Raid controllers are perhaps the best and perfect solution for enhancing hardware performance and availability. This makes it a perfect tool that comes in handy if you are looking to expand the capabilities of your computer.
To break it down, RAID systems serve three main functions. First, they provide an option to add more and maintain more hardware storage space. Secondly, as mentioned, they improve the drive’s performance.
The third function is that it can be configured to duplicate your data. This provides an assurance that you won’t lose any single bit of data stored in the system. There are four main ways that RAID controller cards can be configured.
Top 5 RAID Controllers 2018
|10 Crest SATA II Controller Card|
|StarTech PCIe RAID Controller Card|
|Vantec SATA PCIe Raid Controller Card|
|Semlos SATA Internal Raid Controller Card|
|High Point Rocket Raid Controller|
1. 10 Crest SATA II Controller Card – Most Cost-Effective RAID Controller CardIf you are looking for a cost-effective controller solution, the 10 Crest SATA II Controller Card should be your card of choice. To begin, this card is highly configurable. This is because it is based on a common controller, the Marvell 88SE9235 that supports the latest version of the SATA standards.
Like other SATA controllers, this card is backwards compatible with older SATA devices. It is also available from two to eight ports. Besides, one configuration offers four external ports on the back of the card and four internally. It connects to the PCIe x2 port but can work in an x4, x8 or x16.
Enough with the physical aspect, the performance of the 10 Crest SATA II Controller Card is outstanding. So to say, you can use any single drive on the market without a reduction of the maximum potential speed.
This card is purely designed for simple applications. However, it has one handy feature, which is the inclusion of the Native Command Queue. This extension is a SATA protocol that allows the drive to make changes in the order your data is sent. This is essential, especially when sending large files.
2. StarTech PCIe RAID Controller Card – Best RAID Controller with 3 ModesDespite sharing a lot of common features with our first product, the StarTech PCIe RAID Controller Card has an additional super feature of supporting three different RAID modes. This card is built from StarTech’s own chipset and takes up all the standard SATA features with the addition of some few bonuses.
With this card, you can select four SATA ports with different combinations allowing for external ports. Some configurations offer mSata port, a common connector that is used for small SSDs. As mentioned this card supports three modes including Raid 1, 0 and 1+0.
The bonus from StarTech PCIe RAID Controller Card is the Hyperduo, a drive stripping technology that combines different drives into one volume. Raid 1 works at full speed, and you can create Raid 0 of some hard drives to enhance the speed and performance. However, if you plan to use multiple high-end SSDs, there might be some bottlenecking.
With the StarTech PCIe RAID Controller Card, the Raid array compensates during the times when the drive is operating in challenging conditions. However, when working on large files, you cannot exceed the PCIe bandwidth of 600MB/s, though the drives can reach 1000MB/s.
Due to these features, this card is ideal for those who want to use the RAID 1 redundancy but not willing to accept the modest improvement of Raid 0.
3. Vantec SATA PCIe Raid Controller Card – Extremely PowerfulWhereas Vantec is little known on the market, the Vantec SATA PCIe Raid Controller Card is a great card option, and one of the most powerful solution. The card has ports allowing up to 6 SATA devices.
Despite having 6 ports, only four can be used at a time, with FIS switching allowing the ports to be activated on the fly. The card supports both latest SATA standards and HyperDuo standards.
The Vantec SATA PCIe Raid Controller Card shines when it comes to performance. It supports 1, 0, 1+0 and JBOD raid modes. The card can also offer a functional bandwidth of up to 1200MB/s, thanks to the four PCIe lanes the card supports. Certainly, it is through this that the benefits of advanced RAID arrays become apparent.
When it comes to the features, this controller has few features similar to other high-end products. Apart from the HyperDuo and RAID system, there is an additional stripping configuration called JBOD.
This acronym means a bunch of disks. it allows users to make as many drives as they want. This is neither redundancy nor speed improvement but saves you the hassle of moving files around if your disk is full.
More of the features, there is FIS switching that stands for “First in service.” As mentioned, the card supports up to 6 ports for SATA drives. However, out of this, only 4 can be read at a time.
With this feature, if you had all the 6 ports connected, you will be able to see all the 6 drives from your pc. The first four drives to be accessed becomes automatically online. If you need to access a 5th drive, you will need to eject one.
