Promise Pegasus J2 review: Finally, a RAID-enabled, superfast, supercompact Thunderbolt drive

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.8
  • Design and setup: 9.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Pegasus J2 portable Thunderbolt drive is very fast, optionally bus-powered, compact, and offers RAID configurations.

The Bad The Pegasus J2 is expensive, doesn't include USB 3.0 or a Thunderbolt cable, and requires a power adapter to offer top speed.

The Bottom Line Uniquely designed, the Pegasus J2 is perfect for deep-pocketed mobile users who want a compact, superfast, and RAID-enabled storage device, but not the rest.

Editors' Top Picks

The Promise Pegasus J2 may not be the first portable Thunderbolt drive on the market, but it's still one of a kind.

Despite that it's more compact than any other Thunderbolt portable drive I've reviewed, the J2 manages to be a dual-volume drive, offering users the option of using it as a RAID 0 (default) or RAID 1 drive. On top of that, it uses two solid-state drives as its storage to provide fast data speeds, no matter in what type of RAID you want to configure it in.

The J2 is far from perfect, however. It lacks support for other connection types, such as USB, and it requires an external adapter to offer top performance. It's expensive, too, costing about $800 for 256GB or $1,500 for 512GB, and you have to spend another $50 or so for the much-needed Thunderbolt cable, which isn't included.

That said, if you want a portable drive that offers fast performance, portability, style, and data security, the Pegasus J2 is currently the only one that fits that bill. If you're willing to sacrifice the RAID capability, also check the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt, or the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt for much better pricing and flexibility.

Drive type External Thunderbolt hard drive
Connector options Thunderbolt
Available capacities 256GB, 512GB
Product dimensions (WLH)
2.91 inches x 4.33 inches x 0.81 inch
Weight 4.23 ounces
Capacity of test unit 256GB (SSD)
OSes supported Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later

Design and features
The Pegasus J2 is just slightly larger than a deck of playing cards, and is about as thick. One of the drive's ends is slightly thicker than the other; at the thicker end, you'll find a Thunderbolt port and a power port. The power port is covered by a rubber lid and is not needed to use the drive. Similar to the rest of the portable Thunderbolt drives I've reviewed, the J2 is bus-powered; you just need to plug it into a computer with a Thunderbolt cable.

Unlike the other drives, however, by design, the J2 only works at only some 30 percent of its data-rate capacity when bus-powered. If you want the drive to work at its best, you do need to plug in the included power adapter. According to Promise, the reason for this is because the Thunderbolt technology supplies only 10W per port, which is not enough juice for the J2's two internal drives to offer optimal performance. In my testing, there was indeed a huge difference in terms of the drive's performance between using it bus-powered and with the adapter (more on this below).

The drive's adapter can be used anywhere in the world since it supports AC input in the 100-to-240-volt range and comes with changeable prongs to fit any type of wall power outlets. If that's not travel-friendly enough, the J2's package also includes a nice leather carrying case.

The Pegasus J2 comes with more than you need in terms of power plugs while lacking the much-needed Thunderbolt cable.
The Pegasus J2 comes with more than you need in terms of power plugs while lacking the much-needed Thunderbolt cable. Dong Ngo/CNET

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About The Author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.