Hello Tom’s Hardware!

Long time lurker (like 2001ish) first time poster. I have been building machines and working in the field now as an information systems admin for 10 years now. I deal daily with RAID SANs and servers consisting mostly of space and data security instead of speed.

I have a machine that the latest upgrade was back in late 2009 (I know ancient) but it really is doing very very well. I’ll list the specs below.

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955
MB: ASUS M4N82 Deluxe nFore 980a
Mem: G.SKILL 8GB (4x2GB) DDR2 800
Video: (2 in SLI) EVGA GeForce GTX 275 1792MB
PSU: Corsair HX 520W
Drive: WD 500GB Caviar Black (7200 RPM, 32MB Cache)

This machine is playing all of my games very well. I do use this machine to do work on, but I keep that data separate. My only real area of concern is my HDD. I am looking at going with a SSD setup and the reason for this thread is just to help further my knowledge to help me make the best decision in my purchase. The reason for this upgrade is to give this machine some more life. I plan on building a brand new PC for myself in a year or two and giving this one to my wife at that time. So I really want this machine to last for a few more years.

I am looking at going with a multiple SSD setup. My motherboard has 5 SATA2 3.0Gb/s ports 4 of which support RAID 0/1/5/JBOD. I am looking at possibly purchasing (up to) 4 SSD and using the 5th port for a HDD for data backups.

OCZ Vertex 2 (115 GB)
Read: 285 MB/s
Write: 275 MB/s
Price: $156.00

Now, my big question is, should I go raid with smaller drivers? Or get a single drive that is larger? I know benchmark test will probably yield me in the 800 MB/s range for sequential read/write. I do believe that the RAID could increase the latency of data access. (Not sure on this). I am also concerned with the data being in a RAID 0. I am ok with a drive failing every now and then. I take care of my stuff and really do not have any problems. I also plan on backing up my important data to my other HDD.

Sorry for this wall of text, I am really not sure what I SHOULD do. I feel the 4 OCZ Vertex 2’s with 115GB would be a great purchase, but am I really going too far for what SATA2 / my machine can handle? Would I be limited by my other components?

Thank you all for the advice! I hope that this thread my help others that are looking at doing this sort of upgrade in the future.
10 answers Last reply
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  1. I recommend that you not raid your ssds, little noticeable improvement, although the benchmarks are better. Better to go with a bigger high quality drive -- Newegg has an excellent ssd on sale (Samsung 830 256gb): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147164

    While you don't have a SATA 3 port, the drive will work fine on SATA 2 and when you upgrade your mobo it will show its full potential.
  2. I really don't plan on upgrading the Motherboard in this machine. I plan on leaving this machine as is when I build my new machine next year. I know I can put a SATA3 drive into a SATA2, but I feel it would be a waste.

    So because of me WANTING to stick with SATA2 drives. I feel that I can get a high quality drive (higher speed, but smaller capacity) and by getting multiple I should see speed improvements?
  3. You won't really notice an improvement, it will only be evident in benchmarks. I've played with RAIDing SSDs on a number of systems with both SATA 2 and 3 drives and while the benchmarks were vastly different, using the computer didn't feel any different, same goes for SATA 2 v. 3 drives.

    The other option would be to add two of the drives you are looking at, one for OS and most commonly used programs and the second for your other programs, although you end up paying more per gb for less reliable drives using the Vertex 2 compared to the Samsung 830 256gb.

    edit -- and I love RAID for my NASs, I stream all my bluray images off a RAID 6 8 disk 3Tb drive array currently. I just don't find that raided SSDs really feel any different in real world desktop use.
  4. Concur ^
    Some added info. First: I've used raid0 almost exclusively on my home systems -PIOR to SSDs. Raid00 still has a place for HDDs (and SSDs when used as a data drive) when working with large file structures such as Video (VOB = 1 gB per file and Blue-ray can be up to 40 gigs for one file), Large complex spreadsheets, CAD/CAM drawings and when often working with large Jpeg/Bitmap photos.

