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Thread: Windows RAID 1 vs Intel RST Raid 1

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    New ROGer Lambo +10
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    Windows RAID 1 vs Intel RST Raid 1

    Hi,
    I just bought a Maximus V Formula and I'm running it with the i7 3770K. I currently have a boot drive as the OCX Vertex 4 512GB, and two Seagate 3TB hard drives that I'd like to set up as mirrored drives (RAID 1). What are the advantages/disadvantages of doing the mirroring using Windows vs doing it using the Intel RST features? Specifically which one offers better performance, and which offers better compatibility.

    Thanks.

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    Super Moderator HiVizMan +200 HiVizMan +200 HiVizMan +200 HiVizMan's Avatar
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    Did you install your current OS with the SATA ports set as RAID mode?

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    Quote Originally Posted by HiVizMan View Post
    Did you install your current OS with the SATA ports set as RAID mode?
    This is a new system, so I haven't installed anything on it yet.

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    ROG Enthusiast John Drake +10
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    One big advantage to using Windows-based RAID: in theory you can move the drives to any other machine and have the RAID array work, since it's not depending upon specific RAID hardware.

    The downside is, it's probably slower and will certainly have more CPU impact. Of course, as fast as CPUs are today, you probably won't notice the difference outside of synthetic benchmarks.

    What will you be using the machine for? In my opinion, unless you're doing a lot of realtime video editing, I'm not sure if RAID 1 makes much sense anymore. I think it's more hassle than its worth for most home users. I'd much rather have my OS running off a SSD - that's a huge performance and usability boost.

    YMMV...

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Drake View Post
    One big advantage to using Windows-based RAID: in theory you can move the drives to any other machine and have the RAID array work, since it's not depending upon specific RAID hardware.

    The downside is, it's probably slower and will certainly have more CPU impact. Of course, as fast as CPUs are today, you probably won't notice the difference outside of synthetic benchmarks.

    What will you be using the machine for? In my opinion, unless you're doing a lot of realtime video editing, I'm not sure if RAID 1 makes much sense anymore. I think it's more hassle than its worth for most home users. I'd much rather have my OS running off a SSD - that's a huge performance and usability boost.

    YMMV...
    Do you know of any sites or of anyone that has performed actual tests to look at the performance difference between Windows RAID, and Intel RST? My understanding is that the Intel one still uses the CPU for the most part.

    I'm not using RAID for the performance benefits, I just need it for the data redundancy in case one of the drives fails. I already have an SSD boot drive. But given the fact that I have both options available to me for free (Windows RAID & Intel RAID), I just want to know the best one to use, and am also just curious in general about the differences.

  6. #6
    ROG Enthusiast John Drake +10
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    If the Intel controller is one of those "soft RAID" devices, I'd avoid it. I had one of those get corrupted by a virus, and had a heck of a time recovering. If the OS doesn't ship with support for the controller, it can be difficult/impossible to restore it. I was running XP at the time which did not have native support for the Intel RAID device and had to upgrade to Win 7 in order to access my RAID array (fortunately, Win 7 came with native support - but will future versions of Windows support this Intel device out of the box?).

    The Windows-based arrays are setup by the OS, so in theory you can drop them into any hardware and still access them.

    Honestly if recovery is your goal, I'd invest in a good on-site and off-site backup solution like CrashPlan. Something that will sync to an external local drive (for fast recovery from crashes and viruses) and to a remote drive or cloud solution (for disaster recovery if your place burns down or your hardware is stolen).

    I'd only consider RAID to augment my setup once those two things are in place. RAID can provide some protection from drive hardware failures, but it's worthless when it comes to controller issues or to corruption caused by viruses or other software issues.

  7. #7
    New ROGer heheman3000 +10
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    This is a good question as I run RAID1 mirrors on both my and my wife's computer and use both types of software RAID 1. Instead of massively speculating or changing the subject, I did some searching around and found a benchmark and other info that would be useful to make the comparison.

    http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=313610

    Observations from the above post, as well as my own:
    • Intel good for RAID0 or RAID5, especially since you can install on devices using that. Windows is hard to install on its own RAID 0, but if you can use it, the OS does some optimizations that Intel's driver can't. Intel's RAID5 is much faster on writes.
    • Windows is good for RAID1, but doesn't read from both drives. Has the advantage of being portable to any other Windows machine, where the Intel RAID requires an ICHx motherboard.
    • BSODs and crashes make the Windows resync go very often, which in my experience is a bit slower than Intel's. Crashes seem to make the Intel driver resync less often (in my use). Both resync operations make the system pretty unresponsive, but Windows seems to be worse.

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