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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

ROUND-UP:
Multi-Drive Thunderbolt Enclosures

Originally posted Friday, June 27th 2014 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

There is an increasing variety of multi-drive Thunderbolt enclosures coming to market. You may need speed. You may need capacity. You may want both. We gathered six examples to measure and compare their real world performance in RAID 0 (striped) mode.

GRAPH LEGEND
LaCie LBD TB2 = LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2.0 (two internal 512G PCIe flash blades in RAID 0 set)
Pegasus2 SSDs = Promise Pegasus2 R4 Thunderbolt 2.0 Diskless 4Bay (four 6Gbps TransIntl SwiftData SSDs in RAID 0 set mounted using Sonnet Transposer adapters)
Akitio Duo = Akitio Neutrino Thunder Duo dual bay 2.5" Thunderbolt 1.0 enclosure (dual 6Gbps OWC Mercury Extreme SSDs in RAID 0 set)
LaCie LBD TB1 =
LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 1.0 (dual 6Gbps OWC Mercury Extreme SSDs in RAID 0 set)
Pegasus2 HDDs = Promise Pegasus2 R4 Thunderbolt 2.0 Diskless 4Bay (four Seagate Constellation 4TB HDDs in RAID 0 set)
CalDigit T3 = Caldigit T3 triple bay 3.5" HDD Thunderbolt 1.0 enclosure (three HDDs in RAID 0 set)
G|DOCK ev = G-Technology G|DOCK ev two-bay Thunderbolt 1.0 dock designed for G-DRIVE ev 2.5" HDD modules (in RAID 0 set)

All enclosures were connected to a 2013 Mac Pro MD878LL/A Desktop. All enclosures required an AC adapter. (In about a week we will feature a collection of bus powered Thunderbolt storage devices.)

SIMULATED 4K VIDEO CAPTURE and PLAYBACK
We used AJA System Test to test file level sequential transfer speed of a 16GB test document. It also simulates capture and playback of a 4096x2160 10-bit RGB video. (
HIGHEST number means FASTEST in Megabytes per Second.)

PERFORMANCE INSIGHTS
Manufacturers often trumpet the theoretical transfer rate of Thunderbolt 1.0 (10Mbps aka 1164MB/s) and Thunderbolt 2.0 (20Gbps aka 2384MB/s), but the real world transfer rate is lower -- often much lower -- depending on the kind of drive(s), the number of drives, the RAID configuration, the model of Mac, Thunderbolt interface overhead, etc. The graphs above illustrate the real world transfer speeds as well as the dramatic variance.

If you want your Thunderbolt 2.0 storage to transfer faster than 1375MB/s, you will need to stripe multiple, high speed, storage devices over multiple Thunderbolt 2.0 busses -- which is what we did in the article featuring up to three LaCie Little Big Disks (Thunderbolt 2.0) bridging up to three Thunderbolt 2.0 busses of a 2013 Mac Pro.

If maximum transfer speed is not critical (as in backup or archiving), for $599 you can purchase the CalDigit T3 (Thunderbolt 1.0) with 3TB of HDDs, or for $499 you get the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 1.0 with 4TB total of notebook HDDs, or for $599 you can have the LaCie 2big Thunderbolt 2 with 6TB of HDDs.

Some of the Thunderbolt storage enclosures can be ordered EMPTY, allowing you to use HDDs and SSDs you already own. Some examples include the Akitio Thunder Duo (Thunderbolt 1.0) for $299, the Akitio Thunder2 Quad for $499, the OWC ThunderBay IV (Thunderbolt 1.0) for $459, and the the diskless Pegasus2 R4 (Thunderbolt 2.0) for $699.

Be sure to count the total cost when comparative shopping. For example, the diskless Pegasus2 R4 with four 250G 6Gbps SSDs (totaling 1TB) and the 2.5"-to-3.5" adapters will come to at least $1329. The Little Big Disk 1TB Thunderbolt 2.0 with factory installed flash blades (and a much smaller footprint) is prices out at a slightly lower $1299.

This round-up of multi-drive Thunderbolt enclosures is representative but, by no means, exhaustive. We have yet to benchmark multi-drive Thunderbolt enclosures from Other World Computing, Areca, and Western Digital. Also here is a review of the DataTale SMART 4-bay Thunderbolt RAID by Jeremy Wilker.

(In about a week we will feature a collection of bus powered Thunderbolt storage devices.)

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WHERE TO BUY THE LACIE LITTLE BIG DISK THUNDERBOLT 2
Order direct from LaCie or from Amazon.com or from Apple Store USA (Accessories/Storage). You can also order the LaCie 2big Thunderbolt 2 from both sources.

WHERE TO BUY THE PROMISE PEGASUS2
The Diskless 4Bay (R4) is only available on the Apple Store_USA (Accessories/Storage). You can find the 4Bay, 6Bay, and 8Bay version with pre-installed HDDs at Apple Store_USA (Accessories/Storage) and Amazon.com.

WHERE TO BUY THE AKITIO NEUTRINO THUNDERBOLT DUO
The empty enclosure is available direct from Akitio or from Amazon.com. They also sell it with drives pre-installed. We haven't tested it but they also offer a Thunderbolt 2.0 4-Bay enclosure called the Thunder2 Quad.

WHERE TO BUY THE CALDIGIT T3
The T3 with pre-installed HDDs totaling 3TB, 6TB, 9TB, or 12TB is sold direct from CalDigit as well as on Amazon.com.

WHERE TO BUY THE G-TECHNOLOGY G|DOCK EV
The G|DOCK ev with two 1TB G-DRIVE ev modules is sold on the Apple Store_USA (Accessories/Storage) and can be ordered from Amazon.com.

SHOP APPLE STORE USA
Help support Bare Feats by clicking our Apple display ads or THIS Apple USA link when ordering any Apple product or Apple compatible product.

Live outside the USA? No problem. We are also an affiliate of these Apple Stores:

SHOP OTHER WORLD COMPUTING
They sell their own brand of multi-drive Thunderbolt enclosures as well as those of various third party brands.

PowerMax not only sells new and used Macs, but will give you a generous trade-in offer on your old Mac.

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copyright 2014 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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