Small Footprint, Blazingly Fast Portable Drive

Review by Erik Vlietinck

OWC has introduced a new 300-gram lightweight portable drive that’s been equipped with a captive Thunderbolt 3 cable. The Thunderbolt 3 Envoy Pro EX is actually a series of Thunderbolt 3 devices, split up in the Envoy Pro EX series and the Envoy Pro EX (VE) series.

Whereas the “ordinary” Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 stops at a max throughput of 1800-MB/s read performance and a 1-GB/s write speed, the VE series is exceptionally fast, with sustained data rates of up to 2600 MB/s. These high speeds are made possible by combining the 40-GB/s bandwidth offered by the Thunderbolt 3 interface with an M.2 (NVMe) PCI-Express SSD, wrapped in a rugged, black aluminum Envoy Pro EX enclosure with (cool-looking) cooling ribs on the side.

Inside is a Samsung SSD 960 Pro, offering data rates that enable real-time processing of I/O heavy transfer tasks such as multi-stream video editing. OWC’s implementation is fully bus-powered and complies with the MIL-STD-810G drop test. The one part that could perhaps suffer from being tossed around or rough handling would be the 15-cm integrated/captive cable. Although the thick, but flexible, cable has been attached to the drive with a rubberized connector housing, it may represent a weak point in the design.

The Envoy Pro EX (VE) OWC sent for testing, saturated an old iMac’s Thunderbolt capabilities entirely, with a maximum throughput speed of 800 MB/s. On a loan MacBook Pro, the test gave a whole different picture: Read speeds of 2066 MB/s and write speeds of between 1400 and 1600MB/s were no exception.

These speeds not only make the Envoy Pro EX (VE) a dream solution for After Effects and Photoshop compositing and filter processing, but also for 4K, 4K/HDR, and even 8K editing with Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, DaVinci Resolve, or Adobe Premiere Pro. n