What RAID should I use for gaming?

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is a data storage technology that combines multiple disk drives into one unit. It can dramatically improve performance and reliability for systems that demand high storage capacity and throughput, like gaming PCs. The right RAID configuration provides faster read/write speeds, data protection, and (in some cases) expanded storage capacity.

For gamers who want the best performance, there are a few popular RAID options to consider: RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, and M.2 RAID. RAID 0 provides striping, which splits and writes data across multiple drives. This can significantly boost speed but offers no data protection. RAID 1 mirrors data across drives for fault tolerance, while RAID 5 provides distributed parity and striping for a balance of speed and redundancy. RAID 10 combines mirroring and striping for top performance and protection. M.2 RAID utilizes NVMe SSDs for incredible throughput. The right RAID setup depends on your priorities like cost, capacity, speed, and data integrity.


RAID 0 offers the fastest performance of all the RAID levels, but does not provide any redundancy. This makes RAID 0 the ideal RAID setup for maximizing gaming performance[1]. With RAID 0, data is striped across multiple drives, allowing reads and writes to operate in parallel. This stripe writes and reads across drives simultaneously, enabling faster data transfer speeds.

For gaming, RAID 0 can provide substantial improvements in loading times and frame rates compared to a single drive. Benchmarks of NVMe SSDs in RAID 0 demonstrate doubled sequential read/write speeds and up to 2x faster game load times compared to a single SSD[2]. The extremely fast speeds of RAID 0 make it the preferred RAID level for high performance gaming rigs.

However, the lack of redundancy means that if one drive fails, all data across the array will be lost. Regular backups are essential when using RAID 0. The performance gains come at the cost of greater risk of data loss. But for gaming rigs where maximum speed is the priority, RAID 0 is an excellent choice.


RAID 1 mirrors data across multiple drives to provide redundancy in case one drive fails (1). This level writes the same data to two or more drives simultaneously, providing fault tolerance through redundancy. If one drive fails, the data can still be accessed from the other mirrored drive(s) (2). This makes RAID 1 a good option for protecting game files and save data, ensuring no data loss if a drive crashes. However, the tradeoff is reduced write performance compared to RAID 0 since data has to be written multiple times instead of striped. Overall, RAID 1 provides excellent protection with the downside of slower speeds.


(1) https://www.reddit.com/r/Proxmox/comments/13ffa42/what_is_the_difference_between_raid_0_and_raid_1/

(2) https://www.techtarget.com/searchdatabackup/tip/RAID-1-vs-RAID-0-Which-level-is-best-for-data-protection


RAID 5 is a striped set with distributed parity. This means it stripes data across multiple disks like RAID 0 for increased performance, while also providing redundancy like RAID 1 [1]. The parity information is distributed among the drives rather than being stored on a dedicated drive.

In terms of performance, RAID 5 offers moderate speeds that are faster than RAID 1 but slower than RAID 0. The distributed parity allows RAID 5 to sustain a single disk failure without data loss, providing good redundancy for a general gaming PC [2]. While not the fastest setup, RAID 5 offers a good balance of speed and redundancy for gaming usage.


RAID 10 utilizes striped mirrors to balance speed and redundancy. This RAID configuration combines striping and mirroring by creating a mirrored set from two drives and then striping data across multiple sets at the same time. The advantage of RAID 10 is that it offers the performance benefits of data striping while also providing the fault tolerance of disk mirroring.[1]

Specifically, RAID 10 provides fast read and write speeds similar to RAID 0 since data is striped across multiple disks. But it also offers redundancy by keeping a mirrored copy of each stripe set. So if one drive fails, the mirrored drive can continue operating normally until the failed drive is replaced. This makes RAID 10 a popular choice for high-end gaming rigs that need both speed and data protection.[2]

The tradeoff is that RAID 10 requires at least four disks to implement, and 50% of total capacity is lost to redundancy. However, for enthusiast gamers focused on performance over storage space, RAID 10 can provide an excellent combination of speed, responsiveness, and protection against drive failure.


