Looking for Hard Drive selection advice --> Raid0 using P4C800E Deluxe Promise Controller

Discussion in 'Asus' started by Guess Who, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. Guess Who

    Guess Who Guest

    I am considering adding 2 hard drives to my system in a Raid 0
    configuration using the Promise controller built into my P4C800E
    Deluxe MB. I am not sure what hard drives I should purchase for this
    though. I would appreciate any suggestions.

    Ideally I would like to add two 250+Gb hard drives and have them
    appear in XP Pro as one large volume. After reading many of the
    threads in this forum, I am confused. Should I purchase 2 SATA drives
    or 1 SATA and 1 PATA. What will give me the best performance using
    the built in Promise raid controller?

    Right now I am leaning towards 2 Western Digital 250Gb SATA 7200 rpm
    w/8mb cache (WD2500JD). Are these drives going to hold up in a RAID
    environment? Is it worth the extra $ for the Caviar RAID Edition
    Series (WD2500SD)? These drives are going to be installed on a
    workstation (not a server) so they won't be under heavy use all the
    time. Should I be looking at a different manufacturer?

    Here is my system configuration (purchased the end of May) as it
    stands now:
    Motherboard: Asus P4C800E Deluxe
    CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.2Ghz
    RAM: 2Gb of Corsair Extreme PC3200
    Power Supply: Enermax 460W
    Video Card: ATI Radeon 9800 Pro
    Sound Card: Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS
    Hard Drive: Western Digital 250Gb SATA 7200rpm w/8mb cache (WD2500JD)
    DVDRom: Lite-on 16x
    DVR: Pioneer DVR-107

    I would appreciate any suggestion,
    Guess Who, Aug 30, 2004
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  2. Guess Who

    Paul Guest

    This site has info on disks.

    There are plenty of other issues with a project like
    this, and a motherboard group isn't likely to answer
    them for you. For example, at what size do Windows tools
    stop working ? How do you back up 500GB of data ?
    What operations work and don't work with dynamic disks
    (one way to make a large volume) ?

    Try typing "large array" in the search box here:

    Paul, Sep 1, 2004
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  3. Guess Who

    Guess Who Guest

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the links. I will definetly check them out. I posted here
    to see if there were any quirks/'things to be aware of' with the raid
    controller built into my MB.

    Thanks again for the help,
    Guess Who, Sep 1, 2004
  4. Guess Who

    TomC Guest


    Are you sure that RAID 0 is going to improve your performance?
    From Anandtech:
    ( http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=2101&p=11 )
    Final Words
    If you haven't gotten the hint by now, we'll spell it out for you: there is
    no place, and no need for a RAID-0 array on a desktop computer. The real
    world performance increases are negligible at best and the reduction in
    reliability, thanks to a halving of the mean time between failure, makes
    RAID-0 far from worth it on the desktop.

    There are some exceptions, especially if you are running a particular
    application that itself benefits considerably from a striped array, and
    obviously, our comments do not apply to server-class IO of any sort. But for
    the vast majority of desktop users and gamers alike, save your money and
    stay away from RAID-0.

    If you do insist on getting two drives, you are much better off putting them
    into a RAID-1 array to have a live backup of your data. The performance hit
    of RAID-1 is just as negligible as the performance gains of RAID-0, but the
    improvement in reliability is worthwhile...unless you're extremely unlucky
    and both of your drives die at the exact same time.

    TomC, Sep 1, 2004
  5. Guess Who

    Michael S. Guest

    I agree with what most of what TomC indicated about RAID 0--BUT, have a
    difficult time understanding why RAID 0 would halve the mtbf times--since
    RAID 0 would split the work between two drives, each working half as much.
    Also, using WD Raptors, the mtbf is so long that it eclipses other S-ATA or
    PATA drives anyway. However, in basic agreement with TomC, whenever I
    reload Windows XP and all applications next time, I will go to no RAID at
    all. I benchmarked my system using several benchmark programs with (A) no
    RAID, (B) RAID 0 and (C) RAID 1 and did NOT notice enough difference to
    justify RAID 0. But since RAID 0 was the last configuration I used, I just
    left it there and after adding more and more software, decided to leave it
    for now.

