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How to Choose a Raid Controller

Step 1. Know what you are using it for.
Ask yourself these questions. How big of a capacity are you looking for (Terabyte)? How fast do you need the performance to be? (are you using it for server or video editing) and the ultimate questions, how much money do you have?

Only by answering these questions, you can locate the RAID controller for you! Now start the meditation process and find these answers in your heart. Here are a few facts that might give you some insights.:!:

– Current largest capacity SATA and SAS hard drives are 2TB, so with a four port controller, you can easily reach 8TB of RAW storage.
– Any “Areca” controller with four hard drives could easily pump out 300+mb/s which is sufficient for any HD or 2K video editing/rendering work.
– With eight hard drives, you are looking at 700-800mb/s SUSTAINED, raid controller which is sufficient for 4:4:4 uncompressed materials. (its actually an overkill) No burst performance or marketing crap being mentioned here.

Step 2. PCIe RAID controller or RAID subsystem?
What the hell are RAID subsystems? You might ask… RAID subsystems are enclosure with RAID controller built into the box which has combination of eSATA, USB or Firewire as connection interface to your computer. The major advantage of RAID subsystem is that you can choose the interface you think will be most suitable with your current machines. However, the biggest drawback is that you do not get as much performance with RAID subsystem compare to PCIe RAID controller due to data transfer rate limitation on each interface. If you like your storage moved between multiple different machines (including laptop), you will find RAID subsystem much friendlier to work with as you usually get multiple different interface options and they are mostly plug and play like USB thumb drives. On the other hand, if you need hardcore performance for your stationery editing machine or server, you’ll be looking at PCIe RAID controller which delivers much higher throughput.

If you have decided to go with RAID subsystem, you are pretty much done as you just have to pick the box with preferred number of bays, and included interface. One note when picking RAID subsystem is to make sure the box is integrated with hardware RAID (like all Areca subsystem) as it will become a major difference when volumes become degraded.

Step 3. SATA or SAS hard drives?
All RAID controllers in the world can be separate into these two categories, the major differences has been compiled into the table below. Unfortunately, there is no SAS HDD option available for subsystem. Therefore, if you have decided to go with a RAID subsystem solution, you can skip this step and just fill them up with SATA hard drives.

*****SATA RAID controller******
– Slow performance
– Cheaper in price
– SATA controller can only take SATA drives

******SAS RAID controller******
– faster than SATA
– more $$ than SATA
– SAS controller can take both SATA and SAS drives
– Some higher end SAS controller support SAS-expander, which allows you to expand up to 120+ drives.

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