OWC ThunderBlade (Thunderbolt 3)
OWC (Other World Computing) is an ancient company in this context, having been founded in 1988. In recent years, OWC carved out a niche in SSD upgrades for the Apple MacBook. Unfortunately, Apple effectively closed this market when it decided to solder on the flash memory chips in all its recent laptops. However, drawing from previous experience, OWC has – among other things – moved on to external SSDs such as this high-end external drive.
For an external SSD, the OWC ThunderBlade is not particularly small or lightweight. It’s 7.6″/192 mm long and weighs in at 1.42 lbs/676 g. And it is not made more convenient by the fact that it needs a separate power supply. It comes in a rugged design and also ships with a ‘ballistic’ hard-shell case, which might be suitable considering the high cost of the device.
What’s more interesting from a technical perspective is that the ThunderBlade has dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, which allows for daisy-chaining several ThunderBlade SSDs using OWC’s SoftRAID solution. Using two or more drives in RAID mode will also improve performance considerably.
OWC does not disclose whether the drive’s memory chips are TLC or MLC NAND, or what internal controller is used.
The ThunderBlade SSD is available in the capacities 1TB, 2TB, as well as in the high-capacity options 4TB and even 8TB.
According to OWC, this is the fastest SSD of its kind. Internally, the ThunderBlade uses the PCIe 3.0/NVMe interface/protocol but is attached via Thunderbolt 3/USB-C.
Thunderbolt 3 provides up to 40 Gbit/s of bandwidth, so the ThunderBlade will not be limited by the interface, which is frequently the case for other external USB drives. The ThunderBlade offers transfer speeds of up to 2800MB/s read and 2450MB/s write. When using two or more identical drives in OWC’s SoftRAID, read speeds may reach up to 3800MB/s.
A prerequisite to reach maximum performance is of course that the host computer supports Thunderbolt 3 via USB-C.
Warranty and endurance
Unlike most high-end internal SSDs on the market, the OWC ThunderBlade comes with a 3-year warranty instead of the more common five years. There is also no endurance rating in TBW (terabytes written) provided, which is normal for a portable SSD. These terms are similar to what Samsung offers with its X5 SSD.
No review was available at this writing, but we will update this page when there are.
Specification: OWC ThunderBlade (Thunderbolt 3)