One of the biggest problems when deciding what laptop to buy is how much storage you need. It can be incredibly expensive to buy extra storage from the start but many laptops, including the new MacBooks, don’t allow you to upgrade afterwards. The only real solution is to use external storage but these can be much slower than an internal drive.
If you need maximum performance then it’s hard to look past the OWC Envoy SX Pro which features a Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 interface that will work with any Mac or PC with Thunderbolt support.
The OWC Envoy SX Pro has been designed to be tough enough to withstand the most demanding work and play environments. The top edge has a Thunderbolt 3 port and the other end has a power/activity LED indicator light. It comes with a 70cm Thunderbolt 3 passive cable that powers the drive when connected to a compatible port.
The matte black aluminium chassis is made into a powerful heat sink with grooved fins on both of the long edges which draws heat away from the internal SSD and dissipates it.
With speeds of up to 2,800 MB/s, the Envoy Pro SX is as fast as they come and capable of the most demanding editing projects. It is bus-powered, so there is no power brick to carry around but you do need to use the supplied cable to achieve the maximum throughput.
Apart from being crushproof and built like a tank, the Envoy Pro SX is IP67 rated, meaning it is waterproof and can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
I’ve been testing the Envoy Pro SX for the last few months and brought it with me on a recent trip to Australia. I took it with me everywhere and used it to store and edit 4K videos directly from it. I’ve imported thousands of 61MP and 25MP RAW photos into my Lightroom catalogue and did all of my edits with no performance issues.
The thermal design ensures a throttle-free performance and although I measured a surface temperature of 40c, I didn’t see any drop in performance after an hour of continuous benchmarking. This is one of the more impressive aspects of the Evoy Pro SX as peak performance is one thing, but sustained performance is even more important.
It’s worth noting that the Envoy Pro SX will work on some, but not all iPads. It is compatible with the latest iPad Pros. Also, if you want to use it on both macOS and Windows, you’ll need to format the drive to exFAT.
On first connecting the drive to a computer with Thunderbolt, it will show up on your desktop. Inside the drive, you’ll find a formatting app that will offer you the options to format the drive for your particular use case.
In terms of speed, I benchmarked it on a Microsoft Surface Studio and MacBook Pro. The latter substantially outperformed the former, so not all systems are made equally. To be fair, this is down to the PC and Mac hardware and not the Envoy SX. Interestingly, I recorded faster drive speeds from the Evoy Pro SX than I got from the internal 256GB SSD on the Surface Studio.
In real-world use, it took 4:32 minutes to copy and build previews of 1,320, 33MP RAW photos taken from a 128GB UHS-II SD Card on my 2021 MacBook Pro 16. Copying 77 items from a folder saved on my internal MacBook Pro SSD took less than 5 seconds.
Using the Blackmagic benchmark tool, I was getting write speeds of 1,819MB/s and read speeds of 2,511MB/s. On the PC the results were slightly less with writes speeds of 1,014 MB/s and read speeds of 1,803 MB/s.
My review has been based on the 1TB OWC Envoy Pro SX that’s also available in 240GB, 480GB and 2.0TB options. The performance is class-leading in part thanks to the case design and internal SSD. The rugged nature of the case ensures your data will stay safe regardless of what punishment you put it through and you get the added bonus of a three-year warranty.