RAID on 6 disks for gaming and media storage, Help?!


I have:

6 x 1TB 7200 (Seagate Barracudas)
Asus P7P55D Pro (with onboard RAID, intel storage matrix)
2.6 Ghz i5 (overclocking is next)
16 GB DDR3 RAM 1600
Windows 7 64 bit

I'm debating RAID 10 vs RAID 5 and I can't make up my mind.

I have had RAID 5 and RAID 0 at different times on the same machine across 3 disks, but RAID 5 had some weird issues with streaming video and online gaming. It sporadically stutters and freezes like it is processing something. RAID0 didn't have this issue, but I was also short-stroking the disks to 33% of capacity and wasn't concerned with data integrity.

Now I need much more storage capacity for mixing audio (wife's in a band) as well as data security. Also, I don't want to have stutters while gaming.

Would you, the community, recommend RAID 5 or RAID 10 for a 6-disk array for a hybrid gaming/media rig? What stripe size? NTFS chunk size?

Also, I can't figure out if the ASUS board is an onboard hardware controller or software controller. Anybody know?

How about RAID 0 on 2 for OS/Games and RAID5 or 10 for 4 disks for storage?

Do logical partitions affect IOPS? For example, could I set aside 32GB of the beginning of each disk and combine those as the C: drive and the remaining space as D: drive for storage? Does that work or does it randomly assign partitions to whatever portion of a disk it wants?
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  1. The drives are not going to affect "stutters while gaming." Faster drives only speed loading the game and levels. Most people use an SSD for this purpose.

    Partitions are assigned contiguous space on an HDD, so seek times across partitions will average greater than seek times within partitions.

    The only thing that I think RAID will help you with is mixing audio. RAID 0, or 0+1 if you want to be more careful, can double your maximum throughput rate, which could improve your audio workload if it is disk-bound. But RAID 0 doesn't help that much for non-sequential reading, as the seek times swamp the increased read throughput (you have to seek on both drives, still).

    The Asus board does the RAID with the chipset. If you use RAID5, or another level that does parity calculations, it will offload them to the CPU, giving you a small but noticeable CPU load and a noticeable slowness in writing.

    I would strongly recommend RAID 1+0 or 0+1 over RAID5. Personally, I wouldn't use RAID at all. I have an SSD for my programs and a VelociRaptor for any data that I want to move fast. RAID is lots of fun to play with for benchmarking, and great for enterprise applications, but not me personal cup-of-tea for the machine that I work on. The one exception would be a RAID5 for a NAS, which gives a certain amount of protection but won't slow it down below the max transfer speed of the network, which would be the limiting factor.
  2. Thanks for the response!

    Yeah. I would go buy a SSD, but I already have these drives.

    I know the drives shouldn't cause the stuttering, but after reinstalling everything and trying multiple different configs, for some reason it does it only when I'm playing a few online games (not all) or streaming video with RAID5. I think it may be search indexing or I may be missing some background process, but it's just weird that I've only noticed it with 5.

    Of course a good chunk of this is me just playing with hardware to see what all it can do. I'd still like good performance and stable redundancy. I can't have it stutter when mixing audio files (not sure it would since I haven't mixed audio before) and I like fast loading when gaming. I'm impatient.

    I was leaning towards 1+0 since I have 6 TB to work with. I hope I don't need that lost 2TB any time soon.
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