Tiny SSD Drive in Solid Aluminum Keeps Its Speed

Review by Erik Vlietinck

OWC’s newest portable SSD is a USB-C 3.2 10Gb/sec aluminum drive the size of a cigarette lighter. That makes it almost ridiculous to call the Elektron portable; if it’s anything, it’s a shirt-pocket drive that packs OWC Aura advanced NVMes in 240-GB ($99), 480-GB ($149), 1-TB ($219), and 2-TB ($369) formats. 

The drive looks like an ingot but, instead of gold, OWC used aluminum for the enclosure. I had the pleasure of receiving a 480-GB test unit, and when I connected it to my iMac with the included USB-C cable, the performance was lackluster. But, as I’m used to dealing with the perplexing reality of a mid-2017 iMac’s performance, I exchanged the USB-C cable for a passive Thunderbolt 3 cable and connected to the Thunderbolt port on the iMac. Lo-and-behold, performance jumped to an impressive 940 MB/sec! 

A test with Blackmagic Design Speed Test or AJA’s test app usually is very limited in time if you let it run only once. It’s when you use AJA’s “run continuously” feature that the drive really shows its pedigree. The OWC Envoy Pro Elektron did well but, after 2 minutes of warming up inside its aluminum casing, it did start to show some frame drops and then some more. Within that time frame, though, the drive never throttled down or lost so many frames it would become troublesome (though it would if you’re relying on it to offload movies, for example). 

When I stopped running the test, the drive was as warm as my hand. It fared much better than any other tiny NVMe drive that I’ve reviewed, though. Others throttle down fairly quickly to protect the components inside from overheating. 

The OWC Envoy Pro Elektron is far better at heat dissipation and, as a result, is much faster. Better yet, it’s much better at sustaining its highest throughput rate under high stress. ■