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Question PCIe SATA controller card reviews?

mikehd

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Nov 16, 2003
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I'd like to add more SATA drives to my home server but have maxed out the ports (6 total SATA 3 ports). I'd like to take advantage of the unused PCIe lanes but can only find either really cheap x1 cards or very expensive x4. Any reviews out there or recommendations on x4 cards that won't break the budget?
 

Soulkeeper

Diamond Member
Nov 23, 2001
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Reviews are hard to come by, likely due to the low $ nature of these cards.
The vast majority of these cards on the market today use either the asmedia or the marvell controller.
Both are pretty much the same from a performance, price, and support/reliability Stand point.
Any card you get, regardless of who makes it (syba, highpoint, or a cheapo unknown brand), are almost certain to have the same performance as any other card using the same chip/revision.
Also very little has changed over the past 10yrs, many new controller cards still use the same exact chip.

The more expensive cards tend to have extra chips or an advanced bios (mostly for dealing with raid), The addition of the PLX or similar to share pcie lanes also drives up the price.
 

Soulkeeper

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Nov 23, 2001
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For a pcie 4x with 4 ports (full speed for all drives added). I'd recommend something in the $35 range. I have one from highpoint with the marvell chip. Rocket 640L, you can find them on ebay for $5 (atleast before the chia thing).
 
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Soulkeeper

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Nov 23, 2001
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You'll probably be happy. I forgot about jmicron, likely just as good.
The only problem I see is the JM585 on that card only uses 2x pcie lanes instead of 4x like some others.
 
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mikehd

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Nov 16, 2003
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Well darn. The description says x4 but the JMB585 spec sheets says:
  • Support up to two land of PCI Express
I think they mean lanes, not land. So why make it require a x4 slot?

According to this Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express) the Gen2 x4 bandwidth is 2.000GB/s while Gen3 x2 is 1.969 GB/s. So since the JMB585 is Gen3, the x2 gives nearly the same bandwidth as Gen2 x4.
 

PingSpike

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Feb 25, 2004
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Well darn. The description says x4 but the JMB585 spec sheets says:
  • Support up to two land of PCI Express
I think they mean lanes, not land. So why make it require a x4 slot?

According to this Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express) the Gen2 x4 bandwidth is 2.000GB/s while Gen3 x2 is 1.969 GB/s. So since the JMB585 is Gen3, the x2 gives nearly the same bandwidth as Gen2 x4.
I don't think there is actually such a thing as a 2x pcie slot so that's probably why its in a 4x slot.

That JMB585 is a pretty compelling option these days. Its 5 port but also actually has the bandwidth to run 5 HDDs. And since its pcie 3.0 (and also 2x) it should be able to run a SSD without a bandwidth drop off even if its installed in a 1x slot. Most cards use chipsets so old they are only pcie 2.0 1x, which isn't enough.
 
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aigomorla

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Any reviews out there or recommendations on x4 cards that won't break the budget?
Ack does it need to be x4?
Can you use a x8?
You can get used controllers on Ebay for ridiculously cheap.
 
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zir_blazer

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Jun 6, 2013
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My personal take is that instead of a PCIe SATA Controller, which are all low end in nature, I would have purchased a cheap previous generation HBA SAS Controller (ServeTheHome had several forum posts about chosing them) since they can also do SATA and are usually better quality and far more features. Plus you also obviously get SAS support, in case that you get used enterprise SAS drives at a good price, which is not uncommon (Or at least it wasn't before the latest crypto).
 

mikehd

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Nov 16, 2003
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Ack does it need to be x4?
Can you use a x8?
You can get used controllers on Ebay for ridiculously cheap.
The Z87 motherboard I'm using as an odd selection of card slots. It has 2 PCIe x16 slots, and 2 PCI slots. PCIe1 is 3.0x16, while PCIe2 is 2.0 but operates at x4, so it is x16 in size only.

I'd be putting the card in PCIe1 (3.0 x16).

I'll check ebay again for x8 cards.
 

aigomorla

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I'll check ebay again for x8 cards.
if im not wrong i think most boards are physical 16x @ 1 and 3.
If you have both cards in there, they split to 8x x 2 logical.

So you can have video card in slot 1 and controller in slot 3.

Also something like this guy should be great unless its for freenas.
Shop arround on ebay tho... i see a few with free shipping. But look for combos with cables included, as the cables cost 9 dollars each, and people selling these controllers are also unloading the cables as those cables are EoL in the enterprise world along with those controllers.
If its for freenas a HBA is more recommended or a LSI flashed to HBA, but if you needed something like that i think you would not look for a 4x.

Windows Storage Spaces can utilize that controller as well.
Adaptec Storage Manager is also fairly easy to use.
Under windows i prefer Adaptec over LSI because of the ZMM on Adaptec.
 
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mikehd

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Nov 16, 2003
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I'm back with an update. I found an Adaptec ASR-7805 on ebay at a decent price ($39) includes the daughterboard for cache, but no capacitor so sprung for a new one on ebay as well.

I have it installed in PCIe1, and have bought 6x 4TB WD Red drives for a RAID6 array. I chose RAID6 as it appears to be a good balance of drive use and data protection.

I'll use the remaining two connections on the controller for a hot spare and a removable drive for backup of the photos that will be on the array (backup to the removable drive then store offsite).

So two requests for the community: feedback on my choice of RAID (mostly photos, movies, documents; not heavily accessed), and input on a test plan for the system before putting it in "production".

According to the Adaptec user manual, they strongly discourage physically disconnecting a drive from the controller (when off) and rebooting to see how it reacts. They do state to use the command line interface ARCCONF to fail drives to validate the correct response. For other aspects, like the onboard cache and capacitor, I'm not so sure how to test. Any feedback is appreciated.

thanks,
 

aigomorla

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So two requests for the community: feedback on my choice of RAID (mostly photos, movies, documents; not heavily accessed), and input on a test plan for the system before putting it in "production".
Under Windows:
Raid 1/6/10 if its magnetic HDD.
This way you have redundancy and fail over / fail safe.

Do not Raid 5 under spinners. URE is real.

Raid 0 is fine for double drive space only if you constantly back up the drive. otherwise, do not do it.
 

mikehd

Member
Nov 16, 2003
129
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Under Windows:
Raid 1/6/10 if its magnetic HDD.
This way you have redundancy and fail over / fail safe.

Do not Raid 5 under spinners. URE is real.

Raid 0 is fine for double drive space only if you constantly back up the drive. otherwise, do not do it.
Thanks for the verification of the URE and RAID 5 issue. I'll stay with RAID 6.
 

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