Here's how I'd go.
C: 256GB - OS and Prorgams
D: 3TB - Projects
E: 3TB - Scratch and Cache files
F: 256GB - AE Global Cache
G: 3TB - Media
H: 3TB - Exports
I: 3TB - Backup and Archiving
This will spread the load out very nicely, offering really good speed.
LSI Raid Controller
C: 2x256GB SSD's in Raid 0 (OS, Programs, Pagefile)
E: 4x 3TB Drives in Raid 10 with a 5th dedicated hot spare, 2 small SSDs utilizing Cachecade (Media Drive)
Sounds like the perfect setup to me, if your priority is performance rather than capacity, on your media drive.
When I spoke to an LSI rep, he mentioned that he preferred Raid 5 using a MegaRaid controller over Raid 10 as it is essentially software Raid. Is this true? My understanding is that if I went with Raid 5 I would gain more space but lose quite a bit of write performance.
Not sure why LSI rep said that - possibly this RAID controller offloads RAID5 parity processing to the host CPU? What model is it?
Your understanding of RAID10 vs. 5 sounds right on target to me.
Would I benefit greatly from having a 3rd virtual disk made of 2x2TB drives for Renders/Exports (Raid 0)?
How much time do you spend weekly on exports?
(The dominating school of thought on this forum is to dedicate drives and volumes to pretty much every single function Pr, AE and OS do: scratch file, media cache, cache database, exporting, etc. IMHO this creates an unholy mess of drive letters that is confusing, too complex and is a management nightmare. Maybe it's just the recipe for advanced tweakers to shave fractions of seconds off their PPBM scores - yet means little to "daily drivers", and I have yet to see any evidence of performance gains or other benefits in real world scenarios.
So personally, I believe the two-volume setup is the most efficient for a balanced system: one for OS and apps, one for media. Each can have multiple RAIDed disks. Given the same number of available drives of equal capacity, it's nearly always better to set them as a single RAID media volume and use it for most of AE and PR data, rather than split them by arbitrary AE/Pr functions. One notable exception is AE GPC (Global Performance Cache) - which really benefits from an SSD. Yet if your boot SSD is large enough, you can set up a folder on it for GPC.)
Is there a good article anyone may know of regarding inital setup and tweaking of Windows 7 for a workstation?
There're many - but the days of tuning Windows for performance are largely over, as such tuning does little in terms of appreciable benefits, vs., say, 5 years ago when memory and CPU cycles were much scarcer.
That said, setting up Windows - or any system - for good security and disaster recovery (i.e. proved backup / restore system) is still a must.
Should I reserve at least 1 CPU for other applications in AE?
Not unless you run something that is CPU intensive in parallel. Or if your memory/core ratio is less than 4GB.
My RAID Controller is LSI 9280 16i4e and utilizes Cachecade 2.0/Fast Path software. He seemed to think that Raid 10 doesn't utilize the onboard cache.
Thanks for the thorough answer. I would like to have more space but storage performance is key in my workflow.
Regarding exports, I render out AE timelines all day but only do large exports of cuts a couple of times a week.
What's a good PC CPU and Storage benchmark/stress test? I used Aida64 for about 15 hours but read somewhere that it doesn't really push the CPU as much as it should. My main concern is whether my overclocking will be stable while the memory is pumping out heat during AE renders.
Thanks for the help!
The Raid controller drivers and firmware decide if a raid mode is hardware or software based. Normally Raid 10 will have greater performance than Raid 5 if you add more disks because of the requirement for raid 10. However if you use the same disks for either then Raid 5 would have a slightly better performance on a good controller. If the HDD's are desktop then you want the raid 10. The parity raids will have far more problems with drives marked as bad prematurely. If you have Enterprise drives then raid 5 is the better option. You also have the Parity verification with raid 5 to ensure raid volume/data integrity. 2 Work volumes are ideal for editing performance but not required with a larger raid volume.
The Raid controller drivers and firmware decide if a raid mode is hardware or software based.
Do you know of any stand-alone RAID controller that has both "software" and "hardware" RAID modes or levels?
I am pretty sure Highpoint does on many of their cards and I know Silicon Image controllers do. Some of the J-Micron Controllers have both as well if not all of them. This is normally something the cheaper controller cards have to support Parity raids without adding firmware size and cost to the manufacturing.