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Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

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maxpayne
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Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#1 Post by maxpayne » Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:08 pm

Hi,

I'm considering buying a W520 (would have already, but the MacBook Pro keeps me undecided...) and I would like to add a SSD to the laptop besides the standard HDD at some point.

Seems that I have two choices for SSD, one to use the mSATA interface, the other to use a drive caddy to install a SSD, replacing the DVD player. Obviously, the DVD replacement route will be better for performance, so that is preferential :)

My question is, if I am to take the latter route, is it better to get my laptop ordered with RAID enabled? I'm assuming in that case, Lenovo will not only ship the laptop RAID enabled, but also replace the DVD player with a HDD caddy?

What would be your recommendation please? I'm thinking of RAID simply because I'm after a caddy that actually fits, after reading various complaints on how the one from Lenovo doesn't actually fit the W520! Am I correct in assuming that my cunning plan will actually even work?

Barring the above solution, is there a drive caddy you'd recommend? Something that fits in nicely and matches the body color properly would be appreciated.

Thanks!

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#2 Post by ausmike » Sun Jul 24, 2011 5:10 am

hi there
I / WE ALWAYS get W series with FACTORY RAID; which than can be 'disabled' later if the use dont want it. However its very difficult to 'enable' RAID' by a simple user; afterwards due to lots of complications.....OS, permissions, data etc
in short - order UP , and than you can always 'cull-down' if needed. Not sure what your requirments are for having a RAID - we have our (200+W Series do a lot of DB sorting off-line)....SO I WOULD SETTLE FOR ssd IF NOT REALLY NEEDED. W520 i7 is capable of doing most things that any Xeon would
normaly be doing in past @!@
Hope this helps
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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#3 Post by maxpayne » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:39 am

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your reply. I understand that it's always better to order up than down. However, the thing I'm thinking of is, can I use the RAID ultra bay to host my own SSD, if I disable RAID?

Cheers.
ausmike wrote:hi there
I / WE ALWAYS get W series with FACTORY RAID; which than can be 'disabled' later if the use dont want it. However its very difficult to 'enable' RAID' by a simple user; afterwards due to lots of complications.....OS, permissions, data etc
in short - order UP , and than you can always 'cull-down' if needed. Not sure what your requirments are for having a RAID - we have our (200+W Series do a lot of DB sorting off-line)....SO I WOULD SETTLE FOR ssd IF NOT REALLY NEEDED. W520 i7 is capable of doing most things that any Xeon would
normaly be doing in past @!@
Hope this helps

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#4 Post by AMATX » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:30 pm

I don't know that you get anything other than the stock caddy whether or not you order RAID. I have not heard of Lenovo having -some- caddies that fit and some that -almost- fit. :P

Yes, you could order RAID, then disable it and use a second SSD in the caddy in a non-RAID configuration.

It's doubtful that you'd have a heavily enough driven I/O need for RAID, but you can do what you want.

See some of the WEEKLY "To RAID or Not to RAID" threads...

Yes, RAID comes up about every 1-1.5 weeks, cuz no one seems to try the 'Search' button.

Everything you or next week's questioner wants to know has already been posted...

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#5 Post by ausmike » Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:26 am

Hiya max*;
yes I have and able to even bootup from SSD in the "ultra-bay" drive bay with SSD - works fine for me in non raid. infact that opton has made life very possible for me to have 3 diff OS on the one laptop (t6x) (OSx; Windows & Linux)etc etc via a HDD though

I cannt see why you cannt boot off that 2nd drive bay with SSD. just make sure that its the right height (some SSDs = only 7mm high and you might have alignment issues etc - I HAVNT DONE THAT YET on my w520 - so just giving a heads up)

Cheers
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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#6 Post by AMATX » Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:34 am

Yes, you should be able to boot up from the ultrabay caddy. Just remember to press F12 when you boot so that you can change the boot order to point to the caddy.

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#7 Post by maxpayne » Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:56 am

Thanks guys for your helpful comments.

Speaking of SSD, which one should I get if I go for a 128GB?
Seems that Intel (thinking of the 510) provides the best track record for reliability, while Crucial M4 seems to provide good bang for buck. I've ruled out anything based on SandForce (that means OCZ) because of the concerns and complaints all over the net, I'd rather trade off speed for reliability and stability.

Secondly, for a config, with color sensor, 1000M, FHD, 2 year next day business warranty, I have managed to get the price down on Lenovo's site down to $1645. Reckon I can do better?

Cheers.