    Michael S., Sep 2, 2004
  6. Guess Who

    Milleron Guest

    Thank you, TomC!! Your advice needs to be included in all threads
    about RAID 0 on personal desktops.

    To the original poster, PLEASE consider forgetting about RAID 0
    altogether. I haven't been burned yet, but I'm very sorry I built my
    last PC with RAID 0. It's just nonsense for the VAST majority of
    personal PC users. You will see many, many posters who rave about
    their RAID 0 performance, but you will never see them post any
    benchmarks. They're just wanting to feel good about their shiny new
    go-faster thingy. Whenever reputable labs do the benchmarks, it
    always turns out that there is no performance enhancement that is
    actually *perceptible* to the desktop user. All you get for you
    effort and money is another thing to go wrong and TWICE the chance of
    hard drive failure that will result in data loss.
    Milleron, Sep 2, 2004
  7. Guess Who

    Milleron Guest

    Think about it -- in RAID 0, both drives continue to rotate 7,200
    times per minute, and each time there's a read or write, BOTH drive's
    heads have to move. In RAID 0, both drives are working fully as much
    as if they were single, NOT half as much. The chance of a failure is
    doubled. There's no difference of opinion about that among all the
    authors who have done benchmarking studies on RAID 0.
    Same here. I'll never build another desktop with RAID 0.

    Milleron, Sep 2, 2004
  8. Guess Who

    TomC Guest


    I have only installed one Raptor, a 37GB, and though it was every quiet at
    idle, seeks were noisy enough that I removed the drive. It sounded like a
    typical hard drive in about 1985. I would not enjoy listening to two. Maybe
    the larger Raptors are quieter.

    I still do not understand why RAID 0 does not increase real-world
    performance. It should work, but doesn't. I have yet to read a clear

    As for the mtbf times (and the quote was from Anandtech, not me), the
    platters of both drives are alway spinning at the same rate, heat is slowly
    damaging both drives at the same rate, and it is not obvious to me that the
    actuator, heads etc. will have half the wear on a drive that is part of a
    RAID 0 array than on a single drive. Reduced wear, probably, half the wear,
    I doubt it.

    TomC, Sep 2, 2004
  9. Guess Who

    Guess Who Guest

    Thanks to all that took the time to comment.

    I am re-evaluating my plan. After reading your comments and reading
    info from the threads that Paul provided, I think I am going to pass
    on the Raid 0.

    I still have a lot more research to do to make sure I have a good
    understanding of my options. If I had to make a purchase now, I think
    I would do the following:
    -Purchase a 10,000rpm 36Gb HD (probably a raptor)
    -Purchase two WD250GB SATA HDs
    -Purchase a LSI Logic MegaRAID SATA 150-4 Raid Controller (selected
    based on a review from www.tomshardware.com)
    -Move the OS from my existing 250GB drive to the 36Gb [I am not sure
    how I can do this though. May have to re-install XP :( ]
    -Create a RAID 5 with the three 250Gb drives and in the future add a
    4th when I can afford it.

    From what I read, this should give a considerable increase in
    performance as well as give me some redundancy. This approach is a
    lot more cash, but I don't mind spending money on quality.

    I would appreciate any of your comments. You all have been extremely
    helpful. Thanks again,
    Guess Who, Sep 2, 2004
  10. Guess Who

    Milleron Guest

    If you're a hobbyist who gets true enjoyment out of having the fastest
    most powerful system extant regardless of the cost and you have
    unlimited funds, go for it. On the other hand, if you have any
    practical use for this machine, just install a RAID 1 or else leave
    out RAID and use one of the 250-GB drives to do daily imaging of the
    OS drive and the other HD. I haven't been around the world twice, but
    I don't think I've ever heard of a RAID 5 in a computer that was used
    for something other than a mission-critical server. You never said
    what this computer is to be used for. If you gave a clear picture of
    your goal, experts (and I'm not one), could give you more pertinent
    Milleron, Sep 2, 2004
  11. Guess Who

    Guess Who Guest

    Hi Ron,

    I guess I would fall into the hobbyist/enthusiast category.
    Basically, I am looking for a way to increase the throughput of my
    hard drive(s). I do a lot of video editing with my machine using
    files that are several gigs. I find myself waiting for them hard
    drive to load the info into ram.

