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SATA Controller Cards

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On 1/23/2018 at 7:32 PM, Peaceful said:

 

Any recommendations for a replacement controller card that is <=$150?

 

 

On 1/24/2018 at 2:51 AM, Fireball3 said:

Dependent on your location, especially the rebranded cards can be very competitive in terms of pricing, but they have to be crossflashed.

 

If you are not comfortable with crossflashing a card, you can go to E-bay and Google with the term IT mode  and the model number of the card you are interested in.  That will usually bring a list of vendors who will provide crossflashed cards for about $20US more.  You want to watch the ratings of any vendor on E-bay so don't be guided by price alone.  I got mine for about $80US in the summer of 2017. 

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On 1/25/2018 at 4:49 AM, Frank1940 said:

 

 

If you are not comfortable with crossflashing a card, you can go to E-bay and Google with the term IT mode  and the model number of the card you are interested in.  That will usually bring a list of vendors who will provide crossflashed cards for about $20US more.  You want to watch the ratings of any vendor on E-bay so don't be guided by price alone.  I got mine for about $80US in the summer of 2017. 

 

Thanks for the tip.  I ended up buying an LSI 9207-8i from reputable seller on ebay and according to the Hardware Compatibility guide,  it comes in IT mode by default, so no flashing required (fingers crossed).  Better price than Amazon and no taxes either.

 

Thanks again to everyone for your help!

Peaceful

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The LSI SAS9201-8i is a pure HBA and requires no crossflashing. Not suitable for SSDs, but great for 8 spinners. Price normally  ~$50 US on eBay.

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10 minutes ago, SSD said:

The LSI SAS9201-8i is ....... Not suitable for SSDs, but great for 8 spinners. 

 

Why is it not suitable for SSDs?  just curious why an HBA would care??  

 

Thanks!

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1 minute ago, 172pilot said:

 

Why is it not suitable for SSDs?  just curious why an HBA would care??  

 

Total Band width on the Card-to-MB buss (Not enough channels to carry the full data rate for SSD's) 

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1 minute ago, Frank1940 said:

 

Total Band width on the Card-to-MB buss (Not enough channels to carry the full data rate for SSD's) 

 

Thanks - That's what I thought and hoped you meant..  Not a fundamental incompatibility, but rather just that you wont get the full speed benefit offered by the SSD.


Thanks for clarification!

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35 minutes ago, 172pilot said:

 

Why is it not suitable for SSDs?  just curious why an HBA would care??  

 

Thanks!

Bandwidth is part of the issue. But also the controller does not support running trim, which is important for SSDs.

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1 hour ago, SSD said:

the controller does not support running trim, which is important for SSDs.

True for most SSD's, some SSD's do plenty of housekeeping internally, and don't need trim.

Best to research your SSD choice thoroughly, many tiers of quality are available on the market, and not necessarily differentiated by brand or price.

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On 1/26/2018 at 10:09 AM, Peaceful said:

I ended up buying an LSI 9207-8i

 

This card does support trim for SSD's as that was the first thing I tested. If you have an ssd for use as a cache drive, you should use a MB sata port and have your spinners on the LSI 9207-8i. I am glad you found one for a good price. Please post your results when you have it installed and running if only for my Peace of mind. Ltr

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On 1/28/2018 at 9:09 AM, SoAvenger said:

 

This card does support trim for SSD's as that was the first thing I tested. If you have an ssd for use as a cache drive, you should use a MB sata port and have your spinners on the LSI 9207-8i. I am glad you found one for a good price. Please post your results when you have it installed and running if only for my Peace of mind. Ltr

 

Phase 3 of the unraid server rejuvenation project is finally finished and I am happy to report that the LSI 9207-8i from ebay is working perfectly OTB.  The card came in a retail box (wrapped in bubble wrap, no less!) complete with documentation, driver cd, and alternate mounting bracket.  Very pleased with the product and shipping from this ebay seller. 

 

Ended up moving the sata connections for all 8 drives to the LSI card leaving the 6 on-board ports open for future use.  I've also replaced all but one of the aging WD Black 1TB drives with HGST Deskstar 4TB drives, increasing data storage from 7TB to 25TB.  Considering that the WD balck drives ran non-stop for 6 years without a failure speaks highly of these older drives.  Now I have a pile of 1TB drives with nothing to do...

 

Thank you again for everyone's help with rejuvenating my server.

 

Peaceful

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17 hours ago, Peaceful said:

Now I have a pile of 1TB drives with nothing to do...

Sounds like perfect offline backup drive stash for your really important personal files.

