Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sonnet Allegro Pro USB 3.0 for Mac Pro Classic

Sonnet Allegro Pro USB 3.0
Fresco Logic Chipset

Today I installed the Sonnet Allegro Pro card in my cMP 5,1. The card is well made and fits tightly in its slot. This card requires no additional power connection, and driver support is built into OS X 10.8.5 or greater.

My current configuration is arranged as follows:
Slot 1 – AMD HD 7970 3GB by MVC
Slot 2 – Sonnet Allegro Pro USB 3.0
Slot 3 – Apple/Samsung 512GB PCIe SSD using v.1 Sintech Adaptor
Slot 4 – Apricorn Solo X2 w/Samsung 840 Pro SSD

After trying every USB device type that I own (Many drives (up to 4GB), webcam, USB Thumb drives, Mouse/Mice, Keyboards (4), printers, scanner, drive docking station, and USB hubs). I found no compatibility or performance issues. I transferred 16TB of data in 4TB chunks in each direction and found no issues at all. I also transferred 4TB of data in small files (again in each direction) and the process was flawless. So far I’m impressed.

About the Allegro Pro:
This card has 4 independent controllers (one for each port) and each is totally isolated from the others. The system profiler shows 4 different x1 devices installed into a single slot, it is not reported as an x4 device.

This card supports UASP and that is a specification I now demand on any USB card or storage device (except thumb drives) connected to my system. UASP is intended to speed up operations of USB connected SSDs, but I find it also brings enhanced performance to mechanical drives that are installed in UASP compatible enclosures. UASP allows you to perform multiple operations (renaming or moving other files/folders for example), while a file transfer to/from the same drive is in progress. It does this without slowing the transfer or being forced to wait for an operation to be completed. In other words, it feels like an SATA drive instead of a USB drive when manipulating files or folders.

I my opinion, this is an exceptional card, that is slightly slower than the RocketU 1144C with similar specs. This card has additional features for charging devices such as iPhone, iPod, iPad etc… The Sonnet website recommends that you download a driver for charging support. I haven’t personally tested this, but the thread starter (ActionableMango) reports that this driver isn’t needed. It’s sole purpose is to avoid the pop-up notification (Drive was improperly ejected) one receives when waking the computer from sleep with USB drives attached. With this card so far (unlike any other card I’ve tested), if you eject the drives manually before sleeping the computer, you won’t get the pop-up notification when the computer wakes and remounts the attached USB drives.

Since I’ve only owned the card for a short period of time, this will be a rolling review until I feel it’s complete.

The package includes the Sonnet Allegro Pro PCIe 4-Port card & documentation. A few other details are listed below.
  • 5 Year Warranty
  • PCIe 2.0 x4 slot
  • 4 Independent controllers
  • 4 USB 3.0 Ports
  • No additional power required
  • No external drivers required
  • UASP enabled
  • 7.5w Device Charging supported on each port
  • 5 Gb/s (450 MB/s) transfer rate per port
  • Up to 31 devices connected at once
  • OS X 10.8.5 and above supported OOTB
  • Windows 7 and above supported

I really like this card but it's a bit pricy at $129 from most retailers. When price and speed are the deciding factors, the RocketU-1144C wins. That said, I feel this is a great choice for the long haul with it's 5 year warranty, and device charging capabilities. I noticed that when I plug devices into this card (especially large drives), the devices are recognized and/or mounted much quicker than with the RocketU. I plan to keep this card installed for a while for further testing.

I whole heartedly recommend this card for heavy duty lifting. If your needs are less or if you are $ wise, look at the RocketU-1144C or the Sonnet Allegro (non-pro version). This is a very nice addition to my cMP (at least until I start testing USB 3.1 cards).

NOTE: The card pictured below is a stock photo of the v.1 card. The card that ships now has a rather large heatsink located on the large chip in the center of the board.