Highpoint Takes On Adaptec's SAS Controller


Highpoint did a great job on its hardware. The RocketRAID 2640X4 provides almost the same throughput as Adaptec’s RAID 5405 entry level controller when running RAID 0 or RAID 5. Still, it cannot match Adaptec’s RAID 10 read throughput, nor its I/O performance, which is 5% to 15% better. Considering that the Highpoint card is a rather simple product that is based on an all-in-one SAS controller solution by Marvell (no cache memory, x4 PCIe) , the result is certainly impressive. Highpoint’s main point, the price tag of under $150, makes the card appear even more appealing.

Lost On the Finishing Line

Unfortunately, there were some issues. Taken individually, each wouldn’t be a big deal, but added up, they demonstrate that Highpoint still has some homework to do. Initially, not all drivers were available on the support Web site, which could cause serious problems for administrators who are in a hurry and need the latest software to continue. The idle disk spin-down feature, which can be configured to shut down the drives’ spindle motors after a certain number of minutes, did not work with any of the test hard drives, and it can only be configured on the Web interface, not on the installable management software.

In addition, the feature set isn’t as comprehensive as the impressive lineup we found on the Adaptec controller—which, by the way, matches the functions of Adaptec’s more advanced multi-port SAS RAID controller cards.

Should Cost Decide?

The Highpoint RocketRAID 2640X does a great job as a basic RAID controller device. It matches Adaptec in most disciplines, but it doesn’t beat it. If you can live with the fact that the Highpoint offering may not be as thorough, mature, or elaborate as Adaptec’s product, you’ll get a powerful device at a very affordable price. However, you really should ask yourself one question: does it make sense to spend hundreds of dollars on SAS hard drives just to save $200 on the controller card? That's a question for you to answer.