Every device has its intended target audience, and here HighPoint is effectively aiming for value conscious users, especially those that are looking to upgrade their current equipment.
With the 6Gb/s specification firmly taking hold, there are many SSDs and HDDs that are taking advantages of the benefits of this new interface. Unfortunately, many users are still using motherboards that only support SATA 3Gb/s. This leaves them ‘out in the cold’ when it comes to utilizing their new hardware to its fullest capabilities.
The RocketRAID 2720SGL is aimed squarely at these users providing the performance within a price point is a challenge for the manufacturers of these types of devices. A challenge of much greater proportions is delivering performance that justifies the cost.
The price of the 2720SGL is just right, coming in at a MSRP of 170. This is perfect for the users who are looking to upgrade their current computers. With its small form factor, this device is surprisingly compact; slipping this in between video cards or other PCIe equipment is a breeze.
The device itself runs relatively cool and the heatsink is merely warm to the touch. With some of the full-fledged enterprise RAID solutions, heat can be a big issue. This requires spot fans to effectively allow those devices to be cooled correctly. A large concern with those scenarios is that when the controllers are between other cards, they become very hard to get forced air to them. Also of primary concern is the amount of heat that they dump into the systems case. The user of this device will have none of these problems, as the RocketRAID is very good in this regard, as it is a cool device overall.
The only downside to the device lies in its GUI. The Graphical User Interface can use some tweaking to allow for easier modification of device settings. As it stands, the user has to repeatedly select multiple devices from drop down menus, and then modify each device setting individually. This can become time intensive and tedious. Some sort of ‘global’ commands in this regard would be very helpful.
Another area that can be improved upon is the amount of documentation that comes in the box with the device. The documentation that we received was a small leaflet. By going to the HighPoint support site one can download the full manual, but it would be very helpful for users if there were a printed copy. If a user were to have a question while installing the controller, they would need another computer to access the manual.
In the performance department the 2720SGL delivers. Some would question the wisdom of testing this device in RAID 0 with a large number of devices. The key reason is to test the point of saturation of the controller, and how it handles under extreme loadings. Some controllers will become buggy when pressed to the limits of their capabilities, and this can be observed with various test scenarios.
The 2720SGL performed very admirably in this regard, with a maximum overall latency in Winsat testing of 3.859. We have tested full featured cards, in the 500-600 dollar range, that have performed much worse in that regard. Maximum latencies can be a performance killer, but with this device it definitely is not an issue.
This device will work fine with SSDs in RAID 0 and passthrough configurations, but for the parity RAID sets one would be best to use HDD, as SSDs aren’t as conducive for causal users with RAID 5 and RAID 6. Performance degradation can set in very quickly for SSDs in RAID 5 and RAID 6. Also, the device does have lower performance in those areas that would not be suitable for SSD use, but just fine for HDD.
The last key here is RAID 6. RAID 6 is a very popular option in full-fledged enterprise controllers, as it allows for the array to sustain the loss of two drives, yet continue functioning. In most cases, it would take at least 500 dollars to purchase a card with this capability. The onboard RAID on motherboards does not allow this functionality.
The 2720SGL, having these capabilities with these low price points, is surely going to force the competition into action as well. There simply is no other device that can offer that functionality at this price.
All things considered, overall the 2720SGL is a solid device that I would recommend to the casual user upgrading existing equipment, or those with home servers. It is surprising that they can pull off such solid performance in such a small package at such a great price point. In the price vs performance category, they certainly win!