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PCIe x8 or x4 Sata III controller card

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  • Controller
  • NAS / RAID
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February 17, 2013 3:00:52 AM

First all my specs are in my signature or my member configuration.

I am thinking about buying a good Sata III PCIe card to run a 256GB Samsung 840 pro on since I have two laptops and another old XP machine that would greatly benefit from one of the Sata II SSD's I currently have on this PC in Raid 0.

I originally set up this PC with 2-Sata II SSD's in raid 0 on the Intel Sata II ports because it was the best performance option with the available SSD's at the time and because the 1st generation Marvell Sata III ports on this board only use 1-PCIe lane (shared between 2-ports) which caps the combined speed at around 400 MB/s or just a little better regardless of the theoretical 5G speed.

I have 2 of my 3-16x PCIe slots filled with my video cards running @ 16X16. If I fill all three slots they will run @ 16X8X8 bringing my 2nd card down to X8 and leaving me an available X16 slot @ X8.

I don't mind the 4% (if that) loss on the 2nd card but, I don't want to get a PCIe x1 Sata III controller card since that would leave me no better off than I already am with a slight loss in video to boot.

So I'm looking for a PCIe x8 or x4 Sata III controller card that does not have to have raid. The problem is I haven't found any that don't cost as much as a new motherboard with a good Sata III controller already onboard and I'm not ready for a new build just yet.

The reason (I think) that all these PCIe x8 or x4 cards cost so much is because they have decent raid built into them as well which is nice but not that important to me as long as I can get full Sata III speeds.

So does anyone know of any decent PCIe x8 or x4 Sata III controller cards that can use a 256GB Samsung 840 pro @ maximum potential and don't cost to much? Again raid is nice but not necessary, however I don't want a card that will interfere with the Intel onboard raid controller. :sol: 

More about : pcie sata iii controller card

February 17, 2013 6:53:15 PM

Idonno said:
First all my specs are in my signature or my member configuration.

I am thinking about buying a good Sata III PCIe card to run a 256GB Samsung 840 pro on since I have two laptops and another old XP machine that would greatly benefit from one of the Sata II SSD's I currently have on this PC in Raid 0.

I originally set up this PC with 2-Sata II SSD's in raid 0 on the Intel Sata II ports because it was the best performance option with the available SSD's at the time and because the 1st generation Marvell Sata III ports on this board only use 1-PCIe lane (shared between 2-ports) which caps the combined speed at around 400 MB/s or just a little better regardless of the theoretical 5G speed.

I have 2 of my 3-16x PCIe slots filled with my video cards running @ 16X16. If I fill all three slots they will run @ 16X8X8 bringing my 2nd card down to X8 and leaving me an available X16 slot @ X8.

I don't mind the 4% (if that) loss on the 2nd card but, I don't want to get a PCIe x1 Sata III controller card since that would leave me no better off than I already am with a slight loss in video to boot.

So I'm looking for a PCIe x8 or x4 Sata III controller card that does not have to have raid. The problem is I haven't found any that don't cost as much as a new motherboard with a good Sata III controller already onboard and I'm not ready for a new build just yet.

The reason (I think) that all these PCIe x8 or x4 cards cost so much is because they have decent raid built into them as well which is nice but not that important to me as long as I can get full Sata III speeds.

So does anyone know of any decent PCIe x8 or x4 Sata III controller cards that can use a 256GB Samsung 840 pro @ maximum potential and don't cost to much? Again raid is nice but not necessary, however I don't want a card that will interfere with the Intel onboard raid controller. :sol: 


Anything lower than a 9260 or 9265 LSi x8 controller and you may as well use native 3G.

3 GB/s is still pretty darn fast, and it'll still be many times faster than an HDD. The cheapo Rosewill, etc. ones have Marvell controllers and are the same speed if not slower than native 3G.

9260-http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

9265-http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Good luck!
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February 17, 2013 11:09:51 PM

darkspartenwarrior said:
Anything lower than a 9260 or 9265 LSi x8 controller and you may as well use native 3G.

3 GB/s is still pretty darn fast, and it'll still be many times faster than an HDD. The cheapo Rosewill, etc. ones have Marvell controllers and are the same speed if not slower than native 3G.

