Sonnet Fusion 500P review
Review Date: 25 May 2007
Price when reviewed: (£587 ex VAT, 5 x 250GB)
Reviewed By: Howard Oakley
At the higher end in both performance and cost, Sonnet's arrays are made by Enhance, which also sells under its own name and its ProAvio brand.
So the Sonnet Fusion 500P and ProAvio EditBox 5PM are almost identical apart from case cosmetics and the choice of hard drives. For testing, the Fusion contained five 3.5in 250GB Hitachi Deskstar disks, for which you'll have to pay around £600; double its capacity with 500GB drives and its cost will double.
Enhance's arrays are assembled in the US and are built to survive if not relish heavy use. Sonnet versions have beautifully engineered and robust drive tray handles and locks. The solid metal case doesn't pack drives or other components too tightly, and beefy cooling fans should make the most of drive life under constant heavy load. There's no token USB 2 port, just one eSata that feeds straight into its port multiplier interface. This enables the single eSata interface, when matched with an appropriate card in your Mac, to function as five wickedly quick directly connected disks.
Accomplishing Raid in software is very impressive through a port multiplier: the Sonnet Fusion consistently read and wrote at around 200MB/sec and peaked at just under 230MB/sec when writing. This should satisfy most raw HD video requirements, with a comfortable safety margin. The performance hit of using software Raid level 1 is substantial, though. For those who want all five drives in one mirror, throughput then falls to 40-55MB/sec, although there were occasional anomalous bursts up to 200MB/sec when reading.
Five drives are also superbly flexible, offering Raid level 0+1 with a spare drive, the ability to break a mirror and pop a drive to use as backup, and more.
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