Ultimately, USB 4 ought to render the excellence between Thunderbolt and USB largely moot. That’s the hope at any price. For now, in order for you the scintillating efficiency of Thunderbolt 3 when it’s accessible, and the compatibility of USB when it’s not, you want a drive corresponding to OWC’s Envoy Professional FX.
Design and specs
The all-metal Envoy Professional FX is a good-looking, all-metal, slate grey enclosure that fairly properly matches late-gen Macs style-wise. At roughly 4.5-inches lengthy, 2.75-inches vast, 0.6-inches thick, and eight.6 ounces it’s a bit on the big and heavy facet, with extra the looks of an exterior 2.5-inch laborious drive than SSD.
I take into account the heft clean metallic floor tactilely pleasing. Non-skid runners on the underside maintain it secure on the desk, and the mass of metallic distributes warmth properly—the Envoy Professional FX was barely heat to the contact below heavy use.
One finish of the drive is residence to a clearly labeled Kind-C port (sporting the Thunderbolt brand and “USB 3.2 10Gbps”). That assures that in the event you hand the drive to somebody, there might be little doubt that they are going to know that it really works with both bus. The opposite finish options the standing LED within the type of a small skinny bar.
The drive, in case the Kind-C port isn’t a clue sufficient, is Thunderbolt 3. There’s no AC jack so you may’t apply it to older Macs by way of Thunderbolt with out an AC-powered dock.
The Envoy Professional FX makes use of an NVMe OWC Aura Professional internally and is accessible in 240GB, 480GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities for $179, $229, $319, and $499 respectively. (Word that sustained write efficiency with bigger information typically drops considerably with decrease capability drives.) OWC contains each a Thunderbolt 3 cable and USB Kind-C to Kind-C cable with a captive Kind-C to Kind-A adapter.
The drive ships with helper software program put in on an 8GB partition. The software program will provide help to format the primary partition to the file system of your selection, or you are able to do that your self utilizing Apple’s Disk Utility. You may need to copy the software program to your essential drive so you may delete the helper partition and use the complete capability. That’s what I do. Your name.
Although OWC doesn’t go into it on the Envoy Professional FX’s internet web page, USB Gen 2 10Gbps efficiency is about half the marketed 2GBps you’ll see over Thunderbolt 3. These are the numbers you’ll see from artificial benchmarks corresponding to Blackmagicdesign’s Disk Pace Check and CrystalDiskMark 6 which we ran on sister publication PCWorld’s check mattress to corroborate outcomes.
Actual life efficiency from the 2TB drive we examined throughout lengthy transfers was round 650MBps by way of USB 10Gbps and 1.25GBps over Thunderbolt.
Blackmagidesign’s Disk Pace Check had good issues to say about each the Envoy Professional FX’s Thunderbolt 3 efficiency (above), and it’s USB 10Gbps efficiency (proven under).
By the best way: the USB Discussion board now refers to Gen 2 as SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps. For brevity’s sake, we confer with it as USB 10Gbps. Additionally notice, that Kind-C is only a sort of connector. The USB discussion board likes to confer with it as USB-C or USB Kind-C which helps with their branding, however tends to confuse patrons and apparently the advertising employees of some distributors.
As you may see above, CrystalDiskMark 6—a Home windows benchmark widespread with distributors—had good issues to say in regards to the Envoy Professional FX’s efficiency. Our actual world 48GB transfers additionally say the drive is a hair sooner than Samsung’s X5, although the distinction was effectively inside statistical variance.
The Envoy Professional FX lacks for nothing on the efficiency finish. It even did effectively on our 450GB write check, proven under, which we carry out to see if switch charges drop if an when a drive runs out of NAND to make use of as secondary cache (writing 1-bit per cell moderately than 3).
Word that the X5 was a 1TB drive, and the Sabrent a whopping 8TB unit, giving the latter an enormous quantity of the aforementioned secondary cache to play with. Smaller capacities could not carry out as effectively because of much less NAND accessible to be used in that position. That’s true of practically all SSDs, not simply OWC’s.
On a facet notice, I examined the Envoy Professional FX on each an M1 Mac mini (outcomes proven), and a barely older Intel iMac. If there are nonetheless any points with USB drives being slower on the M1 or Large Sur, they didn’t present up. In truth, the M1 transfers have been wherever from 10 to twenty % sooner.
Quick, rugged, and reasonably priced (comparatively)
The Envoy Professional FX is as quick as Samsung’s X5, however trumps it with seamless assist for 10Gbps USB, a lower cost tag, and cooler operation. And simply to be clear, it’s going to work on any laptop working any OS by way of one transport protocol or the opposite. One of the best of all worlds, you may say.