Thunderbolt RAID Pegasus 2 R4 – first look & review

Last October, the company Promise Technology extended its external Pegasus Thunderbolt RAID storage line with the new “R4” that comes driveless and on top features the new and very fast Thunderbolt 2 connection. The new, black R4 is an enhancement to the existing silver Pegasus R4 line that had a Thunderbolt 1 connection. I took a closer look at what the new R4 has in store.

Over the past few months, I have been searching for a Thunderbolt RAID that would suit my needs. A few weeks ago, I wrote a posting about this on my personal blog.  The main reason for my search was to help me migrate from my old Mac Pro tower, to a newer Mac Pro. I have many projects that are archived, and some still active on my old tower. I needed a solution, and therefore my search began.

The Twitter community was very helpful and provided suggestions to me. The post production community is very interactive on twitter, and was a great deal of help.  Then a local editor and colleague read my posting, picked up the phone and recommended I take his Promise Pegasus 2 R4 Diskless on a loan.

Promise Pegasus 2 R4 frontThe Promise Pegasus 2 R4 seemed like a great solution as it’s diskless. The RAID simply allows you to swap out the hard drives in my Mac Pro, and drop them into the Pegasus R4. This allows me to migrate all my projects and media with a simple swap. Then be fully readily available on the new Mac Pro. Plus, I would have the added benefit of having 2, Thunderbolt 2 ports for all that glorious speed. How could I say no to that?

Once we had swapped out the drives, I was anxious to test it out.  The first step was to connect the Pegasus R4 it to my Mac Book Pro to take advantage of it’s Thunderbolt 1 connection. Initially, I was impressed at the speed gains, and the simple ability to jump back into my projects. However, not every transition is smooth. FCP7 had trouble with connecting with media. Many FCP7 projects had the dreaded “media offline” greeting.  I did not have this issue with either FCPX, Adobe or Avid. This was great news, and I felt fully confident that this would be a route I would like to go.

FCP7offline

Then my curiosity kicked in. What was the advantages working with a Thunderbolt 2 connection and the new Mac Pro? Upgrading to the new Mac Pro was not something I had considered yet. This was mainly due to lack of support from Avid, (Avid now supports the new Mac Pro) and it really didn’t seem to benefit Adobe as of yet. The only real difference was FCPX, which seems to run much faster.  However, my curiosity had to be satisfied.

Transferring the Pegasus R4 was thankfully easy as it was not that heavy. The RAID is only a 4 disk configuration, which makes it easy to move from 1 location to another. We moved the Pegasus R4 to my colleagues edit suite, as he had already upgraded to the latest Mac Pro. After the unit was plugged into the new Mac Pro, and immediately recognized the RAID, and we were able to dive right in.

Working with this new set up provided initial impressions of a very fast edit suite. This felt several times faster than my current edit suite.  It also seemed  even faster than my Mac Book Pro configuration. It was truly remarkable. (I will save further comments for an upcoming full review.)  After my first impressions settled in, the real testing began.  It was clear Final Cut Pro 7 projects would not open, as this Mac Pro did not have it installed. In addition, Apple no longer supports it, therefore, I had no expectations anyway. Elements that were previously created, in After Effects projects opened with ease. Final Cut Pro X projects also opened, but with one small issue with media locations. The preferences on this Mac Pro differed from mine, which caused some issues, but was quickly rectified.

Promise Pegasus 2 R4 back

Once all the migration issues were resolved, everything ran fine. Thunderbolt 2 was very impressive. Transferring files and editing was much easier, and faster on this configuration rather than my current edit suite.  Disk speed testing was not a priority, as we did not have enough time. Time is money, and my colleague did have to get back to work.  We all know #PostDontStop.

Final Thoughts

Working with the Promise Pegasus 2 R4 Diskless, and the new Mac Pro has been very pleasant. The speed gains as well as the ease of transferring projects seems like a great way to migrate. The ability to hot swap out hard drives and continue working is a welcomed benefit. The Pegasus R4 may be the Thunderbolt solution I was looking for in a RAID.

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Derek McCabe
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Derek McCabe

I have had an 8-bay trayless external tower on my Mac for about 6 years. It runs to a PCI card via SAS cable interface and has a 6Gbs transfer rate. It can be run as RAID or JBOD. I use it for video projects in JBOD mode, I can hot swap 3TB drives at will.

It cost $700, including the PCI card.

Now I realize that it is not THunderbolt… but the 8 tray Pegasus is $3400!

So instead of SAS interface, I get Thunderbolt, for an extra $2600 cost? Outrageous price gouging.. wait until more Thunderbolt stations get released at earthbound prices.

Dom
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Dom

Derek

What PCI did it come with?
Part of the cost difference might be the RAID controller. In these TB RAID chassis, the RAID controller is embedded in the box and not with the PCI card.

Derek McCabe
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Derek McCabe

well, yeah…the RAID controller has no where else to go beside inside the external unit, there is no PCI in future Apple desktops.

I was using a HighPoint RAID PCI card, not their best one, but it had 2 SAS slots, so it could support 8 drives in JBOD at the same time.

I use these as storage back-up, so I am swapping drives in and out. No need for RAID actually, because I use RAID on my SSD drives for “current project”.

I have found that even 8 bays is not enough storage, and we plan on getting into 4K video this year… lots of blank hard drives for back-up. Fill a drive with a client drive, pop it out and store. No need for it to be spinning in a RAID tower.

But if you want to “work” off a RAID tower with video files, these Pegasus looks like they are fast, I just thing the cost of way out there. A Thunderbolt controller card can’t be more than $100 and a good RAID card is $500. Give me 8 trayless sata enclosures and a power supply and metal case.. how about $1500. Over There will be plenty of other solution under $3000 coming out soon.

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