Lesson 03 – SATA and RAID Configuration

We’re going to assume that you’ve already installed your drives into the case and connected the data and power cables to them. If you need help doing this Home PC Builder Installation Lesson 5 will show you how.

Enabling AHCI or RAID in the BIOS

When you power the computer on you need to go into the BIOS. On most systems F2 or Delete will get you in. We need to set the SATA controller mode to AHCI or RAID. AHCI enables all the features of SATA. RAID will allow us to create a RAID array on 2 or more drives so they appear as one drive in Windows. On my computer the setting is in Integrated Peripherals called PCH SATA Control Mode.

In a Gigabyte BIOS the setting{reg}is in Integrated Peripherals, called OnChip SATA Type. In some MSI BIOSs it can be found in Advanced, called SATA Mode and in a Asus UEFI BIOS it can be found in Advanced, SATA Configuration and SB SATA Configuration. It is usually set to IDE by default. This is done to maintain compatibility with Windows XP and older operating system. For the best performance or to get RAID working you need to change this.

If you just have one SSD or you don’t want to enable RAID set it to AHCI, save the settings and exit and skip to Lesson 3. If you have more than one SSD and want to enable RAID, change the setting to RAID. This motherboard also has an Extreme Hard Drive setting above. If you enable it it will change the mode to RAID as well.

If you want to learn more about the other BIOS settings the Home PC Builder Computer Setup Lesson 1 goes over the other settings you will find in your BIOS. For now we will save the settings and restart. Since we enabled RAID we now have an extra screen that comes up and shows the drives we connected to the SATA controller.

Setting up a RAID Array

To configure the RAID array we need to press Crtl-I. At the bottom it shows the drives we have connected to the controller and we have options to create or delete an array. We’ll create one. The name we’ll leave at default and we are going to create a RAID 0 array to combine the capacity of both SSD drives so they show up as one large drive in Windows.

If we wanted to instead have some redundancy we would set the level or RAID1. This keeps the same data on both drives, so if one fails the other keeps going allowing you to replace the failed drive and have the array recopy the information to the new drive. If you have 3 or more drives you can set the level to RAID05, which spreads the data across the drives and uses one third of the space for redundant or parity data. Which like RAID 1 allows you to replace a failed drive and recover the missing data. We’ll set it to RAID0.

If you have more than 2 drives it will give you the option to select the drives you want in this RAID array. The 3rd drive is a 2TB hard drive I’m going to use for data storage. I’ll highlight and press space on the two SSDs to mark them and hit enter. If you only have 2 drives connected to the controller it will automatically include them in the RAID array. Take the default for the strip size and leave the capacity at maximum. I’ll press enter and say yes to creating the array. It warns you that all data on your drives will be lost. This is OK because they are both blank. That takes us back to the main page and our RAID0 array is created. I’ll hit escape to exit the utility.

In Lesson 4 we will find drivers for the SATA RAID controller and install Windows on the RAID array.