For years enthusiasts looking to add a high performance RAID controller to their system have flocked to Areca Technology. Areca's reputation was built on their ability to design and sell controller cards that were able to perform very well, especially in RAID 0, an array type that is mainly used by computer enthusiasts since it is the fastest array possible. Areca is in a sense the underdog of the HBA industry; LSI and Adaptec both have a majority of their sales going to system integrators and Areca HBAs are mostly found in DIY computer systems.
A few weeks ago I started testing the iStorage Pro iT8SAE, a SAS enclosure that uses an Areca ARC-8020 SAS expander. This was my first run in with a SATA/SAS expander or for that matter any external SAS product. Most enthusiasts tend to use internal RAID controllers and I have done the same ever since SATA Ultra Wide.
The prosumer market is a different animal all together. Most of the A/V guys have drunk the Kool-Aid and are now addicted to their Mac Pros. The high end Macs don't offer a great deal of room for internal hard drives and even though products are on the market that allow more expansion, sometimes just using eight SATA HDDs doesn't cut it. This has lead to a many Mac inspired external drive systems to hit the market and many use components commonly found in PCs enterprise products.
Today we are looking at the Areca ARC-1680X, a SATA/SAS controller that has two SFF-8088 external miniSAS connectors. The 1680X is a first generation SAS controller that still uses PCIe 1.0 8x to interface with your PC (or Mac).