9260-http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

9265-http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Good luck!
Thanks for the reply "darkspartenwarrior"
The problem is both of those are more expensive than a very nice motherboard and while the raid option is nice I doubt I would use it as long as I could attain true Sata III 6G speeds on one SSD.

I have been looking at these: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...|16-115-114^16-115-114-TS%2C16-115-118^16-115-118-TS%2C16-115-077^16-115-077-TS%2C16-115-130^16-115-130-TS
They all use 2-lanes. Any thoughts? :sol: 
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February 19, 2013 3:09:17 AM

Still you'll get similar or even better performance with native 3G.

Those cards are all SATAIII Capable but none will ever attain the perfect 4.8GB/s transfer rate, not even the LSi cards can reach that.
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February 19, 2013 4:07:29 AM

darkspartenwarrior said:
Still you'll get similar or even better performance with native 3G.

Those cards are all SATA III Capable but none will ever attain the perfect 4.8GB/s transfer rate, not even the LSi cards can reach that.
Yea, I hear what your saying but, keep in mind that my motherboards native Sata III controller only uses one PCIe lane and the cards I linked to use two PCIe lanes theoretically giving them twice the speed.

So again, thanks for the response and I know it seems like I'm trying to argue with you but I'm not, I just want to make sure you know where I'm coming from and why a controller card that has a theoretical maximum of 10G would not be an improvement over my native Sata III using only 1 PCIe lane with a theoretical maximum of 5G since even if the 10G card is only 60% efficient that would be more than enough for any single Sata III SSD. :sol: 


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April 18, 2013 7:37:28 PM

The link you posted doesn't work when I click on it.
Having said that, let's clarify the the PCI-e x4 situation. An x4 card plugged into an x4 slot (or into an x8 or x16 slot) will give you near-maximum speeds for one (or possibly two) SATA III SSDs. Remember, that x4 (or x8/x16) slot must be PCI-e VERSION 2.0. not VERSION 1.0. Double-check that your available motherboard slot is PCI-e Version 2.0.
Now, assuming your 840 Pro's Sequential max. speed is around 550MB/sec. you should see around 500MB/sec. from the x4 controller card. This is useful mainly for transferring very large files (video/photo layers?) and for loading new levels in 3D games (Starting a 3D game usually involves a wait of 10 to 30 seconds for the game authorization/disk-check so fast loading from the SSD here doesn't feel like it helps a lot.)
However, consider that most of what we do all day long involves reading and saving much smaller files. So here we're looking at 4K random read/write and 4K-Queue-Depth 32 or QD 64 read/write speeds. In this case I'm sure you realize that even an x1 slot SATA III controller of the $25 variety will give you a significant performance boost, and it may be difficult to distinguish this from an x4 slot controller card. However, the x1 slot card will, of course, be limited to around 380MB/sec. sequential read and 225MB/sec. sequential write which is not what you're hoping to achieve.
The second-generation Highpoint 642L x4 card or the SYBA PEXSAT34 x4 card should give you near-maximum SATA III speeds for around $110 - $120. I don't trust the $69 and below cards I've seen ....
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April 20, 2013 9:48:04 PM

Well thanks for responding "Starvinmarvin", I was beginning to think this thread was dead. Yea, my old link is dead. It was a basically just a Newegg comparison of 4 different Highpoint PCI-Express 2.0 x4 SATA III (6.0Gb/s) Controller Cards. Here's one from Highpoint's site http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA_new/series_rr600-over...

I don't have an 840 Pro yet but, if I do get a sata III SSD that is the top contender. What I do have is listed in my signature under my post(s) (bottom right).

While I do see that there are definite advantages to running a drive like the 840 Pro on my MB's crappy Marvell, one PCI lane, Sata III ports, I am not willing to give up the (actual) 550/525 read/write sequential max speeds of my 2-Sata II SSD's (in raid 0) for those minimal advantages since working with video/photo layers is the main reason I built this PC and I don't think those advantages would justify the expense when for around $100 more I could get similar sequential max speeds. At least that's what I hope and what this thread is all about.

As far as Sata III controller cards go, I don't need raid or port multipliers. I intend to use it for one fast Sata III SSD only. If a card has any of those things fine but, they aren't necessary. I do want a card for around $100 (or less) that is capable of a minimum max sequential speed of 500MB/sec, So any card that is at least PCIe x2 should do.

