Mini review of the Highpoint RocketRAID 3520-LF

Discussion in 'Storage & Backup' started by Goldfire, May 15, 2009.

  1. Goldfire

    Goldfire Member

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    Hello fellow OCAU'ers.

    I recently picked up the Highpoint RocketRAID 3520-LF and thought I'd share my experiences in terms of setting up, installation and speed comparisons with an onboard RAID and a single drive.

    The Highpoint RocketRAID features an Intel 81341 800MHz and a dedicated 256MB of DDR2 RAM which helps with parity calculations. There are two Mini-SAS connectors placed on the rear of the card, each Mini-SAS connector expands to 4 SATAII ports which allows connection to the (8) SATAII HDD's.

    When building the RAID5 array, it took around 4 hours to complete using 3x1.5TB drives. However, setting up the array was a very easy task, and most computer users should pick it up straight away.

    The array was usable during this time, but not very comfortable. My main goal with setting this array up was that it was quick enough to maintain a maximum speed when used over the gigabit network.

    ~~~ First up, the server configuration and some background information ~~~

    Windows Server 2003 Enterprise SP2
    Asus P5K-R
    Intel Q6600 @ stock
    4GB PC-6400 @ 667MHz
    ThermalTake 550W PSU
    First Array - RAID0 /w 4x Seagate 500GB HDD's using the onboard ICH9R
    Second Array - RAID5 /w 3x Seagate 1.5TB HDD's using the Highpoint RocketRAID 3520-LF

    The original RAID0 has been used for almost 9 months now, and it's full. I found myself constantly deleting data to make room for new data. Of course, given the dangerous characteristics of RAID0, I didn't always feel safe about my data security.

    Now that I have the RAID5, I feel a bit more secure in terms of the protection against data loss. Of course, backups were made of the important data to a external eSata 320GB HDD during the use of the RAID0 Array.

    I will be using both HD Tune & HD Tach (HD Tach will be used with 8MB bench runs) for the HDD benchmarks. If anyone else would like to see benchmarks using other programs, let me know. :thumbup:

    ~~~ Second up, the benchmarks ~~~

    1x Western Digital 500GB (WD5000AAKS) (Drive usage: 87%) (thanks goes to UkleleGod for supplying the single drive stats):

    ~~~ HD TUNE ~~~
    [​IMG]

    ~~~ HD TACH ~~~
    [​IMG]

    4x Seagate 500GB (ST3500630AS) Array 1 (RAID0) (Drive usage: 99% full):

    ~~ HD TUNE ~~
    [​IMG]

    ~~ HD TACH ~~
    [​IMG]

    3x Seagate 1.5TB (ST31500341AS) Array 2 (RAID5) (Drive usage: 67% full):

    ~~ HD TUNE ~~
    [​IMG]

    ~~ HD TACH ~~
    [​IMG]

    ~~~ Last, but not least ~~~

    After using the Highpoint RocketRAID 3520-LF for a few days now, I noticed that the heatsink of the card can become quite hot even with an ambient temperature of ~19c:

    When testing for the temperature, I found the hottest spot on the heatsink.

    This image was taken after the computer had been powered down for approximately 5 mins

    [​IMG]

    I added a 40x25mm fan to the RAID controller card to improve the temperature. This picture was taken around 30 minutes after boot up and has had some use (thanks goes to UkuleleGod for supplying the fan :thumbup:)

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, even a drop of 10c is a good sign of improving the longevity of the controller card.

    ~~~ Conclusion ~~~

    While only having the 3520-LF for a short amount of time, I can already see speed increases over my existing RAID0. While it may not be a cheap solution, the overall performance from the Intel 81341 800MHz CPU and 256MB of dedicated DDR2 RAM certainly helps with parity calculations and provides a fast and snappy experience.

    Pros:
    * Speed & performance
    * Easy to set up
    * Online expansion allows you to add more HDD's into the RAID without having to destroy the current RAID
    * RAID 6

    Cons:
    * Heat, can be fixed with a small 40mm fan however
    * Price, I picked this up for $840. It can be had for cheaper elsewhere though
    * Lengthy array build times

    If anyone is looking for a RAID5/6 card with 8 SATAII ports, I'd recommend the Highpoint RocketRAID 3520-LF if it fits in with their budget.

    If anyone would like more information, feel free to post in this thread. I hope this small review has been useful for people in the market for a RAID5/6 card. :thumbup:
     
  2. OZeight

    OZeight Member

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    Nice mini review Goldfire thanks for that.

    The HP 3520-LF looks pretty good, faster than my 6x1TB array (although I'm using 5400rpm drives) which only returns 150MB/s on HDTACH via my Highpoint 2340. Then again mine is just slow for some reason, others top 200 with the same setup :confused:

    Without doing some digging myself, do you know if you can upgrade that DDR2 RAM on the 3520? That'd be neat, though perhaps not needed...
     
  3. terrastrife

    terrastrife Member

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    crystaldiskmark so we can get some write figures :D
     
  4. neon_87

    neon_87 RIP

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    looks reasonably fast for 3 disks. If you just wanted to saturate gigabit, a 2320 would have done the trick for half the price. If im spending that much money, i would have bought a 5805 adaptec card instead.

