didn't know, you regulars do.

So I dropped some cash but in the long run it's totally worth it. I've been struggling with NVIDIA MediaShield (fine manager but SLOW, omg) and I wasn't about to move over to Intel RAID madness ...I mean Intel is far better whatever.

I got lucky on that deal. The same card is $110.00 more on Newegg.

I'm excited but my checkbook looks scary.
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a b G Storage
May 5, 2011 10:54:52 PM

Your card is a high performance card, and it is worth the money, if you are doing HD editing or something requires a FAST data transfer.

Around $500.00, you would have 8TB raid5 with transfer rate over 230MB/sec, This will give you the reliable and most
1x SPM393 hardware raid @ $119.00
5x Samsung Spinpoint F4EG @ $77.00/ea

Don't get me wrong! Your card works but OVER KILL and OVER PRICE for what you need.

With USB3.0 to eSATA adapter, the entire raid box/backup box can be hot plug in USB3.0/USB2.0 host port, which is a nice portable solution for backup/restore
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a b G Storage
May 5, 2011 11:11:03 PM

FireWire2 said:
SPM393 hardware raid


I've seen from other threads this is a controller you used for your system.

Can you explain why this controller is so cheap and why on earth the manufacturer hasn't set this up on an add on card rather than a drive bay component?
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May 6, 2011 12:03:32 AM

Hi FireWire2,

Thats an interesting gadget but I much prefer the Adaptec. I really don't like the bay drives much. I trust the Adapter company more, you know, and it isn't prestige it's the technical experience, engineering, quality, warranty, support.

I don't know how to compare traditional RAID cards to that drive bay thing. I did a GREAT DEAL of comparison shopping, etc, with the Adaptec. I would not buy (rely on) that SPM393 thing even if it were $20.00, no offense.

Are those Samsung enterprise drives? I needed enterprise drives for reliability. I have already seen how using regular drives works for a complex array and they drop out reliably. I go with Western Digital for the warranty support and customer service I have had in the past with them. Seagate was terrible for support and I mean terrible. Their enterprise drives have had numerous problems and I don't want to test firmware with them. Hitachi is becoming less reliable also although I have to admit i have never had any issues with them. I never even had a problem with the original glass platter "Death Star" drives and still have them -they still work! Samsung ..well I have an F1 and its a little cantankerous (or my JMicron driver is bad) but is usually pretty good. EG mean enterprise grade? I'm still happy with the WD's I ordered. At first I ordered 5 RE3 1TB's for more than the RE4-GP 2TB's then caught that mistake. Give me another TB for a little less speed. Samsung is OK but give me the WD.

I do video editing, yes. I want the best I/O support I can afford. The options are slim once you go beyond 4 on-board ports. I can use port multiplier adapters but it just complicates things so I went with the next best option which puts you in the 8 port pricing. There is no way out of it. I paid for more than I need right off, yeah, over a port multiplier where I'd be back here asking questions in a new thread or calling companies if I couldn't verify how many, where, what, and if I can port multiply without losing possibly this, that, or the other. I would compare it to the CPU shopper who would rather pay for the 3.4GHz than buy the 2.6GHz with the added larger cooler, calculating the pressure and air flow in the case with the new fan, a higher wattage use vs the 3.4GHz spec, and other things ...it isn't always worth the hassle.

I know what I paid for, yes.

Well one of the best middle grade options, and I did not spend weeks looking into all this, would have been a 4 port Highpoint with no on-board cache.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
And thats a fine card but I wanted the cache and a little more. By all accounts that Highpoint is an excellent value. It is considered one of the best middle grade cards and I almost bought that one. It is really a nice card but just not enough.

Areca support sucks and lets be frank -it sucks. I read way too many support complaints. Along with low or nonexistent support will be a bad warranty. I skipped them entirely. I don't care how nice their cards are or what price.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
....but nevermind.

I beat the price of a competing 3Ware which is slower and fewer features whether I use them or not. The 3Ware card was nice but for a competing price of $455 the match-up was over.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The price for my Adaptec on Newegg is overpriced IMO but $515.99 on Amazon is decent, for the kit, yet I got the same retail kit NEW for $455 shipped. For this card that is an excellent price.

Considering everything I mentioned how could I have buyers remorse?
I may use all of those 8 ports. The management features on the Adaptec are excellent and the speed is outstanding.

Alternatively I could have used the on-board Intel ICH10R I have. According to a review or two that would have been only 25% slower than the Highpoint I mentioned above.

FireWire2, I'm curious, because I see you touting that bay gadget on the boards here and there and your name.. ...are you affiliated with the company that makes that thing? I'm sure it works fine but I wouldn't compare it to a real RAID card and so I did not.
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a b G Storage
May 6, 2011 1:09:56 AM

Man you are asking me a question is VERY hard to answer :-)

Why on earth the manufacturer hasn't set this up on an add on card rather than a drive bay component?
Are you talking about the same thing? SPM393 is in a bracket, which can be mount to PCI bracket with SCSI cutout
Where SPM394 is drive bay mount

1) Why is so cheap...
I maybe wrong but here is what I know. I will find out more from manufacture and post more info, including corrections, if any later.

The Port Multiplier Technology was introduce by Silicon Image has help to propel the popularity of SATA compare to SCSI drive, because there is a need of mass storage. With a SINGLE SATA port you can up FIVE drives, where SCSI is 7 or 15 drives

The technology has been matured and improved with time and it's stable at present time. With silicon wafer can pack 1000's of transistor in a minuscule space, the micro-controller is getting more powerful.

