i would just plug in the drives normally and do a software raid. windows is actually faster at handling the raid then most raid cards/mobos and if something go wrong with your raid controller you can just put the drive in another computer and set that computer up to see it. for windows 7 you need professional or better for the feature. but older windows im not sure.
I'm not really sure what you're suggesting. Software RAID can be faster at times but hardware RAID is typically less of a hassle. The part that's confusing me, though, is that a software RAID wouldn't use a RAID controller, and if you're using a RAID5 then any of the individual drives on their own will be useless (parity is spread over all the drives) so putting the drive in another computer wouldn't work.