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Lab tested: The Mac Pro Daisy Chain Challenge

James Galbraith | April 25, 2014
A Thunderbolt daisy chain can support six connected peripherals per port. And the Mac Pro has six Thundebolt ports, four more than any other Mac. The Mac Pro also has four USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and two gigabit ethernet ports, so you can connect a lot of devices to one Mac Pro.

A Thunderbolt daisy chain can support six connected peripherals per port. And the Mac Pro has six Thundebolt ports, four more than any other Mac. The Mac Pro also has four USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and two gigabit ethernet ports, so you can connect a lot of devices to one Mac Pro.

Macworld Lab came up with the Mac Pro Daisy Chain Challenge: How many devices can we round up, connect, and use on a single Mac Pro.

Here's a list (in alphabetical order) of the storage devices connected to one Mac Pro.

We connected 36 drives (19 Thunderbolt, 15 USB, 2 FireWire 800) with a combined capacity of 100.63TB. In addition to the drives, we also connected two Thunderbolt docks (the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock and the CalDigit Thunderbolt Station), an Apple Thunderbolt Display, two Apple Cinema Displays, and one HP Z Display Z27i. All this to a single Mac Pro.

While a dozen or so of these drives were bus-powered, most required external power. We plugged 24 power cords into three power strips and plugged each of those strips into a Watts Up power meter. When running a script that copied data from the Mac Pro's internal PCIe connected flash storage to each of the drives, the combine power draw peaked at a whopping 865 Watts.

The script also tracked the amount of time it took each drive to write 6GB of data. The fastest was OWC's Mercury Helios, which was able to write at an average of 271 MBps with all other drives running. In second place was the Promise Pegasus2 R6, which wrote the data at an average of 199 MBps. Bringing up the rear were an unlucky few drives connected to the USB 2.0 ports of an Apple Cinema Display. They only managed to write at 3 MBps.

 

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