Bear in mind that this is just an entry level server board.
Since you are planning to use the RAID 5 with 5 0r 6 1TB drives, hope you are aware of the OS limitation regarding the 2TB limit.
So far, i have never tried any tools to see if there is any difference when using the onboard controller or RAID controller card. I did not pay attention to the CPU utilisation when using the onboard RAID controller, so i wont comment on this one.
Now i will comment on the Onboard controller and the drivers.
This board has two onboard RAID controllers:
Intel® Matrix Storage Technology that supports software SATA RAID 0, 1,5, 10.
Intel® Embedded Server RAID Technology and the LSI Logic SATA controller that support software SATA RAID 0, 1 and 10"
So first thing that you need to do is to go onto the BIOS by pressing F2.
Go to Advanced
Set Onboard SATA Controller to Enabled
Set to Configure SATA as RAID
Set SATA RAID Oprom to Intel Matrix Storage
Save and Exit
Then Press Ctrl + I to go onto the Intel Matrix Storage Manager option ROM
1. All disks need to be NON-RAID - As a precaution, reset all disks to non-raid
2. Select Create Raid Volume
3. Enter a name for the Raid Volume
4. Select Raid 5 for the Raid Level
5. Select a Strip Size
6. Select the Volume Capacity
7. Select Create Volume
8. Select 'Y' to continue.
You will see your RAID 5 (parity) has been created and the status will be normal (font color in green).
9. Select Exit
10. Select 'Y' to continue.
For Windows XP and Windows 2003, you will need the driver for the RAID Controller LSI or Intel Matrix.
If you have an internal floppy disk drive, download the F6 driver from the website
Else you can use Nlite to slipstream the F6 driver with the Operating System, thus creating a new OS CD with the RAID F6 drivers already embedded in it.
Note:If using LSI controller, when installing an OS, it will boot onto the bootable OS CD, later it may ask you for a cd driver, this will be the F6 driver for the controller as the SATA CD drive is part of the hardware on the Array Selection Menu.
Please note: use the latest bios version 47
So far, regarding Intel Backplane, whether it is the expander or non-expander version, both of them are hot-swappable. The backplane has nothing to do with the RAID, as long as you have the updated firmware of the backplane, it will work fine. It is just cage that allows monitoring of the drives via management software.
So far, on this board, i tried the VMware workstation, VMWare Server and virtual box, all of them worked fine.
Except for VMware ESXi. I did not get the chance to use Hyper V. Let me know if it works fine :-)
That's it, hope it helps you.