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#8 Post by maxpayne » Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:59 am

Hi,
You are right that there are plenty of to RAID or not to RAID questions... i did look :) However, my question was from a different perspective, I don't really need RAID on a laptop, I just wanted to have it enabled so that I can get a caddy that fits and yes, there has been reports that the one from w510 that Lenovo sells for w520 leave a noticeable gap. Just search for it ;)
Cheers.
AMATX wrote:I don't know that you get anything other than the stock caddy whether or not you order RAID. I have not heard of Lenovo having -some- caddies that fit and some that -almost- fit. :P

Yes, you could order RAID, then disable it and use a second SSD in the caddy in a non-RAID configuration.

It's doubtful that you'd have a heavily enough driven I/O need for RAID, but you can do what you want.

See some of the WEEKLY "To RAID or Not to RAID" threads...

Yes, RAID comes up about every 1-1.5 weeks, cuz no one seems to try the 'Search' button.

Everything you or next week's questioner wants to know has already been posted...

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#9 Post by ausmike » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:17 am

hey max*
I jsut did a post ,,,, that might be of of some value to you> since you say you dont really need RAID.........look at that post and read my reply about use of the HYBRID DRIVE ,,,,, might be of more use to your app'tion ...
http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=98109

Cheers
Mike


hiya AMA* ,,,, nice seeing your input !
hows your Xeon setup? cheers mate
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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#10 Post by AMATX » Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:27 pm

ausmike wrote:...
Cheers
Mike


hiya AMA* ,,,, nice seeing your input !
hows your Xeon setup? cheers mate
No Xeon here, my boy...managed to make it ALL fit on a vanilla quadcore W700 :lol:

Waiting to get a few extra $$$ so that I can see if 8G memory sticks will work in a W700. Maxed out at 8G(two slots/sticks) and would like at least 12G to play with :banana:

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#11 Post by maxpayne » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:32 pm

Hi Guys,

The answers have been great so far. Really appreciated.

So, I've created a base config on Lenovo, with 1000M, FHD, 6GB RAM, 500GB HDD and 2.2GHz processor with 3 year basic warranty, which comes down to around $1750, including taxes (PA).

However, I've come across listings on eBay from sellers like newthinkpads and ellen_mouse*, who claim to be Lenovo authorized dealers and are offering a slightly better config for around $1550! Enough difference for a SSD!

I was wondering if anyone has gone the eBay route and happy with their decision?

Cheers.

* See http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 0613097983 and http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 0787203002)

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#12 Post by AofI » Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:29 am

maxpayne wrote:Hi Guys,

The answers have been great so far. Really appreciated.

So, I've created a base config on Lenovo, with 1000M, FHD, 6GB RAM, 500GB HDD and 2.2GHz processor with 3 year basic warranty, which comes down to around $1750, including taxes (PA).

However, I've come across listings on eBay from sellers like newthinkpads and ellen_mouse*, who claim to be Lenovo authorized dealers and are offering a slightly better config for around $1550! Enough difference for a SSD!

I was wondering if anyone has gone the eBay route and happy with their decision?

Cheers.

* See http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 0613097983 and http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 0787203002)
You can get these prices if you talk to a rep but, if you don't expect to ever use raid, it might be the way to go just because you'll probably get it sooner. If you ever do want to use raid you need to order it with it from the factory, everything I've seen says it's a different m/b? If not, I'm sure they will start selling the properly spaced ultrabay adapter before too long, hell, all the parts have specific FRU numbers, can't people just order it using that?

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#13 Post by ThinkRob » Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:46 pm

You absolutely can do software RAID without ordering anything special.

IIRC, Windows 7 has good support for this. I know that most every Linux distro has had it for many years now.

Personally I'd save my money and get a third-party Ultrabay adapter that's the right height, whatever 2.5" SATA drive you please, and simply set it up myself.
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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#14 Post by Tableteer » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:22 pm

To enable RAID in your Thinkpad at a later date, is the purpose of "ordering up" just to get a second drive bay?

If one's Thinkpad model ships with 2 drive bays by default but one didn't order a second drive, is RAID easy to implement with not much more than adding the second drive - rest being Windows related matters?

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#15 Post by wolfindersteppe » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:14 pm

Tableteer wrote:To enable RAID in your Thinkpad at a later date, is the purpose of "ordering up" just to get a second drive bay?

