Final Words

If you haven't gotten the hint by now, we'll spell it out for you: there is no place, and no need for a RAID-0 array on a desktop computer. The real world performance increases are negligible at best and the reduction in reliability, thanks to a halving of the mean time between failure, makes RAID-0 far from worth it on the desktop.

There are some exceptions, especially if you are running a particular application that itself benefits considerably from a striped array, and obviously, our comments do not apply to server-class IO of any sort. But for the vast majority of desktop users and gamers alike, save your money and stay away from RAID-0.

If you do insist on getting two drives, you are much better off putting them into a RAID-1 array to have a live backup of your data. The performance hit of RAID-1 is just as negligible as the performance gains of RAID-0, but the improvement in reliability is worthwhile...unless you're extremely unlucky and both of your drives die at the exact same time.

When Intel introduced ICH5, and now with ICH6, they effectively brought RAID to the mainstream, pushing many users finally to bite the bullet and buy two hard drives for "added performance". While we applaud Intel for bringing the technology to the mainstream, we'd caution users out there to think twice before buying two expensive Raptors or any other drive for performance reasons. Your system will most likely run just as fast with only one drive, but if you have the spare cash, a bit more reliability and peace of mind may be worth setting up a RAID-1 array.

Bottom line: RAID-0 arrays will win you just about any benchmark, but they'll deliver virtually nothing more than that for real world desktop performance. That's just the cold hard truth.

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  • ciwell - Thursday, July 01, 2004 - link

    Excellent article...and for those who think it is faster experientially: it is all in your head. ;) Reply
  • SilverBack - Thursday, July 01, 2004 - link

    I'm using two RAID 0 arrays.
    A8V mobo with a promise 378 controller and the onboard VIA as well.

    I prefer the system this way. It just makes the whole windows experience faster.

    Reply
  • RebolMan - Thursday, July 01, 2004 - link

    Any subjective comments on whether the system using RAID-0 feels any smoother? A lot of people comment that P4s with Hyperthreading produce a system that just feels more responsive regardless of whether it's really any faster.

    I find the best thing to do (under Windows) when you've got two drives hooked up is to move your Virtual memory onto the one which you use less. There's all sorts of tricks you can use to distribute your system load without necessarilly using RAID.
    Reply
  • wanosd - Wednesday, August 04, 2010 - link

    I recently did a test by copying a few GB of data from a WD 160 GB drive to another WD 160 GB drive. It took about 4 mins.

    I then renamed the folder that I just copied and then copied it back to the original drive, and again got about the same time, with only a few seconds difference.

    I timed my boot from Windows from the time the OS takes over, all the way to the desktop, and it took about 35 seconds. I do NOT have any bloatware or junk on my system.

    Finally, I enabled RAID 0 for these two drives. Now the same version of Windows boots up in about 25 seconds (not as fast as you'd think). Also, copying the same folder from my 3rd hard drive to my RAID 0 drives is taking 1 minute and 45 seconds. The seek time itself may be still slow, but once you get the data going, it'll definitely help out.
    Reply
  • qepsilonp - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    I play eve online and i can be running at any given time 3 clients of eve a music player / video / or a text to speech program a browsing client with usually 5 - 7 tabs and sometimes i even want to be able to extract files at the same time I think for that kind of usage RAID 0 would be very worth it, did you even consider a lot of users do multiple demanding tasks at once? Reply
  • qepsilonp - Saturday, November 05, 2011 - link

    while yes when running one application RAID 0 is usually useless but when like me most of the time you are using 2-3 clients of a heavily HDD relent game where sometimes it takes a while to get the files for the 3D images and sometimes because of that your they wont show up on the screen for sometimes 5 seconds and i know its not anything else but the HDD because i have a new computer and the only piece of hardware that hasn't been updated is the HDD and im still getting it.

    if i was able i would also be running a HD movie or have my computer read a book to me with a text to speech program or be playing music and also maybe extracting something with Winrar you cant tell me that with all those IO's that RAID 0 wouldn't help at all, considering the game im playing is eve online and when i jump in and a gate can have 1000 ships on it thats maybe 32 different ships types which have to be gotten from the HD which is probably something like 100mb times 2 - 3 thats 64 to 96 IO's thats if theres isnt multiple files that need to be called up for 1 ship type so yeah I think in the deck top for power users there is a place for RAID 0
    Reply

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