I am building a Windows 2008 R2 server which will host both Microsoft SQL databases and websites on IIS. Most likely a Dell R710.

I want to go with a RAID 10 for a mix of security and speed. I don't think I'm going to need too much space (databases are mostly text based, will be 1 GB or so at most).

Price-wise I can either choose 6 x 146 GB 15K RPM or 4 x 300 GB 15K RPM hard drives, there is barely any difference in price. The 4 x 300 obviously gives me a bit more space, but that space is most likely going to be unused anyways.

Therefore my question - should I go with the 6x146 or the 4x300 configuration? Are there any benefits to go for more smaller drives? If so, how significant are they?


  • No common benefit to smaller drives; there are benefits to more drives under the right conditions.
    – Chris S
    Dec 8, 2010 at 13:40

3 Answers 3


Agreed with Tom in the first sense.

6x146GB of 15K RPM will give some nice IOPS, though. You'd have three axles of RAID 1 in a larger RAID 0 array, giving you three times the speed of a single drive for writes, and up to six for reads.

  • +1 (Assuming the disk controller can keep up... don't cheap out in the wrong places)
    – Chris S
    Dec 8, 2010 at 13:38
  • Agreed :) Disk controllers can add a bit more speed via a battery-backed cache, but they can also slow down the whole array. Dec 8, 2010 at 15:31

The smaller dirve will give you a lot more IO budget. OTOH you may not need it. That simple,. According to your specs I would not even go with 4x150 but with 2. That naturally said only for the case that your assumptions about waht the server does are correct in the first place.


A DB so small should fit in cache, making HDD speed irrelevant.

  • yes, because write IO doesn't matter when you've cached everything....
    – gbjbaanb
    Dec 8, 2010 at 11:41
  • I'd let it fly if you said "less important", but not "irrelevant".
    – Chris S
    Dec 8, 2010 at 13:39

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