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Four SAS 6 Gb/s RAID Controllers, Benchmarked And Reviewed

Areca ARC-1880i

Areca is also staking a claim in the SAS 6 Gb/s RAID controller market segment with its ARC-1880 series. According to the manufacturer, target applications range from NAS appliances and storage servers to supercomputing, nearline backup, security systems, and cloud computing.

Our test sample, the ARC-1880i, can be found for about $540 sporting eight internal SAS ports and an eight-lane PCI Express 2.0 interface. The low-profile card, which, by the way, is the only card in our lineup with an active cooler, is built around a 800 MHz ROC backed by a 512 MB DDR2-800 data cache. Using SAS expanders, Areca's ARC-1880i supports up to 128 storage devices. To preserve the cache during power failures, an optional battery backup unit can be added.

Besides JBOD mode and single-disk mode, the controller supports RAID levels 0, 1, 1E, 3, 5, 6, 10, 30, 50, and 60.

Performance

The Areca ARC-1880i handles streaming read/write tests in RAID 0 well, clocking in at 960 MB/s for reads and 900 MB/s for writes. Only the LSI MegaRAID 9265-8i is faster in this particular discipline. Areca's controller doesn't disappoint in any of the other benchmarks, either. With both hard disks and SSDs, this controller always challenges the respective test winner. Although the Areca controller only wins one benchmark outright (sequential reads in RAID 10), it runs rings around the competition, sporting a read rate of 793 MB/s, while the fastest competitor, LSI's MegaRAID 9265-8i, only clocks in at 572 MB/s.

But sequential transfer rates are only part of the picture. The other part is I/O performance. Areca's ARC-1880i shines here as well, closely trailing the Adaptec RAID 6805 and LSI MegaRAID 9265-8i. Just like it won one transfer rate benchmark, the Areca controller wins one I/O performance test as well: the Web server benchmark. While the Areca controller dominates the Web server benchmark at RAID levels 0, 5, and 6, in RAID 10, the Adaptec 6805 pulls ahead, with the Areca controller a close second.

  • americanherosandwich
    Great review! Though I would have like to see some RAID 1 and RAID 10 benchmarks. Don't usually see RAID 0 for expensive SAS RAID Controllers, and more RAID 10 configurations than RAID 5.
    Reply
  • purrcatian
    I just sold my HighPoint RocketRAID 2720 because of the terrible drivers. Not only do the drivers add about 60 seconds to the Windows boot, they also cause random BSODs. The support was a joke, and the driver that came on the disc caused the Windows 7 x64 setup to instantly BSOD even though the box had a Windows 7 compatible logo on it. I even RMAed the card and the new one was exactly the same.
    Reply
  • dealcorn
    Very cool, fast and expensive means not home server stuff. For that, try the IBM BR10I, 8port PCI-e SAS/SATA RAID controller, which is generally available on eBay for $40 with no bracket (I live for danger). You are stuck with 3 GB/sec per port, but if you add $34 for a pair of forward breakout cables you have 8 sata ports at a cost of under $10 per port. The card requires a PCIe X8 slot but if you only give it 4 lanes (the number of lanes offered by our Atom's NM10) if will give each port 1.5 Gb/sec. Cheap SAS makes software RAID 6 prudent in a home storage server.
    Reply
  • slicedtoad
    I have pretty much no use for anything other than raid 0 but it was still an interesting read. I think i prefer this type of article over the longer type with actual benchmarks thrown in (not for gpu or cpu reviews though).
    Reply
  • rebel1280
    Great read! Way better than rumors and junk, stick with this kind of stuff Toms!
    Reply
  • pxl9190
    Only wish this review had came earlier !

    I had a hard time deciding between 9265-8i, 1880 and 6805 a month ago. I bought the 6805 and always wondered why RAID-10 was not as fast as I thought it should be. This reviewed proved my worries.

    I eventually went to RAID 6 with 6 Constellation ES 1TB disks. Here's where the adaptec really shines. This is for a photo/video storage/editing disk array.

    Admittedly if I have a choice again I would have picked the Areca after seeing the numbers. Adaptec was the cheapest among all of them so it's not too much of a regret.
    Reply
  • Great review! As I am in the process of building a new home file server and always have a habit of going overboard in such situations, I will be referring back to this article many more times before purchasing.

    That said can you please talk more to the differences performance wise between SATA and SAS? I understand the reliability argument, however I wonder if for my purposes I would not be better served by using cheaper SATA disks over SAS disks?

    I would also love some direction with regard to a good enclosures/power supplies for a hard drive only enclosure. I realize I am quickly priced out of an enterprise solution in this arena, but have seen at least a couple cheaper options online such as the Sans Digital TR8M+B. (This enclosure is normally bundeled with some RocketRaid controller which I would probably discard in favor of either the Adaptec or LSI solution.)
    Reply
  • You are missing a huge competitor in this space. Atto RAID Adapters are on par and I think the only other one out there, why are they not compared in this review?
    Reply
  • Marco925
    I bought the Highpoint, for it's money, it was incredible value at a little under $120
    Reply
  • stuckintexas
    I evaluated all but the Highpoint for work. What isn't shown, and would be unrealistic for a home user, is that the LSI destroys the competition when you throw on a SAS expander. With 24 15k SAS drives, the LSI card tops out at 3500MB/s, RAID0 sequential write, while the Areca is
    Reply