Take a look at our
ThinkPads.com HOME PAGE
For those who might want to contribute to the blog, start here: Editors Alley Topic
Then contact Bill with a Private Message

[W520] W520 and RAID, what configuration do I need?

W500/W510/W520 and W700/W701 Series
Post Reply
Message
Author
WarMachine
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 440
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:38 pm
Location: Lyon, France
Contact:

[W520] W520 and RAID, what configuration do I need?

#1 Post by WarMachine » Tue Jun 08, 2021 7:59 am

Hello,

I'm a bit lost… I would like to buy, in the upcoming months, a W520 on which I would like to have RAID. But I'm not sure to understand everything. Most of the resources I have access are in english and as it's not my native language, I fear to miss something. I've understood that only a couple of W520 are RAID compatible. If I buy a machine with no RAID capabilities, it can't be added after. Am I right?

Here in France, these machines are very rare and when I find one, it's veeeery expensive (and no clue if it can do RAID), and if it's not expensive, it comes from other countries, with taxes which cost as much as the laptop itself (and of course, no information about RAID neither). I think it may be a good idea to assemble the machine from scratch, I know I have the skills to do it and it will possibly be cheaper (and a nice hobby too ! :)).

If I must buy a specific motherboard with RAID, which one should I choose? I saw a 04W2033 motherboard supposedly correct, but I saw there is also a 60Y5513 RAID adapter (a caddy for a disk to put in the optical drive bay). I don't know what to think. I doubt Lenovo sold RAID laptops with this type of adapter, it's more logical that RAID is achieved with the mSATA and the SATA disks (but I suspect mSATA port is not as quick as the SATA standard port. In my X220, I updated the BIOS with the unofficial version and I can choose between AHCI and RAID (and I have only mSATA and SATA port in this machine).

If I want to do a RAID, the best is to have two perfectly identical disks and use the quickest interface (and for that, the bay adapter is the best solution).

Oh, and when I read https://www.storagereview.com/review/le ... 520-review, it's written: "Lenovo offers an optional on-board RAID solution for the W520 which given the right SSD could in theory give you performance up to 1000MB/s read and write.". Well, if it's true, what is this option? I don't know where I read that only the laptops with Quad-Core CPUs offered RAID, but I'm not sure.

So, you see, it's not very clear and I don't want to make mistake when I will buy the hardware.

I use a lot the https://psref.lenovo.com site to find specs of lots of Lenovo hardware, but W520 is too old to find somthing about it, and I haven't found yet a site on which are listed all of the laptops models (IBM had such pages and it was very nice). If you know this kind of site for the W520, I wonder if you could point me to it. And if you know the name of a machine (not motherboard or pieces to have RAID) on which there is what I want, it would be nice too.

I take all the informations you can give me!

Thanks ! :)

W.
IBM ThinkPads 701Cs | 755Cs | 560 | 2x 600E | 2x T23 | X20 | X24 | 3x X31 | T41p | T42 | X41.
lenovo ThinkPads T60 4/3 | T60 15″ WS | T61 14″ WS | R60 | X60t | X61s | X61t | X301 | T400 | T400s | W500 | X200 | X201 | T410 | T410s | 2x X220 | T420 | T420s | W520 | T430 | T440.

as.nielo
Freshman Member
Posts: 69
Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2017 1:46 pm
Location: EU

Re: [W520] W520 and RAID, what configuration do I need?

#2 Post by as.nielo » Tue Jun 08, 2021 10:44 am

I think that you need either to remove the optical drive and use adapter to add extra HDD or use something like this. In case of the first option I'm not certain your system will allow to set any RAID configuration. I wouldn't use RAID 0 in laptop. In case single device failed you'll lose all data. IMO not worth it. SSD drives are fast enough and unless you work realtime with some 4K video you won't profit from double the speed. And, considering you aim for 10 years old machine you definitely won't work with UHD stuff :-)

WarMachine
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 440
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:38 pm
Location: Lyon, France
Contact:

Re: [W520] W520 and RAID, what configuration do I need?

