Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Photographers’ Need For Speed – Mini Review Promise Pegasus R6

JANUARY 16, 2012
I have more than 100 hard disk drives and arrays laying around. It’s the bane of my existence. Everywhere I step there are hard drives and cables. I’ve tried, used and owned just about every brand of hard drive system in use. I like many of them. I just need to get rid of the rest, but I LOVE the PROMISE Pegasus R6. Here’s why…
The LightPeak technology that provides the underpinnings of Thunderbolt is amazing. Thunderbolt isn’t widely adopted and it’s expensive, but there’s no chance anyone would deny it’s very, very fast. It’s faster than USB 3.0 or Firewire 800.
The R6 supports multiple RAID configurations. It comes RAID 5 right out of the box and ready to connect to your Mac. There are a few things you should know right off the bat. The drive doesn’t come with a cable. At this price, that’s almost criminal. So have a Thunderbolt cable ready if you want to use the R6 on arrival. The next thing you should know is that it takes about 10 hours for the drive to self-configure once you plug it in. After the lights stop flashing, the unit will show up on your Mac like any other drive.
I bought my Pegasus with 12TB of storage – two of that reserved for data redundancy. The unit houses six, two-TB 3.5-inch hard drives. They spin at 7200 RPM and are fast enough for video, audio, you name it. The R6 has that brushed aluminum Mac look that most Mac peripherals use and it’s quite handsome – not that it matters. The footprint is similar to other drive bays on the market which hold 12TB of data.
As a photographer, my main concern with one of these drives is that they are safe and fast. While I’ve only had a week to test the R6 so far, I feel like it’s both. There’s absolutely no denying the fact it’s fast. How fast? REAL fast. As in so fast that you don’t need a fancy software benchmarking tool to know it. I used to chuckle when I’d read posts from the pixel peepers bragging that their hard drive was x milliseconds faster than their pal’s hard drive. This isn’t one of those kinds of things. This drive is many times faster than most drives I’ve tested.
I have some fast SATA3 drives and the Pegasus R6 is AT LEAST four times faster. You read that right four times. I should mention these are internal drives. To further put this in perspective, all my new computers shipped with SSD drives. The R6 is almost twice as fast!!!
I tried to do some real world tests using the software and files I’d normally work with to establish how the R6 worked. I finished up with one of my favorite tests. I transferred the equivalent of a CD full of data in less than four seconds.
We ended up buying six of these R6 units so I was able to test their ability to daisy chain. I only tried it with two units but it worked flawlessly and didn’t appear to slow down transfer rates.
I didn’t test the software that came with the R6 nor did I change the RAID configuration to RAID 0 which should make the drive even faster. While I didn’t quite get 800 MB/s performance promised by Promise’s marketing department, I got close.
There are a few caveats. This unit only works with Macs. The drive is noisy – not that much more than other drives I’ve tested, but too noisy for those in a pro-audio environment to use this without additional sound protection. The other thing to note is the high price. Like the old guy at the race shop used to tell me when I was building hot rods, “Speed cost money son – how fast can you afford to go?” In this case I think it’s worth it.
If you’re a photographer or film maker looking for the fastest data transfer rates available in a device that just plugs into the Mac without the addition of a special card, I believe the Pegasus is the drive you are looking for.
Highly recommended.
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