MAXPower RAID mini-SAS 6G-1e1i any good?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by PantherJeep, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. PantherJeep macrumors member


    Jun 24, 2010
    Oceanside, CA
    I am in need of modestly bulking up the storage in my 2008 Mac Pro, and I was wondering if anyone can provide feedback on this card. It appears to have just been released recently. The configuration I'm considering this card for would be as follows:

    2x 120GB SSDs in an OD bay, software RAID1 boot volume
    4x 1TB Seagate Constellation 1TB SAS 6G in the internal bays
    --MaxConnect SAS/SATA Link to accommodate said SAS disks with a 3rd-party RAID card

    Thoughts or suggestions? I'm open to other solutions, but the NewerTech card caught my eye with its price tag and I'm wondering if it's any good.

  2. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    not sure what you have in the mac pro now ?
    not sure how you want to configure the 4 1TB drives ?
    what kind of work do you do with the computer ? meaning video or photo or gaming or 3d etc..
    how much storage do you need/want
    and what is your backup strategy going to be :)

    first thought the 120 gig SSD raid 1 boot is pretty much what I have
    I like raid 1 for boot if a drive dies I keep working no down time my analogy its like modern run flat tires :) lets you do the change with a bit more control and not get stuck

    the seagate constellation drives have me at a loss ? unless you like them for a certain reason ? I would get some larger drives 3TB instead or 2TB ?

    if you were to do say a raid 5 I would maybe avoid this card get a Areca 1880 series and do it right out of the gate a lot more money but a lot more card
    basically just use this card for basic expansion of simple drive connections and want some speed sure its a good card ? but no real world experience so cant say for sure it looks interesting for the price though might have to try one out :)

    so instead of 4 1TB I would do 3TB drives you could run 4 of them in the trays in raid 10 easy enough
    or run a single for storage a single for backup run another external backup you can swap out off line with and then run two adapter sleds for your SSD
  3. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The OWC card is built off of a Marvell 9480 (8 port RAID on a Chip, aka RoC). Unfortunately, I've not used this card to know how well it works.

    But the 9480's are usually part of a full RAID card design (cache, additional features in the firmware, ...), such as ATTO's R6xx series (they use the same Marvell 9480/s in this series).

    Another option that's less expensive per port and just as good generally speaking, are products from Areca (either the 1880 or 1882 series), particularly if you keep it to 8 ports on these (past 8 ports, the 1880 series uses a SAS expander as they're based on LSI chips, and I suspect is the case with the newer 1882 series as well).

    From a basic standpoint, it will do what you want for 4x disks, so long as you don't plan to boot from any disk on it (OWC card will not boot under OS X), but I don't seen any indications that it can perform functions such as Online Expansion or Online Migration for example (nice features to have, and full RAID cards from Areca or ATTO will provide this, among other things like additional means of recovery in the event of a failure as it keeps a copy of the partition tables in the firmware).

    Please take note of this, and see if it affects you, as well as the questions Honumaui is asking, as there's not really enough information to be certain as to what best fits your requirements.

    Also, as he mentioned, you'd be better off with SATA due to cost reasons (neither of us are expecting IOPS to be beyond that of what SATA can handle). Though at this point, you may want to wait on buying disks due to the flooding in Thailand (disk prices have shot up quite a bit recently as a result).
  4. PantherJeep thread starter macrumors member


    Jun 24, 2010
    Oceanside, CA
    Thanks for the replies, guys. Yeah, it's a crappy time to be buying disks, but with my luck being what it is that's is just par for the course.:rolleyes: Please bear with the following wall of text.

    So let me answer the "what do you currently have" question first, as it actually involves two machines.

    The Mac Pro is a 2008 dual-quad 2.8GHz w/ 32GB and an 8800GT running Lion. Current drives are one WDC Caviar Black 1TB (boot & apps) & three Maxtor DiamondMax 7200RPM 500GB in a software RAID0 (data/VMs). Backups go to a 2.5TB WDC Elements USB disk for Time Machine. This machine's daily workload consists of general office apps, photo retouching, light video editing, video trans-coding, and some gaming. I also maintain a VM test lab on it, with 2-4 VMs running most of the time. OS X & apps live on the boot volume; VMs and other data live on the RAID0. It doesn't set any speed records, but it performs perfectly well for my needs under its current usage.

    The second machine is a 2005 iMac 2.1GHz G5 20" iSight w/ 2.5GB memory with Leopard. It serves primarily as my streaming media server and home NAS. Streaming targets are two :apple:TV's, and 9 hosts share other data on it. It has an internal 500GB DMax 7200RPM (boot), a 1394a 500GB (nightly boot clone), a USB 1TB (iTunes), another USB 1TB (nightly iTunes clone), and a USB 1.5TB (TimeMachine). All external disks are single-disk enclosures. The Time Machine disk is dying (periodic Click-O-Doom), and I'm sitting at ~85% occupancy on the iTunes volume. I also think the NIC is dying as it can't handle more than one data stream without choking, whereas it used to have no trouble with two media streams and concurrent share access in its current configuration.

