Does the built-in software raid 1 in Windows 7 provide any read performance increases (eg. by using split reads or the like)?
I use Dropbox for my important files, so trying to figure out what todo with my 2nd identical drive. Previously was using onboard (ie fake) raid 0. But my replacement board doesn't have onboard raid. And it doesn't seem you can install windows 7 onto software raid 0.
None what so ever.
It is "software" RAID. It is not hardware RAID. Which means it isn't actually RAID at all. It is more like a form of disk spanning, displayed to you in RAID type format. Software RAID is completely useless performance wise, in fact drive performance is degraded noticeably by using the software RAID built into Windows. Microsoft added this feature to Windows, and there is a reason I suppose, but I don't think any one really has figured out exactly what it is.
What makes you think your onboard RAID controller was "fake"?
We must remember that the entire advantage of RAID is that you use 2 or more separate channels of a controller to effectively double or triple, or even further the total theoretical throughput to the array by simultaneous reads, writes, or direct transfer rates.
With software RAID, no matter how you set up the program, Windows cannot direct the controller to perform these tasks in a true RAID type of format.
Only a controller with built in hardware RAID can do that, like the controller your old board had.
Its "fake" because onboard raid controllers use software driver (and hence the CPU) for most of the work.
In the last few years, a number of hardware products have come onto the market claiming to be IDE or SATA RAID controllers. These have shown up in a number of desktop/workstation motherboards and lower-end servers such as the HP DL360 G5, if ordered without the optional RAID card. Virtually none of these are true hardware RAID controllers. Instead, they are simply multi-channel disk controllers combined with special BIOS configuration options and software drivers to assist the OS in performing RAID operations. This gives the appearance of a hardware RAID, because the RAID configuration is done using a BIOS setup screen, and the operating system can be booted from the RAID. With the advent of Terabyte disk drives, FakeRAID is becoming a popular option for entry-level small business servers to simply mirror 2 1.5 TB drives, and dispense with an expensive hardware RAID 5 array.