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RAID Controller Performance, Continued

X48 Motherboard Comparison

IOMeter's File Server benchmark pattern shows Asus and Gigabyte overlapping, with MSI's Marvel controller falling far behind, and the integrated ICH9R controller surging well ahead.

IOmeter's Web Server benchmark pattern groups the add-in controllers even closer together, but continues to show Intel's chipset-integrated controller with a huge performance lead.

MSI's Marvel controller once again falls significantly behind in IOmeter's Database benchmark pattern, and Intel continues its commanding lead.

More of the same results in IOmeter's Workstation pattern, but with Intel's integrated controller reaching an amazing 300 operations per second - amazing for "software" RAID, at least.

H2benchw proved that Intel's integrated controller had a significant bandwidth advantage over all of the added-in parts, while IOmeter showed how much better the Intel controller was at handling high traffic. Meanwhile, MSI's Marvel controller continued to struggle.

The key thing to remember about all these results is that MSI connects its External SATA ports to the Intel ICH9R controller. MSI's design is therefore a boon to users of external mass storage arrays, because it directs its slower ports internally. As bad as the Marvel controller appears relative to other controllers, it's still far and away faster than any optical drives, and so we'd use it for those.

Gigabyte doesn't even have eSATA onboard, but the company does include a SATA to eSATA breakout cable with every high-end motherboard model. Gigabyte's third-party RAID controller is better than MSI's, but it's up to the builder to decide if he or she wants to "waste" an expansion slot to support the breakout cable bracket.

Asus does all things well, but nothing perfectly. Its superior third-party controller performance is still not capable of matching that of the integrated ICH9R controller that every motherboard in this comparison has.

If having the best third-party RAID controller holds primary importance choose Asus, but if having the best eSATA RAID performance is more important, chose MSI for its ICH9R to eSATA path.

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