External drive dock + padded drive storage box + periodic data refresh = best backup with little cash outlay.

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5 hours ago, jonathanm said:

Sounds like perfect offline backup drive stash for your really important personal files.

External drive dock + padded drive storage box + periodic data refresh = best backup with little cash outlay.

 

Agree -- that's what I do ... store the drives in WiebeTech DriveBoxes  [ https://www.amazon.com/DriveBox-Anti-Static-Storage-3-5-inch-10-pack/dp/B004UALLPE ] and keep them in a fireproof, waterproof, data-rated safe.

 

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Hello all,

 

I have been reading through this forum and i think my head is going to explode. lol

 

I after a simple PCIe to sata card to add an extra 4 HDDs to my unraid server. I have an asus mobo running a R5 1600x.

Im using unraid 6.4 if that make any difference.

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

After some more reading i was thinking of this.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/LSI-SAS-9207-8i-Storage-controller-8-Channel-SATA-6Gb-s-SAS-LSI00301/132132729417?_trkparms=pageci%3A49f3d935-28fb-11e8-b303-74dbd1807f16|parentrq%3A2e1c6d391620abc642f76da1fffb6125|iid%3A1&_trksid=p2481888.c100675.m4236

 

Thanks,

 

Michael

Edited by michaelc1985

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9 hours ago, michaelc1985 said:

Hello all,

 

I have been reading through this forum and i think my head is going to explode. lol

 

I after a simple PCIe to sata card to add an extra 4 HDDs to my unraid server. I have an asus mobo running a R5 1600x.

Im using unraid 6.4 if that make any difference.

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

After some more reading i was thinking of this.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/LSI-SAS-9207-8i-Storage-controller-8-Channel-SATA-6Gb-s-SAS-LSI00301/132132729417?_trkparms=pageci%3A49f3d935-28fb-11e8-b303-74dbd1807f16|parentrq%3A2e1c6d391620abc642f76da1fffb6125|iid%3A1&_trksid=p2481888.c100675.m4236

 

Thanks,

 

Michael

Michael,

Having just made this same upgrade on my unraid server, I understand feeling like your head is going to explode!  I did buy the same card you link to, but mine came from a US seller who shipped quickly and even wrapped the retail box in bubble wrap.  That specific controller, the LSI SAS 9207-8i, works out of the box with no special drivers or firmware flash required, and mine has been working flawlessly since it was installed.  Highly recommended.  Remember to also buy some mini SAS to SATA breakout cables to connect your sata drives to the controller card.  I believe I ordered these from Amazon and they worked just fine, other than the cable numbering stickers being incorrect on one set of cables.

 

Others with more experience may chime in here as well.  I've no experience with ordering that controller from China.

 

Have fun,

Peaceful

Edited by Peaceful
clarity, punctuation...

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1 hour ago, Peaceful said:

Michael,

Having just made this same upgrade on my unraid server, I understand feeling like your head is going to explode!  I did buy the same card you link to, but mine came from a US seller who shipped quickly and even wrapped the retail box in bubble wrap.  That specific controller, the LSI SAS 9207-8i, works out of the box with no special drivers or firmware flash required, and mine has been working flawlessly since it was installed.  Highly recommended.  Remember to also buy some mini SAS to SATA breakout cables to connect your sata drives to the controller card.  I believe I ordered these from Amazon and they worked just fine, other than the cable numbering stickers being incorrect on one set of cables.

 

Others with more experience may chime in here as well.  I've no experience with ordering that controller from China.

 

Have fun,

Peaceful

That model of card works good. As Peaceful said be wary of cards from China. I have heard about fake cards that don't work and can't be returned. IMO you should look for that card from a reputable US seller or pay a little more and get a new one from Amazon.

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100% agree.   in a rush to get a part for a server that was down, I grabbed an inexpensive but new in box card that end up coming from China, unbeknownst to me. I should have paid closer attention. It was a clone. It got 20 megabytes a second Max speeds. I emailed LSI and verified the serial number with them and they said for sure it was a counterfeit card. So be very careful what you buy and from whom.  After an email sh*tstorm  with the seller, he finally refunded my money in full and told me to keep the card.

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On Freitag, 16. März 2018 at 10:16 AM, michaelc1985 said:

 

I have been reading through this forum and i think my head is going to explode. lol

Yes, this is a problem since the first posts in this thread are somewhat outdated and, as of today, even misleading!

Maybe a mod can post a word of caution in the OP, and link to the hardware wiki.

I'm thinking of highlighting the most recommended cards in the wiki.

