Adding more drives with an External PCI-e 4 Port Card

When it comes to hard drives and the ridiculous use of space, I know a thing or two. It can be said that I have a few hard drives lying around. However, just because I have a few doesn’t mean I don’t need anymore. Thus, it was my goal to add 2 more hard drives to my larger machine. A 3TB internal drive is under $90 which is a great deal, so why not expand? Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but there are a couple of hitches.

The machine in question has 2 internal hard drive, 2 optical drive, an SSD and a docking port for another Sata drive. Count that up and it’s 6 drives. My motherboard has 6 Sata sockets. Where to go from here?

I certainly could just add more USB drives like I’ve been doing with the other machine, but that’s not really where I’m going with this machine. I’d prefer the internal version. This lead me to look for an expansion card that would give me more Sata ports.

Talk about opening a can of worms! Not only are the card radically different in speed and ability, not to mention ports and how many can be active at one time, people are setting up all sorts of different configurations.

One thing I did notice which I completely disagree with is connecting an SSD drive to an external card like this. The fastest connection is through the motherboard, period. No matter what you do, adding a card will slow things down. I immediately threw out that idea and also had no desire to hook my 7200 rpm drives to the card. Thus, all the optical drives would be connected which gives me 2 open Sata ports and solves the problem.

The card I got is:

IO Crest SATA III 4-port PCI-e 2.0 x2 Card Marvell Hyper Duo and RAID Mode Support with Low Profile Brackets SI-PEX40057 Green

4 Internal SATA 6Gb/s Ports
Compatible with SATA 6G, 3G and 1.5G Hard Drives
PCI-Express x2 Interface is Compatible with PCI-Express x2, x4, x8, and x16 slots
RAID mode Supported: RAID 0/1/1+0
HyperDuo is configured with at least 1 hard disk drive (HDD) and up to 3 solid state drives (SSD). By embedding automated tiring technology into the chipset.
Does not support Hardware RAID using Port Multiplier
Support 3TB and 4TB GPT Hard drives
Chipset: Marvell 88SE9230
Chipset: Marvell 88SE9230
Installed with a full profile bracket, low profile included with the package
Port Multiplier FIS-based and Command-based switching supported
Supports SATA Rev 3.0 transfer speeds up to 6.0Gbps and backwards compatible with SATA I/II at 1.5/3.0Gbps
Supports RAID 0 and 1 modes

This should be more than adequate to run my optical drives. Seems like I could use the other 2 ports for more internal drives, but I don’t think I’ll go that route. The machine will have 12TB which should be adequate for my needs. I have a separate data warehouse for real storage.

I got the card and hooked it into an open PCI-e slot. I moved some cables around and in a few minutes had the whole thing hooked up. It was quite simple really.

Windows 7 shows the device, but gives an error about drives. I copied the enclosed driver disc to a USB drive and then installed the drivers from there. Safety tip, if you’re disconnecting your optical drives you might want to make a copy of the driver disc before you rip everything apart. Word to the wise! And you can stop laughing now.

The drivers loaded with no problem and after a reboot everything was fine. I did have to go in a change the drive letters around. I want the hard drives to be C, D, E and F, the SSD to remain G with the optical filling in after that. Not a big deal. A quick trip in Computer Manager had that sorted out. Good thing BluRay drives are very easy to rename.

With all that done, I how have the 4 hard drive inside the machine connected directly to the motherboard, the SSD connected to motherboard and the 2 optical drives off the card. So far, everything seems to run find. Discs play as expected and all the drives can be seen.

So, if you need some more expansion this might be the way to go. Again, don’t put SSDs on the damn thing. That makes no sense.

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