Review: Promise Pegasus R4i and J2i add massive storage to the new Mac Pro

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2021
The Mac Pro as it ships is limited to the Apple SSD modules purchased with the machine -- but the Promise Pegasus R4i and Pegasus J2i are two options for adding enormous quantities of storage internal to the Mac Pro.

The Promise Pegasus R4i and J2i
The Promise Pegasus R4i and J2i


Thanks to the massive bank of eight PCIe slots nestled within the interior of the new Mac Pro, expansion potential is near limitless. Out of the gate, Apple alone will offer up an expansive 8TB of solid-state storage. For some pros, that isn't near enough. Hence the wealth of third-party alternatives.

Co-designed with Apple, Promise introduced both the R4i and J2i devices specific for the Mac Pro. The former is a full-height MPX module while the latter connects over SATA. The R4i can be outfitted with up to four 3.5-inch drives, while the J2i can include two.

We're going to spend a bit of time looking at how easy it is to install each of these modules, how fast the storage is, and how quiet the system remains.




Promise Pegasus R4i

The Pegasus R4i is a massive device -- a full-height MPX module that tips the scales at 9.2 pounds with four 3.5-inch HDDs pre-installed inside. Those hard drives are 8TB, 7200 RPM models, pre-formatted in HSF+.

The removable drive bays of the Pegasus R4i
The removable drive bays of the Pegasus R4i


An internal RAID engine can support RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10. By default, Promise sets up the module in RAID 5, which offers redundancy at the cost of 25% of the total storage, which reduces the usable storage down to 24TB.

The install

The enclosure itself is quite light, a given as the device is nearly a shell without any drives installed. A locking mechanism holds all four of the drives in place and yet makes them easy to swap when necessary. A handy rail system guides each of the drives in and out of place when removed.

Installing the Pegasus R4i into the top MPX bay
Installing the Pegasus R4i into the top MPX bay


As the drives come pre-installed and there are no cables necessary, install takes no more than a few moments after opening the Mac Pro. It slots into either of the two MPX bays and is held into place with guard plates and a lock.

Configure and manage the R4i in the included utility
Configure and manage the R4i in the included utility


After the hardware is installed, installing the Promise Utility app will allow you to configure the RAID format to one of the others, change settings, manage events, and more.

Performance

According to Promise, users should experience around 680 MB/s in the RAID5 configuration. We performed the usual Blackmagic Speed Test as well as several file transfer tests. In those tests, we saw close to the advertised speeds for real-world usage with results of 791 megabytes per second read speed, and 567 megabytes per second write speed.

As we continued to push the system, we monitored the system for additional sound output. As it stands, we rely on massive arrays of external drives for handling our video storage and backups. We were quite curious regarding how lout the internal system would comparatively be.

Running the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test on the Pegasus R4i
Running the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test on the Pegasus R4i


No matter what external storage device you are looking at, it must manage its cooling. With the internal Pegasus R4i, it instead relies on the excellent thermal management of the Mac Pro. In our initial hands-on, we found the Mac Pro nearly silent in many configurations.

That stayed the same with the Pegasus R4i installed. You can still hear the drive heads operating and the exceptionally silent fans kicking in. But, it is still far quieter than an external enclosure.

Promise Pegasus J2i

The Promise J2i
The Promise J2i


The Pegasus J2i s another internal bay for the Mac Pro, but connects over SATA rather than in an MPX module. Installation is slightly more involved as it needs to be connected to those internal ports, rather than just sliding into a PCI-E slot.

The J2i arrives with a single 8TB 7200RPM Toshiba drive pre-installed and formatted. A second bay allows users to install a second drive to boost storage even higher.

The requiste cables when installing the Pegasus J2i
The requiste cables when installing the Pegasus J2i


It also includes the necessary cable to connect the SATA drives to internal ports of the Mac Pro.

Connecting the requiste cables when installing the Pegasus J2i
Connecting the requiste cables when installing the Pegasus J2i


Installation requires the removal of a single plate at the top of the Mac Pro. Following removal, three cables are plugged into the motherboard of the machine.

The Promise Pegasus J2i installed on our Mac Pro
The Promise Pegasus J2i installed on our Mac Pro


Following that, the housing slides along protruding screw mounts that are on the top frame of the Mac Pro before sliding to the right to lock it into place. Then the final SATA cable needs connected to the included drive, and optionally the second user-installed drive.

