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LSI 9300-4i4e SAS PCIe 12Gb/s HBA Card Review

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SAS PCIe 12Gb/s HBA Final Thoughts

Enterprise technology demands more from computer hardware than the retail consumer segment, and companies are thinking outside the box to deliver performance. In the case of LSI’s 12GB/s SAS HBA card, it’s also what’s in the box that matters: either the Serial Attached SCSI enclosure, or the computer case. Good for up to 12Gb/s of bandwidth for up to eight attached SAS devices (four internal and four external), the LSI 9300-4i4e provides support for up to 1024 SATA or SAS end devices. The LSI 9300 SAS HBA also offers support for integrated RAID-0, RAID-1, and RAID-10 arrays.

LSI-SAS-9300-4i4e-PCIe-SAS-HBA-Card-Angle

LSI 9300-4i4e Conclusion

You’ll notice that this article is absent the usual benchmark performance tests that accompany our reviews. That’s because the LSI 9300-4i4e SAS PCI-Express 12Gb/s Host Bus Adapter can be configured with up to 1024 separate SATA end devices, and even if only one end-device were connected to each of the four internal and four external channels the results would only reflect performance for that particular set of components. When looked at objectively, offering 12Gb/s of bandwidth from a PCIe device is already a noteworthy accomplishment.

In terms of appearance the LSI 9300-4i4e is designed to as a pure work horse, and not a show pony. Personally, I really like the honeycomb ventilation on the header bracket. The heatsink will stand out when seen from the inside, but adapter cards are rarely the centerpiece of server systems. The enterprise environment is all business, putting function well before fashion.

Construction is a strong point for the LSI SAS HBA. The entire board is made of solid state components, enabling the durable design to endure harsh working environments while maintaining enterprise-critical stability. The heatsink helps ensure the LSI SAS3008 (Fusion MPT 2.5) controller remains cool even in during the harshest operating temperatures (32°-131° F). The vented bracket enables the HBA to exhaust some of the heated air outside the enclosure for added cooling. If something should go wrong, LSI warranties their product for three years.

With up to 12Gb/s bandwidth for as many as 1024 connected end-devices, the LSI 9300-4i4e SAS PCI-Express 12Gb/s Host Bus Adapter is the epitome of functionality. Available with an array of SFF-8643/8664 mini-SAS HD cable lengths and combinations, the LSI SAS HBA offers a myriad of configuration choices. Additionally, the low-profile design makes it possible to use either the standard full-length bracket or low-profile version for 1U and 2U server installations.

As of August 2013, the LSI 9300-4i4e SAS PCI-Express 12Gb/s Host Bus Adapter kit (SKU LSI00349 with cables) costs $395 online (Amazon Newegg). That’s not unreasonable, especially for the environment this hardware will be used in, but the price could still cause some sticker shock for the uninitiated. If you’ve already got mini-SAS HD cables, then the more affordable LSI00348 SKU is going to be your best options.

In summary, the LSI 9300-4i4e SAS PCI-Express 12Gb/s Host Bus Adapter offers a scalable approach for connecting many SAS and SATA end-devices with maximum data bandwidth. This is critical for data server installations or high-performance enterprise network storage, which is why the solid-state construction and extended-length warranty play into the purchase price. There are few alternatives that offer anywhere near the same features and functionality, which is why the LSI PCIe SAS HBA earns the Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award Logo (Small)

+ Three-year product warranty
+ Durable solid-state design
+ Delivers eight lanes of 12Gb/s bandwidth
+ Supports up to 1024 connected end-devices
+ Supports integrated RAID-0/1/10 arrays
+ Includes internal+external mini-SAS HD cables

Cons:

- High-priced expansion card

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

COMMENT QUESTION: How would you use the LSI SAS HBA?

NewEgg.com

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3 comments

  1. Mack

    Please add benchmarks.
    Giving a product a “free pass” just because it has numerous options for expandability is not a reasonable option.
    Its far better to simply state the limitations of the benchmark you opt for at the time of benchmarking.
    For example, if the default card setup is for 8 drives, then that would be a very reasonable starting point.
    And simply state, “This card is capable of X, but we can only do Y”

    There is no shame in that.

    But, bypassing the whole benchmark process is not fair to the product or your readers.

    1. Olin Coles

      The problem becomes logistics: which eight drives do we use for testing, and will those drive match what consumers with this HBA would be using?

  2. Mack

    Well, it would be best if they all matched, and probably best if they were all enterprise, but failing that, you could do groups of 4. Chances are you have 4 matching drives. (Would be surprised if not).

    The choice to actually “review” an item certainly depends on the ability to provide reasonable benchmarking.
    (Or come close with stated limitations).

    Professionalism aside, I would just love to see 4 drives running on that bad boy! You can always update a benchmark. Its certainly been done in the past when new data or equipment arrives that fills a needed gap.

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