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Looking for a suitable PCIe RAID controller for workstation.

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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Looking for a suitable PCIe RAID controller for workstation.

Hello, after a long hiatus of not being able to save up for components to expand my large all in one gaming/workstation due to other financial commitments, I'm finally in a position where I can start to save up for components again. The next phase of the expansion will be the addition of more hard drives that may or may not be set up into a RAID array, but I want to get a controller that will support that functionality, if it becomes advisable to do so. It has come to my attention that some of the controller cards out there do not have sufficient cooling on their own, just with the provided heatsink, and that they require a high air-flow environment typical of a server case. I need a SATA or SAS controller capable of handling eight drives, and be capable of handling it's own cooling needs.

My questions to you are:
1. Are there any controller cards out there with or without a cooling fan on them capable of meeting my needs?
2. If there are, what would be suggested for the capacity I need?

The intention of this card will be to expand on the available ports on the computer's motherboard, which is currently at 100% capacity. The card will be providing the means for data transfer between high capacity drives (10+ TB each). I am at this time undecided if the drives in question will be SATA or SAS, but the results I have found on newegg suggests that the only PCIe 3.0 cards capable of RAID, and can also connect to SATA drives, use SAS connectors on the cards themselves.

Edit: As the reason for considering RAID at all is redundancy, I will be setting up either multiple RAID 1 arrays, or RAID 10.

Last edited by Elanachan; 07-19-2018 at 11:58 AM.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 11:52 AM
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What kind of airflow do you have?

My go-to is the LSI 9211-8i

Granted I run mine in IT mode for freenas but they're solid raid cards

Where did you read about only PCIe 3.0 cards being able to do that? The only benefit really of going with a PCIe 3.0 version is if you're raiding a bunch of SSDs, although they do often tend to run a bit cooler primarily due to newer hardware being more efficient, either way though you'll need some kind of airflow

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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I never said only PCIe 3.0 could handle the drives, I would simply prefer to have up to date hardware, and cooling as you said, is part of factoring into this.

I do not have a good way to measure airflow, I'm just making the safe assumption that it is less than a rack mounted server. I am using a Caselabs S8 with a 360 radiator in push-pull within the pedestal, I also have four 120mm fans in the upper portion of the case, two intake, one exhaust, and one pulling air from the compartment for the hard drive cages into the the side of the case containing the powersupply and 5.25 bays.

Edit: Rephrasing on the PCIe 3.0 thing, I was stating that the only PCIe 3.0 RAID cards I could find, which are compatible with SATA drives, uses SAS connectors.

Last edited by Elanachan; 07-19-2018 at 12:10 PM.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 01:14 PM
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Ah, yes, pretty much all good raid cards are going to be SAS connectors. Plenty of SAS to Sata cables though and/or backplanes

PCIe cards are going to be more expensive mostly because they are still being actively sold in the enterprise market, IMO your best best would be grabbing an older one and updating the cooler or adding a fan or possibly not even needed if you have some air flow going on

My LSI cards are just living in my server but they really don't require THAT much airflow, as long as there is some going over it you should be just fine. All of them have very high thermal limits

I had next to no airflow in my workstation since it's all watercooled and my 10gig nic definitely got warm to the touch, well within thermal limits but warmer than I would have liked. Added a small noctua fan pointed at it and the SSD and have been golden and silent

Either way I'd suggest trying to stick to LSI, you can probably find some Dell or HP ones that are LSI based but may need to be reflashed to stock LSI firmware.

As for up to date, enterprise stuff stays updated for a long time

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 01:18 PM
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I agree with sticking with something LSI based if you want to stay supported.


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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Is the LSI equipment you guys are mentioning not on the current PCIe standard?

An example of the cards I'm considering are:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...20180719105920
with
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...6237-_-Product

or

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...82E16816103259

As the reason for the hard drive expansion is to store large media files such as high resolution RAW files, videos, and potentially CAD files, I'm not sure I would need the higher transfer speeds of using SAS drives. That being said, I am willing to pay the premium to stay with current gen hardware.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 02:18 PM
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Not sure what you would really be gaining by going with 3.0 only cards, 8x pcie 2.0 lanes will give you 500MB/s*8, so ~4GB/s worth of bandwidth. SAS drives may be 12Gb/s today, but are still limited to their spindle speeds etc. Adaptec and LSI both make great cards, but I really wouldn't spend more than $200-400 on a card to run 8x 7200 RPM Sata drives on. Just make sure you get the breakout cables with your card : )


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2018, 05:09 PM
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LSI has plenty of PCIe 3.0 cards, you just don't really gain much by going with them...

The LSI SAS 9207-8i would essentially be the PCIe 3.0 variant of the 9211-8i that I mentioned earlier

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
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What about the thing you guys were saying, regarding continued support, and how older hardware is SOL in that regard?
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-20-2018, 02:59 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Elanachan View Post
What about the thing you guys were saying, regarding continued support, and how older hardware is SOL in that regard?
Companies like adaptec and lsi have a good track record for pushing out drivers on legacy hardware in my experience.


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