However (in reviews) some people say that their MB reports their x2 card or their x4 card is only half (x1, x2) of what it's supposed to be and the PCIe specs are just for the connecter size and not the actual lanes.

My theory is that they have plugged it into a slot that has been effectively halved due to other PCIe slots being filled and motherboard limitations.

My MB has 3-2.0-X16 slots that can be run @ 16 X 16 or 16 X 8 X 8. Since I'm running 2 video cards in CF the Sata III controller card (as well as the 2nd video card) will be in a x16 slot running @ x8, so to be on the safe side I want to stick with a controller card that is at least x4.

Any way those are my thoughts and theory's. Keep in mind that part of the reason for replacing my OS drive(s) is to free up my 2- Sata II SSD's for use in my two (Sata II) laptops.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this.




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a c 942 G Storage
April 21, 2013 2:22:00 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You'll need to swap a slot bracket from an old card, the one on this card is not intended for desktops/towers but otherwise its a solid LSI card at a great price that just needs a little mod'ing. LOL
Supports up to 63 drives via sas expander but has a 2 raid sets limititation (not that you care about raid LoL) and does not do raid5 only 0,1,10

Pretty much the same as this card: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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April 21, 2013 7:14:32 PM

Quite a nice card for the price. It says it's a SUPERMICRO card. Is it a re-branded LSI card? The mounting doesn't seem to be a problem. Some others with similar cards have just added longer screws with long nylon washers and that seems to do the trick for desktops along with possibly breaking off the hook if necessary.

Other than that it looks like a great card. Maybe a little more than I wanted to spend but, it looks to be worth it. I never liked Highpoint very much anyway. THX!
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a c 942 G Storage
April 21, 2013 7:40:42 PM

yeah its a rebranded LSI.
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April 21, 2013 9:35:36 PM

popatim said:
yeah its a rebranded LSI.
Sweet, for that you get the best answer but, if you see something else nice like that card don't let that stop you from posting it.
Anyway thanks again! :ouimaitre: 

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April 22, 2013 5:57:31 PM

The inexpensive SATA III controller cards mostly use a single-lane configuration which limits the bandwidth as previously discussed. To achieve full or near-full SATA III bandwidth requires two lanes (x2). However, motherboard PCI-e slots come in x1 or x4 or x16 size. I've never seen an x2 slot on a motherboard. So, the interface needed for an x2 controller card is an x4 slot. You may also plug it into an x16 slot if that is what you have available. If that x16 slot is configured to run at x8 that's still plenty of bandwidth and more than you need. So, you can figure a card that's advertised as x4 is actually an x2 and that's plenty to achieve near-full SATA III speeds. By the same token you may figure that an x8 card has at least 4 lanes of bandwidth ..... but there goes your "$100 tops" budget. Connecting multiple SSDs or HDDs means they will share the available bandwidth. The thing I liked least about an add-on controller card is that it made my boot-up time much longer .... like it was booting up twice so to speak. Now, there's a good reason for using sleep or hybrid sleep if I ever saw one !
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April 23, 2013 3:54:25 AM

I realize all that starvinmarvin but here's what I've found: All the cards for around $100 or less are made by what I consider crappy or borderline acceptable companies like HighPoint, Syba, Rosewill, Koutech, Mediasonic, etc.
There's not one company there that I like even if most of them are just rebranded from some other crappy company and to top it off they all use a Marvell controller which I'm also not nuts about.

I haven't been able to find any cards by decent companies that meet my requirements until you get to LSI's $250 offering which is more than I'm willing to pay, which is one of the reasons I made this post. This Supermicro card has never come up on any of my Newegg "Controllers / RAID Cards" searches.

popatim's SUPERMICRO find may blow my budget by a little but the fact that it's made by a good company and as far as I know it doesn't use the Marvell controller makes it very desirable. If it's a rebranded LSI card that's even better. They are the best in the business when it comes to this kind of card.

The fact that it has better capability than I need right now (even more than LSI's $250 offering) doesn't hurt either. Because more is better than less in this instance and I might decide to use some of it at a later date as long as it's already there.

As far as the slow boot issue goes, I rarely shut this PC down anyway and IMO there's a good chance a rebranded LSI card will perform better than all those junk brands do.

