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Promise Fastrak TX4650 Review

Promise Fastrak TX4650 PCI-E RAID card review

Manufacturer: Promise Technology
UK Price (as reviewed): £94.02
US Price (as reviewed): $111.99 (ex. Tax)

We recently borrowed a Promise Fastrak TX4650 RAID card for our how to build a NAS box guide, but we were still curious whether the card is faster than an on-board RAID controller. So, with four Hitachi Ultrastars in hand, we fired up the test rig.

The Fastrak TX4650 is powered by Promise's own PDC42819 chip which uses the CPU for its calculations to keep the cost down. It has four SATA 3Gbps ports pointing towards the front of the case and a 1x PCI Express connector. The card has its own BIOS and is bootable, so an OS can be installed to it; Promise includes drivers on its website should they need be injected early in the OS install.

Promise Fastrak TX4650 Review Promise Fastrak TX4650 PCI-E RAID card review
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Unfortunately the PCI-E spec supported is only 1.1, which is limited to 250MB/sec regardless of whether a more modern 2.0 slot (500MB/sec) is used or not. On the plus side though, the four SATA ports support all manner of RAID configurations: 0, 10 (0+1), 5 and JBOD with online RAID migration to 'higher' RAID levels (0 to 5, for example) and RAID expansion (adding extra disks).

The card has pin-outs for either a global activity LED across all four ports, or each individual port if you want to mod something more fancy. The PCB underneath also has solder points for two eSATA ports, but this hardware is not part of the TX4650 card.

Promise Fastrak TX4650 Review Promise Fastrak TX4650 PCI-E RAID card review Promise Fastrak TX4650 Review Promise Fastrak TX4650 PCI-E RAID card review
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Specifications

  • Controller:Promise PDC42819 controller
  • Connector:1x PCI Express 1.1
  • Ports:Four SATA 3Gbps
  • Disk support:Eight logical drives via multiple LUNs
  • RAID types supported: RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 and multiple array
  • Size: Half height
  • Miscellaneous: Online RAID expansion, online RAID migration, SMART monitoring support

Test Setup

We setup the RAID arrays on each of the controllers in their separate BIOSes using the four Hitachi Ultrastar hard disk. Where possible we enabled write caching and turned off disk spin-down in Windows to avoid inconsistent results. We then ran a range of tests to determine the performance of the drives in both RAID 0 and RAID 5.

Common Components

  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-940 (Intel TurboBoost and power saving states disabled)
  • 6GB Crucial DDR3 1,600MHz CL8 DDR3 memory
  • Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 motherboard (F6 BIOS)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB (for OS)
  • Asus ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB
  • ATI Catalyst 10.7 WHQL
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit
  • Promise FastTrak TX4650 Driver 1.3.0.4
  • Four Hitachi Ultrastar A7K2000 2TB SATA 3Gbps hard disks