What is best PCI eSATA card out there for me?

I've been mislead on this already by a Memory Express consultant.  Now, I'm looking to you guys, the experts, for the best PCI card out there that is going to offer me the most eSATA ports to hook up my six external drives/docks to my computer and enable fast transfer of massive data on my system.

Please tell me what's best, and if you know "where to get it" and the best possible price, that of course will also be more than welcome.
CanadianJeffAsked:
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MaurizioSchmidtCommented:
the FASTEST:

http://www.cybertronpc.com/Itemdesc~ic~HDR-ADP-31205A~eq~~Tp~~PCc~CONTROLLERCARDS.htm

for Private Use:

http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=11217

the only card which transfers REALY fast. there is no 6 port card which has good speed, as far as i know.
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geowrianCommented:
Those are PCI-e cards. The OP requested PCI cards. With PCI, you are going to be severely limited on bandwidth due to the 32-bit, 33MHz limit of the shared PCI bus. That gives you about 100-110 MB/sec max speed (realistic, ~133MB/sec theoretical). Even if you can get it t run at 64MHz, you will likely be surpassing that limit (double) as well.

I have had good experiences with Silicon Image PCI cards. I believe the Si3114 PCI card (or 2) would be a usable model for you.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
A PCI-X card (NOT a PCIe card) will work fine in a standard PCI slot -- it will simply work at the PCI bandwidth.     In addition, no matter what card you buy, you should be sure it's compatible with port multipliers -- this will let you easily expand your ability to connect eSATA devices.

This is a good, port-multiplier compatible card with 4 eSATA ports:
http://www.usb-ware.com/esata-sata-ii-4-port-raid.htm

That card will let you connect 4 eSATA devices.    To connect more, you could either use two of those cards;  or one card and an external port-multiplier.

Here's a standalone 5-port port multiplier box:  http://fire-wire-1394-ilink.stores.yahoo.net/sapomuesexbo.html     This, together with the 4-port card, would let you connect 8 eSATA devices.

I gather your external devices are all standalone devices, so that's all you need -- but if you want to expand the number of drives you have, you could also use an external enclosure with a built-in port multiplier to connect multiple drives to each eSATA port with a single cable.    Here's a 5-bay enclosure with an integral port multiplier and hot-swap drive bays:  http://www.usb-ware.com/5-bay-esata-port-multiplier-enclosure.htm

As for bandwidth, it's true that the PCI bus will be the limiting factor IF you are accessing multiple drives at the same time -- either with a RAID configuration or simply multiple eSATA transfers to different drives.   But for any single access, the PCI bus has far more bandwidth than the sustained transfer rate of any modern drive, so you'll get the full performance when transferring to/from any individual drive.   But if your system has an available PCIe slot (preferably a multi-lane slot, as the better controllers all require multilane slots) you'd be better served to use a PCIe eSATA card (you should still get one that's port-multiplier compliant) -- for example, here's an excellent PCIe x8 card:  http://www.usb-ware.com/esata-pcie-x8-adapter-4-port.htm

... but since you asked specifically for a PCI solution, I presume you need a PCI card -- so I'd use the PCI-X card I suggested above.
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geowrianCommented:
@garycase
Seconded. Those are all fine cards.

If only a single drive is being access at a time, a PCI card should be able to provide enough bandwidth assuming nothing else on the PCI bus is using a noticeable amount of bandwidth. Even two drives at a time should run pretty well. If you are going to be using more than 2 drives at a time, the limiting factor will be the PCI bus no matter what you do.

If you have a PCI-e slot, use that instead.
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CanadianJeffAuthor Commented:
Wow, I think that's some great info, but alot of it's greek to me, though I think I'm getting the idea.  Is PCI or PCI-e dependent on my motherboard?  (It's a M3N78 PRO.)  Or, my CPU?  (AMD X4-920.)  Where do I determine that my system will support a particular type of card?
Essentially, I'm looking for the fastest, best, etc., that I can do.  I want to up the capacity of this system to run 6-8 drives (many externals with eSATA ports, plus a couple of docks both with eSATA ability.), at max speed possible to move files around quickly and without errors.  I didn't know bandwith played a role within the system, but I want to push it to the max (within reason on costs, of course).  
The card garycase has suggested looks pretty darned good (at a pretty hefty price, of course).  My motherboard says it supports PCI Express x1_1 slot, and PCI Express 2.0 x16_1 slot, PCI_1 slot, PCI_2 slot, PCI_3 slot, and PCI Express x 1_2 slot.  I'm not sure what all that means.  I may want to add a graphics card later on as well; is my M3N78 PRO capable of that AND perhaps that high-end PCI-e card as well?  (I can't tell.)
Sorry, I'm really green on all of this.  Thought it might be easier, but there's obviously more to it.  It doesn't even really say if that 8x card will produce 3 GB/s speeds, though it appears it will support my many drives (if I get a Port Multiplier).  How am I doing so far?
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I presume this is your motherboard:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131320

If so, you have 1  PCIe x16 slot,  2  PCIe x1 slots, and 3  PCI slots.   If you're using the onboard video, the PCIe x16 slot could be used for a PCIe x8 eSATA card like the one I suggested above [http://www.usb-ware.com/esata-pcie-x8-adapter-4-port.htm ].     If you have a video card installed in the x16 slot (or want to keep it available for that purpose), you could use a PCIe x1 card such as this:  http://www.usb-ware.com/sonnet-tempo-sata-e2p-esata-pci-express.htm    That will add 2 port-multiplier compatible eSATA ports.    You could use two of these cards to get 4 eSATA ports -- and any of those ports could be used with a port multiplier to get as many ports as you desire.    Although not as good as an x8 card, this would still give you much better bandwidth than using the PCI bus cards.
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CanadianJeffAuthor Commented:
Excellent!  I'm torn as to which way to go.  Want to add video card down the road, but also want the better of these cards to ensure blazing speeds.  Will think about that, but...
...do you also have a good recommendation on where I can get a good port multiplier so I can move data around the drives at the same time, and that I can get the product shipped to Canada?  (Only one I've found so far doesn't ship to Canada.)
 
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CanadianJeffAuthor Commented:
Sorry, Gary... checked out your link for the Port Multiplier after I asked that question.  I've asked them if they'll ship to Canada, waiting on an answer.  Please disregard last comment...
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CanadianJeffAuthor Commented:
I came to award the points.  Can I still do that, or I am too late?
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CanadianJeffAuthor Commented:
If I can, I've weighed the answers out (in terms of how they assist me), and would like them awarded like this:
MaurizioSchmidt - 40
Geowrian - 40 (1st answer)
garycase - 180 (1st answer)
Geowrian - 30 (2nd answer)
garycase - 200 (2nd answer)
Thanks each of you for your responses.  Sorry for letting the question sit for so long with awarding the points.  
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CanadianJeffAuthor Commented:

If I can, I've weighed the answers out (in terms of how they assist me), and would like them awarded like this:
MaurizioSchmidt - 40
Geowrian - 40 (1st answer)
garycase - 180 (1st answer)
Geowrian - 30 (2nd answer)
garycase - 200 (2nd answer)
Thanks each of you for your responses.  Sorry for letting the question sit for so long with awarding the points.  
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CanadianJeffAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your patience, guys, your info is much appreciated as well.
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