Dell Raid Controller fails with new drives

I have a Dell PowerEdge 2950 with an integrated Raid Controller.  The raid will fail as soon as anything is tried with the drives.
Here are the details.
This is an older unit (10 yr) and it is not a production server.  It is only used for IT dept. testing.  It was originally configured with 8 73gb drives.  It has, and still will run just fine with those drives.  They are a mixture or original Dell drives and Seagate (ST973451SS) drives. The Seagate drives are replacement drives from past failures.  As I said, everything works well, without and problems when using these drives.

I thought I would expand the drive storage on this to allow VMware ESXi to be used and allow for multiple test machines.  Again, when used with the 73gb drives, no problems.

I try exchanging out the drives for 146gb drives, and this is where the problem begins. The drives are Seagate ST91466852SS.
I can put the drives in and boot the server, and get to the Raid controller (Ctrl-R) and the system sees the drives and lets me set up a Raid configuration. (0, 1, 5) I have tried them all.
Tipically I would set it up as drive 0 and 1 in Raid 1, and drives 2 thru 7 in Raid 5.  But I have tried different scenarios and they all react the same.
It will let me initialize the drives after creating them.  All is still well at this point.  I can reboot the server and all is still OK.
As soon as I tried to install and operating system, whether a Server, Windows OS or VMware, the Raid fails.  The install process sees the drive long enough for me to start the install, then the Raid fails.  I can go into the Raid Controller again and the Raid Virtual drive for the one I was trying to install on, is gone.

I have tried installing the current version of the Raid Controller Firmware (5.2.1-0067) but it still acts the same.
If it is important, the BIOS version is 2.7.0
The Raid is PERC 5/I

I can insert two of the original drives (73gb) back into the machine, go into the Controller, set everything back up with the two drives on Raid 1 and the other (146gb) drives on Raid 5 and it will be all good all the way thru the install of any OS.  As soon as I try to do anything with the 146gb drive setup, the Raid for those drives will fail.  The OS running on the 73gb drives will remain stable, just the 146gb drives fail.

Yes, I know these are not the "Dell" preferred drives.  I guess I was just trying to be a little cost conscience since this server was not a production system.
I have searched the internet and tried several different things, but I have never found anything that would lead me in the right direction.
Maybe I will just have to break down and Dell drives.  A little harder to find for a 10 year old machine.

Thanks for any help
bgfullertonAsked:
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andyalderConnect With a Mentor Commented:
It's not a model Dell use (although they use other very similar ones) but I can't see any reason for it not to use them.

One last experiment if you have time, configure a pair of the 146GB ones as the first array and the 73GB ones as the second array. If that indicates the 73GB ones are the problem then most likely the controller is at fault. You can use bays 5,6,7,8 instead of 1,2,3,4 to eliminate the backplane/data cables.
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Fred MarshallConnect With a Mentor PrincipalCommented:
For systems that old, I have had to replace failed drives with the exact model number to match the others remaining in the system.
I didn't even have the same degree of success that you've had it seems.
That's a Dell Server with RAID 5.

It appears that yours works with identical model drives?

How would you expect the RAID to work if the drives are different sizes?  I'm no RAID expert but that seems a red flag.
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bgfullertonAuthor Commented:
The older "replaced" drives are all the same size, 73gb.  What I am trying to do now is take all the old drives (73gb) out, and replace them all with 146gb drives.  the only "mix" of drives I have is when I place 2 of the 73gb drives back into the machine, configure those two only, with Raid 1 and then leave the other 6 146gb drives in place and configure those with Raid 5.  At that point, the original 73gb drives, as Raid 1 will work fine.  But the new 146gb drives will fail, but not until I try to do something with them that puts data onto the drive.

Any Raid I have set up will always have all the same size drives.  2 73gb drives to make Raid 1, and 6 146gb drives to make Raid 5
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andyalderConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Presumably you have tried with just the original 72GB plus 3 of the 146GB ones and then with the original 72GB ones plus the other 3 146GB ones to eliminate any single faulty drive? Another thing to try is to remove all the drives and clear the controller config with the BIOS utility and then start again. If that fails too then it sounds like the PERC 5/i is faulty, they cost about £10 on eBay.

Genuine Dell second hand 146GB are about £40 each on fleabay too although
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bgfullertonAuthor Commented:
I have tried them in pairs, swapping them around to see if one or more are failed drives.
I am resorting to trying Dell drives to see if that works.  It will take a few days to get here.
I will update this when they arrive and I have had a chance to try them.
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andyalderCommented:
Can you upload a photo of the disk label please.
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bgfullertonAuthor Commented:
Here are the two disks I am working with.
the 73gb on the left works fine
the 146gb on the right is the one I am having trouble with.
73gb-vs-146gb.jpg
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bgfullertonAuthor Commented:
I bought 2 "Dell" drives (J084N) and configured them as Raid 1. Fired up no problem.  Added the Array as a drive datastore in the VM and everything is fine.  I guess, at least for this machine, I need to use the Dell drives.  Not breaking the bank, I found them for $50 each so I guess I will get 4 more and set my Raid 5 up and call it a night.

I appreciate everyone's help on this.  even though no one particular person gave an answer to this, there were ideas to try from all.
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