Promise Pegasus2 review: The fastest (and priciest) external storage

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MSRP: $3,599.00

The Good The Promise Pegasus2 lineup supports Thunderbolt 2 and is the fastest direct-attached storage solution to date. It's also easy to use.

The Bad The the storage device dismounts when the host computer goes into sleep mode and takes a relatively long time to remount . It's also very expensive.

The Bottom Line While it's massive overkill and cost-prohibitive for most general consumers, the Promise Pegasus2 is a great storage device for professionals, especially those who need to edit 4K videos in real time.

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8.1 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 5
  • Performance 10
  • Support 7

Editor's note: This review was updated on January 29, 2014 to address the power issues of the device that have been resolved. The rating has also been updated accordingly.

The Pegasus2 line is Promise's upgrade to the previous Pegasus lineup (including the Pegasus R6 and the Pegasus R4); it adds support for Thunderbolt 2 and an all new R8 model -- used in this review -- that includes eight internal drives to offer up to 32TB of storage space. Other than that it's very similar to the previous-generation models.

As a hardware RAID system, the Pegasus2 supports all RAID configurations available for the number of internal drives it houses, be it four drives (the R4 model), six drives (the R6), or eight (the R8). In my testing, the Pegasus2 R8 proved to be the fastest consumer-grade direct-attached storage solution to date. It almost doubled the performance of its predecessor, as you'd expect from the move to Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt 2. It's not perfect, though, since it's very expensive and, in my trial, would take a relatively long time to resume from sleep mode, making it a little inconvenient to use with a laptop.

But the Pegasus2 is definitely a desktop storage solution, and while for most consumers it's overkill, for professionals who need super-fast speed or archiving or real-time 4K video editing, its incredible performance is worth the hefty investment, which is between $1,500 and $4,600, depending on the model and capacities.

The all new Pegasus2 R8 (left) next to the previous generation, the Pegasus R6.
The all new Pegasus2 R8 (left) next to the previous generation, the Pegasus R6. Dong Ngo/CNET

Familiar design, easy to set up The Pegasus2 family includes three models -- the R4, the R6, and the R8 -- that can house four, six, and eight internal drives, respectively. Housing standard SATA desktop hard drives of 2TB, 3TB, or 4TB, the Pegasus2 offers somewhere between 8TB and 32TB, depending on the models. The number of drives is the only difference among the three models. The more drives generally means more storage space and RAID options. I tested the R8 model, which is very representative of all three.

Other than the black color and the support for Thunderbolt 2, the new Pegasus2 lineup is almost exactly the same as the previous generation. Note that Thunderbolt 2 is the next generation of Thunderbolt, which offers a 20Gbps connection speed (twice that of Thunderbolt). Other than that, it shares the same kind of port and cable as Thunderbolt and is also backward-compatible with existing Thunderbolt devices.

On the front the Pegasus2 is an array of drive bays; each comes with a latch that enables you to quickly remove/install a standard SATA internal desktop hard drive. Each of the drive bays also comes with two LEDs to indicate the status of the drive on the inside. These lights are very helpful during a RAID rebuild or when you need to know which drive needs attention.

On the back there are two Thunderbolt ports. You just need to use one of these ports to connect to a computer with a Thunderbolt cable (a foot-long cable is included). The other port is to host another Thunderbolt device or a Mini DisplayPort monitor in daisy-chain setup. You can hook up to six devices to one host computer this way.

Also on the back, there's a large ventilation fan, but unlike in the previous generation, the new Pegasus2 was very quiet in my testing. It wasn't completely silent, but for a device of such large size, the amount of noise it produced didn't bother me at all.

There's nothing to setting up the Pegasus2. Out of the box, the device is set up in RAID 5 and preformatted in HFS+. Once connected to a computer via a Thunderbolt port (be it Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2), it's immediately available on your Mac, just like other external storage devices. The device is preloaded with Promise Utility software that you can use in case you want to monitor the storage device or to change it to a different RAID setup. The software itself is easy to use.

The Promise Utility comes in handy when you want to monitor the Pegasus2 or change its RAID configuration.
The Promise Utility comes in handy when you want to monitor the Pegasus2 or change its RAID configuration. Dong Ngo/CNET

Advanced RAID, slow resumption from sleep mode Chances are you will be happy with the preconfigured RAID 5 setup, which balances among capacities, performance, and data safety. (Read more about RAID here.) But if you're not, as a hardware RAID system, the Pegasus2 supports all RAID configurations available to the amount of hard drives it hosts. The R8 for example, supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, RAID 6, RAID 60, and RAID 50. The device takes a very short time to change from one RAID configuration to another.

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