If one's Thinkpad model ships with 2 drive bays by default but one didn't order a second drive, is RAID easy to implement with not much more than adding the second drive - rest being Windows related matters?
It looks like that the end user cannot "enable" RAID on Non-RAID enabled Intel Controller. The clou is about the different firmware which obviously has to be factory applied, in our case Lenovo service would have to practically replace the motherboard in order to enable RAID. My advise is, order with RAID and the cheapest HDD combination you can get online, later you can always decide how to run you W520 and the price is marginal. I ordered mine without RAID and I regret it now because I am just about to get the brand new mSATA with 6GB/s http://www.runcore.com/en/ProductShow.asp?ID=172 and it would be a dream to run OS on mSATA and my virtual machines on 2 Vertex 3 Pro á 240 GB in RAID0, but, since not having ordered factory RAID enabled before, will have to leave with mSATA for OS and 2 Vertex 3 Pro SSD without RAID0 for data. Well, I will survive :twisted:

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#16 Post by ThinkRob » Sun Aug 21, 2011 12:16 am

wolfindersteppe wrote: It looks like that the end user cannot "enable" RAID on Non-RAID enabled Intel Controller.
[removed]
Last edited by ThinkRob on Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#17 Post by Tableteer » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:23 pm

In Device Manager, the Storage Contoller on mine is:

Intel ICH8M-E/ICH9M-E/5 Series SATA RAID Controller

Even with that, you sure end users can't enable RAID?

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#18 Post by ausmike » Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:07 am

Hi Tabl**;
I have RAID in my current W520 Series machine; however , I dont have the luxury- like you to test that
"feature" that you wrote above.

Is it possible for you to TRY turning it ON - and see what happens - ofcasue you would need 2nd hard drive in the bay to be present. Love to see your results - as am sure it be nice to get a DEFINATIVE ANSWER.

The lenovo rep I usually talk to -' am not a teckie - ask tech support!" .... and my repeated request for TECH INFO = seems either noone knows nor someone is keen enough to get the correct answer. The @nd level Tech Support guy told me - ONLY FACTORY KNOWS THE REAL ANSWER ( as to what happens when you turn that on - or can the RAID be added 'retro'........" blah blah ,,,,

Personally - I feel Lenovo either dont want US to know it can be 'turned on' later at NO or LITTLE COST (added HD)!!! We are turning away from Lenovo ( finally after 12 yrs of being a loyal customer) and the NEW SUPPLIER laptops (we buy 1200+ laptops oevery year) has been very good and helping solve some of these TECH ISSUES etc.

Hope to see a reply post here , thanks in advance
Mike
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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#19 Post by ThinkRob » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:28 pm

Tableteer wrote:In Device Manager, the Storage Contoller on mine is:

Intel ICH8M-E/ICH9M-E/5 Series SATA RAID Controller

Even with that, you sure end users can't enable RAID?
Well as far as the chipset is concerned there's no reason why you couldn't.

If you have an ICH8M chipset you're out of luck -- that one doesn't support any hardware RAID -- but with an ICH8M-E you should be able to do it.

I'd be willing to bet it's a BIOS config thing, but I have no idea. It wouldn't surprise me if the W520 BIOS enabled/disabled features based on model. It wouldn't be the first time I've seen a BIOS play tricks like that.

Of course you can always do software RAID no matter what chipset you have...
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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#20 Post by tinkererguy » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:31 pm

I spotted this link for the 6Gbps SATAIII mSATA drive:
http://www.runcore.com/en/RC-SSDProductShow-173.html
thinking about getting one myself.

I too would say folks may consider giving software RAID a try for your D: drive, simply using Windows 7 x64 built in RAID0 function to stripe the data:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/323433

Twice the capacity, and nearly twice the read AND write speeds. Admittedly more risk, so backup daily. And as mentioned, you'd need to set that DVD drive aside, since you'd need that ultrabay adapter, for the 2nd spinning drive.

That's pretty much what I did when I got my W700 race-work-horse 3 years ago that I'm now replacing, see my signature below. That W700 was pre-mSATA days, where W700 dual inner drive bays housed 2 traditional spinning drives, and I booted from the Ultrabay's SSD C: drive, discussed here:
http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?t=68840

When playing with drive configurations back in Oct 2008, I found that the hardware RAID of the W700 was especially annoying if it kicked off an integrity check when I was on the road after Vista crashes of any sort. This check was a multi-hour proposition, not acceptable when trying to work. No errors were ever found, just lots of productive time lost.

