Testing and Results
Testing was carried out using CrystalDiskMark 64bit 3.03, using random data and 9 passes. The 3 graphs show 50Mb, 1000Mb and 4000Mb Sequential Test over RAIDs 0, 1, 5, 6 and a single drive. Also included are Windows 7 software configurations Mirror, Striping and Spanning. All tests were carried out using Windows 7 64 Ultimate, all updates and associated patches. The HighPoint RAID Management used was 126.96.36.199.0415 and the RocketRAID 2720SGL BIOS was 1.5.
On the face of it and underneath too, RAID 1, Windows spanning and mirroring all have a very similar performance which was a bit of a surprise. With the exception of the 50Mb test, RAID 0 and Windows Striping have a very similar performance too. We are more interested in the RAID 5 & 6 performances however, with a trade-off between redundancy and speed acceptable and fit for the original requirements. In non-synthetic trials the file transfer rate is around 110Mb/s sustained noted when transferring back up files during configuration set up.
So RAID 5 and 6, but why? Well as stated it’s about the compromise between redundancy and speed. RAID 0 and Striping are the fastest, but with a failure the array is lost (from my experience at least). With RAID 1, Windows Spanning and Mirroring you do have redundancy, but speed is an issue. When we say redundancy, really only one drive tolerance instead of the two drive tolerance of RAID 6.
It is pretty obvious where this is going and you may say we could have just read this on Wiki and implemented. Well, that’s true, but we have some speed comparisons and we got to see how the Operating System would read and react to the different set ups.
So there we have it, some configs, benchies and a winner. We are going to run RAID 6 for a while and do some longer term tests, we also are running it on Windows 8.1 64bit without any issues. It is a bit of an odd Operating System for a server but all of the tests used Windows 7 64bit so we gave it a good run for its money, with no issues. There is a probability that we will use an iPad or Android Tablet to remote desktop and the Windows 8.1 interface is perfect for this. We have already tested on an HTC One and an LG G3 with success.
We are possibly going to bench it with Synology DiskStation DS1512+ at a later date but this will only be a curiosity as initial side by side comparisons with a DS1512+ using 5 drives in RAID demonstrated adequate performance but not on par with a Windows machine, maybe more later.
So to end, RAID 6, Windows 8.1 and a long term test under way. By the looks of things, this is the best set up for performance vs fault tolerance and usability so far. We are running cloud software, iTunes and network sharing all media and documents without issues and in a fast and available way.
From a hardware point of view the drives are quiet and cool and we will cover some noise and cooling/cable set-ups in part 4. The RAM and CPU’s have not faltered and the Server has met all expectations so far and surpassed them. It is almost to the point where we don’t know what we would do without it, even when compared to our old HP Proliant and the various NASes we have had.