If you’re reading this, you are probably already in the market to buy a RAID controller. If not, you should consider buying one if you want increased performance and storage options.
In short, RAID, or Redundant Array of Independent Disks as it stands for, is an improved system where various drives are stacked together. It’s also one of the best ways to shield your information from hardware failure.
Are you ready to buy one of the Best Raid Controllers?
These booster cards are some of the most sought-after hardware accessories by PC enthusiasts and tech nerds like us. One of the things that the Raid controller does is boost your PC rate. Of course, it has other functionalities, but that is one of the main reasons for buying one.
Another important thing when choosing the best RAID controller is determining why you want to buy it. What do you want out of it? Your needs will help you decide which RAID controller suits you best. Our buying guide for the best RAID controller has listed everything you need to know to buy a RAID controller card.
So let’s get started and find the perfect raid controller for you…
- 1 Top 5 Best RAID Controllers In 2021 Review
- 1.1 1 I/O Crest 4 Port SATA III Controller Card – Best Budget RAID Controller
- 1.2 2 StarTech.com 4 Port RAID Controller Card – Best Value RAID Controller for the Money
- 1.3 3 Vantec SATA PCIe Raid Controller Card – Best Mid Range RAID Controller
- 1.4 4 Semlos SATA Internal Card – Best Rated RAID Controller
- 1.5 5 High Point RocketRaid 420SGL Controller – Best Premium RAID Controller
- 2 Best RAID Controllers Buyers Guide
- 3 More Superb Products For All Of Your Computer Needs…
- 4 So, What Are The Best RAID Controllers?
Top 5 Best RAID Controllers In 2021 Review
1 I/O Crest 4 Port SATA III Controller Card – Best Budget RAID Controller
The I/O Crest SATA III Controller Card is one of the most configurable cards on the market today. It’s based on the Marvell 88SE9235 controller, which is one of the most common controllers. The Crest SATA III supports the latest version of SATA 3.0. Since it’s backward compatible, it works with older SATA devices.
Depending on your needs, it’s available from two to eight SATA ports. One configuration comes with four external ports located on the back of the card and another four internal ports. It connects to the PCIe x 2 port, but like any PCIe card, it will work with an x4, x8, or x16 slot as well.
Use any drive available without losing speed…
The Crest SATA III has a high enough performance to use with any single drive available, without reducing its maximum speed. The card uses two PCIe lanes, and on average, they handle transfer speeds up to 600MB/s. Because of shared bandwidth between all active ports, you won’t notice any performance reduction, no matter if you are using a single SSD or four different hard drives.
It’s a pretty standard device, designed for simple applications. But one handy feature is the Native Command Queue. The drives automatically switch in which order they send data, making them a lot more efficient, especially if you’re working with large files or sending many commands.
If your goal is to send large files or commands, the Crest SATA III is fantastic. The price is affordable, and you get a lot of value for the money. The Crest SATA III supports up to four internal drives, and you can connect any single drive available without losing any transfer speed. However, you will need a fresh Windows installation to make it work, which we all know is time consuming.
- Supports four internal drives.
- Capable of speeds up to 6 Gbps.
- Marvell 88SE9235 chipset.
- Native Command Queue.
- Requires fresh Windows installation.
2 StarTech.com 4 Port RAID Controller Card – Best Value RAID Controller for the Money
While the StarTech.com 4 Port PCIe shares many features with the I/O Crest, this model supports three different RAID modes. The StarTech.com 4 Port RAID Controller Card is designed and built on StarTech’s chipset. The chipset supports all the standard SATA features and adds a couple of bonuses.
You can select four SATA ports simultaneously, but no more than that. Some configurations offer an mSATA port, which is a standard connector used by small SSDs. It supports both RAIS 1.0 and 1+0. Another drive striping technology, HyperDuo, is used for combining different drives into a single volume.
Take advantage of the fastest drives available…
The StarTech.com 4 Port PCIe also uses the PCIe x2 slot, limiting your RAID card’s potential gains. The fastest consumer SSDs on the market top out around 500MB/s. Since the StarTech.com 4 Port PCIe has around 600MB/s of bandwidth for all drives, you can take full advantage of even the fastest drives available. Provided that you only access one drive.
Raid 1 works at full speed. And you can also create a RAID 0 array of some drives improving their performance. If you want to use multiple high-end SSDs, you might experience bottlenecking. Top transfer speeds are only possible when working on large files under ideal conditions. In RAID 0, you would, however, see some performance improvement compared to a single drive.
But that’s not all…
The RAID array compensates when the drives are operating in challenging conditions. But if you are accessing large files, you can’t exceed the PCIe bandwidth of 600MD/s, even though the drives are capable of speeds up to 1000MB/s.
