Should I use RAID on my gaming PC?

What is RAID?

RAID stands for “Redundant Array of Independent Disks” and refers to a data storage technology that combines multiple physical disk drives into a single logical unit ( The main goal of RAID is to increase storage performance, capacity, and reliability through redundancy.

There are several standard RAID levels, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • RAID 0: Also called disk striping, RAID 0 splits data evenly across two or more disks. This improves performance but offers no redundancy (
  • RAID 1: Disk mirroring duplicates data onto two or more disks. This provides full redundancy but doubles the required storage capacity (
  • RAID 5: Disk striping with distributed parity stripes data and parity information across three or more disks. RAID 5 provides good performance plus redundancy (
  • RAID 10: A combination of disk mirroring and disk striping to provide fast performance and redundancy (

In summary, RAID aims to provide increased storage performance and/or reliability through leveraging multiple disks in creative ways.

Benefits of Using RAID

RAID offers several benefits that make it appealing for gaming PC builds. The three main benefits are:

  • Increased read/write speeds – RAID can substantially improve disk performance by distributing data across multiple drives. This allows reads and writes to occur in parallel, increasing overall speed. RAID 0 in particular can double or even triple disk performance compared to a single drive.
  • Data redundancy – Many RAID levels like RAID 1, 5, 6, 10 provide data redundancy, meaning your data is copied across multiple disks. This protects your data if a single drive fails. You can simply replace the failed drive, and the RAID rebuild will restore your data.
  • Ability to recover from drive failure – With redundant RAID levels, a single drive failure will not result in data loss or downtime. The RAID array can continue operating in a degraded state while you replace the failed drive. This provides excellent uptime and prevents game interruptions.

For gaming PCs, the speed benefits of RAID 0 and the redundancy of RAID 1 or 10 make RAID very appealing. You get faster load times, smoother gameplay, and protection against drive failures.




Downsides of Using RAID

While RAID offers many benefits, there are some downsides to consider as well before implementing it. Some key disadvantages include:

Added complexity – Setting up and managing RAID requires more technical knowledge and effort compared to a single drive setup. This can make installation, configuration, and maintenance more difficult (

Decreased usable storage space – Many RAID levels like RAID 1, 5, and 6 require using some drives for redundancy purposes, which reduces the total usable space. For example, RAID 1 mirrors data so half the total capacity is lost (

Cost of additional drives – Implementing RAID requires purchasing additional hard drives, which increases upfront costs. The more drives needed for redundancy and performance, the higher the hardware investment (

RAID Performance for Gaming

When it comes to gaming performance, RAID 0 configurations tend to provide the biggest boost compared to single drive setups. According to benchmarks from Reddit, using two NVMe PCIe Gen4 SSDs in RAID 0 can nearly double sequential read and write speeds compared to a single drive.

Tests of game load times show significant reductions as well. This YouTube video demonstrates game load time improvements of 25-50% using two Samsung 980 Pro SSDs in RAID 0 versus a single drive configuration.

Gaming FPS is impacted to a lesser extent, but benchmarks still show gains. 3DMark testing revealed a 10-20% increase in FPS scores across various game simulations using RAID 0 versus individual drives.

Other RAID levels like 1, 5, and 10 offer much lower performance improvements for gaming, as parity and mirroring introduce some overhead. However, they provide greater data redundancy and protection against drive failure, which may be preferable for some gaming PC setups.

RAID Reliability for Gaming

One of the primary downsides of using RAID for gaming is the reliability risks. RAID 0 in particular, which stripes data across multiple disks with no parity or duplication, offers zero fault tolerance. If any drive fails in a RAID 0 array, all data is lost.

RAID 1 mirrors disks so there is some redundancy for drive failures. However, it still increases the likelihood of failure since there are multiple disks. According to research, RAID 1 may have failure rates of 5-10% per year with consumer-grade drives.

RAID 5 is more fault tolerant by using parity spread across disks. You can lose 1 disk and rebuild the array. But gaming PCs should avoid RAID 5 due to the performance hit of parity calculations. Overall, any RAID setup has more points of failure than a single disk.

For gaming PCs where losing game installs and save files is highly undesirable, RAID 0 and 1 present significant reliability risks. Strong backups are essential to protect against data loss in RAID 0 configurations.

RAID Setup Costs

The main costs associated with setting up RAID on a gaming PC are the additional hard drives needed and any RAID controller cards. Since RAID requires at least two physical drives to provide redundancy, this doubles the minimum storage cost compared to a single drive setup. For example, adding a second 2TB hard drive for RAID 1 would cost around $60-200 depending on the specific model.

