RAID 5 on a tight budget?

Greetings, just a general question to the forum, and a request for advice in virgin territory (for me).

After the recent semi-demise of a networked external hard drive that I had been using for backups, it became apparent that I needed something slightly more secure in terms of semi-permanent storage. I tend to collect video files and pictures, and currently have a few hundred GB filled between the few computers on my home LAN.
To help with my data preservation and access needs, I was thinking of setting up a fileserver computer, whose sole purpose would be to act as storage and backup for my collections. Since this computer would not be used for much of anything else, I was thinking of saving a bit of money on components so I could put as much hard drive storage into it as possible.

My parents are willing to donate their old computer (which I had originally donated to them 4 years ago). It is a K6-III 450MHz, 256MB ram, 8MB video. The power supply and original (6GB) hard drive will be replaced if I use this setup (I already have an almost-new 40GB drive that will host the OS -- no booting off of the RAID array). The nice thing about this setup is the case, which IIRC, has 4x3.5" internal, 1x3.5" external (floppy), and 4x5.25" external drive bays in an AT mid-tower setup. I can leave a CDRW and floppy, and have plenty of room for hard drives.

I was looking at the Highpoint raid controllers, specifically the RocketRAID 1640 SATA raid controller (4-port SATA, RAID 5)
or the RocketRAID 464 (4-channel ATA RAID 5)
Either one of those combined with at least 4 300GB drives (possibly 400GB if the price is right)

If anyone has experience with either of these raid controllers, I would appreciate some recommendations.
Price and noise are my main factors here, not speed. This machine will most likely reside in my bedroom, and I want to keep costs as low as possible, but given the age of the CPU I intend to use, I have doubts about setting up a WinXP software RAID5 (as I've seen in the THG How-To's).
From the few reviews I have found on the Highpoint controllers, they appear to use the CPU a bit more than pure hardware controllers such as by Promise, etc., but they are also a fraction of the cost.

If anyone out there has experience with this type of a setup or components, any help with my questions would be greatly appreciated:
1. Am I crazy for considering using an older CPU/motherboard like this?
2. How big of a power supply is necessary to keep 5 to 9 hard drives in decent working order?
3. Is software RAID5 possible on slower processors at a useable speed?
4. Are either one of the Highpoint controllers good for this application?
5. If in the future I decide 900GB/1.2TB isn't enough, how difficult is it to add new drives to a RAID5 without destroying data?
6. What is the best OS for use with this? (my current LAN consists of 2 WinXP's and a Win98 machine)
7. Would it be difficult to get a Mac to see the shared RAID array on the LAN? (the Mac mini is looking very tempting)

I'm looking to start this project in the next 1-2 months (whenever bonuses and tax returns get here), so I'm attempting to harvest as much useful information as I can before I shell out my money.

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More about raid tight budget
  1. 1) My file server is a PIII 550, it is more than enough.
    2) I'd assume that each hd needs 50watts (they don't but this gives nice overhead) and get a psu that fits that.
    3) Speed is not much of an issue with a file server on a home network. You are limited by your network anyway so it won't matter much if the array is a little slow. That cpu "should" be enough for a raid5.
    4) They should work fine, I'd lean towards IDE though bec there are some good deals on the Maxtor DiamondMax 10 16mb cache IDE drives right now.
    5) Adding a drive requires rebuilding the entire array
    6) The best would be a linux distro though not neccissarily the easiest. WinXP/2000 should be fine on it though I highly recommend Windows Server.
    7) It wouldn't be hard at all.

    Here are a couple suggestions.
    <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=22-140-154&depa=0" target="_new">Maxtor DiamondMax 10 300GB 7200RPM 16M</A> only $186 on Newegg.com
    <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=16-102-006&depa=0" target="_new">Promise SuperTrak SX6000</A> true hardware raid controller. It is a good price for 6 ports and hardware raid.

    Make sure you get plenty of fans infront of the HDs and exhausting from the case, it is goona get very hot in there. It will be a noise to get used to, my file server w/ 4 120gb ide drives is by no means quiet but it isn't extremely anoying.

    <A HREF="http://www.folken.net/myrig.htm" target="_new">My precious...</A><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Folken on 02/24/05 05:24 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
  2. The RocketRAID 464 is the cheapest controller with decent hardware RAID 5 support.

    Everything below that is actually much slower than XP's software RAID 5.

    www.storagereview.com is a great place to look at benchmarks before selecting a drive.

    The idle noise benchmark sounds like the one you will be most interested in.

    I almost built a file server myself, then I realized that a Caslogic 320 CD binder and a lot of DVD+RW's would do the trick.

    You just have to be very organized :)
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