The unique HyperDuo feature…
HyperDuo is a unique feature pretty similar to raid. While raid can only combine identical drives into one volume, HyperDuo can combine hard drives of any size. This lets you utilize the massive storage space of a hard drive combining it with the excellent performance of an SSD. The HyperDuo will automatically find the most commonly used files and send them to the SSD, improving your overall system performance.
The StarTech PCIe is a card for users who want to use the redundancy features of RAID 1. You can also take advantage of the improvements from RAID 0. The StarTech PCIe works in three modes, which makes it a top RAID controller. It’s far more expensive than the Crest SATA III controller, which might intimidate some people. But all in all, a great RAID controller filled with features.
- Works in three modes.
- Maximum system capability with SATA speeds.
- HyperDuo is not supported by Windows 10.
3 Vantec SATA PCIe Raid Controller Card – Best Mid Range RAID Controller
Even though Vantec is a relatively unknown company, the Vantec SATA PCIe RAID controller is a great option and one of the most powerful solutions. This controller has ports allowing up to six SATA devices. Despite having six ports, only four are available simultaneously. However, the FIS switch allows the ports to be activated on-the-fly. The card supports both SATA 3.0 and HyperDuo.
Supports four different RAID modes…
The Vantec SATA PCIe controller shines when it comes to performance. It supports RAID 1, RAID 0, RAID 1+0, and JBOD RAID. The Vantec SATA PCIe also offers a usable bandwidth of up to 1200MB/s, thanks to four PCIe lanes’ support.
The features are similar to other high-end controllers. But apart from the HyperDuo and RAID system, there is an additional Stripping configuration called JBOD. JBOD means “a bunch of disks” and allows users to create as many drives as they want. It doesn’t improve either redundancy or speed but saves you from moving files when your hard drives are full.
The FIS switch…
As mentioned above, the Vantec SATA PCIe supports up to six ports for SATA drives. But only four are read at a time. The FIS switch, “First in Service,” basically works like this. If you have all six ports connected, you will see all six drives on your PC. The first four you access will automatically come online. If you want to access the fifth drive, you will need to eject one of the first four.
An excellent controller card even though only four ports can be accessed at a time. The Vantec SATA PCIe is reasonably priced and offers excellent performance. It also gives you a lot of varieties, as it supports four different RAID modes. If you are looking for a reasonable price tag that delivers high performance, the Vantec SATA PCIe is the card for you.
- Reasonable priced.
- Excellent performance.
- Supports up to six ports.
- Only four ports are accessible at a time.
4 Semlos SATA Internal Card – Best Rated RAID Controller
The Semlos SATA lets you add four independent SATA ports. It’s well priced, and at its price range, it’s probably the best card to let you enjoy the benefits of RAID configuration. Especially considering the added speed and data security. A crucial factor is that the Semlos SATA uses a PCI slot, not the PCIe. So, make sure you have an available PCI slot before buying this controller.
Since it‘s a PCI card, it won’t reach the same transfer speeds as a PCIe. The Semlos SATA will only support transfer rates up to 150MB/s.
Plug and play for Windows 10…
The Semlos SATA is simple to install. All you need is to plug in the PCI card to your motherboard and connect the SATA device using the included cables. Since it is plug and play for Windows 10 users, you are ready to enjoy the benefits from the minute you plug it in. If you are a Windows 7 or 8 user, you will need to install the drives located on the CD.
Supports three different RAID modes…
The Semlos SATA supports three different RAID modes. You can choose from RAID 1, RAID 0 and RAID 1 + 0. The features are fundamental and include SATA Transport, Link logic, and PHY layer.
Compared to other RAID controllers we have tested, the Semlos SATA is the slowest one. But it does perform well. It will improve redundancy and give your system an overall boost.
Considering the price of the Semlos SATA, you really can’t expect much. It does give your system an overall boost, but if you are looking to take full advantage of RAID, you shouldn’t bother with this card. With transfer rates limited to 150MB/s, it’s not for enthusiasts.
It’s a shame that Semlos SATA uses PCI and not PCIe. Using PCIe would have made this card one of the best on the market. Of course, the cost would be higher as well.
- Great price.
- Easy installation.
- Compatible with Windows 10.
- Boosts your overall performance.
- PCI and not PCIe.
- Transfer speeds.
5 High Point RocketRaid 420SGL Controller – Best Premium RAID Controller
The High Point RocketRaid 420SGL Controller is by far the most expensive in this review. It’s also the most superior RAID controller. With five different RAID modes, the RocketRaid 420SGL lets you take full advantage of the RAID configuration.
The RocketRaid 420SGL will not suit everyone since the high price can be overwhelming, especially as there are great controller cards for a lot less. But if you are looking for the best RAID controller available, then the RocketRaid 420SGL is something you want to consider.
A perfect choice for configuring your storage platforms…
The RocketRaid 420SGL is jam-packed with features. It supports RAID 1, RAID 0, RAID 5, RAID 10, and JBOD. It also includes NCQ-Native Command Queuing.