    I also use Newsbin with my giganews account. Since giganews has such
    good retention, some of the binary groups have spool files (group
    headers) that are 2.5+gb. I was hoping to find a way to make my
    drives more efficient so they would load more quickly.

    I could give more examples, but basically it boils down to "I am
    often waiting for my machine and the delay is caused by the hard

    While I don't have millions of $ at my disposal, I can afford to spend
    some cash for more hard drives. This would alleviate my need for more
    hd space, but it doesn't help my throughput concern. I was hoping by
    spending the cash for a decent Raid controller I could have a much
    faster setup. Having redundancy is a big plus too.

    Basically that is why I started looking at a Raid in the first place.
    Is the improvement a raid 5 array would provide me not worth the cost?
    I assumed that it would be considerably faster than reading/writing to
    individual drives. I am beginning to think that I will have to live
    with the transfer rates I have now.

    Thanks for the help,
    Guess Who, Sep 3, 2004
  12. Guess Who

    Noozer Guest

    Highpoint 1820A PCI-X 8 port SATA RAID controller will work in a PCI slot,
    or you could get a PCI-X mainboard (NOT PCI-e) then you could get 8 drives
    on there in RAID 5 for decent performance. (Currently configuring a system
    with one of these cards in a 133Mhz PCI-X slot with 8 250meg Maxtor Maxline2
    drive in RAID 5 - 2 Terabytes of space!)

    With SATA RAID on a mainboard you could pair two WD Raptor drives together
    in RAID 0, but you are increasing your data loss risk a little bit and I
    don't know what kind of performance gain you'd have.
    Noozer, Sep 3, 2004
  13. Guess Who

    Milleron Guest

    Thanks for the information. The fact that you do video editing with
    gigabyte-sized files means that you are one of the few desktop users
    who might, indeed, see perceptible performance increases with a
    striped array. I don't know enough about it to say if RAID 5 would do
    you any good, though. I've never even seen an article discussing RAID
    5 on anything other than servers where I thought it was used mostly
    for redundancy and hot-swappability rather than for performance
    Milleron, Sep 3, 2004
  14. Guess Who

    Guess Who Guest

    Hi Ron,

    Based on your advice and my own research, I think I now have a plan of
    action. I am going to buy a 74gb Raptor (newegg now has a $25 rebate)
    for my OS. I will also buy two more WD 250Gb SATA drives. I will
    work with them for a while as separate drives (1 for backup images and
    2 for data). Sometime down the road I will put the 2 data drives into
    a raid 0 configuration and see if there is a performance increase.

    The software I intend to use to move my OS from my existing drive to
    the raptor is Drive Image 7. I plan on using it to schedule/perform
    backups as well. Do you know any other software that is better for
    this (I am running XP Pro)?