    1) A larger SSD is faster than it's smaller brother.
    2) Raid0:
    .. Improves Sequencial performance, unforunatly this is the LEAST important parameter for a OS + Program drive.
    .. Raid0 DOES NOT improve access time - the most important parameter.
    .. Raid0 does NOT significantly improve on the important 4 K random read/writes.
    .. you LOSE Trim cmd (Win 7 only) functionality. While Garbage Collection internally has improve, TRIM is still an important function. (NOTE: this may change down stream, at least on Intel based chipsets).

    As to a SATA III SSD: Sata II verse SATA III will cap Sequencial performance - As I indicated, NO BIGGY. Only a small decrease on the Random 4K read/writes. Increase is mostly do to improvements in the SSD as bandwith is not so much of a problem.

    Side Comment - Don't look for getting "Advertized benchmarks" Sequencial BM (Bowel Movement) are normally for Data that is highly compressable and if you run AS SSD, which uses compressed data, the SF22xx based SSD will show much lower normally.
    A good example is the Agility III which shows Identical Sequencial performance on Sata II and SATA III Ports when using AS SSD. Also AMD systems tend to get lower scores than Intel systems (Intel has a better optimized driver and updates more often) Which is why most published BM are done on a Intel based system - has nothing to do with the CPU.

    Added: Sata III SSD on Sata III port. Click on link to spreadsheet - It opens in ONE blink of the eye. Same SSD but on a Sata II port Two blinks
    Bottom Line here is How Much can you do in between the Blinks (LOL). Will see a bigger diff in time to load OS. My M4 on Sata III - 15 Sec, My "Older" SATA II on SATA II, maybe 25 Sec. How often do you boot/reboot?? - Still either one - NOT enought time to go get my Much needed first cup of Java.
  5. Ok, I think I understand a little bit better. I myself loved running Raid 0 back in the day, but I guess SSD is not quite there yet for RAID functionality (TRIM etc).

    What are your thoughts of getting a SATA 3 controller and using a single Samsung 830? Space wise, I believe this might ok. I need to see how much I am using for both OS and Games.

    HighPoint has a few cheap 2 port RockRAID cards. This would also give me options for adding a second SSD in the future for additional space.
  6. That seems like a reasonable option to get the most out of the drive. I've had good luck with the HighPoint cards.
  7. Thanks for all the info guys! I really feel like I am pointed in the right direction and one that I am quite happy about. After the discussion here, this is what I will most likely do.

    HighPoint Rocket 620 (2x SATA3) $25

    OS+Base software (Drivers Utilities etc)
    C: Samsung 830 Series 128 GB $200

    Games+Software (Office, Adobe etc)
    D: Samsung 830 Series 256 GB $330
  8. Sounds good -- you can get $30 off the 256gb drive at Newegg if you pull the trigger today.
  9. Just a reminder, most controller cards use a 3rd party controller, ie a marvel controller (This is NOT the internal SSD controller). They do not perform as well as the Intel control. How they compare to say the AMD controller - Don't Know. But I think your MB has a 3rd party chipset, if that is the case the marvel based Pci-e would be the better option.

    Somebody can correct me on this as all my current builds have been on INTEL based chipsets.
  10. @ RetiredChief:
    sorry - i must correct your statements:

    "2) Raid0:

    .. Raid0 DOES NOT improve access time - the most important parameter."

    JK: this is incorrect - as Raid 0 doubles the processed data what you are waiting for (access time) - f.e. You process 2 Bytes instead of just 1 Byte on each access. so seen per Byte you end up with half of accesss time compared to standalone drive not in Raid0 which has to wait the access time cycle for each Byte (twice the time).

    ".. Raid0 does NOT significantly improve on the important 4 K random read/writes."

    JK: wrong because of the same reason explaned above
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