[SOLVED] I need a SAS Expander card but what about the specs? x16 versus x8 and 12Gb/s versus 6Gb/s...

cemster

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Hi,

I found myself in need of a SAS expander card to accommodate my Z590 series motherboard that I am running an audio workstation with. Which only comes with 6 HDD Bays.

I am not going to RAID. I need 6 ports. So they are gonna be 12 total with my MOBO. They should support at least 8 TB drives, and they are all going to be needed at any given moment in my workflow.

But most of the cards I found Googling are either: x1, x2, x4, or Lanes are not mentioned at all.

And then there is 6Gb/s versus 12Gb/s cards... I've heard that the performance is %30 better with the latter.

I am perplexed about which specs I should chase. Which would be good enough? Obviously, I'd like a fast and reliable card.

So help on the subject and also maybe some specific card suggestions would be appreciated.
 
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popatim

Titan
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Hi,

I found myself in need of a SAS expander card to accommodate my Z590 series motherboard that I am running an audio workstation with. Which only comes with 6 HDD Bays.

I am not going to RAID. I need 6 ports. So they are gonna be 12 total with my MOBO. They should support at least 8 TB drives, and they are all going to be needed at any given moment in my workflow.

But most of the cards I found Googling are either: x1, x2, x4, or Lanes are not mentioned at all.
Lanes aren't mentioned because Expanders don't use them, they only use the slot for power. Data travels from the Expander back to the Raid controller via a separate connection cable.

In summary, you've been searching for the wrong thing.


As already mentioned, get an LSI card that can be flashed to IT mode or get one already flashed. This mode turns the raid card into a simple Sata controller card and can give you 8+ sata ports easy that won't saturate the PCI lanes. many non-raid cards that have 4 to 8 ports only have x1 pcie lanes and running 2 fast drives will come close to saturating the cards bandwidth.

You also need to make sure your motherboard actually has a PCIE slot that is running at x8 or x16. many motherboards give yo an x16 slot but only run them at x4.
 
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Eximo

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I suppose it depends on the bandwidth you expect to be using. If you are only accessing one drive at a time, than a 1x card is fine. If you plan to do regular backups involving multiple drives simultaneously, probably want the 12 Gb/s (6Gb/s is standard SATA III speed)
 

cemster

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You think you covered everything in the post and you are ready to go and then... :)

Sorry, my bad.

I have 1x10TB, 4x8TB, 5x 6TB HDDs, and 2x1TB SSDs. They are all DATA drives except SSDs. They are all going to be needed at any given moment in my workflow. No backup I make clones. And then just do a manual backup of daily project data...

But there is a heavy HDD-based workflow activity. So I also thought of those 12 GB/s cards and then x12 lanes too... But where are they? :)
Obviously, I won't be paying thousands of dollars, and I don't even want to pay more than a couple of hundred... But I can't even find them Googling...
 

Eximo

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Not sure that helps narrow it down too much. These are all going to be internal drives? Or will they be residing in an external cabinet?

I find Newegg.com to be the best resource for locating the more obscure hardware. But there is always ebay, but that might get you into proprietary territory.

I found this which is relatively cheap, but not sure how much the breakout cables cost, or if they are supposed to be paired with a backplane:

https://www.newegg.com/supermicro-aoc-usas2-l8i-sata-sas/p/N82E16816101334

And this one, which shows the breakout cable:

https://www.newegg.com/intel-srcsas18e-sata-sas/p/N82E16816117044
 

cemster

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Considering what I have now and since for the moment all I need is 6 extra internal ports, maybe I should just get an 'x8 6Gb/s non-raid card' and seize the day...

Any suggestions?
 

Eximo

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Sure, but most cards will be RAID controllers regardless. Most controllers are capable of that by default.

The above are the cheapest I could track down without digging through amazon and ebay. I don't like amazon much for looking for computer parts, basically no filters. Good for cross checking prices though.
 
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faalin

Judicious
Look up the LSI megaraid SAS 9260-81 card on ebay, run around $30 and you can have 8 drives on it. I run a LSI Mega Raid SAS 9260 -16i in a home server with 8TB drives attached. 3 drives run in raid 5 for my steam game library backup, 5 drives run in raid 5 for my camera system that records 24/7 with 2 weeks of backups before getting deleted, the last 8 drives are for raw storage.
 
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cemster

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I don't know if there are any advantages of a non-raid card versus a Raid card, but
either way, I don't mind. I might use Riad 5 later anyway. Just for SYS SSD...

Cheers everybody, I appreciate your input...
 

faalin

Judicious
I don't know if there are any advantages of a non-raid card versus a Raid card, but
either way, I don't mind. I might use Riad 5 later anyway. Just for SYS SSD...

Cheers everybody, I appreciate your input...

The LSI cards you dont have to run the drives in raid, I do just for my on sake. With 16 8TB drives i can afford to loose a few for redundancy, other then the 5 drives for the camera system the other 2 raids are only there for backups to my main system.
 

cemster

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Yes, I understand that. I was just wondering any difference between a non-raid card versus a raid card in IT mode...

Your backup Raid, is it RAID5?
 
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popatim

Titan
Moderator
Hi,

I found myself in need of a SAS expander card to accommodate my Z590 series motherboard that I am running an audio workstation with. Which only comes with 6 HDD Bays.

I am not going to RAID. I need 6 ports. So they are gonna be 12 total with my MOBO. They should support at least 8 TB drives, and they are all going to be needed at any given moment in my workflow.

But most of the cards I found Googling are either: x1, x2, x4, or Lanes are not mentioned at all.
Lanes aren't mentioned because Expanders don't use them, they only use the slot for power. Data travels from the Expander back to the Raid controller via a separate connection cable.

In summary, you've been searching for the wrong thing.


As already mentioned, get an LSI card that can be flashed to IT mode or get one already flashed. This mode turns the raid card into a simple Sata controller card and can give you 8+ sata ports easy that won't saturate the PCI lanes. many non-raid cards that have 4 to 8 ports only have x1 pcie lanes and running 2 fast drives will come close to saturating the cards bandwidth.

You also need to make sure your motherboard actually has a PCIE slot that is running at x8 or x16. many motherboards give yo an x16 slot but only run them at x4.
 
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cemster

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@ popatim

Wouldn't a non-RAID PCIe 3.0 x2 (Electrical) 6 port card be sufficient as well?

like these x4 cards? (They are x2 Electrical)

PCIE-4X 6SATA
https://www.amazon.com/BEYIMEI-Controller-Expansion-Non-Raid-Converter/dp/B08DFK4LZ7/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=ASM1166&qid=1633703772&sr=8-6&th=1

or this: which is sold on the same page I don't understand the difference

NEW 4X 6SATA
https://www.amazon.com/BEYIMEI-Controller-Expansion-Non-Raid-Converter/dp/B098QMGMF3/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=ASM1166&qid=1633703772&sr=8-6&th=1
 
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