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SSDs on DX79SR w/i7 3960 Booting with Marvell Controller

Esteemed Contributor III

I'm a professional photographer and retoucher and I'm looking to build the best Photoshop machine I can. I may spend 6 to 10 hours a day on the computer moving files from Lightroom to Photoshop major retouching to storage. The return on investment is worth it to me.

I have done tons of research on this build but I still have a couple questions that I can't get answers for.

My theoretical built is:

  • Intel i7 3960 chip
  • Intel D X79SR MOBO
  • NZXT phantom full tower case
  • Corsair H 100 cooler
  • 64 GB Crucial 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model CT102464BA1339
  • Antec HCP Platinum HCP-1000 1000W ATX12V V2.32 / EPS12V V2.92 Power Supply
  • XFX Double D FX797GTDFC Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition Video
  • LG 24X DVD/RW
  • Storage
    • Intel 520 Series Cherryville SSDSC2CW480A3K5 2.5" 480GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) Boot & Program Drive
    • (Two) Intel 520 Series Cherryville SSDSC2CW180A3K5 2.5" 180GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) (one) for Photoshop File save and (one) for Photoshop scratch drive (completed filed will be moved into storge.
    • (4) Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive [RAID 5]
  • Windows 7 Pro

I am okay with the Seagate drives running at 3 GB; even though I would have preferred 6 GB and have looked into an Adaptec controller. But I don't think their six series 6805 will work with the X 79 chipset partly because of uFCI. I may wait to see what their seven series is compatible with when it's released later this month. I have trouble spending almost $700 on a controller just to get all the drives running at a theoretical 6 GB spin rate.

But I really want the three SSD drives to run at 6 GB. I believe the two Intel controller connections will work fine. But that leaves me with running the boot drive on the Marvell 88SE9128 (I am OK if it really runs at 5Gb because of some bandwidth issues). But I need to know that it will run a boot SSD drive with trim x79 and that I can use it for the DVD/RW.

The most important drives to me are the scratch and the drive that Photoshop saves to. This Marvell thing has me very confused. There is so much conflicting information out there.

Thanks for your help.


Esteemed Contributor III

I have never used the Marvell ports for a boot drive, some people report you can. I do use them with simple storage drives. Given what I have seen, the problem with the Marvell ports for a boot drive were either due to the Marvell driver, or user error. TRIM on the Marvell chipset and driver? A big unknown.

To install Windows on a drive on the Marvell ports, you must install a driver for it when you can during the installation. The Marvell driver has improved, and Intel supplies the so called "F6 Floppy" driver files that are used during the installation. They are put on a USB flash drive of course, not a floppy, and no need to make the flash drive bootable. You must remove that flash drive when the PC reboots during the installation. You can also use the native Windows 7 AHCI driver, msahci, which I find works well with the Marvell chipset.

I have seen cautions in some mother board manuals that you can not use Optical drives on the Marvell ports, but not always. I'm sure the Intel manual would have that information. I imagine that again that is a driver issue.

Regarding the Seagate "6Gb/s" HDDs, there is not one so called SATA 6Gb/s HDD on this planet that operates even beyond SATA 3Gb/s speed. Yes SATA II, 3Gb/s. My SATA III HDD did not surpass SATA 1.5Gb/s speeds (150MB/s) for sequential reads. It was about 20MB/s faster than my SATA II HDDs, all 7200 RPM 3.5" drives. SATA III HDDs are a marketing fraud IMO, do not waste your SATA III ports on those HDDs. Doesn't matter if they are in RAID, each drive is connected individually, and is not made faster due to RAID, it is the sum of drives working together that provide the final data rate.

Here is an AS SSD bench on one of my HDDs:

Impressive? Or embarrassing?

If you get lucky, someone will have done what you want to know works on your board. Otherwise, it is an experiment.