This is where the fusion happen, engineer Jmicron decides to married the PM technology and a Micro controller to create a stand-alone SINGLE chip set raid control and ===> System on a Chip (SoC) SPM39x was born

Since it's a single chip-set, I guess the costs is lower than PCI express hardware card, also the market segments is different too. Enterprise versus SOHO

SPM39x can transfer over 200MB/sec where PCI express can transfer up to 2000MB/sec

2) why on earth the manufacturer hasn't set this up on an add on card

That's the beauty of this controller - it's a completely independent from OS, hot-plug capable, can be use as massive portable drive (up to 15TB)

As long as the OS has an eSATA/ SATA port, that system can see the raid volume create by SPM393/SPM394. It can be use MAC OS 10.6.x, Linux, FreeBSD, Windows... and the OS can have update anytime without worry the raid drivers incompatible... This happens to MAC and Windows users.

Would you like an array offers over 200MB/s, no drivers, portable, hot-plug, convert-able to USB3.0 host connection? I do

Lots more simpler set up compare to PCI card like Adaptec, HPT, ARECA, LSI... which must has a compatible set of drivers

So with applications like NAS, backup storage, Media Server, SOHO, even HD Video Editing use ProRES 422, DNxHD codec. These applications never need more than 300MB/sec transfer rate.

Can we built raid with PCI express card? Of course we can, but in my opinion SPM393 and SPM394 is the BEST value.

Hope this explain it

** Typo corrections
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a b G Storage
May 6, 2011 2:10:30 AM

HedgeHocker said:

...My goal is to have a solid 3TB minimum usable RAID 10 (or 5 if I need to) array for mostly temp storage until i can get it uploaded to CrashPlan...



I though you want to save $ on a raid for temporary storage! LOL

HedgeHocker said:

FireWire2, I'm curious, because I see you touting that bay gadget on the boards here and there and your name.. ...are you affiliated with the company that makes that thing?


I'm an IT storage consultant, I do custom storage like DATACENTER scalable to 384TB, Server with RAID transfer over 2000MB/sec for data mining, database, online HD Editing. If you need such a beast PM me. commission of course :-).

I use it and it works good and it's cheap. When a member asking for a low cost raid, or try to save $. I'm recommend the SPM39x, until there is another controller do the same thing and lower cost then I would recommend that controller. Simple

BTW - What do you mean real RAID card, do you know?
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May 6, 2011 2:49:11 AM

FireWire2 said:
I though you want to save $ on a raid for temporary storage! LOL

You're right! I'm sorry. I didn't edit my initial post when I changed my mind. I figured if I am going to buy a good RAID card for 1 critical need why not buy the best I can for all needs. Yeah I went from minimum to what I can afford. I'll see if I can edit that thread header. Thank you.

I'm an IT storage consultant, I do custom storage like DATACENTER scalable to 384TB, Server with RAID transfer over 2000MB/sec for data mining, database, online HD Editing. If you need such a beast PM me. commission of course :-).

I use it and it works good and it's cheap. When a member asking for a low cost raid, or try to save $. I'm recommend the SPM39x, until there is another controller do the same thing and lower cost then I would recommend that controller. Simple

BTW - What do you mean real RAID card, do you know?


Sir, I don't do HD online editing. I will not NEED 2000MB. As a matter of fact thats what I was here asking about, in part, what is a good card. I know I would not buy that garbage bay gadget you keep telling us about. Again, no offense and I'm glad it works great for you but I would appreciate you not listing the marketing details in my thread. You do not need to have a data server to buy a quality controller. Many of the cheap controllers, as you may well know, offer slower I/O than what is on the motherboard already. My point is that I didn't see any way out of paying a high price.

Now that we have removed that totally risky (from my perspective) GADGET from the consideration we are left with more traditional cards with a solid company behind it and a real warranty. I never claimed to be the expert. I wouldn't consider putting movie rips, home movies, music, or anything a home user to be less important than database or online HD editing.

With that said I do have high hopes for reliability with this card. I have 3 server cases with excellent cooling so I shouldn't have a problem. I want the reliability.

This brought a tear to my eye though.....

http://www.buy.com/prod/adaptec-6805-sas-raid-controlle...

The slightly upgraded version of my card just released recently. The major differences appear to be SATAIII 6GB sec vs the SATAII and the maintenance free memory cache. I'll be okay with SATAII but the memory cache update looks great.

"BTW - What do you mean real RAID card, do you know?" What is the point in asking me that? I'm not an IT Consultant if that is the argument you're trying to lead me into. Why not tell me what a real RAID card is? I'm not here to trade credentials and I certainly was not bragging or boasting.

LOL, I really do not like your ..FireWire 3.5 drive bay gadget thing. It is interesting, very interesting, but not many who, unlike yourself, are not technically knowledgeable would even think about taking a risk on it. But I take it thats a fine thing for people at home with no data center to have since it isn't mission critical information at stake? Gee.... The thing looks like a piece-of-ship. Why would a home user take a chance on that? I think you understand me.
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May 6, 2011 5:04:23 AM

Rusting In Peace said:
I've recently been looking into hardware raid cards recently and I ordered the Areca ARC-1880i after it was recommended in another thread here.

It'll suit your RAID 10 or RAID 5 needs and it's SATA3 compatible. It actually supports 128 drives if you need it! Doesn't come with SFF 8087 to SATA cables though just SFF 8087 to SFF 8087.

It's more pricey than the Areca you linked to (Although you called it an Adaptec card) but I thought this was better.


Thank you.
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May 6, 2011 5:05:20 AM

Best answer selected by HedgeHocker.
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