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

HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL

The HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL is a SAS RAID controller with eight internal SATA/SAS ports, each of which supports 6 Gb/s. According to the manufacturer, this low-profile card is targeted at the storage needs of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and at workstations. The card shares its small dimensions and its eight-lane PCIe 2.0 interface with its competitors. Its core component is Marvell’s 9485 RAID controller.

Besides JBOD, the card supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, and 50.

Besides the model we're testing today, HighPoint's low-profile 2700 series features four other models, RocketRAID 2710, RocketRAID 2711, RocketRAID 2721, and RocketRAID 2722, which mostly differ with respect to port type (internal/external) and port count (four or eight). Our sample, the RocketRAID 2720SGL is the least-expensive RAID controller in this story, selling for about $170. Note that this model doesn't include any cables, though, which cost extra.

Performance

Sequentially reading/writing a RAID 0 array consisting of eight Fujitsu MBA3147RC disks, the HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL achieves an excellent read rate of 971 MB/s and is only beaten by LSI's MegaRAID 9265-8i. The write result of 697 MB/s isn't as impressive, however, barely exceeding the Adaptec RAID 6805's write speed. The RocketRAID 2720SGL turns in a number of mixed-bag results like that. In RAID 5 and 6 it tops the other cards, but at RAID 10, read speeds drops to 485 MB/s, the lowest value among the four test samples. The sequential write speed in RAID 10 is even worse, yielding a paltry 198 MB/s.

This controller clearly wasn’t built for SSDs. Its read rates max out at 332 MB/s and the writes peak at 273 MB/s. Even the Adaptec RAID 6805, which also doesn't showcase the performance of solid-state storage very well, yields two times the throughput. Understandably, then, the HighPoint controller has no chance at all against the two cards that do handle SSDs well: Areca's ARC-1880i and LSI's MegaRAID 9265-8i, which are about three times faster.

The best word we can use to describe the HighPoint card's I/O performance is probably adequate. As a result, the RocketRAID 2720SGL falls into last place in all four Iometer benchmarks. The HighPoint controller can almost keep up with the other cards in the Web server benchmark, but trails its competitors by a significant margin in the other three metrics. This becomes very evident in the SSD tests, where the RocketRAID 2720SGL demonstrates that it is not optimized for solid-state drives. It squanders the advantage inherent to SSDs in place of hard drives. For instance, the RocketRAID 2720SGL posts 17 378 IOPS in the database benchmark, while LSI's MegaRAID 9265-8i clocks in at more than four times that, 75 037 IOPS.

  • 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?
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  • 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