Help on chosing a RAID card... maybe?

Hello everyone

I wanted to have a RAID5 config in my computer, but after some tests, the onboard Intel RST does not work properly. I can build a RAID volume with 3 spare HDDs (two out of an old laptop (WD scoprio blue 160GB-5400rpm) and a another from an external case, WD Caviar SE 500GB-7200rpm)) but I can’t edit any word file on it (for exemple).

I run a dual-boot (W7+Kubuntu Bionic), and w10 should join soon. The OSs are on a separate SSD, the RAID would only be for the data.
I have a i7-3770k and an Asus P8Z77-V LK.

I thought about a NAS, but the transfer rate of Gigabit Ethernet is nowhere near HDD in SATA. Then I then thought about an external RAID case, but that costs around 300€ for 4 HDDs.

My question(s) is(are):

  • Which brand is trustworthy?
  • Which chip supports both Linux (up-to-date LTS ubuntu-family) and Windows7/10?
  • Which models support at least 4 SATA devices?
  • What perfs should I expect (I have a spare PCIe 2.0 x1 and a PCIe 2.0 x16 - that may suffocate the 660Ti that I keep for the PhysX)
  • What price should I expect?

Thanks for your answers: I have no clues regarding this kind of hardware.

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Okay backup. What is your main goal?

Are you looking for balls to the wall read/write performance or a data storage solution?

Also what is the total budget for the build out?

Are you getting brand new or reclaimed hardware?

I’m not really looking for perfs through the roof, but faster than single HDD read/wright/random would be great (in theory 4 HDDs in RAID5 should meet these requierments). Aside from that, obviously having a redundant HDD. And also a single large volume instead of 4 smaller volumes.

As for the budget, this is one of the questions: I have no idea of the prices of RAID cards that meet my expectations and are obviously not complete garbage.

New or second hand does not matter: Older hardware that is compatible with my setup is all right, maybe less expensive, but finding it could be more difficult. New ones could be more of a long(ish)-term solution, maybe less compatibility issues.

Okay so I’m assuming you have a basic knowledge of what you are trying to do.

What you want is a LSI 9211-4i. You can get those second hand on eBay for around 50USD. If you feel like that you are going to need more drives then get the 8i model. Be sure that it is NOT FLASHED. If you get a card that is put into IT mode you won’t be able to do what you want. You also are going to need all the drives to be the same size. I’ve had great success with 2TB Hitachi Ultrastars. They go for about 50USD/each on eBay as well. You also need a SFF-8087 to SATA breakout cable to hook up the drives to the controller. 10USD on eBay.

You are going to need hardware raid, so the volume can work on both Win/Ubuntu. When you get all the drives in you are going to boot into the controller BIOS to build the array on the controller first. Once it’s done building then you can use it. If you go with the mentioned 2TB drives that can take up to 2 days. You are going to need to make the filesystem NTFS so it can work in both Windows and Linux. You can try to go with EXT4 but I’ve had problems in the past with Windows like these in dual boot.

If you are sure you are going with RAID5 you have be sure that you have a backup solution. RAID is not backup. I’m going to say this again. RAID IS NOT BACKUP. Get a cloud service or something but make sure you have your data backed up somewhere else. Also have a spare disk that you can replace if one of the drives goes down. Once that one goes down and you replace it then get another drive.

This should be a good starting point but let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks for your answers.
I have basic knowledge about RAID, the different configs, the pros and cons, also file systems.
I was planning on using 3TB HDDs.

Does this card need drivers installed in the OS?
I see that LSI is now part of Broadcom. Is this card still manufactured? If not, what replaces it?
Will it be recognized by the newest Windows and Linux kernels (is it kind of future proof)?

Once again, thank you.

You don’t need to get the Broadcom version. Everything was grandfathered in in terms of firmware. LSI/Broadcom are essentially the same company.

The drivers for these are baked into Linux but you shouldn’t need to get any drivers in the first place because these are going to be part of the system at the BIOS level. Plus getting an LSI 9211 is a very basic but well regarded piece of kit.

Windows should be able to pick out the volume once it’s built. So that shouldn’t be a problem either. Just pick your filesystem and format it accordingly.

Good luck.

While searching a little about the 9211-4i, i doesn’t seem to support RAID5 (only 0, 1, 1E and 10)…

Durp. Brain fart. A 9266 is what you’d want then.

Well, it seems a wee bit more expensive, then…