Sep 23

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(Note: I accidently squished the box, but board still works!)

The folks at Wasabi Gear.com keep sending us stuff and I keep reviewing. Today comes a SATA RAID (0 and 1) card from I/O Crest. A simple SATA RAID card with two internal SATA connectors and 1 PATA/ATAPI connector.

There’s a lot of fancy features here for a sub $40 board and RAID performance makes it a solid bargain.

I did the testing on this one, solo. I plugged in two 1 TB, HGST 3.5″ SATA drives and fired ‘em up.

Creating a RAID group can be a little cumbersome, but it’s to be expected for a board in the value price range. It’s not that it’s overly hard, but if you’re looking for a fancy GUI, you’ll want to use Windows RAID instead of the included RAID utility.

The chipset is Marvell, so any updated drivers and RAID utilities can be found at their website or by contacting the support for I/O Crest. Fair warning, if it’s functionality you want, you’ll follow the instructions and use the Marvell utility. It’s not pretty, but there’s a whole lot more there than the Windows utility.

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Outside of that, performance is pretty darn good. I created a stripe group from my two drives and the bench mark results shocked me. I was getting around 223 MB/sec reads and writes. Of course data type and your overall configurations matter a whole lot here. Granted, I was only doing a simple sequential file (video streaming and copying), it’s still some pretty great performance out of two drives.

I changed it up a bit with real life data usage and performance was still pushing 200+ MB/sec. Again, for a sub $40 board, not too shabby.

I should mention that while you can boot of your configured RAID group, it’s not really recommended. It’s better to use your on-board PATA/SATA drives to start-up your OS and then use your dual SATA RAID as your primary storage. You limit your exposure to drive failure this way and get a whole lot of dedicated storage. While your at it, RAID 1 might offer you a little protection. Included utilities do allow for a rebuild, so some stuff is safe.

RAID 1 performance is so-so and I’m sure I could’ve pushed a bit more out of it with more tweaking. Sustained reads and writes for a RAID 1 group was around 180 MB/sec. A bit of a hit and something totally expected considering I am using the cheapest SATA drives I could find.

Overall, not a bad RAID card or for adding two extra SATA and 1 PATA/ATAPI ports.

(Editor’s Note: This was a review unit provided free by WasabiGear.com and the unit was promptly returned after our review. We were neither paid for nor compensated in any other way for this review.)

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