The version Windows XP driver shipped with the controller caused drive performance to be degraded when the array was the boot drive. Such issues are common with new products, and this controller was only released in August 2003. It would be prudent for Promise to add an entry in their FAQ for the product and to add a link to the beta driver. An ethical issue is that the controller is marketed as supporting RAID 10 when it does not support RAID 10. None of the competing RAID controllers use the terminology in this loose way.

Beyond these few issues, the SX4 lives up to its purpose, which is to provide a less expensive entry point for users of RAID-5. A RAID-5 array with four disks should be suitable for a modest, department-level database, web, or file server, due to its high random read performance and reliability. For workstations, typically write performance is of greater importance. RAID-0 suits this type of usage, but the benchmarks on the Windows XP/A7N8X test system showed poor performance. Therefore, this card would not be recommended for average workstation use.

The RAID-5 configuration with the Western Digital Raptor hard drives provides a high-performance disk subsystem at a total cost of under $600 for the controller, memory, and four drives. Because the SX4 is a 32-bit PCI card, it can be installed in a much wider range of existing systems as compared to its competitors, which require 64-bit PCI or PCI-X slots that are only available on expensive server motherboards. On the other hand, since the card supports a 66 Mhz bus speed, it may be handicapped when used in a 33 Mhz PCI slot. This review could not test this aspect. The FastTrak SX4 controller provides an appealing and cost-competitive gateway into RAID-5 for the small to mid-range server operator.