I had also noticed that the motherboard/Intel RAID dervice driver combo RAID didn't seem to use any more or less CPU cycles than my Windows 7 software RAID, and wasn't really faster, verified with free ATTO Disk Benchmark) http://www.attotech.com/products/produc ... _Benchmark

Also, my daily backup solution, Windows Home Server, didn't have any problem with backup or bare-metal restore. Another perk: I could also mount that data drive D: RAID0 array by merely importing the drive pair on any windows machine while my laptop was away for repair.

I don't know if those long RAID integrity checks would happen with the RAID chipset in the modern W520, but in my case, I won't be finding out first hand either. The W520 without RAID was chosen for me, so no RAID for me. At least I know I'm not really going to be missing anything important, since I'm already accustomed to a small C: and a large D: drive, I'll just re-use my 2 hybrid Momentus XT 500GB drives, and try to find a good mSATA drive that's fast and affordable. And if something bad happens to my OS (about 2-3x per year these past 3 years, where I regret a change that I can't easily back out of), I just restore my C: drive in under an hour and leave my large D: drive alone.

All that said, having played with Sandybridge / Z68 desktop chipsets that have RST recently (SSD caching of single large drive volume, described at http://tinkertry.com/glossary ), I would have preferred something like that on my W520, with 2x1TB laptop drives like the WD Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT, giving me 2TB of SSD-like speeds, and the convenience of one big C: drive.

Oh well, if Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid 1TB drives ever come out, I'll probably then get similar performance anyhow.

Just some food for thought, each user's needs will vary, of course.
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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#21 Post by davidbak » Sat Dec 03, 2011 6:06 pm

So, to revive this 2 month old but very informative thread: If you have a W520 with factory RAID (and the 2 HDDs) can you install an mSATA SSD and arrange to boot off of it while keeping the RAID array?

Very curious since I just ordered today a W520 with RAID and I'm looking at very reasonable mSATA SSD prices elsewhere ...

Thanks! -- David

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#22 Post by ausmike » Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:47 am

tinkererguy wrote:I too would say folks may consider giving software RAID a try for your D: drive, simply using Windows 7 x64 built in RAID0 function to stripe the data:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/323433

.
@Dave* --- thats what I normaly do with my W520.. see sign below
Hi Tinker*..
Yips well done - didnt realise this ALSO was out there

DONE TESTED = W520 with x3 different HDrives(mstata = 120, 2xSSD = 600GB all intels

Kinda nice , but not sure I want to let my machine = let with no BACKUP options (I usually use Normal Platter Drive in the Ultra Bay for back and use mSata+ SSD for Raids - as I dont trust SSD - had two die on me when I didnt need them to!)

I am not sure how fast , slow this setup is going to be - as I am not into 'benchmark' stuff etc etc

>>>>>>>> this is copy paste relevant section above for Win7X64 -= Ent Version<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<(sorry not sure of copyright etc)
.>....How to Convert to Striped Volume
In this scenario, there are two disks on the computer, Disk 0 and Disk 1. Both disks are dynamic disks and have at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of free unallocated space on each disk for a total volume of 2 GB.
1.In the lower-right pane of the Disk Management tool, right-click the free, unallocated volume space on either disk, and then click Create Volume.
2.After the Create Volume Wizard starts, click Next.
3.Under Volume Type, click Striped Volume, and then click Next.
4.In the left pane under Select Two or More Disks, a list is displayed that contains all disks that have enough free, unallocated space to participate in the striped volume.

In the right pane under Selected, the disk that you right-clicked in step 1 is displayed.
5.In the left pane under All Available Dynamic Disks, click the disk, and then click Add.

All disks that are displayed in the right pane are labeled Selected. View the bottom of the Select Disk dialog box under the Size label. The For All Selected Disks box displays the maximum size of the striped volume that you can make.

NOTE: The volume on each disk is the same size in the completed striped volume. For example, if you have 100 MB on the first disk, you have 100 MB on the second disk. Therefore, the total size of your combined volumes is double that of the smaller of the volumes on the two disks.

You can reduce the size of the volume by modifying the value in the Disk Size box. Keep in mind that on a system that has two disks, the total striped volume size is double the size that you enter. The Total Volume Size box under the right pane displays the actual size of the striped volume.
6.Click Next to advance to the Assign Drive Letter Path page of the wizard.
7.At this time, you may want to assign a drive letter to your striped volume (you can also do this at any other time). To do so, click Assign Drive Letter, and then enter an available drive letter.

Alternatively, you can click Do not assign drive letter or path. You can also click Mount this volume on an empty folder that supports drive paths. However, this selection is beyond the scope of this article.
8.After you enter a drive letter for your striped volume, click Next.
9.Click Format this partition with the following settings, and then follow these steps:
•Enter the file system type.