I do appreciate your help but, this Supermicro card was really an exceptional find.
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April 23, 2013 6:54:02 PM

You misunderstand. I was merely attempting to explain your concern regarding x1, x2, x4 designations/slots/lanes, etc. And, to point out that you get what you pay for. Personally, I think the Supermicro controller card looks very promising especially when compared to cards with similar specifications costing twice as much or more. I don't have any SAS-to-SATA cables so would need to spend extra for those (~ $25 at Newegg or half that at Monoprice). As the total cost creeps upwards one wonders if maybe it's time to consider a new motherboard or motherboard/cpu combo. However, I paid $$$ in fair amount for my ASUS P6TD Deluxe dual-layer board and plan on getting a lot more use from it before replacement. Besides that, I have yet to find any apps or games that have worked my i7-965EE hard enough to make it break a sweat, so who needs an upgrade? So long as video/photo editing and 3D games all run fast and smooth no upgrade is even worth considering, in my exceedingly humble opinion. So, it comes back to the approx. $150 - $170 option for the Supermicro card + cable(s), the $89 Highpoint x4 card, or let it ride and continue with maxed-out SATA II performance from my SATA III Sandisk Extreme 240GB . Maybe Newegg will put the Supermicro card on a shellshocker deal ..... but I doubt it. Oh, darn !!
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April 23, 2013 10:03:27 PM

Yea, I get what your saying and for the most part, for most people and most situations I agree with you almost entirely.
From a cost to performance perspective there is not allot to gain for this PC alone but when you take into account that I have two laptops that would greatly benefit from the two Sata II SSD's that I am currently using for my OS on this PC it changes things quite a bit.

For me though, even just considering this PC I have to say; I have always been 100% satisfied with this motherboard with the exception of it's Sata III ports and that has continued to irk me to no end. Yes, I just took Asus at face value that their Sata III ports with their stated "up to 6gb's" would actually be capable of that and then to compound matters I (and every one else that bought an X58 board around that time) wrongly assumed that like Intel's Sata ports the Marvell Sata III would double that stated maximum when two ports were used.

Now I'm no idiot, I know that it's very rare that anything performs at the absolute theoretical maximum. Even Intel's Sata ports don't but, what I didn't expect was that my assumed combined theoretical maximum of 12gb's would translate into a real world combined speed of only 350Mb's and judging from all the pissed off new X58 motherboard owners on their manufactures web sites no one else did either!

Now, I get how the whole debacle came about. Anything over 300Mb's is Sata III and Sata III is capable of a theoretical maximum of 6gb's under the right conditions but, with only one one PCI lane dedicated to two Sata III ports with a crap Marvell controller on top of that, the conditions were about a far as possible from being anywhere close to right.

Conditions were in fact so bad that if both Marvell ports were used in a Raid configuration, the Intel Sata II ports were considerably faster.

I find the fact that the manufacturers pushed the early Sata III ports like it was a great thing and didn't tell their consumers the real facts quite dishonest.

I have remained pissed about this for about 2&1/2yrs now and if I finally get what I consider to be real Sata III capability I could accomplish what I set out to do 2&1/2yrs ago.

I know, even when I think about it it sounds kind of silly but, it is what it is. :pt1cable: 

The good news here is that I can throw a little sanity on the issue since the expense will not only upgrade this PC but it will upgrade two laptops to SSD's as well.

few, I'm glad I got that off my chest! :lol: 
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February 22, 2014 1:50:13 PM

Sturdy, high performance hardware-based RAID controllers contain proprietary technology and require more elaborate construction. They are largely aimed at commercial server clients who can justify higher costs, and the makers are, after all, in it for the money.

For $40 - $80 you can buy a SATA III add-on RAID controller card with 2 Lanes of bandwidth. They usually have connections for up to 4 SATA devices. Allowing for some transfer overhead, you can expect 850MB/sec - 950MB/sec. max. speed with two SSDs in RAID 0. It could be a bit higher, but don't bet on it. The connectors are not very durable, so connect SATA cables carefully and leave them alone. They should last a long time. A computer with poor ventilation will cause the card to run hot and shorten its lifespan for sure. If you choose to look down from the top where indutrial-strength, high price cards are the norm, then you may choose to characterise most low-cost cards as "junk". However, many of those cards remain functional, good value add-ons for many home computer users.

