By Brady Betzel
Every day I see dozens of different hard drives — from some serious RAIDs, like the Avid Nexis (formerly Isis), all the way down to the single-SSD via Thunderbolt. My favorite drives seem to be the ones that connect easily, don’t have huge power supply bricks and offer RAID options, such as RAID-0/RAID-1. If you’ve been to an Apple Store lately then you’ve probably ran into the Promise Technology Pegasus2 R2+ line of products. Also, the Pegasus2 R2+ is featured under the storage tab on www.apple.com. I bring that up because if you are on that page you are a serious contender.
The Pegasus line of products from Promise is often thought of as high-end and high-quality. I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about Pegasus. From their eight-bay R8 systems all the way down to the R2, there are options to satisfy any hardware-based RAID need you have from 0 to 1, 5 or 6. Lucky for me, I was sent the R2+ RAID to review. I was immediately happy that it was a hardware-controlled RAID as opposed to a software-controlled RAID.
Software RAIDs run 100 percent on an external system to control the data structure, but I like my RAID to control itself. The Pegasus2 R2+ is a two-drive hot swappable RAID loaded with two 7200RPM, 3TB Toshiba hard drives. In addition, there is a third bay — the Media Bay — on the top that can be loaded with different pods. You can choose from an SSD reader, a CF/SD card reader or even an additional 1TB hard drive, but it ships with the CF/SD card reader. Keep in mind these pods will only work when connected via Thunderbolt 2 — under USB 3.0 they will not work. Something cool: when you pop out the interchangeable pods they can connect via USB 3.0 separate from the RAID case.
In terms of looks, the Pegasus2 R2+ has a nice black finish, which will go well with any recent Mac Pros you might have lying around. It has a medium-to-small footprint — picture two medium-sized books stacked on top of each other (5.3 x 7.3 x 9.8 inches). It weighs about 13.5 pounds and while I did stuff it in my backpack and carry it around, you know it’s in there. The power cord is nice. I detest the power bricks that typically accompany RAID drives, laptops and anything that sucks a good amount of power. To my delight, Promise has incorporated the actual power supply inside of the RAID, leaving a simple power cable to attach. Thank You! Other than that you have either a USB 3.0 cable or a Thunderbolt 2 cable included in the box.
Out of the box, I plugged in the RAID and it spun up to life. For this review, I found a Mac Pro running a 2.7GHz 12-core Xeon E5, with 64GB of DDR3, and an AMD FirePro D700 graphics card, so there should very little bogging down the transfer pipes when running my tests. I decided to use the AJA System Test for disk-speed testing. I started with the drive in RAID-0 (optimized for speed, both drives are together, no safety) because that is how it is shipped.
Over Thunderbolt 2, I got around 390MB/sec read and 370 MB/sec write speeds. Over USB, 3.0 still configured in RAID-0, it at about 386MB/sec read/write. When I turned the RAID over to RAID-1 (made for safety, so if one drive is damaged you will most likely be able to have your data rebuilt when you replace the damaged drive), I definitely saw the expected slow down. Over Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0, I was getting around 180MB/sec write and 196MB/sec read. Don’t forget, the 6TB drive that ran in RAID-0 is now 3TB when configured in RAID-1.
On the front of the R2+ you have two lights that let you know the drive is plugged in via Thunderbolt 2 or USB 3.0. This actually came in handy, as I was looking to see how I plugged the drive in. Cool!
One thing I was very happy with was how simple the Promise Technology RAID configuration tool was to use. Not only will it give you stats on the drive, like temperature of the drives, health of the drives and even fan speed, it lets you format and designate RAID configurations. This alone would make me think of Promise first when deciding on a RAID to buy. I really liked how simple and easy to use the RAID configuration software was to use.
As a final test I left my Pegasus2 R2+ configured in RAID-0 and pulled a drive out while transferring media to the RAID. The status light on the front changed from a bright blue to an amber color and began to blink. Inside of the Pegasus2 RAID configuration tool an amber exclamation point appeared next to the RAID status as expected. I left the drive alone so it could rebuild itself. Two hours later it was still running, so I left it alone overnight. I didn’t accurately time the rebuild, but by the time I came home the next night it was complete. I only had a few hundred gigabytes worth of data on it, but in the end it came back to life. Hooray!
In the end, I really love the sleek black exterior, lack of a huge power brick and the RAID configuration software. The additional Media Pods are a cool idea too. I like having a Thunderbolt 2 CF/SD card reader (or better yet an SSD reader — think Red Mag) always ready to go, especially on the Mac Pro shaped like a black cylinder with no card readers built in.
I would really love to have seen what this could do when loaded with SSD drives, but since this review is about what comes with the Pegasus2 R2+, that’s what I’ve done.
Promise Technology has been around a long time and has been known to me to offer very reliable storage solutions. Keep in mind that the R2+ is shipped with the CF/SD card reader, but the other pods can be purchased separately. I couldn’t find anyone selling them online though. When I was writing this review, I saw the retail price of the Pegasus2 R2+ range from $749 to a little over $800. You get a two-year limited warranty, which covers all parts except for the fan and power supply. They are only covered for one year (kind of a bummer). When returning the product for warranty work, you can opt to be sent a loaner, but a credit card is required in case you don’t return it. In this instance, you will be charged retail price of the loaner). You can also opt to send yours in and wait for it to be replaced. Take note that you need a copy of the original receipt and boxes for return.
I really love the stability and elegance of the Pegasus line of RAID systems, and the Pegasus2 R2+ lives up to the beauty and name. If you are a small company or one-person band transferring, transcoding and editing media without the need for SSD speed or Thunderbolt 3 connection, this is the sleek RAID for you.
Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff. Brady was recently nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.