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Opinions on A78NX Deluxe Onboard SATA RAID (1)

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I consider finally putting that idle SATA RAID controller on my trusty A7N8X Deluxe Mobo to some good use, by buying two drives in the 250GB range and configuring them in a RAID 1 (Mirroring) configuration. The controller is a Silicon Image Sil 3112A.

Does anyone have any (good or bad) experience with this particular setup? Are the drivers usable? Is Linux supported? Is RAID 1 noticably slower than a single disk?

Is the total setup actually reliable? (Since I want to protect my data from faulty drives, not put it at jeopardy).

And what drives should I buy?

I currently consider

- DiamondMax 10 250GB (16MB cache)

Unlike some writers in this board I haven't had any issues with three different Maxtor drives so far (27GB, 80GB, 200GB).

-Hitachi T7K250 (8MB cache)

Unfortunately no reviews so far, but since it seems to have higher data density, I asume its STR is better than maxtor.

- Seagate 7200.8 250GB

My last Seagate drive was a 450MB (read: MEGAbyte), which served me well till I sold it off. But I am lacking more current experience.

While I have a 120GB WD1200JB (PATA) in the same system which will receive the RAID1, I do not consider the WD2500JB... I can't actually give any specific reason, but IIRC the drive series is quite dated.

And I don't like Samsung for some strange gut feeling, but maybe someone can convince me...

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Sounds like it should be fine work well at good speed.

I would suggest the Hitachi T7K250 they are shaping up to be king of the hill (my opinion).

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RAID1 shouldn't be much, if at all slower than a single drive. If at all, it could be faster, depending on controller. I've not used that particular one so I can't say. Reliability is generally a non-issue.

As for the drives, if you're looking for STR, then the Seagate has the highest, the Maxtor second, and Hitachi last. In terms of seek time, it's Hitachi, Maxtor then Seagate. In terms of overall performance, it goes Maxtor, Hitachi, Seagate. The recent (7200.7 and 7200.8) Seagate drives however are quite poor performers.

Do note that Seagate drives come with a 5-year warranty personally I'd claim them to have the best reliability, with Hitachi coming a close second, and Maxtor not too far behind.

P.S. There are many reviews of the T7K250 already.

Edited by qasdfdsaq

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be careful with Linux and the 3112-based serial ATA cards. These cards are not true hardware RAID, and this creates a bunch of issues. I was looking to migrate my server from a single 80GB drive to a RAID-1 config with an Adaptec 1210SA and it looks like it's not worth the trouble.

Take-home message: if you do any RAID levels with linux, create the arrays before you install the OS (if that's where you want your boot partition to be) and check for proper driver support for your distro.

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@qasdfdsaq: Yes, there _are_ reviews, I should have written "reliable reviews". :-) Which reviews would you recommend? Storagereview doesn't semm to deliver, they have some catching up to do once they get that new testbed online... .

And then there is the problem with reviews per se... a review in a very reliable paper magazine got completely different rankings for drive STR, noise, access time etc. than Storagereview... so whom should I believe? The 7200.8 is not a lot different from the competition, insome benchmarks it is a tad slower, in others a bit faster.

So in the end, performance is hardly worth considering, its more the soft skills like low noise... but even there, idle different benchmarkers get completely different rankings. where e.g. the Hitachi's idle noise is considerably lower than that of Seagate. However, they don't measure in decibels but use "Sone", which is thought to better represent human perception of noise. Where Storagereview says Seagate is about one dB/a quiter than Hitachi, its 1 sone vs. 0.6 sone in the mag.

The 5-year warranty is actually a very good reason for buying Seagate... they obviously trust their drives more than the competition does.

@alexkraemer: I don't plan to boot from the RAID1, it is for data only. Is this still a problem then? Is it possible to dual boot Linux and Windows without corrupting the array?

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Well depending on your critique the reviews I refer to may or may not be "reliable" as you say. Even Storagereview's own benchmarks aren't perfect and I've had different results myself with the drives tested. Generally however, reviews from different sites should never be compared with each other anyway.

Below are a few reviews and sites that I found. Most of them are by major sites but I cannot vouch for their results, other than TomsHardware, who while they sound misinformed at times, are reasonably thorough and objective with their reviews.

Tom's Hardware

The Tech Report

Club OC

Tweakers.net

Edited by qasdfdsaq

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Thank you very much for this collection. While there is a lot of bitching about Tom's, I visit it from time to time and find it not that bad, too.

I will look into these reviews. However, since I don't need the drives right now (capacity-wise, I could use a safer placer for my data, as traditional backup media are either too expensive or just uncomfortable), I might consider waiting for the next generation of Seagate and WD (which have mentioned in some postings in this board). The T7K250 is actually considered "next" generation, with 125GB/platter, isn't it?

And then there is the upcoming "perpendicular" technology... the best time to buy hardware is always next month.

BTW: Regarding perpendicular writing, if you are in for a Flash-flash, follow this link:

Big weired flash animation by Hitachi GST

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