Given that the drives rely on the SATA connector, speeds will be limited to 6 gigabits per second. A single hard drive won't hit that, but a SSD can.

Should you by the Promise Pegasus R4i or Promise Pegasus J2i

Both the J2i and R4i installed
Both the J2i and R4i installed


The Pegasus R4i is a bit pricier than creating an external array. The near-silent operation coupled with the ease of installation make it a serious contender for users out there who need additional storage internal, and not external or across a network.

If you ever take the Mac Pro out on shoots as well this is beneficial because you don't need to tote an external bay that can get damaged, lost, or inadvertently disconnected mid-transfer.

The top of the J2i
The top of the J2i


The J2i is similarly convenient -- albeit much smaller and without RAID options -- but still useful when you need to add storage but not quite the capacity or formatting options available with the R4i.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy

The Promise Pegasus R4i is on sale for $2,185 populated with 32TB of storage at B&H. The Promise Pegasus J2i is available for $399 from Apple, with one drive.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,007member
    It's great to see 3rd-party hardware coming out for the Mac Pro.  It's beginning to look like all the PCI slots could be taken up in not too long a timeframe! 

    I don't care if this machine is way overkill for me.  If I had the money, I'd buy one of those so fast!  Such a well-designed machine!
    MisterKitted13StrangeDayswatto_cobrahucom2000cornchip
  • Reply 2 of 36
    While the new Mac Pro is out of my league, it is still nice to see a lot of activity with third party support. It looks like the intended market is taking this computer seriously.
    watto_cobracaladanian
  • Reply 3 of 36
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,007member
    MisterKit said:
    While the new Mac Pro is out of my league, it is still nice to see a lot of activity with third party support. It looks like the intended market is taking this computer seriously.
    The intended market being actual "pros" and not the jealous haters that think the Mac Pro won't sell.
    MisterKitwatto_cobrahucom2000
  • Reply 4 of 36
    It's laughable to think of putting spinning discs in this machine.  
    williamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 36
    ciacia Posts: 190member
    ArcaSwiss said:
    It's laughable to think of putting spinning discs in this machine.  
    Until SSD's step up and get affordable for large size, there will always be spinning disks. 4K, 6K, & 8K RAW takes up insane space. My Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera, shooting 5.7K RAW fills a 128GB card in.....6 minutes. So while I'm not at all a fan of the speeds spinning HD's have, when I need to store 14TB for a single shoot, there's nothing in the SSD world that can do that for under $500. /edit. Cheapest way would be 4x4TB SSD's, totaling about $1,800 before tax. And then my data is spread over 4 drives.
    edited December 2019 fastasleepradarthekatted13roundaboutnowwatto_cobraRadio_Signal
  • Reply 6 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,325member
    They make good stuff. But since I decided to put off buying a new Mac Pro until late next year, when I hope they will go to PCIe 4, I can’t consider it. So for now I bought an iMac. To get all of the stuff from my old Mac Pro, I got an OWC Thunderbay 4 32TB RAID, which I set as a 10–two raid 0s. This way I can use it when I get the Mac Pro.

    it’s always hard to decide how to do this. I love internal drives, but you still have to back a raid up. With raid 5, you have a write cache. If something goes down before that cache is written, then you can lose a lot of data. So with raid five, your raid and computer need to be on a ups. Or, you can disable the write cache and accept the slower writes. Dell Business Solutions doesn’t recommend raid 5 for business data. Instead they recommend raid 10, which would use two raid 5s.

    just want to say that for critical data, and medium term storage, ALL raids need backup. In our video operations, we used raid 0, for capacity and speed, with another raid 0 as backup, with a third out of the room.
    edited December 2019 caladanianRadio_Signal
  • Reply 7 of 36
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,007member
    ArcaSwiss said:
    It's laughable to think of putting spinning discs in this machine.  
    SSD's suck when it comes to sheer storage capacities.  What's your option?
    edited December 2019 watto_cobracaladanian
  • Reply 8 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,033member
    ArcaSwiss said:
    It's laughable to think of putting spinning discs in this machine.  
    Why is that? Because you believe every use case requires faster storage over increased storage capacity?
    ted13watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 36
    M68000M68000 Posts: 512member
    ArcaSwiss said:
    It's laughable to think of putting spinning discs in this machine.  
    It is ?  disagree
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 36
    melgross said:
    They make good stuff. But since I decided to put off buying a new Mac Pro until late next year, when I hope they will go to PCIe 4, I can’t consider it. So for now I bought an iMac. To get all of the stuff from my old Mac Pro, I got an OWC Thunderbay 4 32TB RAID, which I set as a 10–two raid 0s. This way I can use it when I get the Mac Pro.

    it’s always hard to decide how to do this. I love internal drives, but you still have to back a raid up. With raid 5, you have a write cache. If something goes down before that cache is written, then you can lose a lot of data. So with raid five, your raid and computer need to be on a ups. Or, you can disable the write cache and accept the slower writes. Dell Business Solutions doesn’t recommend raid 5 for business data. Instead they recommend raid 10, which would use two raid 5s.

    just want to say that for critical data, and medium term storage, ALL raids need backup. In our video operations, we used raid 0, for capacity and speed, with another raid 0 as backup, with a third out of the room.
    If you’re gonna invest in a RAID, a UPS is not an option, I actually use two, one for each power supply, all rack mounted. I’m not a fan of Promise but that’s a different story. Anyway, instead of using RRAID10, just get a massive drive to mirror your raid, this way in the unlikely scenario where power is lost during writing a file, you’ll still be able to recover your data. With raid5 you can attach two failover drives. I believe raids are better kept in a rack and not inside the computer.
    edited December 2019 watto_cobrawilliamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 36
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,007member

    I’m not a fan of Promise but that’s a different story. Anyway, instead of using RRAID10, just get a massive drive to mirror your raid, this way in the unlikely scenario where power is lost during writing a file, you’ll still be able to recover your data. With raid5 you can attach two failover dI believe raids are better kept in a rack and not inside the computer.
    I’m curious... why don’t you like Promise?  I have two of their RAID towers and they’ve been rock-solid for 5 years.  Care to elaborate?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 36
    Nice to see these as an option but I think I'm sticking with my OWC Thunderbays outside the computer.  Much cheaper and actually portable.  
    I believe OWC just came out with drives to go inside as well that seem much faster than anything the Pegasus offers.
    watto_cobrawilliamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 36
    DRBDRB Posts: 34member
    sflocal said:
    It's great to see 3rd-party hardware coming out for the Mac Pro.  It's beginning to look like all the PCI slots could be taken up in not too long a timeframe! 

    I don't care if this machine is way overkill for me.  If I had the money, I'd buy one of those so fast!  Such a well-designed machine!
    What I like is the lack of wires. All of the DIY PCs are just a wiring nightmare.. I think some 3rd party is going to offer wheels and insert package for less than $400. :-) And I'm sure someone is going to come out with a less expensive monitor stand.. :-)
  • Reply 14 of 36
    DRBDRB Posts: 34member
    melgross said:
    They make good stuff. But since I decided to put off buying a new Mac Pro until late next year, when I hope they will go to PCIe 4, I can’t consider it. So for now I bought an iMac. To get all of the stuff from my old Mac Pro, I got an OWC Thunderbay 4 32TB RAID, which I set as a 10–two raid 0s. This way I can use it when I get the Mac Pro.

    it’s always hard to decide how to do this. I love internal drives, but you still have to back a raid up. With raid 5, you have a write cache. If something goes down before that cache is written, then you can lose a lot of data. So with raid five, your raid and computer need to be on a ups. Or, you can disable the write cache and accept the slower writes. Dell Business Solutions doesn’t recommend raid 5 for business data. Instead they recommend raid 10, which would use two raid 5s.

    just want to say that for critical data, and medium term storage, ALL raids need backup. In our video operations, we used raid 0, for capacity and speed, with another raid 0 as backup, with a third out of the room.
    If you’re gonna invest in a RAID, a UPS is not an option, I actually use two, one for each power supply, all rack mounted. I’m not a fan of Promise but that’s a different story. Anyway, instead of using RRAID10, just get a massive drive to mirror your raid, this way in the unlikely scenario where power is lost during writing a file, you’ll still be able to recover your data. With raid5 you can attach two failover drives. I believe raids are better kept in a rack and not inside the computer.
    I think you're right. Depending on your needs and budget. There's quite a lot of options for external TB RAID boxes. Have you ever thought about an external RAID where it's also a Boot drive so you really don't even use the internal other than back. up boot drive? I know that most external RAID that support bootable are typically hardware RAID. Just curious as to what you would consider.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 36
    Let’s face it. Myself and many others do not have the need or means to purchase the new Mac Pro. But make no mistake about it. I love owning and using cool tech products. If I came into some money I would buy a new Mac Pro in a heartbeat and would not have to justify the purchase by being a “Pro”. I would take great joy just looking at it and marveling at its design. In the meantime I’ll continue making a lot of music on a 2011 MBP and 2016 12” Macbook which I am fortunate enough to own and put to good use.

    StrangeDayswatto_cobraRadio_Signal
  • Reply 16 of 36
    melgross said:
    They make good stuff. But since I decided to put off buying a new Mac Pro until late next year, when I hope they will go to PCIe 4, I can’t consider it. So for now I bought an iMac. To get all of the stuff from my old Mac Pro, I got an OWC Thunderbay 4 32TB RAID, which I set as a 10–two raid 0s. This way I can use it when I get the Mac Pro.

    it’s always hard to decide how to do this. I love internal drives, but you still have to back a raid up. With raid 5, you have a write cache. If something goes down before that cache is written, then you can lose a lot of data. So with raid five, your raid and computer need to be on a ups. Or, you can disable the write cache and accept the slower writes. Dell Business Solutions doesn’t recommend raid 5 for business data. Instead they recommend raid 10, which would use two raid 5s.
    No... that would be RAID 50. RAID 10 is mirrored stripes (RAID 0 to make a large volume, then mirror (RAID 1) to another RAID0). All of these have their place, along with even more complex schemes. For example, my company's larger volumes are too large for a single RAID, but they are approximately a three-way RAID 10 (there are three mirrors of each byte), just spread out over a bunch of servers (using a fancy cluster storage system called "Ceph").

    What do you need PCIe4 for? It's definitely better, but there's enough bw available in the nnMP for most people to do most things.

    I would love them to use PCIe4, but that's tantamount to switching to AMD (which I would *really* love, but sadly don't expect). IIRC, Intel has said that they will be jumping straight to PCIe5 for their Xeons, so that likely won't be until 2022. They do have blocks for PCIe4 in some of their other products, so it's not impossible that they'd change their minds, but I wouldn't bet on it.
    watto_cobralorin schultz
  • Reply 17 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,325member
    melgross said:
    They make good stuff. But since I decided to put off buying a new Mac Pro until late next year, when I hope they will go to PCIe 4, I can’t consider it. So for now I bought an iMac. To get all of the stuff from my old Mac Pro, I got an OWC Thunderbay 4 32TB RAID, which I set as a 10–two raid 0s. This way I can use it when I get the Mac Pro.

    it’s always hard to decide how to do this. I love internal drives, but you still have to back a raid up. With raid 5, you have a write cache. If something goes down before that cache is written, then you can lose a lot of data. So with raid five, your raid and computer need to be on a ups. Or, you can disable the write cache and accept the slower writes. Dell Business Solutions doesn’t recommend raid 5 for business data. Instead they recommend raid 10, which would use two raid 5s.

    just want to say that for critical data, and medium term storage, ALL raids need backup. In our video operations, we used raid 0, for capacity and speed, with another raid 0 as backup, with a third out of the room.
    If you’re gonna invest in a RAID, a UPS is not an option, I actually use two, one for each power supply, all rack mounted. I’m not a fan of Promise but that’s a different story. Anyway, instead of using RRAID10, just get a massive drive to mirror your raid, this way in the unlikely scenario where power is lost during writing a file, you’ll still be able to recover your data. With raid5 you can attach two failover drives. I believe raids are better kept in a rack and not inside the computer.
    A UPS is a recommendation for raid 5. Yes, as I said two raid 5s in a raid 10 config is recommended, then, theoretically, you won’t need the UPS. Raid 10 IS a mirror situation. The 0 simply means that more than one drive is used for each part of the raid, whereas raid 1 is just two drives mirrored together. You can mirror two separate raid cases together in a raid 10. They don’t have to be in the same case. Latency is the issue there.

    the problem with raid 5 involves the number of disks. A 4 disk config allows one dead drive, while a 6 drive config, supposedly allows two, at a lower percentage of storage. But when a drive is dead, you’re at a high risk, assuming that all the drives came from the same batch. I always have an extra drive around—just in case. I always recommend getting an additional drive to keep when getting a raid.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,325member

    melgross said:
    They make good stuff. But since I decided to put off buying a new Mac Pro until late next year, when I hope they will go to PCIe 4, I can’t consider it. So for now I bought an iMac. To get all of the stuff from my old Mac Pro, I got an OWC Thunderbay 4 32TB RAID, which I set as a 10–two raid 0s. This way I can use it when I get the Mac Pro.

    it’s always hard to decide how to do this. I love internal drives, but you still have to back a raid up. With raid 5, you have a write cache. If something goes down before that cache is written, then you can lose a lot of data. So with raid five, your raid and computer need to be on a ups. Or, you can disable the write cache and accept the slower writes. Dell Business Solutions doesn’t recommend raid 5 for business data. Instead they recommend raid 10, which would use two raid 5s.
    No... that would be RAID 50. RAID 10 is mirrored stripes (RAID 0 to make a large volume, then mirror (RAID 1) to another RAID0). All of these have their place, along with even more complex schemes. For example, my company's larger volumes are too large for a single RAID, but they are approximately a three-way RAID 10 (there are three mirrors of each byte), just spread out over a bunch of servers (using a fancy cluster storage system called "Ceph").

    What do you need PCIe4 for? It's definitely better, but there's enough bw available in the nnMP for most people to do most things.

    I would love them to use PCIe4, but that's tantamount to switching to AMD (which I would *really* love, but sadly don't expect). IIRC, Intel has said that they will be jumping straight to PCIe5 for their Xeons, so that likely won't be until 2022. They do have blocks for PCIe4 in some of their other products, so it's not impossible that they'd change their minds, but I wouldn't bet on it.
    Dell calls it a raid 10. 

    Because as I’m retired, I don’t want to buy a new machine every three years anymore. If I were in a production situation as my company was, I’d cycle new machines out every year, and it wouldn’t matter. But I no longer get paid for the work I do, so if I’m going to spend five figures for a machine and monitor, I want it to be more usefully upgradable over time. PCIe 3 is on the way out, so I don’t see the point in buying one now, though I was going to.

    and yes, you’re right, there are more complex raid schemes, but they’re not applicable for most people here, and so I didn’t mention them.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 36
    Is 600 Mb/s fast enough tho for 8K streams? or 3x 8K streams?

    That's my only beef, I mean you still want to keep with the whole montage of 2-3 8K streams "flying" in ProRes, right?

    Maybe with the Afterburner Card you can still be ok at 600 Mb/s...
    edited December 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 36
    melgross said:

    melgross said:
    They make good stuff. But since I decided to put off buying a new Mac Pro until late next year, when I hope they will go to PCIe 4, I can’t consider it. So for now I bought an iMac. To get all of the stuff from my old Mac Pro, I got an OWC Thunderbay 4 32TB RAID, which I set as a 10–two raid 0s. This way I can use it when I get the Mac Pro.

    it’s always hard to decide how to do this. I love internal drives, but you still have to back a raid up. With raid 5, you have a write cache. If something goes down before that cache is written, then you can lose a lot of data. So with raid five, your raid and computer need to be on a ups. Or, you can disable the write cache and accept the slower writes. Dell Business Solutions doesn’t recommend raid 5 for business data. Instead they recommend raid 10, which would use two raid 5s.
    No... that would be RAID 50. RAID 10 is mirrored stripes (RAID 0 to make a large volume, then mirror (RAID 1) to another RAID0). All of these have their place, along with even more complex schemes. For example, my company's larger volumes are too large for a single RAID, but they are approximately a three-way RAID 10 (there are three mirrors of each byte), just spread out over a bunch of servers (using a fancy cluster storage system called "Ceph").

    What do you need PCIe4 for? It's definitely better, but there's enough bw available in the nnMP for most people to do most things.

    I would love them to use PCIe4, but that's tantamount to switching to AMD (which I would *really* love, but sadly don't expect). IIRC, Intel has said that they will be jumping straight to PCIe5 for their Xeons, so that likely won't be until 2022. They do have blocks for PCIe4 in some of their other products, so it's not impossible that they'd change their minds, but I wouldn't bet on it.
    Dell calls it a raid 10.
    Maybe so, but that is unambiguously wrong.
    Solilorin schultz
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