 

 

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On 3/19/2018 at 1:11 AM, Fireball3 said:

I'm thinking of highlighting the most recommended cards in the wiki.

 

 

 

That would be awesome as the quantity of information is wonderful, but it does feel like drinking from a fire hose.

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I'm looking at buying an LSI 9201-8i and I've got 2 serious questions and a somewhat rhetorical one:

 

1) Are all low-profile to standard-profile brackets the same? Every card I'm seeing on eBay comes with a low-pro bracket. I've got a card laying around with a screwed on std-profile bracket that I can pull off, but it looks (by eyeballing a picture on a web site) like the mounting screws are at the top & bottom of the LSI card while the bracket I have has a screw middle & bottom.

 

2) I've got 6 SATA3 ports on the mobo and I'll have 8 on the card. Other than the recommendation I've seen numerous times to put SSDs on the mobo to support TRIM (mine's a cheapie so it probably needs it), is there any recommendation to populate the mobo ports first, the card ports first or balance them out?

 

3) Why are the 9201-16e cards around $25-$50 while the -16i cards are $100-$150? What is it about mounting the connectors on the inside instead of the outside that doubles or triples the price??

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5 minutes ago, FreeMan said:

1) Are all low-profile to standard-profile brackets the same?

No, but many are very similar. If you have a large stash you may find something that matches at least one of the holes. As long as you don't short out any connections, you can use any bracket that keeps the card securely aligned to the slot.

 

9 minutes ago, FreeMan said:

What is it about mounting the connectors on the inside instead of the outside that doubles or triples the price??

Supply and demand.

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4 minutes ago, jonathanm said:

No, but many are very similar. If you have a large stash you may find something that matches at least one of the holes. As long as you don't short out any connections, you can use any bracket that keeps the card securely aligned to the slot.

I did say a card... However, after reading this I looked at the cards in the server, 2 of the 3 that will be replaced look like their hole alignment is pretty similar

 

5 minutes ago, jonathanm said:

Supply and demand.

Don't be getting all "common sense and economics" on me, I'm asking a snarky question, I expect demand a snarky answer! ;)

 

Any thoughts on question 2?

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33 minutes ago, FreeMan said:

Any thoughts on question 2?

Not educated ones, only instinctive. The motherboard ports are probably going to be better, so maybe balance quantity between the two and prefer motherboard for speed and SSD compatibility. Also, keep an eye on cooling, server type cards are designed for consistent airflow, and many desktop cases assume the cards can take care of their own cooling with card mounted fans like GPU's.

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2 minutes ago, jonathanm said:

Not educated ones, only instinctive. The motherboard ports are probably going to be better, so maybe balance quantity between the two and prefer motherboard for speed and SSD compatibility. Also, keep an eye on cooling, server type cards are designed for consistent airflow, and many desktop cases assume the cards can take care of their own cooling with card mounted fans like GPU's.

 

That's kinda what I thought about drive assignments, too.

 

Also, this is a big box with 6 fans - 3 in past the drives and 3 exhaust (1 back at the top, 2 straight up) plus the PSU fan exhausting out the back. I've never had any heat issues (that I know of), but I'll keep it in mind.

 

Appreciate the feedback.

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FWIW

 

I have 15 data drives on a 16-port LSI PCIe card, two parity drives on motherboard SATA2, and a 500gb WD black and an SSD on motherboard SATA3.  The 16-port is new to me, replacing an LSI 8-port, an Adaptec 4-port, and a handful more motherboard ports.  I did lose 15-25MB/s on my parity checks.... But the trade off is less hardware to fail, neater cable management for heat, and now I have some spare parts on hand.  Data transfers for streaming (Plex) to devices, and copying data to and from the server, have not appreciably changed much.

 

The heat issue is correct.  It doesn't matter how many push/pull fans you have, you need one directing air directly over (or near) the heatsink.  i had three intake fans (80mm fans in the hot swap bays for the drives) and two 140mm evac fans (at the top and rear of the case).  The heatsink of my LSI got so hot during a parity check that I could not touch it.  I added a pair of 140mm intake fans, on the side panel of the case, directly over the PCI slots, on lowest fan speed (barely audible) and that made a world of difference.

 

As for ports and speed, put your smallest drives on the slowest ports, so that, during a parity check or reconstruction, the smallest drives "finish first" and no longer need to be accessed via the slowest ports.  I used to run a PCI SATA1 controller on an old server while I was waiting for a new motherboard.... I had a couple of 1TB disks on that controller, and parity checks would crawl until it got past the 1TB mark, and then it flew with the onboard SATA2/3 ports.

Edited by tucansam

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