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RAID Card Recomendation - Raid 5, 8 SATA drives

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February 9, 2013 12:38:55 PM

Hi everyone:

I'm fairly new to the RAID scene and I'm looking for a recommendation for a good RAID controller card.

I'm looking to build a RAID 5 of 8, 2TB SATA drives. My understanding -- admittedly limited, although I've been reading and trying to get clear answers -- is that I can get a RAID Controller card with 2 SAS ports and get cables that allow me to connect up to 4 SATA drives to a single SAS port. Is that accurate? (I have 8 6gb/s SATA drives.)

I'm running an ASUS P8Z77-V PRO, Core i5 with Windows Home Server 2011, attempting to build a media server. I bought the P8Z77 with the expectation that I could build an 8-drive array using the onboard RAID controllers, but apparently 2 of the ports won't allow for it.

At present, I'm building a Raid 5 just via Server Manager, but reaction to software RAIDs appear to be overwhelmingly negative.

Can someone please take pity on a n00b and throw a recommendation my way that would fit the above-mentioned build? I'm willing to spend up to $400.

Many thanks,

Steve
February 9, 2013 1:42:33 PM

Don't think you'd get that great of a card for 400 dollars.
When I built my first raid I was told that raid 5 with 8 2tb drives isnt the best idea. You can only lose 1 drive at a time and if it fails during the rebuild you're screwed. I personally went with a raid 6 which is very similar to raid 5, but you can lose two drives instead of 1 and still recover. The cost is 2tb of storage. You'd end up with 12tb of space instead of 14tb.

If you really want a solid raid you may need to up your budget. Mine cost me about 600 dollars plus a 100 dollar backup battery...then came the hard drives... -_-

Your description of the SAS to 4 sata cables cable is correct.
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February 9, 2013 1:52:08 PM

Thanks for your response, migit.

So I can lose up to 2 drives, but still only lose 2tb in storage? So have the same capacity as a RAID 5 then? Maybe I will go that route then.

Okay, if I up my budget, what card do you recommend?
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a b G Storage
February 10, 2013 8:21:46 PM

The use of software RAID is mostly negative on Windows since RAID is relative new to windows (compared to the other OSes).

That said, what exactly are the requirements for the RAID device? For most SOHO, a $400 raid card would more than suffice. The IBM M1015 is a very popular cheap card (less than $100 on ebay). FireWire2, who frequent this forum, advocates for sp393/spm394 devices which I think are OS independent. They seem pretty neat because no driver is required. I personally use only software raid (I don't use windows) because of its hardware flexibility. When I encounter a hardware failure (whether it be motherboard, raid controller, hard drive, etc) I can replace it with any current off the shelf equivalent. With hardware raid controller, when they fail, you have to get the device from the same manufacture and in some case the exact same model.
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a c 317 G Storage
February 10, 2013 8:39:25 PM

Sarlic said:
Thanks for your response, migit.

So I can lose up to 2 drives, but still only lose 2tb in storage? So have the same capacity as a RAID 5 then? Maybe I will go that route then.

Okay, if I up my budget, what card do you recommend?
I have an Adaptec 6805 on an ASUS P8Z77-V and it works great. You can start with a smaller number of disks and then add disks and later migrate from RAID 5 to 6 (although the rebuild for me takes a while since I have 8 3Tb drives and use the array during the rebuild). Take a look HERE, although watch for a sale as I got mine for 10% off with a special that Newegg ran. You want to get the "kit" (2271200-R) because it includes the two SAS to 4 SATA connector adapters that you need and otherwise cost a lot more. And note that you need a free PCIe x8 or x16 slot to use this card (or any equivalent in another brand).

Install is simple, just insert the card, then run the latest driver and then load the latest Adaptec Storage Manager software.

edit: and modern RAID cards from good quality manufacturers will support replacing a dead card with any of their equal or newer model cards that support that number of drives if you use standard stripe sizes.
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February 10, 2013 8:41:18 PM

RealBeast -- You ROCK! Thank you so much.

As a complete n00b at this, a "here is exactly what you need to do" post like yours is much, much appreciated.

Nothing_but_Nas, Thanks for your response!

Out of curiosity, what software do you use? My Windows RAID is still resyncing, so I have yet to even try it out! But having no experience whatsoever with software RAIDs, and since I just paid a lot of money for a lot of new hardware, I'm not exactly keen on buying a RAID card either, especially when I see I should get a battery backup as well!
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February 10, 2013 8:43:56 PM

And RealBeast -- have you had any issues with heat on your card? I have two fans (one in the front, one at the top/back) -- have spares I can install if necessary, but just curious.
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a c 317 G Storage
February 10, 2013 8:54:50 PM

No heat issues, with just standard case fans and the 8 drives plus a 74Gb Raptor that is the OS drive, which I will replace soon with one of the pile of extra SSDs that I have from upgrading.

The OS is Windows 7 x64, but I also access the array with a number of other OSs that I run as VMs with VMWare 8.

I do not use a battery on my 6805 as it is a BluRay iso server, but I've put them on other builds for business uses -- I do recommend a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) on any computer that is worth anything though, I have around a dozen APC models of different sizes since my power is fairly poor quality with frequent voltage sags.

If you do go with a 6805, PM me and I can get you through pretty much anything as I've built a half dozen NAS boxes with this setup.
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a b G Storage
February 10, 2013 9:04:45 PM

I use linux md software raid with 23x3TB drive off a few lsi9240 cards. All the features mentioned by RealBeast are supported and better still, my array is available immediately, ie, i can use it during initialization or during rebuild.

Whatever card you choose, stay away from HighPoint. They are very appealing due to their low price, but you will pay dearly in the end.
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a c 317 G Storage
February 10, 2013 9:08:34 PM

^ +1 Agreed, LSI makes great cards too, but HighPoint sucks. Like anything in life you get what you pay for. :) 
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February 10, 2013 9:19:31 PM

I'd been looking at 3M and LSI cards, but the Adaptec seems to be getting excellent ratings. If I end up hating the Windows RAID 5, I will likely end up going with that! But UGGG so angry that I just ended up buying a new mother board, when I can't even use all 8 SATA ports for the on-board RAID function. Really frustrating.
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a c 317 G Storage
February 10, 2013 9:53:53 PM

I've used Adaptec for about 20 years and always been happy with the performance and quality, if not always happy with the price, although now they are pretty reasonable.
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