#3 Post by WarMachine » Tue Jun 08, 2021 12:22 pm

Hello,

Thanks for your answer. First thing first, I don't care about the data. The RAID will be used for the system and all the data are on 3 NAS, never on my laptops or PCs. And I know the solution you talk about, but it's not what I want as I would have the level of performance I can have with one 2.5" SATA III SSD in the main compartment of the laptop. You can't go past SATA III speeds with this adapter. It's however nice for RAID 1 because it saves space and in a machine like the W520, it allows you to have 3 mSATA SSD (one for the system, and two for the data with RAID 1, replacing one single hard drive, and you keep the optical drive). It can have advantages, but it doesn't answer to my needs. :)

I know that a RAID 0 of SSD isn't particularly useful, but I just want to have this system because on systems like Windows 10, it's always better on day-to-day basis, and I can have something near what exists with entry level M.2 PCIe SSD on a machine from 2012, which is nice. And I want it also for the fun. I also want to use this laptop as a desktop replacement and I want the maximum of the performance I can have with it. And I want it stock, I want the laptop as it was sold by Lenovo back then.

:)

W.

PS : on storagereview (the link in my first post), it's also written that the "[…] W520 supports on-board RAID if the system is preconfigured with it from the factory. If you plan on using RAID, make sure you add it when you are first buying your notebook.[…]". Which leads me to think that I need special hardware (and not only a BIOS option), and that's about this thing I find nothing despite my searches.
IBM ThinkPads 701Cs | 755Cs | 560 | 2x 600E | 2x T23 | X20 | X24 | 3x X31 | T41p | T42 | X41.
lenovo ThinkPads T60 4/3 | T60 15″ WS | T61 14″ WS | R60 | X60t | X61s | X61t | X301 | T400 | T400s | W500 | X200 | X201 | T410 | T410s | 2x X220 | T420 | T420s | W520 | T430 | T440.

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 916
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [W520] W520 and RAID, what configuration do I need?

#4 Post by atagunov » Wed Jun 09, 2021 6:41 am

Hi, honestly I don't know what on-board RAID the article was referring to..

What I'm thinking is:

- put similar 2.5" SSD-s into the main HDD compartment and into the adapter that replaces the DVD
- somehow organise them into a software RAID

I don't really know if it is achievable with W520 BIOS/drivers in the OS..

Can these machines also take an mSATA drive on one of the internal connectors? Replacing the WWAN card for example?

Suppose you installed system on mSATA and then once you're up and running you should be able to somehow organise two 2.5" SSD drives into a software RAID

I've got to admit T520/W520/T530/W530 while being nice machines are not particularly well-connected. The best they have to talk to the outside world are USB 3.0 ports running at up to 5Gbps. Ethernet is just 1Gbps. You can insert something into ExpressCard slot and there you get one PCI-Express 2.0 lane, which is 500Mbytes/sec = 4Gbit/sec. So whichever way you try there is no option above 4-5Gbps.

How are you going to connect the NAS btw? I guess the best you can do is purchase some external 2.5Gbps or 5Gbps or 10Gbps Ethernet card connected over USB 3.0? I have been researching them but haven't found a really good reputable reliable option. I may purchase one eventually.

...and that RAID you want internally - is it really worth it? Of course NVM.e are faster, but will you really be noticing? I think you should have Sata III, e.g. up to 6Gbps, that is pretty fast actually. Why do you need the RAID? To shave off a few more seconds of startup time? To read/write video faster? Just to get the coolest possible W520?

BTW I suggest you do broaden your search and consider all of T520/T530/W520/W530 family

P.S. if it's for video editing I do encourage you to look through hardware requirements of modern packages such as Premier and Avid. Sadly W520/W530 with all their untamed horse power don't officially satisfy the requirements. They will probably be running in reality, but still..