    Thanks a million for your help,
    Guess Who, Sep 3, 2004
  15. Guess Who

    Milleron Guest

    Sure do. Drive Image 7 cannot do incremental backups, so it's not
    very useful for those of us who want to backup daily. The two
    products to consider are Acronis True Image 8 and Symantec's (formerly
    PowerQuest's) V2i Protector 2.0 Desktop edition. Both of these
    imaging programs do incremental backups from within Windows -- i.e.,
    neither reboots into a DOS environment like DI does. True Image costs
    about $49 if memory serves, and V2i Protector is more. V2i requires
    you to install .NET so instead of running from a floppy like DI did,
    it's an installation of many megabytes, but it's more configurable
    than True Image. With True Image, setting the size of the image files
    to anything other than "automatic" can be a nightmare, and the program
    canNOT split the image files into 4.6GB pieces for later burning to
    DVD-RW like V2i can (ironically, True Image 7 COULD do this, but the
    capability was lost with the "advance" to TI8). It CAN burn directly
    to DVD, however. The problem with that, though, is that if your image
    files are larger than 4.7 GB, you cannot do unattended backups because
    of the necessity of feeding the computer new disks every 4.7 GB.
    If you don't want to burn images to DVD for off-site storage, then TI8
    is a wonderful program.
    Restoring an entire C: partition is easier with V2i -- just boot from
    the CD and it goes to Microsoft's own restore environment. From
    there, it's easy to find the image files you want and get you back an
    up-and running environment. TI8 allows you to create a bootable CD
    with the full version of the software on it for restoration, too, so
    there's not really a lot of difference between V2i and TI8 in this
    At any rate, either of these solutions is superior to Drive Image, and
    I believe that Acronis offers a freely downloadable trial version.
    Milleron, Sep 4, 2004
  16. Guess Who

    Guess Who Guest

    Hi Ron,

    Thanks for the information. I checked out both program's web pages
    last night. The V2i page had a nice flash walkthrough and as you said
    there is a free trial for True Image 8. I plan on taking advantage of
    the trial before I make a purchase. So I will have a good
    understanding of how each program works.

    From what I have learned so far, both programs seem to do everything I
    will need them to do. I have only one question that I haven't been
    able to find an answer for. Both packages have a feature that moves
    the contents of one hard drive to another. Both talk about moving the
    info from a smaller hard drive to a bigger. I want to do just the
    opposite. I want to move my OS from a 100Gb partition to a 74Gb
    drive. There is only around 40Gb of info on my existing partition so
    there is plenty of room on the new drive. Do you know if either of
    these two programs can do this for me? This may be the deciding
    factor as to which program I buy.

    If there isn't a program that can do this for me, do you know if this
    would work?
    -Create a standard Win XP back up of my existing drive.
    -Disconnect existing drive and connect new drive.
    -Install XP on new drive.
    -Restore backup.

    I would really like to avoid re-installing my OS and all my programs
    if possible.

    Thanks for all your help. I can only imagine the amount of time, and
    money for that matter, that you have saved me.

    Thank you very much,
    Guess Who, Sep 4, 2004
  17. Guess Who

    Milleron Guest

    Both will do that. No problem at all. They do NOT include empty
    sectors in their backup images, so the image of 40 GB of files on a
    100-GB partition is only 40 GB in size (actually less with
    compression, but the point is that the image is not the same size as
    the partition but always smaller). I have NOT done this myself, but I
    see no problem. I believe that the tech-support or customer-service
    people at both sites should be willing to answer that question posed
    to them in an email before you make the purchase, though.
    Also, Acronis has user forums on their site where you can post the
    question and get back an answer from someone more experienced than I.
    That should work nicely with Drive Image 7, and if the only component
    being changed is the HD, there should be no problem with Windows
    Activation, either. With Drive Image, you wouldn't have to even
    install Windows -- just boot from the DI floppy and restore the backup
    on another drive to the new drive. Of course, this function is one
    that's specifically designed into True Image and, if I recall, V2i
    Milleron, Sep 5, 2004
  18. Guess Who

    Guess Who Guest

    Hi Ron,

    Thanks again for all your help. I played around with TI8 last night.
    It is very easy and straightforward to use. Using an old machine, I
    was able to move info from a large partition to a smaller. Worked
    like a champ.

    Since I now have a solid plan, I have ordered the new drives :). I
    bought TI8, a Raptor 74Gb drive and two 250Gb Hitachi SATA drives. My
    existing WD 250Gb drive will hold all my backup images for my 3
    machines. The Raptor will be my OS drive and the Hitachis will be my
    main data drives.

    Thanks again for taking the time to help me out,
    Guess Who, Sep 5, 2004
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