    Now to answer the "what do you want to do" question.

    I want to retire the iMac and consolidate down to the Mac Pro with an SSD boot/app volume and a 4TB data volume. Whether that's via 4x1TB RAID0 or 4x2TB RAID10 is immaterial to an extent, but at current prices I don't see 3TB disks in the equation right now. Backups will still go to slow external disks. I'm reasonably confident that this configuration, while not 'best of breed', will adequately support both current workloads on the Mac Pro alone. I really just need to "do something" before the iMac dies outright; and in consolidating machines, I want something at least slightly more robust than what I currently have.

    The reason for wanting a 'real' RAID controller is to be able to rebuild the large array in the event of a disk failure. I had a software RAID10 with four 500GB disks at one point, and couldn't rebuild the array after replacing a dead spindle - Disk Utility can't cope with that unless you have the Apple RAID card (and screw that - sucker's way too expensive/problematic). :(

    I don't foresee needing much in the way of online array transform capabilities, save for being able to rebuild the volume in the event of a spindle failure. And as long as it can do some kind of expansion, whether it's fast or slow isn't really a concern for me. If the MAXpower can't do a volume-intact expansion at all though, that would kill it as an option.

    Why did I specify the Seagate Connies? Price (for being SAS), plus I have two SATA Connies in my desktop at work that I like. :) But they only factor in for a SAS config. For SATA, the only thing that matters to me is that they not be DeskStars (bitten one too many times with these, tyvm :mad: ) and they must be 7200 RPM or better (so no Caviar Green).

    I was unaware of the Areco products until today, if I'm honest. Thanks for pointing them out; I'll give them a look as well. :cool:

    Finally, building out the Mac Pro is not the only option on the table. I'm also considering leaving the Mac Pro as-is and building out a Synology DS411+II (or similar) to replace the iMac. Another option under consideration is replacing the iMac with a Mac Mini and fresh external disks. So I'm still very much in the design & decision-making process, and the feedback is helping. Thanks!! :D
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    7200rpm SATA disks and the OWC branded controller will do what you need. If you get a good UPS (need one that does not use a stepped inverter), such as the SMT1500 by APC (line interactive pure sine wave inverter), you'd be better capable of running RAID 5 (increased usable capacity and performance than 10 for the same number of disks).

    As per rebuilding, it's automatic so long as you have a Hot Spare installed on the card. Otherwise, you'll have to pull the bad disk, put the new one in, and go into the RAID management utility and declare that disk as part of the set (manually declare the disk, then the rebuild begins = not that big of a deal). This would be the case with a RAID card as well if there's no Hot Spare.

    Worst case, if it can't do online migration or online expansion, you make a backup, reconfigure the array (add new disks, change levels, or both), then restore the data from backups.

    As per backups, Green drives are perfect, as you get the best cost/GB available. Speed isn't necessary for backups either.

    As per brand of disks, I'd recommend you stick to Western Digital right now, as Seagate's SATA disks have gone into the toilet (over 30% failure rates OTB - they're actually worse than Deathstars these days :eek:).

    Hope this helps. :)
  6. PantherJeep, Nov 12, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2011

    PantherJeep thread starter macrumors member


    Jun 24, 2010
    Oceanside, CA
    Funny you mention the UPS; as it happens, I *just* replaced my old Tripp-Lite UPS with that exact model. Great minds think alike I guess. :)

    I'm not a fan of hot-spares on small-scale systems; I can't stand burning 25% in this case of my drive capacity to let a disk sit idle (but can live with the same cap loss for a parity stripe). Hot-Spare convenience is nice, but I can live with a manual drive swap process. It'd be different in a larger enclosure where one disk was a smaller percentage of usable space. JMHO though.

    That really is disappointing to hear about Seagate. I have been happily using their disks literally for decades (my first Seagate disk was an ST-225 MFM drive - jeezus I'm getting old... :(). They all go through quality cycles though; there was a time not long ago when you couldn't have paid me to put a WDC product into service.:p

    I agree completely that Caviar Green disks are good for backup BTW; I just wouldn't use them in a somewhat-performance-oriented application.

    Anyway, yes - that does indeed help. :) It sounds from your previous post like you have some experience with 9480-based cards; would you say your opinion of this controller is positive overall? I'm not looking for a signed endorsement or anything, just a "sense" of whether it's a good part or not. Marvell themselves have grown on me over time, but I know virtually nothing about products based on this particular RoC.

    Cheers! :cool:
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I wasn't sure if you knew the details.

    For small scale implementations that aren't in remote locations, manual disk replacement is usually fine, which is what you're describing as your usage.