P.P.S. I have exactly a W530 here and have been looking at 2.5Gbe/5Gbe/10Gbe USB 3.0 cards for it. It seems lots of cards are based on RTL8156 chip (RTL8125B-CG is 2.5G variety where same issues are suspected). What they are saying here is that once the version of windows driver here goes above 10.45.20 there is hope that bug has been fixed and the cards will start being stable under Windows. It still hasn't as of now so I fear Realtec based external cards will continue experiencing disconnects under high load. There are also chips named Aquantia in particular AQC-111C - the cards using these include apparently Startech 5G and QNAP QNA-UC5G1T. It seems the reviews online are a mixed bag with some people being unhappy. It seems there are no solid solutions running on USB for this :(

Another alternative is to purchase a Drobo 5D - it's got both Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 ports. Two separately ports. It's not a NAS it's a DAS. I've seen reports online about windows drivers for it being bad and real issues when connecting via the USB port :( Apparently speed drops to the floor way bellow 1Gbe for now reason for some people. Some people report wasting years trying to get it to work properly - with no success.

Thunderbolt - both 2 and 3 seems a lot better. Thunderbolt exposes 4 pci-express lanes and you effectively get devices that plug in directly into your PCI-Express. There are for example DAS solutions that plug into Thunderbolt. There are network cards that plug into Thunderbolt. All these snap on to PCI-Express lanes - I believe. The reports seem to be stellar. I understand these are fast reliable devices. Even Drobo 5D - if doesn't die early on you - is said to run perfectly on Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter attached to a more or less modern Mac. The "only" problem is W520/W530 don't have Thunderbolt and nor cat it be added.. :( My biggest gripe with X2100 is that it doesn't have Thunderbolt either.
Last edited by atagunov on Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:11 am, edited 5 times in total.
X220, 2 *T520

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 916
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [W520] W520 and RAID, what configuration do I need?

#5 Post by atagunov » Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:01 am

WarMachine wrote:
Tue Jun 08, 2021 12:22 pm
on storagereview (the link in my first post), it's also written that the "[…] W520 supports on-board RAID if the system is preconfigured with it from the factory. If you plan on using RAID, make sure you add it when you are first buying your notebook.[…]". Which leads me to think that I need special hardware (and not only a BIOS option), and that's about this thing I find nothing despite my searches.
Okay I've read that article a bit more.. So I have a couple of desktop PC-s with ASUS motherboards. There I can go into BIOS and toggle from AHCI to RAID mode as the article describes. Then I think somewhere around BIOS level I can configure which of the drives attached to the system will act as RAID. Then once inside Windows Intel drivers pick up that info from BIOS and indeed use those drives in a software RAID. You need different drivers btw from Intel, some kind of "raid" drivers then, not "ahci" drivers - as far as I remember.

I don't like the result that much btw. This RAID broke down at least twice for me over the years. It was just a couple of mirrored disks for me so I never lost any info but still.. Somehow I didn't like using it that much.

Okay, now apparently if W520 had its BIOS somehow configured/tweaked like that from factory it can do the same. I just booted my W530 - which doesn't have RAID - to check. Indeed the only option for SATA Controller is "AHCI". I can't toggle it into "RAID".

So what can you do?.. You probably can keep looking on ebay for a W520 (why not W530?..) with "RAID" already on it. As I said I don't see that as particularly useful but if you insist on it..

Alternatively there could be some W520 BIOS binary somewhere on the net with exactly correct video card driver and RAID activated and a suitably adventurous/knowledgeable techy could use a hardware programmer to put it into a W520, but I really don't know about this.. I probably wouldn't do it. To me the speed of NAS is a far bigger concern trumping any concerns about internal drives.

