concur - stay away from SATA expanders.SATA expanders seem to have more issues than
I'd say less than the cost of a SAS3 expander.you would get with just a HBA. SAS expanders seem to work well for most people, but you can get a pair of HBAs for less than the cost of an expander, at least at the time I was looking. I would just get a pair of 8i HBAs unless you get a really good deal on the 4i.
Well I found on eBay a 9211 8i and a 9211 4i bothe in IT mode for less than 100.00I've used a Dell H200 flashed to make them a HBA this gives me 8 ports then if you nee you couls always use the sata ports on the motherboard.
It all depends on the case you want to use for your project.