(Joyce) #1


Blade 4 TB

Fast, External NVMe SSD Drive
Review by Erik Vlietinck

Company: OWC Digital

Price: $1,379


Hot: Design; speed; portable; cooling system;
robust; processing time often cut in half


The OWC ThunderBlade external Thunderbolt 3 SSD drive has
a data transfer speed of up to 2800 MB/s, and you can have
it in capacities of up to 8 TB that you can expand further by
daisy-chaining up to six devices. It has a sleek design with a
nice, industrial look, and it comes in a custom-fit, ballistic hard-
shell case.
On my low-end, 2017 iMac Retina 5K, 27", the AJA’s disk
test showed that the 4-TB unit had a transfer speed of a hefty
2350 MB/s, which is high enough to process the heaviest
400-megapixel images that a Hasselblad H6D Multi-Shot is
capable of. As it’s not cheap, most users of this beast will prob-
ably be the ones who process large files on a high-end work-
station like the iMac Pro or Mac Pro, but even my 2017 iMac
benefited from the ThunderBlade’s crazy performance. And if
you put two of these in RAID 0, you’ll potentially reach a trans-
fer speed of up to 3800 MB/s.
This aluminum unit, with the top designed as a heatsink and
the front bezel as a huge LED, is home to four OWC Aura P12
1-TB NVMe SSDs set up (with SoftRAID) in a RAID 0 configura-
tion. Copying files to-and-from the ThunderBlade is much faster
than with any other external SSD I’ve tested so far. Reading
260 GB of folders and files—video, RAW images, and audio—
and transferring them to an APFS NVMe SSD took less than
6 minutes.
Transcoding a 4K Final Cut Pro X project with Gaussian blur
masks to ProRes 4444 XQ with the project located on the
ThunderBlade took 29 minutes. When the project was located
on the internal Fusion disk, it took 41 minutes. Using the OWC
ThunderBlade 4 TB, I saw similar results with projects from Aurora
HDR, Avid Pro Tools, and Apple Logic Pro X—a great timesaver! n


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