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Testing Sonnet's Fusion Flex J3i Mount With the Mac Pro

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Apr 12, 2001
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Sonnet earlier this year announced the launch of the Fusion Flex J3i internal drive mount, which is designed to let users add up to three SATA storage drives to the 2019 Mac Pro.


In our latest YouTube video, we went hands on with the Fusion Flex J3i, hooking it up to our Mac Pro to see how it performs.

The Fusion Flex J3i is a mount system that can provide up to 36TB of additional storage for the Mac Pro. When purchased from Apple, the Mac Pro maxes out at 8TB of storage, so Sonnet's add-on provides a huge storage boost. The storage added through the Fusion Flex J3i will not, of course, act as a main boot disk and will instead work like an external drive that's plugged into the Mac.

You don't get any storage with the Fusion Flex J3i since it's designed to be a mounting system, so you're going to need to purchase storage separately and add it yourself. The Fusion Flex J3i supports two 3.5-inch drives and one 2.5-inch SSD or three 2.5-inch SSDs.

We tested the Fusion Flex J3i with two 4TB 3.5-inch hard drives from Western Digital, and installation was simple. Just four screws attach each of the hard drives to the J3i after the SSD plates have been removed.

After the Fusion Flex J3i has been outfitted with SSDs or hard drives, it also takes just a few minutes to get it up and running in the Mac Pro. Pull off the cover, unscrew the plate at the top, and then insert the J3i into the machine.

The hard drives will connect to the Mac Pro and then you can attach the three SATA cables that come with the J3i, and since the Mac Pro has 1, 2, and 3, labeling, it's pretty easy to tell what goes where. After the mount is in place, put the Mac Pro back together, boot up, and all should be working well.

We found the Fusion Flex J3i to be a useful plug and play solution for those who are looking to add additional storage to their Mac Pro machines, and it's also cost effective. Sonnet charges $199 for the Fusion Flex J3i, and while adding storage is expensive, it's still cheaper than buying Apple's higher-tier SSD storage options.

You can get two 16TB 3.5-inch drives from Amazon for around $800, for example, which gives you 32TB of storage for much less than the $2,600 upgrade fee for the 8TB SSD from Apple. SSD storage is faster, of course, so if you want to go that route, you can get 4TB SSDs for somewhere around $600 each, which still comes in cheaper than Apple's storage.

For our setup, we have a couple PCIe SSDs in the Mac Pro for video editing purposes, with the J3i on hand for storing larger files, RAW images, and video backups.

Sonnet's Fusion Flex J3i can be purchased from the Sonnet website for $199.

Article Link: Testing Sonnet's Fusion Flex J3i Mount With the Mac Pro
 
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toomanydatsuns

macrumors newbie
Feb 17, 2017
16
58
Bay Area, CA
The shape is so simple, it should be relatively easy to 3D print an enclosure for these drives. It's just the dang weird power cable that I'd have no idea how to source.
 
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darthaddie

macrumors regular
Sep 20, 2018
116
115
Planet Earth
probably something to do with low volume production

more like milking the Mac Pro group.


with a 1000 unit minimum it shouldn’t cost most than $10-$15 (even less) to Manufacture and import into the US. I have been in manufacturing in China and that’s all it takes. I would rather invest in a DAS with 4-5 bays.
 
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R3k

macrumors 65816
Sep 7, 2011
1,011
915
Sep 7, 2011
I get these for Using older owner SSDs... but they are so slow compared to NVME on a PCIE Card.

Yeah, i looked into NVMe but eventually settled on SSD's. The only reasonably priced NVMe's on the market at the 4tb capacity I needed was the Sabrent Rocket. As im not sold on the companies QC or failure rate, along with how hot those things run necessitating a fan on the PCIe card and that equating to noise in my music studio, i instead went with the more tried and true Samsung SSD. Will likely go the NVMe some time in the future.
 
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erniefairchild1

macrumors member
Jan 28, 2017
56
43


Sonnet earlier this year announced the launch of the Fusion Flex J3i internal drive mount, which is designed to let users add up to three SATA storage drives to the 2019 Mac Pro.


In our latest YouTube video, we went hands on with the Fusion Flex J3i, hooking it up to our Mac Pro to see how it performs.

