When it comes to storage management, RAID configurations of some kind have proven to be top dog when it comes to performance. This was initially shown in our report of the Intel 910 PCIe SSD way back in 2012 and, more recently, with the Kingston DCP1000 NVMe SSD that reached 7GB/s throughput and over 1 million IOPS. The Kingston DCP1000 is still top dog on the market and we have shown it off in enthusiast, enterprise and even a Dual DCP1000 RAID Report where the DCP1000 hit 14GB/s and 2 million IOPS. Today, we are following that same direction with the Highpoint SSD7101 NVMe SSD Raid Controller but for one thing, you select and install the M.2 storage that you want to include in the device.
This is the HighPoint SSD7101 NVme RAID controller as you would buy it and without its black aluminum heatsink casing. It will hold 4 x 2280 M.2 NVMe SSDs, the brand of which are the choice of the user (although only Samsung 960 Pro and Evo are presently validated by HighPoint). It is a PCIe 3.0 x16 device that provides PCIe 3.0 X4 for each SSD. The SSDs are fed through the PLX PEX 8747 PCIe switch shown here:
The PLX PEX 8747 is a 48 lane, 5-port PCIe Gen 3 switch that can control as many as four X8 devices and move them to the PC or server through a PCIe 3.0 X16 channel. For this device, we can utilize up to four NVMe M.2 SSDs at PCIe 3.0 x4, each in a JBOD or RAID configuration at the OS, or through the HighPoint NVMe Manager which allows us to create RAID 0, 1, 5, or 10 configurations from the card itself.
This card is available now for as low as $400 which is great, but any consumer looking to purchase such needs to remember that it is a 16 lane device, although it will work at X8. In our testing on our Z270 system, we had to use integrated graphics to get the card to work at X16. When we bumped up to the newest X299 with Intel i9-7900X CPU, we were able to get the SSD7101A-1 working at X16 from PCIe slot 3 with a single graphics card also working at X16 in slot 1. This was only because of the additional lanes provided by this i9-7900x.
This is the HighPoint SSD7101A-1 NVMe SSD RAID Controller with the heat shield attached, The exterior is a thick aluminum casing which has thermal tape inside to ensure contact with the SSDs and PLX controller. Heat then dissipates from the SSDs and controller to exterior surface. To assist with this, there is also a 50x50mm fan which creates ab air flow through the device and provides for active cooling. In a typical PC, the fan is louder than other fans but not so loud as to annoy the user.