RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. This is a data storage virtualization technology where multiple physical disk drives are employed in a logical unit. The main goal behind the RAID is data redundancy in addition to performance gains where the failure of one drive may not result in the loss of the data. This is with the exception of RAID 0 where there is no redundancy.
Speaking of RAID 0, there are levels or schemas defined depending upon the requirement of the storage solution for which RAID is being set up. We have RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and so on. Each has its own pros and cons and pertains to the specific situation requirements.
In RAID 0 we only strip the data and do not span it meaning there is no mirroring of the data which can result in the loss of data in case either of the disks becomes faulty.
Cutting short, we are not going into the details about RAID as our topic here today is how to set up RAID on an Intel Z690 chipset motherboard using Sabrent PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSDs. Make sure to also go through our Best Z690 Motherboard list if you haven’t picked one.
It is not specific to the Sabrent SSDs as any other brand’s SSDs can be used. We have mentioned Sabrent because we have used Sabrent Rocket Q 1TB NVMe SSDs for this content.
Test Build Specifications:
Before we begin, here is the rundown of the configuration which is used for the RAID setup and testing:
- GIGABYTE Z690 AERO G
- Intel i7-12700k [Stock, Auto]
- Sabrent Rocket 16GBx2 DDR5 kits
- Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB
- Sabrent Rocket Q 1TB x 2 NVMe SSDs [For RAID]
- Sabrent Rocket Q 500GB NVMe SSD [For OS, Windows 10 already installed]
- be quiet! Straight Power 11 850W Platinum PSU
- Thermaltake Core P6 TG Snow Edition in an open frame layout
The first thing to do is the installation of the drives. Please note that we are not creating RAID on SATA drives but on the PCIe-based drives.
The above picture shows the 2x Sabrent Rocket Q 1TB NVMe drives installed on the two M.2 ports. These ports are wired with the chipset.
In the next step, power on the PC and enter in the UEFI/BIOS. We first validated the three NVMe drives on x4 speed. The same can be seen in the picture showing the list of connected devices.
The above picture from UEFI/BIOS is showing all three NVMe drives showing up.
In the Settings menu, select IO Ports.
Under the settings/IO Ports menu, select the SATA Configuration.
Ensure that the SATA Controller is enabled which is enabled by default. Nothing wrong with double-checking.
Under the Settings/IO Ports menu, select the VMO Setup Menu.
You will see one option which is Enable VMO Controller. Set it to enabled.
After enabling the VMO controller, you will see further options. We need to disable the mapping of the drives which will not be included in the RAID. Ensure the following:
- Disable the VMO Global Mapping. This will let us disable/enable individual drive mapping.
- Disable the first Root port [0/6/0] as this pertains to our boot drive which will not be included in the RAID.
- Enable the Root port [0/27/4 and 0/26/0] as these pertain to our two Rocket Q NVMe 1TB drives which will be included in the RAID.
- Disable the Root Port under the SATA controller.
Pay attention here as any wrong setting will result in controller conflict and the OS will not boot.
Save your settings and exit the BIOS. The PC will restart. On the restart, enter the UEFI/BIOS again.
Under Settings/IO Ports, select Intel Rapid Storage Technology. This option was not available before enabling the VMO.
Here you will a list of drives and an option to create the RAID volume. Select Create RAID Volume.
Here you will be presented with a few more options. You can set the name of the Volume which we set to Rocket Q.
Next, you will be presented with the available RAID level options which may vary. We have used the RAID 0.
Next, you will have to select the drives one by one to be included in the RAID.
The X mark will confirm that drives have been selected to be included in the RAID volume.
Next, you will have to choose the strip size for the RAID volume. We selected 128KB. This is actually the block size. The typical values as per RAID level are:
- 128KB for RAID 0
- 64KB for RAID 5
- 64KB for RAID 10
Typically, a lower block size is suggested for the server system and larger block size is suggested for the multimedia system.
Next, you can set the capacity of the RAID volume. The maximum available capacity will already be shown and you can leave it as it is to use the available full capacity.
Clicking on the Create Volume will put the settings in effect and create a RAID volume for the user.
Now you can see the created RAID volume on this screen.
Clicking or selecting the RAID volume, will load its information page. You also have the option to delete the volume from this page.
Save your settings and exit the BIOS.
This will restart the system. Since we already have Windows 10 installed on the OS drive. The system booted in Windows. In case you are installing Windows after creating the RAID volume.
You will need to download the Intel Rapid Storage package from the motherboard’s webpage and copy the IRST folder in the Windows installation drive.
During the installation, the setup will prompt the driver of the RAID controller. Browse on the drive to IRST and select the listed driver. This will install the related driver.
Once in the windows, download and install the Intel Rapid Storage driver package (in case of windows is already installed).
Launch the Intel Optane Memory and Storage Management software. You will see the RAID volume listed there.
The above picture shows the properties of the RAID volume.
We have used the following software:
- AS SSD 1.8.5636.37293
- ATTO Disk Benchmark 4.0
- CrystalDiskMark 6
- Anvil Pro Storage Utilities 1.1.0
The Sabrent Rocket Q 1TB NVMe SSD is rated for up to 3200MB/s sequential read and up to 2000MB/s sequential write. The 4K IOPS ratings are 125K random read and 500k random write on QD 32. Here are the results.
Impressive results as we are seeing almost double the rated sequential speeds. 4K QD32 performance is impressive as well.
Impressive performance in ATTO as well. 6.47GB/s is the maximum sequential read speed and 3.47GB/s is the maximum sequential write speed.
Similar results were seen in the AS SSD benchmark.
Anvil’s storage benchmark is no exception to the above results.
We have used DiskBench in multiple scenarios to check the real-world data transfer rates. Here are the results:
A compressed file of 97GB containing multiple compressed files and folders of different sizes was copied to the Rocket Q volume. The file was then read from the DiskBench. We have a transfer rate of 2768972MB/s as compared to a speed of 1873.454 MB/s for a single drive.
Next, we copied the same compressed file from one folder to another on the same drive. The transfer rate is 1643.614MB/s as compared to the speed of a single drive which is 832.033MB/s.
Next, we copied a folder of 167GB size containing multiple compressed files, sub-folders, and mixed other files. The transfer rate was 1414.982MB/s as compared to the speed of 633.117MB/s for a single drive.
There is no conclusion drawn here as this is a guide on how to set up RAID on the Intel Z690 chipset using the GIGABYTE Z690 AERO G motherboard and 2x Sabrent Rocket Q 1TB NVMe SSDs. We have shown a step-by-step procedure for setting the RAID and necessary tips along the way. The testing section shows some basic testing showing the impressive performance gain from the RAID.
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