The Fusion Flex J3i is a mount system that can provide up to 36TB of additional storage for the Mac Pro. When purchased from Apple, the Mac Pro maxes out at 8TB of storage, so Sonnet's add-on provides a huge storage boost. The storage added through the Fusion Flex J3i will not, of course, act as a main boot disk and will instead work like an external drive that's plugged into the Mac.

You don't get any storage with the Fusion Flex J3i since it's designed to be a mounting system, so you're going to need to purchase storage separately and add it yourself. The Fusion Flex J3i supports two 3.5-inch drives and one 2.5-inch SSD or three 2.5-inch SSDs.

We tested the Fusion Flex J3i with two 4TB 3.5-inch hard drives from Western Digital, and installation was simple. Just four screws attach each of the hard drives to the J3i after the SSD plates have been removed.

After the Fusion Flex J3i has been outfitted with SSDs or hard drives, it also takes just a few minutes to get it up and running in the Mac Pro. Pull off the cover, unscrew the plate at the top, and then insert the J3i into the machine.

The hard drives will connect to the Mac Pro and then you can attach the three SATA cables that come with the J3i, and since the Mac Pro has 1, 2, and 3, labeling, it's pretty easy to tell what goes where. After the mount is in place, put the Mac Pro back together, boot up, and all should be working well.

We found the Fusion Flex J3i to be a useful plug and play solution for those who are looking to add additional storage to their Mac Pro machines, and it's also cost effective. Sonnet charges $199 for the Fusion Flex J3i, and while adding storage is expensive, it's still cheaper than buying Apple's higher-tier SSD storage options.

You can get two 16TB 3.5-inch drives from Amazon for around $800, for example, which gives you 32TB of storage for much less than the $2,600 upgrade fee for the 8TB SSD from Apple. SSD storage is faster, of course, so if you want to go that route, you can get 4TB SSDs for somewhere around $600 each, which still comes in cheaper than Apple's storage.

For our setup, we have a couple PCIe SSDs in the Mac Pro for video editing purposes, with the J3i on hand for storing larger files, RAW images, and video backups.

Sonnet's Fusion Flex J3i can be purchased from the Sonnet website for $199.

Article Link: Testing Sonnet's Fusion Flex J3i Mount With the Mac Pro

I can‘t wait to find out what MacRumors commenters decide to complain about on this one!
 
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Marinna

macrumors newbie
Oct 25, 2019
12
7
This hard drive mount is not even worth mentioning. (nope low volume absolutely can't justify the price) This should be something somebody can just 3D printed it if they have the file. Hell you can make it plastic for $10 and you are still making. But we all know that. What disappointed me is the depth of this video. If you even bother to spend time to make a video, at least do some more homework knowing how to properly comparing storage options between NVMe, SATA SSD, and SATA mechanical. How about giving people some high school level cost effectiveness analysis? This video is SO BAD....
 
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Ronlap

macrumors 6502
Sep 7, 2007
260
199
San Francisco Bay Area
I ordered this the first day it was available and it should be here tomorrow. This is insanely cheap compared to the Promise Pegasus, which comes with an 8TB drive that apparently everyone sells on eBay. I will be installing two 12GB Hitachi Helium disks to use for Time Machine and maybe an SSD as a scratch disk. My in-use video files sit on a Sonnet PCI card which holds four 2TB 970 EVO Plus NVMe SSDs while the rest of my files sit on Thunderbolt 2 storage arrays outside the box.

LOL the 2.5" SSD is using a SATA to USB adapter bahahahah... What a kludge.
Ya work with what Apple gives you and that's the only free port after the two SATA ports are used. I am not sure why someone can't figure out how to daisy chain those.
 
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choreo

macrumors 6502a
Jan 10, 2008
726
278
Midland, TX
I think the price is reasonable - all things considered. If the Mac Pros were flying off the shelf, about half that price might be more in line, but I am not sure how many are even being sold (I don't see too many participants in the 7,1 forum and only (1) Mac Pro review on B&H so far - most of the reviews I see on You-Tube claim to be returning them following the reviews?). Then there is the question of how many are in the sub-set that want internal spinning disk storage?

When you figure development cost, warranty/support, cables, inventory throughout the supply chain, packaging, shipping, competition, etc. - I would not want to tackle it for less starting out. (I can attest to the fact that not much was spent on the included instruction manual).
 