Smart array monitoring checks your system and keeps you updated on your hard drive status and reliability. A great feature that indicates if something is wrong with any of the connected drives. The RocketRaid 420SGL supports up to eight ports and even supports SAS 6GB/s. SAS is used when SATA speeds aren’t enough.
But wait, there’s more…
The RocketRaid 420SGL even supports bad sector repair on your drives. There are so many advanced features that we can’t even list them all. But there is one feature that we need to mention. Should your hard drive for some reason fail, you can plug in a new drive and configure the card to start the rebuild process.
You can also designate unused drivers to replace the broken ones, which adds to the security and protection of your hard drives.
The RocketRaid 420SGL is a unique RAID controller card. It’s perfect for companies or anyone with large storage needs. The added security is a bonus, and many features make the RocketRaid 420SGL one of the best RAID controllers available.
With a price tag that suits a high-end card, the market becomes limited, which is shameful. But if you have the money to spend, you won’t find much better controller cards than this.
- Plenty of features.
- Great read and write speeds.
- Excellent interface for configuration.
- Easy setup and configuration.
- Very expensive.
- RAID 6 only available for web config.
Best RAID Controllers Buyers Guide
All through the review, you have heard us mention different types of RAID modes. But what are they? We listed the different kinds of RAID modes to help you understand. Keep in mind that these are only short descriptions…
- RAID 0
Great for improving speed but reduces redundancy. Including disk striping, it divides data among multiple drives, improving performance.
- RAID 1
The RAID 1 card protects data with enhanced speed, as the information is mirrored twice. RAID 1 needs at least two drives to work. Performance is a little bit slower.
- RAID 10 – or RAID 1+0
This needs at least four drives, which divide data among themselves to increase speed and redundancy.
- RAID 5
This has an outstanding balance between redundancy and speed. It needs a minimum of three drives. It strips data on multiple drives to revive data when a failure occurs.
- RAID 6
This is the most reliable of all modes. As it has two parity-driven strips, it can save two disks from failing. SATA drives work best for this RAID type.
When Do You Need A RAID Controller?
If you want your computer to deliver data redundancy and reliability, you need a RAID controller. Sometimes you need to back up your data, which can be very time-consuming. Frustration can also set in when you need to restore your backups. Restoring data can sometimes even lead to data failure or loss. With RAID controller cards, you avoid the risk of losing data.
RAID even offers complete data backup and restoration in little to no time at all. It can even solve input/output problems. A RAID controller is a beneficial device. It allows for extra throughput when reading or writing data from several drives at the same time. Hardware RAID controllers come with cache memory, decreasing the pressure on other hardware components giving your system a performance boost.
How Can You Choose The Right RAID Controller Type?
Your requirements and needs should dictate what RAID controller type you need. If you want to increase speeds with data redundancy, then RAID 1 is a cost-effective option. It’s also suitable for improved uptime. If you require high reading operations, RAID 5 or 6 are more convenient. RAID 5 and 6 may not be ideal for writing functions, so if you need to write more, you should go for RAID 1.
For overall performance, a raid 10 or 1+0 controller is perfect. It’s, however, also the most expensive choice. The price includes excellent writing and reading speeds with decent redundancy.
How Many Raid Controllers Do You Need?
The number of RAID controllers needed varies for everyone. If you are opting for RAID 5, a minimum of three drivers is required. RAID 10 and RAID 6 require a minimum of four drives. These are the necessary numbers needed for these controller cards to provide suitable disk space, redundancy, or enhanced performance.
If you plan on extending your storage, redundancy, or performance, even more, you can add more array disks to the OS. Just remember that adding additional RAID controllers also adds to the costs.
Which Is Better: Hardware RAID Or Software RAID?
Software RAID does have its perks, as you don’t need to add a physical card to the CPU. It’s also much cheaper than the hardware controller cards. On the other hand, hardware RAID offers additional benefits like excellent processing power, increased cache, better redundancy, storage, support for power failure, and much more.
Of course, these benefits come with a cost, which can affect your budget. A Hardware RAID is recommended for Windows-based systems, as they will increase your overall performance.
How Much Do RAID Controllers Cost?
The cost of hardware RAID controllers differs a lot. You can find desktop cards for around $50. More complex ones, jammed with features and exceptional performance, like the RocketRaid 420SGL, are more expensive. These cards will be somewhere in the range of $100 to $1000$. Of course, you can buy extreme cards for as much as $10,000 or more.
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So, What Are The Best RAID Controllers?
Every RAID controller card has its perks. However, the one that performed particularly well and boosted the performance of our test PC was the…RocketRaid 420SGL
It’s costly, though. If you only are looking for RAID 10 or are on a budget, the…Vantec SATA PCIe Raid Controller Card
…is an excellent option. High-end features and an affordable price make this one of the top RAID controllers.