P.S. Hey,

- you sound like you have cash to burn!
- you sound like you'd be happy with a large and heavy machine with a big screen
- W520 doesn't have Thunderbolt; X2100 doesn't have Thunderbolt

But to-da! T700 will have two Thunderbolt ports! Why don't you get yourself a T700? You should be able to get it either in 4:3 or in 16:10 configuration. Go talk to the modders, maybe they can fit you a screen with a nice color coverage. Stock T60 screens are no match for color-critical work, but T700 is supposed to have an e-DP connector. T700 takes an NVM.e drive too, maybe even two of them.

Here is the thread. The other problem with T700 apart from color coverage is that I don't know how long you will need to wait.. But I think there's hope to get a machine better than W520 in every way. Way more expensive too of course..
X220, 2 *T520

WarMachine
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 440
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:38 pm
Location: Lyon, France
Contact:

Re: [W520] W520 and RAID, what configuration do I need?

#6 Post by WarMachine » Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:28 pm

Hello,

I did more research and I'm beginning to understand better.

I found this: https://support.lenovo.com/fr/en/soluti ... r-76718#16
And this: https://www.manualslib.com/manual/36010 ... =53#manual

The most complete motherboard I could find would be the 04W2033 I mentionned in my first post. It seems that this kind of motherboard has a specific controller for the RAID so, it's the reference I must find. A simple BIOS update wouldn't do the trick. I suppose I will have to put a second disk in the optical drive bay to be able to use two identical disks. And I will have the possibility to select RAID in the SATA Controller Mode Option.

And as I don't want to end under the bridges or in prison for having given my banker an heart attack, I think I could try to find a T520 and replace the motherboard by the 04W2033 one. :D

And no, I don't want a T/W530 model because of the keyboard. It's horrible. I have a T430 I use for work at home and I can't stand using it, I plug an USB keyboard on it. There are no separations between the Function keys, no NumLock to use a part of the keyboard like a numeric keypad (and I need that to enter ASCII or Unicode codes), some keys have disappeared comparing to the old 7-row keyboards, the mouse buttons are not as comfortable as the previous ones (kind of reminds me some old Latitude keyboards that gave me a lot of pain in the wrists, the secondary functions of the keys are written in grey and no more in blue, so it's less visible, I find the backlight of the keys disturbing (the Thinklight gives a smoother light). And keys are more fragile. The only thing that is not so bad on these keyboards is the firmness of the keys. Not too different from the previous ones. But not sufficient for me. And no, I don't want to have a W530 with a W520 keyboard as it won't respond exactly like a true W520 keyboard. And If I want something "like" the W520 I will have to change the palmrest, and the logo under the screen too. If I can skip that, it will be an expense I don't have to do. I want to keep my machines stock – and If I do an upgrade, I will go towards genuine hardware and pieces initialy used in higher-end models –, like my car, and like my Lego! So, no T700 or X2100! :p

The main reasons I want a W520 are:

– rare machine here in France (and rarest with the RAID option it seems): it will be nice to have it in my collection, I want something cool and a little exclusive (because at the moment, I haven't found an S30, a machine which for me, is the Holy Grail of Thinkpads, followed by the 240Z);
– I want a desktop replacement so not a machine too little, but something not too big either. I like the form factor of my W500 and the Full HD+ with 15,4" is very nice (and Full HD on 15.6" will be nice too). I know I could put a Full HD display in my T420, but it's not a stock solution so…);
– my desktop machine nowadays is from the same era, with an i3-2120 and 8 GB of RAM. The 8 GB are becoming short. To have a W520 will allow me to put 32 GB of RAM. You add the RAID of SSDs and a big i7 mobile CPU and I'm good to go for several years. I will even have a discreete graphics card (nowadays, I only have an IGP and it's sufficient because I'm far from being an hardcore gamer, the two games installed on the PC are Quake III and a WoW WoTLK private server).

An for the use with the NAS, I can plug the laptop to my switch with an Ethernet cable, or I can use Wi-Fi. I have a fair amount of data, but no really big files (the biggest are 5 or 6 GB, I can live with the time needed for the transfer).