Many motherboards have built-in RAID support, but for more advanced RAID setups a dedicated RAID controller card may be required. These cards can range from $50 for basic SATA RAID cards up to $500 or more for high-end cards with caching, battery backups, and other features. The specific RAID level and number of drives will determine if an additional card is needed.

Overall the total cost for a RAID array can run from a few hundred dollars for a simple mirroring setup to over a thousand dollars for a complex RAID 5 or 6 array with 4+ drives and a high-end controller. This initial hardware investment should be weighed against the benefits RAID provides for a particular use case.

Alternatives to RAID

Instead of using RAID, there are other options for protecting your data and improving storage performance on a gaming PC.

One alternative is to regularly back up important files either to an external drive or to a cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox. According to a Quora post, “There are many reliable RAID solutions but two examples are RAID1 (two or more copies of each disk), RAID6 and ZFS RAIDZ2 (both requiring two disk failures to lose data) are some of the most popular configurations” (source). However, a regular backup regimen avoids the complexity and cost of a RAID setup.

For improving gaming performance, using an external solid state drive (SSD) connected via USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt can provide a speed boost for loading games. SSDs provide faster load times than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). So an external SSD can give some of the advantages of RAID 0 without the risk of data loss from drive failure.

Cloud gaming services like Google Stadia allow playing games by streaming them from remote servers. So game performance depends on internet speed rather than local storage. While not a perfect replacement for RAID, cloud gaming removes the need for RAID configuration to improve gaming PC performance.

RAID Configuration Tips

When configuring RAID, it’s important to match the drives you use as closely as possible. Drives should have the same capacity, rotational speed, and ideally even be from the same manufacturing batch. This helps ensure consistent performance across the array (Source). Using mismatched drives can lead to wasted space and uneven performance.

It’s also recommended to use a dedicated RAID controller rather than relying on your motherboard’s built-in RAID. Third-party RAID controllers offer more configuration options, better performance, and more reliable functionality compared to motherboard RAID (Source).

Once your RAID array is set up, be sure to install monitoring tools to keep an eye on the health of your drives. Software like StorCLI provides detailed stats on factors like drive temperatures, throughput, rebuild progress, and more. This allows you to identify potential problems before they lead to data loss (Source).

Example RAID Gaming Builds

When looking at sample RAID gaming PC builds, it helps to consider budget, mid-range, and high-end configurations.

For a budget RAID gaming build, consider something like the $318 gaming PC featured in this YouTube video: The BEST 318$ Gaming PC to game at 144Hz | Budget PC Build. This build uses an AMD Ryzen 3 3100 CPU, Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics card, 500GB SSD, 16GB RAM, and a B450 motherboard. With this budget setup, you could configure a simple 2-drive RAID 0 array for improved gaming performance.

A mid-range RAID gaming rig may cost $800-$1200. Looking at recommendations on r/buildmeapc, you could go for an Intel Core i5 CPU, Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics, 16-32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, and a Z390 motherboard. With this, you could setup a RAID 0 array with 2 fast NVMe SSDs for your games and OS.

Finally, a high-end RAID gaming PC over $2000 could feature an Intel Core i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 CPU, Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics, 32-64GB RAM, multiple PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs, and a premium X570 motherboard. Here you can build a blazing fast 3-4 drive RAID 0 array, or experiment with RAID 5/6 for data protection.

Always compare benchmarks and real-world gaming fps when choosing RAID configurations for your budget and performance needs.


Using RAID on your gaming PC offers both advantages and disadvantages. The key benefits of RAID include improved performance, redundancy against drive failure, and the ability to combine multiple drives into a single volume. However, RAID can be more expensive to set up, requires careful configuration, and may not improve gaming performance significantly beyond using a single fast SSD.

Overall, RAID is most recommended for hardcore gamers who want maximum speed and reliability. The performance gains will be most noticeable in games that frequently load new assets or levels. RAID 1 or 10 configurations are best suited for the redundancy to protect game files and settings. More casual gamers will likely be satisfied with a single powerful SSD and can skip the extra complexity of RAID.

Gamers focused on reliability or running intensive games with long load times can benefit from RAID. But for many, a single SSD will provide sufficient performance at a lower cost. Consider your specific gaming usage and needs, research the RAID levels to determine the best fit, and weigh the trade-offs before deciding if RAID is worthwhile for your next gaming PC build.