    Seagate's really blown it in the last few years (since 2008, and this includes their ES.2 series SATA Enterprise models :mad:).

    Personally, I've never been able to shake the feeling this has been the result of the Maxtor merger.

    Besides the OWC model, the only ones I can think of off the top of my head, are the ATTO R6xx series cards, which are as good as it gets (ATTO and Areca have very good reputations in the industry <equal with one another>, and my personal experiences concur - performance wise as well as reliability).

    My only issue with Areca (with the 1880 series), is they use a SAS expander for port counts greater than 8 (switched to LSI chips with this series), and don't state that anywhere on their product pages. The reason for this, is it slows down functions such as Initialization, Online Expansion, and Online Migration vs. their cards with true 1:1 disk to port ratios (no SAS expanders in the path whatsoever).
  8. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    sorry for the extra delay busy with work :)

    just some brain dump thoughts since you are in the decision state :)

    I have two apple TVs have all my kids movies on itunes makes it easy for them to watch what they want etc.. and allows me some control of what they see etc.. and notice the apple tv draws very little
    recently I added a elgato HD box going to edit out commercials for my little girl she loves clone wars :) but dont like some of the commercials

    the more I move forward with all are media and home server I have 5 mac pros hanging out here 2 are in heavy work load one is home theater setup the other two I am going to sell
    then replace the home theater one with a new mac mini and some externals of some kind ? I want some that dont have fans and will know thats not the best but have a warranty and places still have them relative good pricing
    this will then run all the apple TVs the Ipad sync stuff and general house stuff the mac pro just sucks way to much power !

    my main work mac I do image editing and photography related only so just giving you ideas
    Areca raid card (1220) going to 8 discs in a sans 8 bay case two 5 disc aid 5 stand alone boxes and another standard PM box just shy of 50 TB of storage on my box and about 20 on the other machine and a bunch of offline on top of it :)

    for backup sounds like you are set so this again is just info on things I have used
    now over the time I have come to hate and love the stand alone raid boxes !
    I hate the fact they tend to burn out power supplies after a few years
    I hate the glitches I had with firmware on the Venus T5 model I had so stay away from that one !
    I like the fact I can have one large storage with some hardware safety and a PM style single sata cable connection

    what I like about PM cases are nice easy one cable again and good enough speed

    OK onto other thoughts
    agree with nano about seagate ? used to love them but recent issues I am avoiding the WD green I have no real world experience so would say if he says they are good :) thats good enough for me
    I have had really good luck recently with hitachi and samsung F4 drives ? and have a bunch of 2 and 3 TB models
    I would really look at the 2TB hitachi or samsung along with the green WD
    and while I love 7200 the new 5400 are no slouch these days and can perform quite well and in a raid 10 setup the 5400 might be a option
    I would ask Nanofrog about running the normal drives on that card from OWC if you go that route ? if he knows any limitation etc.. ? thats his specialty area for sure :)

    the idea of raid 10 and not being able to rebuild ? I hear ya at the same time I never trust the idea of a rebuild so I go with the attitude its not going to happen :) nice to know I can but the same time always backup and have two backups one off site if you can

    I used to run raid 10 boxes a lot and would figure I would just rebuild complete off the backup if I needed to :)
    I know its not what you want to think or do ? but its the way I think for worst case

    I would make sure that card can rebuild of course :) and test it out if you get one ! I always test my stuff that I plan on

    one other thought would be if you get a mac mini and get a TB raid case ? the pegasus seem pretty cool then use a media type synology for backing up to and be able to stream some off that kinda a mixed setup ?

    one other thing to remember is as you move forward building up a mac pro is to think about ? not paranoia :) just to think life of product in case this is the last of the mac pros and they do not offer any more PCI slot computers !
    if you buy a card and such and their is no more mac pros can you sell that card can you eat the cost and not worry ? again just thinking especially before you plop down say bigger money on a lot nicer raid card !

    not sure if that helped ? but nano answered a bunch already :)

    I know for the future of what I want to do with our home the mac mini and some external storage is in the future might go FW800 at first and then see what TB cases come out over the next year

    my mac pro is a 5,1 model the other main one is a 3,1 that gets a update in a year or two and not sure what the future is for that replacement ?
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    • OP, though this post is in response to Honumaui's, there's pertinent information for you in this, so please give it a read. :)
    They have their uses, but most are software implementations, and users may not be aware of the details and make a mistake with the way they're using it (particularly by running it in a RAID 5).

    Generally speaking, the lower cost units are also a dead give-away as to it being a software implementation (when comparing the same number of disk bays). Not fool-proof, but helps when the vendor isn't clear as to what their implementation is.