    Still, good review.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Goldfire

    Goldfire Member

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    No, the RAM isn't upgradable, I did run some benchmarks as soon as the RAID array was created, it maxed out at around 1GBps on HD Tach in the burst speed, compared to now with 871MBps. I have noticed the drop in overall speed as the drives have been filling up.

    It wasn't just to saturate the network at gigabit speeds, more than a few users will be accessing the array at any one time. I did look at the 2320 and said to myself, for a small amount more, I can get a quicker card overall with it's IOP CPU and dedicated RAM.

    I also looked at the Adaptec, but wasn't too familar with them as a brand, I'd personally rather go with a brand I know and trust etc. (I know Adaptec is a good brand, but haven't had a great run with them in the past)

    I haven't used CrystalMark before, so I'm not sure if I did this correctly:

    Benchmark from CrystalMark

    [​IMG]
     
  6. eva2000

    eva2000 DDR1/DDR2/DDR3 Addict

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    Yup great raid card, have one myself with 4x32GB OCZ Core V1 SSD http://i4memory.com/f9/ocz-core-ssd...etraid-3520lf-pci-e-x8-raid-controller-10744/

    Price on 3520LF has jumped alot since i bought mine for $591 + 29 in shipping and CC surcharges from http://www.itsdirect.com.au/. Now lowest price is around $765-790! 30-33% more expensive :eek:

    38C on heatsink is cool compared to the heat output an Adaptec 5805 would push out!

    One thing though with raid 5, always have a hot spare ready for automatic rebuilds :)
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2009
  7. terrastrife

    terrastrife Member

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    sexy write speeds there :)
     
  8. neon_87

    neon_87 RIP

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    I call bullshit on the 512kb tests? Perhaps due to the cache on the card.... just seems wrong.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Goldfire

    Goldfire Member

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    No bullshit at all, I don't want to skew the results. It's a great RAID card from what I can see, it has also increased the overall performance for the operating system itself.
     
  10. terrastrife

    terrastrife Member

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    yup its due to cache.

    the 4k is fast though. hpt2000's are around 25MB/sec
     
  11. ysu

    ysu Member

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    Can I ask how long does it take for your computer too boot up from the point you hit the power button to the point you get the opsys running and usable?
    (just roughly, not to the split second)
     
  12. DavidRa

    DavidRa Member

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    What level of performance do you get with a copy from one part of the array to a different part of the array? I like:

    robocopy E:\Src E:\Dest /e /w:0 /r:0

    Try this on a mixed size data set - 1000 small and 100 large files - it will give you a speed at the end.

    Also, 3 disks in RAID 5 is one of the "optimal" numbers to use - 2 data plus 1 parity. With 2 data disks (or 4, 8) the card is able to use all integer maths to divide the stripe into chunks. Add 1 disk for parity data and you have the formula:

    Optimal Disks = 2n + 1

    where n is an integer (1, 2, 3, 4).
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2009
  13. MetalPhreak

    MetalPhreak Member

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    When you run crystal set the test size to 500mb (or anything bigger than your raid cards cache size) :thumbup:
     
  14. KillerBunny

    KillerBunny Member

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    So what's the optimal next size up after 3 disks?

    Obviously 1TB drives are the best value at the moment, but you would want 4 or 5 of them IMO. Is a 4 1TB drive raid 5 array not very efficient compared to a 3?

    What's the next efficient level? 6?
     
  15. DavidRa

    DavidRa Member

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    Well with 4 drives, each stripe (say 64K) is divided into 3 data pieces. 3 doesn't go evenly into 65536 (21845 1/3).

    3 drives = 21 + 1

    Next level = 22 + 1 = 5 disks (4 + 1)

    Next level = 23 + 1 = 9 disks (8 + 1)

    Next level = 24 + 1 = 17 disks (16 + 1)

    [Edit: 2n always divides nicely into the stripe because the stripe is always 2n KB - 4, 8, 16 and so forth - in size; even 1KB is 210 bytes. It's all rather nice actually.]
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2009
  16. KillerBunny

    KillerBunny Member

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    AH okay. I was under the impression RAID 5 needed 1 disk per every 3 (ie 33% of your space) just for the parity bit...?? Am I mistaken?? :D:D
     
  17. DavidRa

    DavidRa Member

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    Rather than go further OT, I'm going to point you to the descriptive article I wrote on OzHardware.

    Page 5 should be about right ...

    Basically 1 disk is enough for ALL RAID 5 sets no matter how many disks - XOR just works that way.
     
  18. KillerBunny

    KillerBunny Member

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    Thanks Mate.
     
  19. issa2006

    issa2006 Member

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    http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=210_385&products_id=8009

    $429? is this the same card?

    good price? not as fast as the 4x series.

    whats the max output (data) (if i hook up my 4x raptors in r0?)

    the last card hp 26xx (x4 pci-e) could not go past 260mb/sec.. but hook up to a x48 r0 , i get 510+ mb/sec



    would i be better of with this?
    NEW Areca ARC1680ix-12 SAS RAID 12-port controller
    http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&item=180273226624


    500$ or less for a raid card that can control 8 hdd (i think cables to hook up all 8 hdd are included?) is cheap?
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2009
  20. KillerBunny

    KillerBunny Member

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    I see that on PC case gear. Bargain!!! Same price as a 2320 everywhere else WTF???

    I am going to order one I think, cant beat that price.
     

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