Using RAID with M.2 SSDs for ultra-fast load times has become increasingly popular for high performance gaming setups. M.2 drives communicate directly over PCIe lanes, providing much higher bandwidth than traditional SATA SSDs. Combining multiple M.2 drives in RAID 0 can deliver incredible sequential read/write speeds far beyond any single drive.

NVMe RAID is gaining traction as more motherboards add multiple M.2 slots. With two PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 SSDs in RAID 0, it’s possible to achieve over 6,000 MB/s sequential reads and writes. For PCIe Gen4, speeds can reach over 12,000 MB/s with the right drives (Tom’s Hardware Forums). This enables lightning fast game and application loading, boots, and transfers.

When configured properly, M.2 RAID 0 provides a seamless performance boost with minimal setup required in BIOS. The downside is no data redundancy, so backups are highly recommended. For premium gaming rigs focused on speed, M.2 RAID can be an excellent solution.

RAID Controller

When setting up a RAID array for gaming, you have two main options for the RAID controller: a dedicated hardware controller or the motherboard’s built-in software-based controller.

A dedicated RAID controller card connects to the motherboard via PCIe and handles all RAID calculations and management itself. This offloads the work from the CPU and allows for better performance. Dedicated cards also often have more RAID options, ports, caching, and other features. The downsides are increased cost and setup complexity. Popular dedicated RAID cards for gaming include the ASUS Hyper M.2 x16 Card and HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL.

Using the motherboard’s built-in RAID eliminates the need for an extra card and is easier to set up. However, the RAID management relies on the system’s CPU and RAM, which can impact gaming performance. The RAID options may also be more limited compared to a dedicated card. Still, motherboard RAID works well for more casual gaming setups.

Ultimately, a dedicated RAID card is recommended for high-end gaming systems where maximum performance is needed. But motherboard RAID can be sufficient for most gamers looking to set up a RAID array on a budget.

Setup Considerations

There are a few important factors to consider when setting up RAID for gaming:

RAID settings in BIOS – Most motherboards have built-in RAID support through the BIOS. You’ll need to enable RAID mode and configure the array type before installing your operating system. Refer to your motherboard manual for specific steps.

Partitioning and formatting – Once RAID is enabled, your drives will appear as one large volume that needs to be partitioned and formatted. Using disk management tools in Windows or Linux, create the necessary partitions and filesystem for your OS and games.

OS and driver support – Make sure your operating system, motherboard chipset, and storage drivers have full support for your desired RAID level. Some RAID levels like 0, 1, and 10 have wide compatibility. But for RAID 5/6 you may need vendor-specific drivers.



Safest and Best way to setup RAID 0 for Gaming?
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While RAID can provide considerable benefits for gaming, there are some potential drawbacks to consider as well:

Compatibility issues can arise when mixing different brands or models of drives in a RAID array. Drives with different speeds, cache sizes, etc. may not perform optimally together. It’s generally best to use identical drives when building a RAID setup.

Rebuilding failed drives in a RAID array can also be challenging. The rebuild process puts additional stress on the surviving drives and can take a long time, during which the array is vulnerable to total failure if another drive dies. Some RAID controllers may also lack automatic rebuilding functionality.

There are extra costs associated with RAID. At minimum, an additional drive is required compared to a single drive. But there are also potential added expenses for a dedicated RAID controller, enclosures, cooling, etc. RAID 5/6 also carries a storage capacity penalty due to the parity data.

Overall, while RAID delivers clear performance and redundancy benefits, gamers should weigh the potential compatibility issues, rebuild challenges, and extra expenses when evaluating RAID solutions.


In summary, the best RAID options for gaming and different budgets are:

  • For performance, RAID 0 is the best if budget allows and redundancy is not needed.
  • For redundancy, RAID 1 or RAID 10 provide good options depending on budget and number of drives.
  • RAID 5 can provide a balance of performance and redundancy for more budget-focused setups.

When choosing a RAID setup, it’s important to consider read/write speeds, redundancy needs, and budget. Real-world benchmarking and testing different configurations with your specific hardware is highly recommended to find the optimal setup. The best RAID for your needs will depend on your individual components and performance requirements.

Carefully weighing the pros and cons of different RAID levels based on your priorities is key. Testing configurations can help identify the best performance and optimal RAID setup for your gaming rig.