Not enough Sata ports or cash for best solution - what options do peop

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(Disclaimer, I also posted this on one other tech forum, but I want to hear answers from more than one place if possible)

Note, this isn't about RAID0, or RAID-isn't-backup, I'm handling backups separately, it's just about RAID hardware, config, and one-too-few SATA ports :D

I have a Z68 based PC (Intel RST 12.6.x firmware/driver) with 6 SATA ports. I use its soft RAID1 (in addition to usual backups) as a simple extra layer so that if a disk fails (6 disks, avg life 3-8 years, one disk failure a year is plausible) I don't lose much time and ideally still have readable 99%-up-to-date disk contents. I use an SSD caching device to accelerate one of the two RAID1 mirrors (the other mirrored pair doesnt need caching). So my system till now has been 6 disks: SSD system, RAID1 data, RAID1 data + caching SSD = 6 disks. So far so good.....

I've just replaced the system SSD to put the OS and some other stuff onto two RAID1 Samsung 840 Pro's. It's the right move, but it's presented an unforeseen problem. I now have one too many disks for the motherboard (RAID1 system, RAID1 data, RAID1 data + caching SSD = 7 disks, and only 6 ports for them). I'm out of SATA ports. I also had to push the cash envelope for the new SSDs so my resources are badly ultra-low for any card (proper PCIe HW raid with battery are out).

I had hoped I could use a small part of the new SSDs as accelerating cache under Intel RST, then take the remaining storage space on the system SSDs (which shows as usable disks) and have RST mirror it, but Intel say RST won't handle that setup. A shame. Possibly one option is to find a clever workaround using RST, and another is an ultra-cheap not-entirely-crap RAID1 PCIe card that I can offload the non-accelerated mirror, to free up 2 slots in RST which would also solve it. A newer motherboard with more ports is in the pipeline for mid-2014.

At this point, and given my tightness of monies, I'm not quite sure what's best or what's sensible. Help? :ph34r:

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What about an inexpensive PCI-E SATA card for the Samsung SSDs, and keep all the HDDs on the mobo as before?

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