4. Semlos SATA Internal Raid Controller Card – Best for the MoneyIf you are looking to add four independent SATA ports in your PCI equipped computer, consider using the Semlos SATA Internal Raid Controller Card. At its price range, this is perhaps the best product to enjoy the benefits of Raid configuration, especially when it comes to added speed and data security.
To install this, you need to plug the PCI card into the PCI slot on the motherboard and connect the SATA devices to the ports using the cables. The card comes with optional Raid utility, that allows users to configure Raid modes. You can choose from Raid 0, 1 or 1+0.
5. High Point Rocket Raid Controller – Advanced FeaturesThe High Point Rocket Raid Controller is a perfect choice if you need to configure your storage platforms. It reduces upfront costs yet retains all the standard features of a retail Raid controller. Some of the intriguing features of this controller include:
- Supports Raid 0, 1, 5, 10 and JBOD
- Supports NCQ – Native Command Queuing
- Features smart array monitoring for checking hard drive status and reliability
- Supports bad sector repair
- Compatible with SAS/SATA devices
- Online capacity expansion and online raid level migration for Linux/Windows
- Quick and Background initialization for instant Raid access
Things to Consider Before Buying a RAID Controller
All the cards mentioned above are great options for their own specific use.
Therefore, depending on your need for speed, redundancy or other purposes, one card may be better than the other.
To ease your selection process, below are some of the essential aspects to look into with recommendations for each situation.
Do you Plan on Using RAID Features?
If you are looking to add more drives to your computer but have no plans to use the Raid features, the 10 Crest SATA II Controller Card will be a perfect choice.
This card is inexpensive, has no frills and can be customized depending on the ports needed. This is on a condition that you don’t need more than 500MB/s bandwidth and use only one or two drives at the same time.
Do You Need to Keep Your Data Safe From Drive Failure or Corruption?
You might be storing resourceful and vital data on your PC that loosing could be disastrous. If you need to store such data in a safe haven, consider the StarTech PCIe RAID Controller Card. With Raid 1, the second drive doesn’t require additional bandwidth.
Are You Looking to maximize Data Transfer Rates?
If maximizing performance is your goal, consider the Vantec SATA PCIe Raid Controller Card. The card provides insane 1200MB/s, perhaps the best transfer rates you will ever see.
The SATA Mode
This is perhaps the simplest way to configure and use the RAID controller card. In this mode, there are no RAID features active. The card simply gives you extra ports to plug your hard drive into.
The RAID 0 Mode
Also known as stripping, this mode increases the speed of your drives. This mode spreads data across two identical hard drives to increase speed. RAID 0 mode offers great performance for both read and write operations.
However, a major drawback is that the system is not fault tolerant. If one of the driver fails, all data could be lost. Therefore, it should not be used for critical mission systems. The mode is perfect for non-critical storage of data that needs to be rewritten at high speed.
RAID 1 Mode
It is also known as mirroring mode. Unlike the previous mode where disks are used separately, this mode works in a way that the disks are configured with two identical drives joined as one. Similarly, instead of spreading data across the drives, data is exactly the same on each.
For instance, with the previous mode, having two 1TB drives will show as 2TB when in use. However, for this mode, the 2TB storage in your computer will only show as 1TB. You are also protected from unexpected data loss if the drive fails. This is because data can be read off the other disk if one breaks.
RAID 1 offers excellent write and read speed comparable to that of a single drive. It is also a simple technology that doesn’t require much jargon. Since there are no risks of data loss, this mode can be used for mission critical storage such as accounting systems.
RAID 1 + 0 / RAID 10
As the name suggests, this is a combination of the two aforementioned modes. Here, you take four matching drives and install them. Of the four, two drives will have data spread between them while the others duplicate the information on the first two.
The modes mentioned above are just a fraction of the various configuration modes available. However, they are the only four that can be configured to a desktop environment.
If you want to take advantage of these configurations, you should begin by installing a RAID card in your desktop. With the endless possibilities and options available, it can be challenging to understand which card will work best for you. However, worry not as our RAID controller review below will shine some light on the five best cards.
Our Final Thoughts
Raid controllers are probably all you need to boost your PC rate among other functionalities for tech enthusiasts. To enjoy this, you ought to search for the best controller card on the market.
To get this, begin by looking at your needs. Individual needs are perhaps the determining factor and a deal breaker. If you find one that meets your needs, consider other aspects including the price, ease of installation and compatibility.
From our raid controller review above, which one is your favorite? Share with us in the comments section below!