Regarding LSI, i too admire several of their designs and innovations over the years. However, they are equally capable of foisting "junk" onto an unsuspecting public. LSI now owns Sandforce, the designer of SSD controllers. The great misleading claim of their controllers has been, and continues to be, that they sport the highest read/write speeds on the market. They carefully avoid mentioning that those speeds are only attainable on large, highly compressible files such as a folder full of MS Word documents and the like. Incompressible data brings LSI-Sandforce controllers to their knees, cutting their speed drastically, often below that of other brands of controller. Video/movie files and photo or music files are NOT compressible, and LSI-Sandforce controlled SSDs are crippled when copying the very things that take the most time to copy or move on a computer. When it comes to the extra speed people want for large file transfers, LSI continues to perpetrate the lie of fast speeds. Let's face it, LSI's claims are pure misleading "junk".

A reminder about SATA III origins. Back when SATA III first appeared in consumer-oriented motherboards, a fast HDD had max. read speed around 125MB/sec. and a fast SSD around 250MB/sec. At that time, motherboard makers wanted to tout SATA III connections, but didn't want the expense of making full-bandwidth designs. Along comes Marvell with a series of affordable SATA III controllers which maxed out around 380MB/sec. - a clear boost over SATA II. At the same time, PCI-e Revison 1.1 was in wide use with a bandwidth limitation of 250MB/sec. per-lane (duplex). Makers of add-on cards employed the affordable Marvell controller chips with, again, max. speed of ~ 380MB/sec. which could only be reached in a PCI-e Rev. 2.0 bus. Marvell controllers are used for all kinds of things and should not be blamed for the shortcomings or design limitations of hardware to which they are attached.
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February 24, 2014 12:16:35 AM

starvinmarvin said:
Regarding LSI, i too admire several of their designs and innovations over the years. However, they are equally capable of foisting "junk" onto an unsuspecting public. LSI now owns Sandforce, the designer of SSD controllers. The great misleading claim of their controllers has been, and continues to be, that they sport the highest read/write speeds on the market. They carefully avoid mentioning that those speeds are only attainable on large, highly compressible files such as a folder full of MS Word documents and the like. Incompressible data brings LSI-Sandforce controllers to their knees, cutting their speed drastically, often below that of other brands of controller. Video/movie files and photo or music files are NOT compressible, and LSI-Sandforce controlled SSDs are crippled when copying the very things that take the most time to copy or move on a computer. When it comes to the extra speed people want for large file transfers, LSI continues to perpetrate the lie of fast speeds. Let's face it, LSI's claims are pure misleading "junk".


Intel uses lsi sandforce controllers in their drives and handles incompressible data pretty well. So i assume it should hold true with other manufacturers.
http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/docum...

But this is not the case in most situations as most of the manufaturers customize the controller for their brand and work on different algorithms. i feel thats where the problem lies.
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February 24, 2014 2:49:55 PM

"Intel uses lsi sandforce controllers in their drives and handles incompressible data pretty well. So i assume it should hold true with other manufacturers.
http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/docum..."

i clicked on the link you posted. In that document Intel confirms the exact two things i said earlier: 1. "Files that typically cannot be compressed include software-encrypted files and image files such as pictures, videos and DVD movies." 2. "Sequential Write - Compressible data 550MB/s, Incompressible data 235MB/s". Please note the incompressible figure is LESS THAN HALF of the compressible performance. Random (as opposed to Sequential) performance is similarly crippled: "Random Write - Compressible data (IOPS) 60,000, Incompressible data (IOPS) 16,500.

You are quite correct that manufacturers customise the controller and some offer improved results, but the inherent limitation of LSI-Sandforce remains with many if not most SSD models that are widely available.

i also don't wish to over-criticise LSI or the Sandforce controllers (i happily use a couple of them myself). My point was that labeling value-priced models as "junk" is just plain ignorance when all the facts are known, and that lauded brands like LSI are themselves not free of legitimate criticism.

Making the distinction between the vast majority of everyday home computer users and power users (or those who seek bragging rights), i will repeat that any good SSD, even when it's connected to a plain SATA II port, produces blazing fast performance compared to any spinning hard disk, and that's because of the small-file-size speed that's not adversely affected by lack of SATA III's bigger bandwidth.
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a c 942 G Storage
February 24, 2014 5:43:57 PM

And why are we posting this diatribe in a nearly year old thread? Both of you have been here long enough to know better than to post in old threads. I'm not saying I disagree with what's being said, just where.
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