Note that FAT32 or NTFS is acceptable.
•Leave the default selection in the Allocation Unit Size box.
•In the Volume Label box, you can keep the default New Volume label or you can type you own label.
•At this time, you can click to select the Quick Format and File and Folder Compression check boxes. Or you can defer both of these tasks if you want.
10.Click Next, check your selection in the Summary window, and then click Finish.
The striped volumes are displayed on the two disks on your system. They have the same color code, the same drive letter (if you mapped the drive during the procedure), and they are both the same size.

....<.


Cheers

Edited>>
ooops t0ok that famous W520 off the sign ..= W530 i7 + 32GB Ram with 128gb mSata + 2 x SSD 600gbs's
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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#23 Post by christopherlang1 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:30 pm

"I'd be willing to bet it's a BIOS config thing, but I have no idea. It wouldn't surprise me if the W520 BIOS enabled/disabled features based on model. It wouldn't be the first time I've seen a BIOS play tricks like that"

This thread is sort of old, but you are correct partially correct :-) on edit: see below... There are numerous threads out there where people with these chipsets are adding RAID support to their systems by extracting the raid option rom from other compatible system bios, incorporating the option roms into their bios and flashing the modded bios --some further reading it seems these people are just updating their option rom to later verions of the orom on systems that are raid enabled, though I could have sworn I also found where some people were trying to add raid to their otherwise non-raid enabled machines with these chipsets, it's late lol. Since it is the same bios firmware for the RAID and non RAID on the w520s, I wonder where the differences are in a system determing whether it is RAID capable or not? The chipset spec has this footnote: "PCH contains two SATA controllers. The SATA Device ID is dependent upon which SATA mode is selected by BIOS and what RAID capabilities exist in the SKU." all that I have found thus far lead me to the impression it is just firmware differences between our 520s to turn on or off the raid capability, but perhaps not --I think you have to have a raid enabled motherboard for raid even if the chipsets are otherwise the same version. I think there are also different model numbers between raid and non-raid enabled southbridge chips. So, it looks like no raid on a 520 that did not come with it from the factory :-). (lol which actually sucks as I wanted raid)

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#24 Post by Kaze22 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:14 am

To this day I've never heard of ANYONE who has successfully enabled RAID on a non RAID W520. Even in Asian forums, I've never seen anyone who has done this. Many have tried, but none have succeeded.
I'm still keeping an eye out, but it's looking bleak.
Thinkpad W520 | Intel i7 2.5 XM | 1920x1080 FHD 95% Gamut | 32 GB DDR3 | 128GB MyDigitalSSD mSATA SSD | 2GB NVIDIA QUADRO 2000M | UEFI WIN 7

Kaze22
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Location: Vancouver, Canada

Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#25 Post by Kaze22 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:26 am

davidbak wrote:So, to revive this 2 month old but very informative thread: If you have a W520 with factory RAID (and the 2 HDDs) can you install an mSATA SSD and arrange to boot off of it while keeping the RAID array?

Very curious since I just ordered today a W520 with RAID and I'm looking at very reasonable mSATA SSD prices elsewhere ...

Thanks! -- David
There was a guy on Ebay selling MZ MPA 1280/00 Samsung 128gb msata for about 165 free shipping.
I bought a few of these. But now it seems that he's delisted them.
These are by far the fastest Sata II msata SSDs in the market, using Samsungs own controller.
They rate a 7.5 on WEI. They aren't even designed to work on Thinkpads, but they do. Smokes Renice, MyDigital, OCZ, and RunCore in speed tests.
Too bad, it's been delisted. Should have bought more.
Last edited by Kaze22 on Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Thinkpad W520 | Intel i7 2.5 XM | 1920x1080 FHD 95% Gamut | 32 GB DDR3 | 128GB MyDigitalSSD mSATA SSD | 2GB NVIDIA QUADRO 2000M | UEFI WIN 7

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Re: Considering getting a W520. Should I get RAID?

#26 Post by ausmike » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:18 pm

hi Kaze;

here is a Auction site you might be instrested in ....
MZ MPA 1280/00 Samsung 128gb msata

Cheers
Mike
Work: None - Retired ! Yipee!! ~~Older/Hm use:Asus Zenbook i7FHD~~ w701ds CTO;W520cto;T61P-IPSmodels; T43P,...&700Tstill going strong!! DEC Alpha Series OS: Win7x64; OSX; SuSe Linux; RedHat~~

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