    They're simple and the least expensive way to get large capacity storage (especially when paired with Green drives). They have their limits of course, but are highly useful. :)

    I stick to the following for WD:
    • Enterprise SATA = RE4's (necessary for RAID cards - for the OP's benefit, as this is important for stability reasons).
    • Consumer models @ 7200 rpm = Caviar Black (same platters and mechanicals as the 7200 rpm enterprise models)
    • Backup = Caviar Green
    I've lost my trust in Hitachi's SATA models since they moved their manufacturing to China (seen too many failures with them). It also coincides when the Deskstars got the nickname of Deathtar. :eek: :p Their SAS models are fine in my experience, particularly for database use (Toshiba's SAS disks, formerly branded under Fujitsu, is better for workstation use).

    Not so much experience with Samsung disks comparatively speaking (jury's still out for me), though from what I read, they're getting better. I prefer to hold off on these ATM though.

    RAID is no substitute for backups as you know. Unfortunately, I see a lot of users believe this is the case, and it's to their detriment if they do (eventually get burnt by massive data loss). :(

    As per rebuilds, software is hit-or-miss, but it works with proper RAID cards.

    As per the card from OWC, I'm under the impression it will work with standard consumer grade disks (no mention from OWC that enterprise models are required that I can see). My only knowledge of this chip is in an ATTO R6xx card, where enterprise drives are necessary (but there's more to those cards than just the Marvell 9480/'s).

    The Promise Pegasus R4 & R6 boxes use consumer grade disks, not enterprise models (Hitachi's IIRC).

    • OP, though this post is in response to Honumaui's, there's pertinent information for you in this, so please give it a read. :)
  10. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    lucky me then none of my hitachi are chinese :)

    yeah the raid 5 boxes are not for everyone when you have a huge storage need its nice but otherwise ? ahhhh pass :)
    unless its the Areca stand alone :) but they are not cheap :)

    yeah I know you know I know or something like that

    raid is not backup never was never will be !!!
    I generally for my area break raid into 3 things
    needing larger than a single HDD can offer is the main thing !
    offering protection against hardware failure !
    and gaining speed !

    now I say running safe raids is like having modern run flat tires ! great to have so you are not stranded on the side of the road on a dark rainy night in a crappy area ! but does not mean it should not be fixed right away !

    also my backup ideas are protect your self form hardware failure things like UPS or raid or other things

    protect yourself from you ! meaning OOOOPPPSSS I deleted the file OH no
    or OH no I need to go back a few hours if I could

    and also for things like we went out to dinner to come home to my house robbed or burnt down !!!!!

    I have yet to play with the pegasus stuff ? I am curious to try it out

    if you or anyone has ? would love to know if you can manage drives individually or if its a all in thing ?

    would love to get a 6 bay and run 5 in raid 5 and run one on its own if you needed to ?
  11. PantherJeep thread starter macrumors member


    Jun 24, 2010
    Oceanside, CA
    Thanks for the great dialog on the topic, guys. Lots of good info, especially for anyone just getting their feet wet with desktop RAID who might search their way into this thread. :)

    Unfortunately though, an unexpected expense yesterday has rendered this topic academic for me - at least until I can rebuild my hobby fund (ohhh, how I wish I could expense this stuff!). As a result, I'm pretty much down to just replacing the dying TM disk and maintaining my current equipment as-is for the moment.

    That said, I really appreciate the time you guys have taken to discuss everything so far, and by all means feel free to continue if you like. It'll only help when I can revisit this issue, hopefully in the next 3-ish months or so.

    I too am very interested to try out the Pegasus stuff; it (plus a TB-capable box) certainly looks interesting, and will surely be part of my next decision matrix. :)
  12. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    the good thing is though if it made ya think about things you might not have before :) thats cool :)
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It's extremely easy to make a mistake with RAID, so it's in your best interest to learn as much as you can before buying anything. ;)
  14. imacdaddy macrumors 6502a

    Feb 2, 2006
    I'm also in the market for HW RAID 6Gb/s SAS/SATA PCIe solution for my 3,1 MP that is able to boot into Mac OS X. The only brand which I've read that can boot OS X (Barefeats April 22 Article) is the ATTO R644 after a fw flash.

    Is there another 6Gbps SAS/SATA RAID card out there that can boot OS X and for cheaper?
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008

    Take a look at the Areca ARC-1880 or ARC-1882 series (also need to be flashed with EBC firmware, but once done, it can boot OS X).

    I'm not sure which model you actually need, but the ARC-1880i can be had for ~$260 less than the R644 (8 port internal, and it's possible to get an internal port to an external enclosure using one of these per SFF-8087 port).

    Please note, that with such cards, you'll need to comply with the following:
    • Max cable length is 1.0 meters for SATA (passive = no PM/SAS expander boards in the path)
    • Enterprise disks are necessary in order for the array to be stable (check the card maker's Compatibility Lists for verified HDD's, and select a model from it in order to avoid the headaches associated with drives that won't work properly).

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