Radified Guide to SCSI - Boot from a SCSI Hard Drive

Conclusion Major Premise The Argument Argument-part2 Minor Premise
Seek/Access Tekram/Adaptec This vs that Misc Misc config
Misc config 2 Config/Compare Comparison Linkage Home

Tekram vs Adaptec:

LVD-capable Tekram cards use the high-performance Symbios chipset, designed by LSI Logic. The beautiful thing about Tekram cards is that they come with all the cables and terminators you need. Adaptec cards come in both OEM & Retail flavors. OEM packages do not come with any cables or terminators. 

SCSI cables & terminators can cost plenty when purchased separately, so make sure they come with your card. Typically, Tekram cards (at least those with the Symbios chipset) offer slightly better performance that their Adaptec counterparts, at significantly lower prices. 

Heard that (some?) Adaptec U160 cards were having probs w/ Linux sppt - not so w/ Tekram. Have not looked closely into the issue, cuz I don't have an U160 card. My Tekram card had no probs using my SCSI drives in Linux (Mandrake 7 & Caldera 2.4), but I was unable to boot from any SCSI drive in Linux. Of course, for the newbie, nothing in Linux is very easy. 

Some people claim that Adaptec tech sppt are arrogant, and tend to say that it's always your fault, or that of your system, that's the source of the problem .. that they're more interested in laying blame elsewhere, than finding a solution to your problem. I have only dealt with Adaptec sppt twice. But each time I came away with a bad taste in my mouth. They were close to the worst tech sppt experience I've ever had. 

I wouldn't say the worst, cuz at least I wasn't given any inaccurate info. But I received no useable help. It's hard to convince someone that there's something wrong with their product, if they refuse to accept it. They weren't interested is working on a solution with me, and were generally uncooperative. 

I thought it was me, until I heard others saying the same things. Lots of my friends have Adaptec controllers, and love them. I'm sure there are even some who've had wonderful experiences with Adaptec sppt. Unfortunately, I'm not one of 'em. If I could buy an Adaptec Retail package with comparable perf, for a similar price as Tekram, I'd buy it. But you can't. 

On the other hand, Tekram sppt is non-existent. Sending them an email is a waste of bandwidth. I concede that sppt with an attitude is better than no sppt at all. Maybe now you can see why a SCSI user needs to be able to provide his own tech sppt. 

The only reason I can see for buying an Adaptec card is that you're into 'buying American' - as Tekram is a Taiwanese corp. Personally, I am too much of a capitalist to pay significantly more money for equivalent or lower performance. As noted, Adaptec has better tech sppt, but you can get excellent support at various online hardware bulletin board forums - such as the ones at the storagereview.com. Those guys can walk you through any problem you might have - as long as you're nice to them. =) See here - go to General forum.

Adaptec discusses Windows XP support here.

Darren Mason at GamePC did a great 5-page review of the Tekram DC390-U3W vs Adaptec 29160 here. His concluding thoughts: 

<copy-n-paste> "As the benchmarks prove, the Tekram board performs great. It is neck and neck with the Adaptec in all our benchmarks, and actually edges out Adaptec in a few areas. The Tekram DC-390U3W is a remarkable value. For a significantly lower price, you can get Adaptec quality features and performance. The Tekram can also support 30 devices, which is something Adaptec can only claim with their pricey 39160 dual channel card. However, the Tekram runs only half the devices at 160MB/s, since the 2nd channel only supports Ultra Wide. 

Regardless, this feature can easily make the Tekram a no-brainer to those who need the 2nd channel. Otherwise, the two cards match each other's features, but you pay quite a premium for the Adaptec name. Congrats to Tekram for producing such a high quality component, that can easily compete with its Adaptec counterpart on every level." </copy-n-paste>

Storagereview also did a comparison review here, and came to the same conclusions.

But if you do go with an Adaptec card, like the 29160N, I heard you should disable Domain Name Validation. Adaptec talks about what DNV does here. Also heard that you should use the Win2K drivers for the 29160N - not the 1.00b's that are on Adaptec's site, as ppl are having problems burning with the Adaptec drivers with DNV enabled. U2W and pre-U160 controllers do have DNV. They can be found at shopper.com for ~US$250. If vendors offer this card for much less, give them a close look before buying. 

I heard the only difference between the Adaptec 19160 and the 29160N is driver support. The 19160 is a Windows-only card. So if you ever want to use Linux, BeOS, or another OS besides Windows, don't get the 19160.

The Tekram DC-390U2W has no new drivers for over six months. I'm not sure if this is the ultimate sign of driver maturity, or that Tekram is no longer interested in supporting the card .. moving on to DC-390U3W & other U160 flavors. 

DocSilly says there's a jumper on the Tekram DC-390U3W that set INT A or INT B. One setting uses the same IRQ for both channels (U160 + SE), and the other uses a separate IRQ for both (2 IRQs).

I've heard of some problems with non-LVD Tekram cards .. ones not based on the Symbios chipset. Tekram uses their own chipset in their non-LVD adapters. If for some reason you don't want an LVD-rated card, I'd suggest Adaptec. There are plenty of people running non-LVD Tekram cards without problems, but the Adaptec would be a safer bet. Note that I don't recommend a non-LVD rated card. They're really only good for running burners, and Burnproof technology has eliminated most/all of SCSI's burning advantages.

My SCSI system:

I've run this system for >1 yr now. Found it to be fast, stable & reliable. Tekram driver and bios support has been good (latest drivers are dated July 5th - see here). Tho their tech sppt blows chunks. Sending them an email is a waste of bandwidth. Currently running it in an Asus CUSL2 motherboard motherboard with an Intel P3-700 @938 (1.8v). 

This particular Tekram SCSI adapter uses a separate chip that effectively isolates non-LVD devices (CD-R burner & CD reader) from the LVD channel. This means that running non-LVD devices won't degrade performance of devices on the LVD channel (hard drives). Not all SCSI adapters offer this feature, so check before buying. The Adaptec AHA2940-U2W is a comparable SCSI adapter, which also isolates the non-LVD channel, but uses a different method. 

Tekram also makes a newer model, the DC-390U3W (max 160MB/s x-fer rate), but current PCI bus limitations (133MB/s) do not allow this newest SCSI protocol (Ultra160 or Ultra3) to perform at its full capacity. You would need a 64-bit PCI slot to take full advantage of this card. But the card will fit into an ordinary, 32-bit PCI slot. 

These newest generations Tekram cards sells for about $180, and come with all the cables & terminators you'll ever need. They are not a bad investment for the future, but you get maximum bang for your buck with the DC390-U2W (max 80MB/s). The DC-390U2W has connectors like so:

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