RAID – On-Board or PCI card?

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On-Board – Single drive test

First, I tested the MSI K7T Turbo R with a single hard disk connected to its standard IDE port for a baseline. I ran a number of benchmarks, measured the time it took for Windows to load, and ran a few programs and games on it to get a ‘feel’ for how it performed. I then changed over to the Promise port to see if there was any difference, both in speed and issues with any other components installed.

I was a bit surprised when I read the manual prior to changing over to the Promise port. Unlike the HPT 370 I’ve worked with before, if you wish to use a single drive or a non-RAID installation of multiple drives you still need to go into the Promise BIOS and set up an array. What you do if you wish to use one or more IDE hard disks in a ‘standard’ (not RAID) mode is set up each drive as a RAID 1 array of 1 drive, and you also need to select which is the bootable drive if multiple drives are used. Note that I used the term IDE hard disk because the Promise doesn’t support ATAPI (CDROM, CDRW, DVD, ZIP, etc.) drives, so you can only connect your hard disks to it. After setting up the array of 1 drive I then booted to Windows and loaded the Promise drivers with no issues at all.

So what about any compatibility problems? None were found, and all cards and their drivers installed with no problems at all. NIC, modem and sound all worked, along with the Promise port. I did see one issue with the test software I normally use, however. HD Tach would not run with the drive on the Promise controller, and just gave me a nice blue screen. Oh well, I didn’t really need it anyway.

Speed seems to be what we judge most components by these days (and I’m as guilty as the next guy or gal). Take a look at the numbers – both appear to be about the same:

mainboard

MSI K7 Turbo R

BIOS

ver 2.7

Promise Driver

1.3

Drive

Single WD 200BB on the 686B port

Single WD 200BB on the Promise port

Disk Blaster 128MB file size, MB/s

19.739

19.739

Winbench 99

Bus Disk KB/s

6290

9840

High Disk KB/s

19500

20900

Disk Transfer Rate

Beginning K Byte/ Sec

33300

33200

Access time – ms

11

11

CPU Utilization – %

0.485

0.743

Winstone 2001

Business

46.3

46.8

Content Creation

50.6

49.7

There are a couple of minor differences, which include a higher Business Winbench score for the Promise, and lower CPU utilization for the VIA. Winstone Business is equal, while Content creation is about 1.8% in favor of the VIA.

So how would I rate the Promise as a single or multiple hard disk non-RAID setup? No issues at all, easy installation and no performance change. The only thing was that you have to use the Promise BIOS utility to set up the drive(s) and you can’t use an ATAPI device on the Promise ports.


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