:)

W.
IBM ThinkPads 701Cs | 755Cs | 560 | 2x 600E | 2x T23 | X20 | X24 | 3x X31 | T41p | T42 | X41.
lenovo ThinkPads T60 4/3 | T60 15″ WS | T61 14″ WS | R60 | X60t | X61s | X61t | X301 | T400 | T400s | W500 | X200 | X201 | T410 | T410s | 2x X220 | T420 | T420s | W520 | T430 | T440.

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 916
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [W520] W520 and RAID, what configuration do I need?

#7 Post by atagunov » Wed Jun 09, 2021 4:22 pm

WarMachine wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:28 pm
And no, I don't want to have a W530 with a W520 keyboard as it won't respond exactly like a true W520 keyboard
Hmm... guess it's a bit hard for me to appreciate your argument here. "Respond"?... I'll be surprised if you could feel the difference in a blindfolded test between a *20 keyboard planted into a *20 and into a *30 machine. The bodies of the machines are very similar. BTW I suspect the way keyboard "responds" on a W520 can be improved by putting these "rubber magnets" between it and structure frame, I believe one of the forum members was doing it on a T60. The idea will be to make the keyboard less bouncy. Then we would be talking. That would make the keyboard "respond" better. But exactly the same trick is of course applicable to a W530 with W520 keyboard.
WarMachine wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:28 pm
... stock ... rare machine here in France ... rarest with the RAID option it seems ... something cool and a little exclusive (because at the moment, I haven't found an S30, a machine which for me, is the Holy Grail of Thinkpads, followed by the 240Z);
Okay, I guess that's a collector's interest, and what could I - or in fact anybody - possibly be saying against that? :)
WarMachine wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:28 pm
And as I don't want to end under the bridges or in prison for having given my banker an heart attack, I think I could try to find a T520 and replace the motherboard by the 04W2033 one. :D
...??? how is this better than a W530 with a W520 keyboard?? It's definitely not stock! BTW I just compared the appearance of screen assembly between W530 and T520 - they appear identical. The main difference is that W530 - and W520 I guess too - can be found with a painfully beautiful FHD panel, while a T520 or T530 would typically come with something less gorgeous. Otherwise I believe they are nearly identical screen assemblies.

Please also note that there is a massive trouble with fans. There are many varieties around. The location of holes on the motherboard will be different. If you get a 04W2033 with the intention to plant it to a non-native body you will also likely need to purchase the radiator/fan assembly matching 04W2033. The one coming with T520 will quite likely not fit.

From a user's point of view - if you must have/want have 32G/gorgeous screen - yeah go for W530/W520. If 16Gb is enough and a regular screen is enough T520 and T530 work just fine. Better get a *30 model and swap the keyboard - if you goal is to gain the best machine to use. A little more CPU omph, a little longer battery life. Oh, you probably know but T520 takes quad core CPU-s of 2nd generation, Sandy Bridge. T530 takes quad core CPU-s of 3rd generation or 2nd generation. You may have trouble with cooling, but non-W machines do take W-class processors. If your goal is to have a unique specimen in the collection - it's a whole different story of course. To be honest I mostly see collector's value in the RAID. As a machine user I'm very meh about it.
WarMachine wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:28 pm
I'm good to go for several years
He he, I hope this X2100 will be good for the rest of my days :) Unless it breaks down of course. But the funny thing is my W530 and X2100 are sitting unused and T520 remains the daily driver. And my X220 remains my go-about-town machine. 16Gb RAM + a single SSD make either of them pretty decent. I will probably eventually upgrade my T520 with a T530 motherboard which I already have and quad core similar to W530 which I need to find energy/motivation to purchase. And I already have an X230 mobo to upgrade X220. Though there isn't that much need. It keeps running okay as-is!!
X220, 2 *T520

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “ThinkPad W500/W510/W520 and W700/W701 Series”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests