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SHOOTOUT:
Portable SATA Notebook RAID
Fusion F2 vs LBD Quadra

Originally posted May 23rd, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Professional users of MacBook Pros are looking for ways to expand their storage with faster portable options than in the past. Sonnet Technology has created the Fusion F2 just for that purpose. It's a dual notebook drive RAID 0/1 enclosure with SATA only interface. It's unique in that each drive has its own dedicatd eSATA port and the drives are side-by-side rather than being stacked. Plus it draws power from the FireWire 400 port, though an AC adapter is available optionally.

We benchmarked it against the LaCie Little Big Disk (LBD) Quadra which features eSATA, FireWire 800, and USB 2.0 ports.

GRAPH LEGEND
All results are in megabytes per second
F2 SATA = Sonnet Technology's Fusion F2 RAID 0/1 enclosure with dual WD Scorpio 320G 5K notebook drives connected to the Tempo SATA ExpressCard/34
LBD SATA = LaCie Little Big Disk Quadra RAID 0 enclosure with dual Hitachi Travelstar 200G 7K notebook drives connected to the Tempo SATA ExpressCard/34
LBD FW800 = LaCie Little Big Disk Quadra RAID 0 enclosure with dual Hitachi Travelstar 200G 7K notebook drives connected to the MacBook Pro's FireWire 800 port

Test "mule" was the 2008 MacBook Pro "Penryn" 2.6GHz.
Test software included AJA's Kona System Test and SpeedTool's QuickBench.

CONCLUSION
The Sonnet Technology
Fusion F2 is a viable solution for power users of MacBook Pros who want a portable notebook drive based RAID enclosure than exceeds the speed offered by Firewire 800. Even with 5400 rpm notebook drives, it out-performed the LaCie Little Big Disk (LBD) Quadra with its dual 7200 rpm notebook drives when both were connected to the Sonnet Tempo SATA ExpressCard/34.

OTHER THOUGHTS
One professional video editor wrote us that he had trouble with dropped frames when using various FireWire 800 solutions to capture high quality video. The Fusion F2 solved his problem. However, his situation has become more complex. Some of the newest capture hardware uses the ExpressCard slot. It's almost like you need either two ExpressCard slots on the Macbook Pro or a built-in SATA port.

We are a bit concerned about Sonnet's use of the FireWire 400 port for a power source. The power specs on the FireWire port differ from Mac to Mac and model to model. A better solution is to use an A/C adapter which Sonnet promised to offer as an option.

Our photo above is designed to illustrated the "fight" we had to route the data and power cables of the Fusion F2. The Firewire 400 power feed could obviously be routed behind the MacBook Pro but we had no neat solution for the long, stiff SATA data cables. It begs for shorter, more flexible data cable solution.

BIGGER NOTEBOOK DRIVES COMING
Both Hitachi and Samsung will be offering a 500GB 5400rpm notebook drive. And Hitachi is will offer 7200rpm notebook drives with larger capacity than the current 200GB model. We will certainly be obtaining samples of each and report on the performance in the days to come.

Apple Online Store

WHERE TO BUY NOTEBOOK DRIVES

WHERE TO BUY NOTEBOOK RAID ENCLOSURES

  • LaCie sells the Little Big Disk Quadra in 400G and 500G configurations. (It has an eSATA, FW800, FW400, and USB2 port.)
  • Sonnet Technology sells the Fusion F2 in a 640G configuration. (It has two eSATA ports -- one for each drive. It uses the FW400 port for power.)
  • G-Technology sells the G-RAID mini in up to 500G configurations. (It has a FW800, FW400, and USB2 port.)

WHERE TO BUY A MACBOOK PRO

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2008 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster