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RAID controller choices are confusing.

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've been considering reconfiguring my servers (1 is freenas for backup, and the other is a freenas media server) into a WHS 2011 box for my media to make sharing to my devices much easier, and expanding my storage space on my backup server. I have 5 storage drives in my media server and I would like to change things up by setting the WHS up with 3 x 2TB in RAID 5, and my backup server would get the other 2 x 2TB drives. My problem is that the board that I want to use for my WHS box doesn't have RAID, and I need a RAID card. There are so many options and variables that I don't understand, so I'll simply list what I need:

1.) Needs to be compatible with both Windows and FreeNAS.
2.) Needs to be around $200 max, I can go a little higher, but would rather not.
3.) Needs to be easy to set up out of the box- I have never configured a RAID array, let alone one from a standalone card.
4.) Needs to be compatible with, and reach SATA2 speeds
5.) Needs RAID 5 and JBOD
6.) I do not need or want to boot off it.
7.) Boot speed is a non-issue because it will likely stay on.
8.) Rebuild speed is a non-issue because it is not critical data.
9.) I will not be virtualizing any servers.
10.) It will be a media server w/ mainly reads, so I don't think I need battery backup or any fancy stuff.

Which cards would you recommend?

As an aside, would the Celeron E3300 CPU I have on my WHS board be enough to stream HD?

Here's what I've been looking at this morning:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816116042

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007607%2050001833%208000&IsNodeId=1&ShowDeactivatedMark=False
Edited by silvergoat - 3/19/13 at 11:27am
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post #2 of 15
1.) Needs to be compatible with both Windows and FreeNAS.
Why? FreeNAS won't use a hardware RAID controller. A SATA card (without RAID ability, and much cheaper) is all you need if using FreeNAS If you have enough SATA ports on your motherboard, and plan to run FreeNAS, no addin card needed.
2.) Needs to be around $200 max, I can go a little higher, but would rather not.
Under $200 will only get you a Dell PERC 6/i. If you want a recent, good quality controller...it will run you at least $400-500.
3.) Needs to be easy to set up out of the box- I have never configured a RAID array, let alone one from a standalone card.
All hardware RAID cards are configured through management software. Some allow for configuration in a pre-OS environment.
4.) Needs to be compatible with, and reach SATA2 speeds
Any RAID controller that is recent will be at least SAS 2, which will support SATA 2.
5.) Needs RAID 5 and JBOD
RAID controller that does JBOD is a waste. Save money and get a HBA such as the popular IBM ones. Definitely think twice about using RAID 5 before deciding to use it.
6.) I do not need or want to boot off it.
Fine.
7.) Boot speed is a non-issue because it will likely stay on.
Okay?
8.) Rebuild speed is a non-issue because it is not critical data.
That's fine. Keep in mind though that a RAID 5 array with more than 10TB in size (regardless of how much data is there) will likely fail before rebuilding. Rebuild times for that would be over 36 hours, more than likely.
9.) I will not be virtualizing any servers.
Okay?
10.) It will be a media server w/ mainly reads, so I don't think I need battery backup or any fancy stuff.
Battery backups are not "fancy stuff" but used to keep power to the cache in the event of a power failure. If you don't use a BBU, don't use any RAID calculations that use the onboard Cache. If you use write back or a similar write policy with no BBU and your server powers off for whatever reason, you just corrupted some data.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Does anybody have any card recommendations in the $300-$400 price range?
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post #4 of 15
@OP

In that price range for something decent it's eBay. For a "plain Jane" SAS HBA such as the IBM ServeRAID M1015, or the generic LSI equivalent it's around $100. For a proper RAID card, you'll again be looking at eBay for something like a PERC 6/i or perhaps an Areca 1680 series card. LSI RAID cards are also a good choice.
Edited by parityboy - 3/19/13 at 5:39pm
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post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
LSI cards have a lot of mixed reviews and complaints about compatibility with non-server boards. I found a nice Intel (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16813121503) board that I can use at a good price, and compatible with the 3ware RAID card in one of the links. My main concern is compatibility with WHS 2011 (Am I correct to assume that compatibility with W7 = compatibility with WHS 2011?). Since I will need to pool my drives to have all the size I need for my DVDs and the RAID 5 seems like a good compromise between reliability and storage available (4-6TB)....that, and I don't have to worry about the write speeds more than once.

Edit: HBA would be nice if I wanted to use it only for freenas, but JBOD should give me that option should I choose to fall back to freenas for my media server. WHS 2011 was too tempting to pass up without at least trying it. FreeNAS shares drove me up the wall, and now I have to mess with plugins just to get xbox to read the share. madsmiley.png

Edit: Ordered the 3Ware-
Edited by silvergoat - 3/19/13 at 7:34pm
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post #6 of 15
Highpoint RocketRAID 2720SGL.

nvm, i see you have already ordered.
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post #7 of 15
I would avoid RocketRAID cards like the plague. Just my personal opinion.

3ware is owned by LSI, and uses an LSI RAID Chip so it basically is a LSI card. You are correct in thinking WHS 2011 is similar to Windows 7 (and Server 2008 R2) as they all share Windows kernel NT 6.1. I can't really comment on the 3ware card you ordered because you didn't say which model, but I'm sure you will enjoy it!
post #8 of 15
I've been running 2 3Ware 9500's for years without issues. In several boards. None are server boards.

3Ware was bought by AMCC, then by LSI. So...drivers can be hit or miss. If you hit up LSI's Knowledge Base you can find all of them plus firmware to update your board.
    
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post #9 of 15
I've been running 3ware 9650SE and 9690SA cards in my systems for 5 years now. They are fast and reliable cards. Configuring them using the web based mgmt tool is pretty simple also.

FYI...If you plan on running RAID 5/6/50, get the battery for the on board cache.
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post #10 of 15
for what its worth, second hand raid cards are cheap. Many people, when putting together a server like to buy brand new components, so it is hard for people to sell their second hand server components. Therefore, all server parts sell cheap, quad gigabit cards for under 100, etc. I managed to get my intel raid controller (RRP $800) for $200 second hand. It works absolutely amazing.
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