Yes, RAID-0 aka striping *will* give you a decent speed boost - don't trust those silly magazines. I assume the raptors are SCSI since they're only 74GB in size? If not, go SCSI since you have the money to burn
. 10k RPM might be a bit noisy though.
You could also consider RAID-5/parity which is a compromise between speed and security. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID5
for more info.
You could even look out for an iRAM "drive" - a PCI card with up to 4 gigs of ram that connects as a SATA drive, is backed by PCI bus power when the PC is off, and a 72-hour battery when you unplug the machine. Doesn't get much faster than this
Yes, hyou can partition RAID drives, and I suggest that you do this. You can easily have multiple operating systems installed, but it's safer if each goes on their own partition (for example, DO NOT TRY to install 32- and 64-bit XP on the same partition, your 32-bit install will be messed up).
This is great if you want to do things like video editing which needs fast writing, but really doesn't make much difference if you are simply installing Windows on the array.
I beg to differ - I used to run a striped RAID on my P4 box, and that helped a good deal with windows and app startup times, and when copying data around. Things like unpacking large RAR archives went a lot faster, too.
If you use RAID 1 (mirroring) you won't see any speed improvement, in fact you may find the speed degraded slightly.
Theoretically, you can get the same read speedup that striping offers; the controller doesn't have to read both drives and compare, since harddrives can report read failures, so the same disk alternation that stripe offers can be done with mirror. I've never benchmarked this, though.
SATA drives aren't really that much faster than PATA drives, it's just that the interface allows for higher throughput - which means you have a higher theoretical maximum. A single drive can never reach this speed sustained, and I've never seen it reached in bursts, either. The higher theoretical maxium speed of the interface (combined with the smaller and less cluttery cables) makes SATA nicer for large raid arrays, though
The way I got around this when I used to run Windows on the RAID array was to unplug the other drives during installation.
Good point! I had to do a couple of reinstalls when I installed to raid because of this. You can get around it by manually installing a MBR and the NTLDR files on your raid array and messing around after install, but the drive letter assignments won't be "right" then, and I don't think you can easily change the letter assignment for the "system drive".
I can recommend the ASUS A8N-SLI premium motherboard, I have good speeds and the system seems rock stable. I really enjoy that the chipset is passively cooled, since those chipset fans tend to be NOISY. And dualcore AMD64 is pure sweetness.
as for the hardware or software raid management - you know, i didn't even realise this. i shall have to investigate - if the Asus motherboard doesn't have hardware raid management then i guess it's not worth going the raid way.
Both the NForce4 and Silion Image RAIDs (which are on most NForce4 based motherboards) are "software" raid, in that those chips do some raid jobs, but leave some to the drivers. Still good speed and low CPU usage, though. If you want "real" RAID, check out controllers from 3ware or adaptec. Stay clear from promise, since that's just soft-raid as well.
Stock CPU coolers from AMD tend to be very silent - and so are decent 120mm fans. The noisiest components in your system will probably be the GPU fan and your 10k rpm disks. Even if you go watercooling, you'll want 120mm fans to cool down the drives, and the drives are hard to silence anyway. So watercooling probably doesn't make too much sense. And you *WILL* want to cool down your drives, even if you go for regular 7200rpm. Placing a 120mm fan infront of my drives lower their temperature about 20C, and improves lifetime.