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yurc

macrumors 6502a
Aug 12, 2016
796
933
inside your DSDT
Heya, those drive cage should be included in Mac Pro from very beginning as default configuration, users can removed it if doesn’t need SATA disk. If Apple adopt this idea from 5,1 era it would turn selling Mac Pro without including any drive sleds.
[automerge]1594269943[/automerge]
The shape is so simple, it should be relatively easy to 3D print an enclosure for these drives. It's just the dang weird power cable that I'd have no idea how to source.
Some of our folks already making 3D prints for DIY drive cages, DIY power cable is also done to avoid crazy Belkin cable price.

It seems all 7,1 oriented peripheral are indeed, overpriced for such basic cable drive cage, in the name of ”for pro” machine sake.
 
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Marinna

macrumors newbie
Oct 25, 2019
12
7
For $200 I would expect a multi-channel PCIe adaptor and hard drive mount (without hard drives) to allow me to run a low end 2 or 4 drive software RAID. On PC this can be achieved less than $100. I even had a simple SATA->PCIe adaptor on my 2009 Mac Pro for $60.
Just because Mac Pro users are richer doesn't mean they should pay more for less. Looking at that AMD GPU card, look at that Mac Pro feet. They are not charging customer on products with better quality but stupidity. In no point a simple metal mount with cables and screws would worth $200. That cage they show in video is not much more than standard hard drive mount you can find on PC. I saw that type of cage on Dell workstations all the time. I bet you wait for another year you can probably even find OWC start to sell same thing for less. They have been proven of delivery better quality accessories (than Apple) at way less charge.
 
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Apple Knowledge Navigator

macrumors 68000
Mar 28, 2010
1,774
4,013
Whilst I believe this drive cage should have been included with the Mac Pro (or at least offered as a BTO option), all things considered it’s actually value for money relative to the cost of the Mac Pro line-up.

The Promise Pegasus MPX module is a no-go in my opinion, not because of the price, but because it wasn’t designed for maximum airflow since the arrangement of the drives - 2 at the front, 2 at the back - prevents the rear drives from getting the same amount of cooling. I’ve heard from several customers complaining about the temps/fan activity too.

A PCIe SSD mount is another option, but for huge amounts of storage I imagine this Sonnet caddy plus some HDDs would be the better option, and for the type of customers this computer attracts, it’s a relatively small price.
 
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fermat-au

macrumors 6502
Dec 7, 2009
459
510
Australia
Ok. Thanks for that. Enjoy Using Windoze.
Who said I was running Windows?
The fact Apple's hardware doesn't meet my needs doesn't imply my only option is Windows. A, non-Apple, PC can run Windows, Linux, FreeBSD or even macOS as Hackintosh.
Give the limited choise in terms of Mac desktops, I know many people who have a Macbook as they like macOS and a Windows or Linux desktop for the flexabilty of a desktop - high end GPU, Storage, Gaming etc.
 
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frankiee

macrumors regular
May 31, 2008
192
94
I can‘t wait to find out what MacRumors commenters decide to complain about on this one!


Well, for starters, it came with a faulty SATA to USB cable that lead to data loss for me. An I am not the only one who had this problem!
 
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incoherent_1

macrumors 6502a
Oct 19, 2016
601
1,022
Honest question: what would the advantage of this be over just having an external chassis or NAS? It’s not like a Mac Pro is portable to begin with... what am I missing?
 
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Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
7,997
656
In my imagination
Honest question: what would the advantage of this be over just having an external chassis or NAS? It’s not like a Mac Pro is portable to begin with... what am I missing?

For starters, this unit is for internal storage. So the first question you have to ask if if you want to store your drives internally instead of having a unit on your desk taking up space.

Second, you’d have to ask if you only need to install 1-2 or 3 drives. If you need more than that, then you’ll have to get a DAS or NAS.

Third, I know everyone loves using NAS drives but most users implement them like DAS enclosures (given the comments I’m reading in this very thread). But if you don’t need to have a drive on a network then the internal chassis would work as well.

Now, when I was an editor at a small shop in Baltimore we used the PowerPC G5’s (yeah it was a long time ago) internal drives as scratch. This was before SSDs and NAS enclosures. By the time we moved up to the intel cheese grater we were using some drives as video scratch and others for photos and/or “ready to archive” areas.

Once we started editing over fibre and NAS drives came into play we had little need for internal storage, but if I were a solo/one-man-band freelancer this internal chassis would be perfect for setting up an internal backup for Time Machine, and having app files from ProTools, Media Composer, After Effects and the like close by.

Every individual has their own special use case.
 
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