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Posted: 8/26/2004 2:19:44 PM EST
I'm looking to build my first computer in the next few weeks. I think I've settled on the DFI LANPARTY NFII ULTRA B since it sports a SATA RAID controller along with many other features I appreciated.

Now I plan on going with SATA drives for the cables and they are the new standard. I plan on getting two Hitachi 80gb SATA HDDs with 8mb caches. I've heard you can speed up Windows performance drastically by putting the OS on one HDD and your Data along with the pagefile on another HDD.

Would this be better than setting up the two HDDs in a RAID O configuration? How would I handle the layout of all of the information, including the OS, on the HDDs if I set the drives up in a RAID 0 configuration?

I'm definitely a noob when it comes to RAID, but I'm eager to learn.

Link Posted: 8/26/2004 2:28:05 PM EST
add a 3rd drive and go to RAID 5 if it's supported by your hdwr. Distributed Parity will speed things up more than just a simple stripe.
Link Posted: 8/26/2004 3:20:55 PM EST
What are you trying to accomplish with RAID -- fault tolerance or speed? And if you're looking for speed, is it mainly read or write speed?

To get maximum speed, you have to give up fault tolerance (unless you have the $$$ to go RAID-10). If you're looking to go RAID-5, plan on a minimum of 5 drives or a maximum of 9 to make it worthwhile. RAID-5 volumes of less than 5 drives are useful mainly for safely achieving capacity while sacrificing write performance.
Link Posted: 8/26/2004 3:52:15 PM EST
I'm definitely just going with a RAID 0 config,

I'm just lookiing for a nice little boost in speed,

Or would be it just as fast to put the OS on one HDD while putting Data and pagefile on another?
Link Posted: 8/26/2004 4:20:12 PM EST
XP benefits from having the OS, pagefile, programs and data on four separate volumes -- not necessarily different drives. However, I believe that different drives would be even better. You may not want to go quite that far, however, I've found that putting the pagefile on its own separate FAT32 partition is a good thing. Drive 0 could contain OS and programs on different NTFS partitions and drive 1 could be pagefile on FAT32 and data on NTFS. That is working well for me, but I don't have hard numbers to quote.

Be careful about RAID-0 and if you set up a volume, test it thoroughly against a more straightforward configuration. You may well be disappointed by RAID (or you might be impressed). There are many variables that affect performance.

Also, backup often because, in theory, the failure rate of the whole volume is the rate of one drive multiplied by the number of drives in the volume. In reality, it seems WAY more than that to me. I don't recall having a RAID volume go more than a year without a failure and that's using high end server-grade hardware. In fact, on Tuesday I replaced a drive in a 28-drive fiber channel EMC SAN. That was the second one in 4 months. Then again, it may not have another failure until the lease expires in 2 years. But what can go wrong usually does.
Link Posted: 8/27/2004 5:45:51 AM EST
Remember, two hard drives in RAID 0 will not double your access/read times. A more realistic increase will be about 50% over a single drive. If you want to boost your speed, I would go with the Western Digital Raptor series. They're 10,000 rpm, 8mb cache and they have a 36 and a 72 gig version. The 72 gig version is slightly faster due to some new command queing stuff. I believe the 72gb is at 4.5ms access time, and the 36gb is 5.3 if I remember right. Compare that to what is typically in the IDE/SATA market.
The 36 gig is about 110 dollars at Newegg, and the 72 gig is about 178'ish. Both have 5 year warantees too, which is outstanding.
I would recommend taking a look at what Abit has to offer in terms of motherboards. I've found their stability to be very good, and they have a very active BIOS revision program.
I personally have two of the 36gb Raptors in a RAID 0 on my computer, and they are very fast. I recently built a clients computer with two of the 72gb versions, and it was smoking with a large amount of disk space.
When you build a RAID0, it combines the two drives total space, so you can make some big drives very quickly.
Make sure you have access to the internet during your build, since this is your first. You'll want to be able to ask for help or do some driver downloads. Establishing a RAID is a little trickier than just a singular drive. I would recommend writing the stripes at 128kb for typical computer use. You need the RAID controlers drivers on a floppy and have to press F6 during the very beginning of the Windows installation. Don't do the quick format once you get the windows files loaded. Let it do the thourough one on NTFS. NTFS segments of 4kb (this is the default.)
Make sure the motherboard you pick has a bootable RAID device. That is, if you want to install windows to your RAID aray.
A common misconception is that the RAID will increase frame rate on games. A RAID has very little effect on this type of action. What you do notice with the RAID is quicker load times, faster response from the system.
The idea of moving the pagefile to another drive would work if you set up yet another RAID to house it. This is where a major bottle neck starts. The Southbridge or the PCI bus is limited on the typical 33mhz PCI bus. You have all your other components talking on these channels too.
This is why having a RAID0 doesn't give you a 100% increase in performance. It gets worse as you add more drives to the mix. Having 4 drives will be about 75% faster then only 1 drive -- access time will be increased though.
I've been waiting for the PCI 66mhz bus to come to the desktop arena. This would double the bandwidth in which you could get the hard drives going. All data I have seen though indicates that it only really shines when transfering large data files. PCI-express has some hope though in the future.
If your system has a lot of memory, 512mb - 1024mb, the pagefile isn't used as heavily. You know when it gets used though, since you start hearing the disks thrashing, and performance goes out the window. I have 1024mb in my computer, and I am reading up on simply disabling the pagefile. While running a bunch of programs like 3dsmax, netscape, winamp, emule, and probably 35 running strings, I only end up using about 600 megs of memory. During Doom 3 loads, it goes to about 500 megs, then once in the map it drops back down to around 250.

Another good thing to do is get an aftermarket disk defragmenter. The one that comes with Windows could be considered the lite version. I use perfect disk 6.0, and I am very happy with it. It is just as easy to use too, so no fear of running into option city.

Post the rest of the spec's on your computer you're putting together. What is going to be the purpose of the system? High end games, web surfing, ect..
-Steve
Link Posted: 8/27/2004 6:28:00 AM EST
Purpose of building this system is just for gaming, music, and typing papers.

AMD XP 3200+ Barton core with a Whisperrock IV CPU cooler on top
I haven't decided on the mobo yet either the ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe Nforce 2 Ultra 400 chipset
2x-512 DDR400 Corsair dual channel memory
ASUS Geforce FX 5700 256mb DDR
2x 80gb Hitachi SATA drives, 8mb cache

All stuffed in a Raidmax Cobra 822 case
Link Posted: 8/27/2004 6:55:34 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 12:10:35 PM EST
honestly raid is fast for large files, but unless you are moving large files all the time you will not notice much.

i usually run the os on one dedicated drive and then another drive for all my files i create. in my current arrangement this is accomplished by a 36GB 10K rpm 8MB cache U320 SCSI primary drive with a 80GB ATA 100 8MB cache secondary drive. this setup runs nice and you can get into scsi for about the same as a 72GB Raptor. i currently have a fujitsu map drive with a lsi u160 controller. the drives from newegg are about $120, the lsiu160 card is about $35 and you can get a decent u160/320 cable off ebay for about $10. most of the scsi hdds have 5 year warranties because they are more "server" type of equipment.

for gaming the only thing you will notice is that the maps will load a little faster, gameplay will be the same. when you say music do you mean creating or listening?

not trying to bust on any of the items, but have you looked at benchmark for a ati9800pro vs the fx5700? i know the 9800pros are right at the $200 mark now, which is one hell of a price
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 6:33:57 PM EST
Personally I've never ran anything except Nvidia, but if the 9800 will give me higher frame rates with the same graphic settings as the Nvidia then I'd definitely consider.

For music I just mean listening to MP3s on Winamp.

I'm looking to play games like Far Cry, UT 2004, Battlefield 1942, on 1024x768 resolution, will the 9800 allow me to do this without any hitches?

Thanks
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 7:20:06 PM EST
Wow I just checked out the benchmark results compared to the price of both cards, the ATI is definitely a superior card. I guess I was blinded by my loyalty to Nvidia.

Looks like I'll be buying my first ATI card.

The guys reviewing the card in Newegg have flashed their BIOS and have basically turned the 9800 Pro in the 9800XT with higher 3dmark scores....

Hmm......

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