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I7-960 with Sata3 RAID5 - How?

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March 9, 2010 2:38:07 AM

I'm looking at building a new system. I do software dev and run webservers and databases on my machine. I'm also an audio enthusiast and use tools like cakewalk. Thus I'm really looking for max MIPS from my CPU as well as disk throughput (within reason).

This is still in flux, but a system I'm looking to put together would include:

i7-960
1 Crucial C300 128GB SSD (system drive)
3 Western Digital 1TB Sata3 (6Gpbs) Black HDs (RAID5).

I plan on running 1 PCIe 2.x x16 video card. I do game, but I'm not into multiple cards or anything like that. One
card with a 512-bit interface and 1GB of RAM is plenty for me.

I've read the articles about the 6Gbps drives not being able to saturate the bus and so limited returns there.
Nevertheless, those drives are only $119./ea (last time I checked) and that's not bad.

The problem is, all the Intel based MBs only have 2 Sata3 ports. For this I'd need 4, and more would be ideal.
I already see some AMD MBs with 6 Sata3 ports.

The only way I can see of pulling this off is to get an 8x Sata3 controller card (which is around $250).
If the controller card will support using up some of the PCIe lanes for the Sata3 connectors (as I understand
Sata3 uses the PCIe lanes, not sure how many), why can't this be built onto the MB?

More about : 960 sata3 raid5

March 9, 2010 2:57:05 PM

The i7-960 is a waste of good money. Get the i7-930 and overclock it.

The WD aren't the best choice right now. The Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB is $90, and just as fast, if not faster. If that's not available, the Seagate 7200.12 1 TB is just as fast as the Samsung. This eliminates you're SATA III problem. Besides, nothing uses SATA III bandwith right now, unless you've got about $10,000 of SSDs in RAID 0.

Here's a cheaper SSD that's just as fast: Corsair Reactor 128 GB for $300.

If you need a really reliable RAID, you should get a RAID card, which you can now afford since you're not wasting money on the 960...
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March 9, 2010 3:00:55 PM

MadAdmiral, those WD drives are the 500 GB platter ones, so they're fine. At least as long as it's this model...the non-500 GB platter drives are SATA II.

For all the rest, I've got to agree with MadAdmiral. If you've got important data on there, get a RAID card and don't get the 960, the value stepping up to the 960 isn't that great.

The Corsair Nova 128 GB is $20 more and is a little faster (also the Reactor is 120 GB, not 128).
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March 9, 2010 3:04:26 PM

I know. They're $30 more than the Spinpoints though. If they were the SATA II ones, I would have said they were a lot faster...
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March 9, 2010 3:12:59 PM

This article (that you probably read, since shortstuff linked it yesterday) http://techreport.com/articles.x/18467 suggests that the SATA 3 WDs are somewhat faster than either the Seagate or Samsung competition, but perhaps not so much faster that it's worth the extra cash.

So I'll agree that the WD drives are probably not the best value. But if you have the cash to throw around and you want to move to SATA 3 right now, they're not an awful choice.

Of course, that still doesn't address the OP's question about why Intel boards seem to only have 2 ports, etc. I'm afraid I don't have any ideas on that.
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March 9, 2010 3:19:16 PM

The only problem I have with that review is that they didn't compare it to the Samsung, which is a little faster than the Seagate. The difference between the new WD and the Seagate is so small and the difference between the Samsung and the Seagate is also really small. So it's possible that the Samsung is just as fast as the WD, but we can't really know until they're put against each other in the exact same tests...
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March 15, 2010 11:59:09 PM

After doing some research, it seems that the reason AMD can handle 6 Sata3 (6Gbps) drives is because of it's recently released SB850 south bridge. If I understand this correctly (and please correct me if I don't), the ICH10R Intel southbridge does not support Sata3 natively (nor USB3, for that matter).

So getting an Intel MB with that chipset is a total waste of $$$. I tend to like Intel because the processors have benchmarked faster and they run cooler. But if I want Sata 3 (which I may nix now), I'm forced to go with AMD.

Additionally, from what I've read, ICH11R is not do out until much later this year or next year (2011).
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Best solution

March 16, 2010 12:29:54 AM

Yep, AMD's new SB can do SATA 6GB/s (six of them) natively, while Intel needs another chip. However, for current drives I don't really see a need to fret over SATA 6GB/s.
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March 22, 2010 3:01:45 AM

Best answer selected by r_manic.
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