Anyone here using an OWC Thunderbay enclosure?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by odinsride, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. odinsride macrumors 65816

    odinsride

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    #1
    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/Thunderbolt/External-Drive/OWC/ThunderBay-4

    Thinking of buying one of these along with my Retina iMac. Does anyone use one and have any comments on it? I would probably put an SSD in it for scratch/working disk, a 1-2 TB HDD for data, and a 3-4TB for Time machine backups, all run as independent drives. I think Thunderbolt 2 should have no problem with all 3 drives simultaneously, right?
     
  2. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

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    Aug 6, 2007
    #2
    I have my eye on this as well. Not much other choice if you want an empty TB2 multi drive container. A bit pricey though at $459 empty.
     
  3. nrubenstein macrumors 6502

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    Aug 5, 2008
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    Washington, DC
    #3
    I've got one, but I'm waiting for drives to show up so that I can populate it. After looking at it, I decided to buy the TB1 enclosure for $100 less. TB2 doesn't add useful additional bandwidth for something that I'm stuffing with platter drives, and it would be questionable for anything short of a striping SSD array.

    Did I mention that I'm still ticked that I can't get a decent internal platter drive with a decent SSD? It's kind of bizarre that Apple doesn't offer at least a 4TB, if not 6TB internal option, and downright weird that they will only let you pair a platter drive with the 128GB SSD.
     
  4. Charlemagne macrumors newbie

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #4
    Why not get a USB3 enclosure? Much cheaper - I am curious in this myself.
     
  5. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #5
    I have 2 of the Thunderbay IV (old TB1 model) which I got on their garage sale awhile back. I have one on my Mac Mini Server and one on my iMac with a pair of SSDs in RAID-0, a data HD, and a TimeMachine HD. The Mini has 4 ea. 3TB hard disks in Raid-5 using SoftRAID5 and serves as a NAS Time Machine backup storage for all the household computers.

    They work quite well for me, and I don't need the higher speed Thunderbolt version with it configured as I have it, since nothing in there can run at those speeds.
     
  6. lewisd25 macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 6, 2007
    #6
    I've been considering one of the Thunderbays also. I didn't realize it at first, but they also have a version that is bundled with SoftRAID 5. Does anyone think that the software is worth the cost of $579 bundle?
     
  7. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

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    Aug 6, 2007
    #7
    usb bus can get saturated fast. tb has more tolerance. other than that only tb2 theoretical could be significantly faster especially if raided up with ssd's. I think I'd rather go more future proof and get the TB2 one since they are pretty expensive either way though.
     
  8. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    #8
    So far, the SoftRAID5 software is working well for me. I purchased my ThunderBay IVs empty, and then purchased SoftRAID5 separately for the one ThunderBay IV in which is it used. It was about $129 as I recall from Softraid.com, but when I just checked to verify, I see that it has has gone up quite a bit for some reason.

    So, if you are getting your Thunderbay with drives, I would certainly consider getting the bundle with SoftRAID5 at that time. It is the only way I know of to get RAID-5 on a JBOD enclosure ... and thus your data is transportable in the event of enclosure failure.
     
  9. Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

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    Sep 27, 2008
    #9
    I've heard nothing but good things about the Thunderbay enclosure from OWC. As a matter of fact, this thread is good timing because I've been doing tons of research on RAID enclosures since I am going to order one when I order my 5K iMac in a few days. I'm still sorting out all of the details so I can make sure I get exactly what I want.

    Here are a few things that may be of help to others:

    1) Remember that the Thunderbay 4 uses Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbay IV uses Thunderbolt 1. It can be easy to confuse the two if you're not aware of this.

    2) If want to use RAID 5, be sure to buy the model that includes the SoftRAID software.

    3) Larry Jordan, a big time video editor and educator, wrote up an in-depth review on the Thunderbay 4 and it can be found here:
    http://www.larryjordan.biz/product-review-owc-thunderbay-4-raid/

    4) Larry Jordan also did some additional testing with both spinning drives and SSD drives and found some interesting results. Keep in mind that he was testing it with a 2013 iMac, which uses the Thunderbolt 1 interface.
    http://www.larryjordan.biz/product-review-owc-thunderbay-4-part-2/

    Hopefully these things help. If anyone else has some good links for reviews on the Thunderbay, or real world experiences, please share them!

    Bryan
     
  10. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 20, 2010
    #10
    I have a ThunderBay IV enclosure that I use with my 2013 iMac and I love it, I think you will be very pleased with it.
     
  11. natallica macrumors 6502

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    Mar 7, 2005
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    Fairfax, VA
    #11
    I just received mine tonight. Hoping some Black Friday deals will bring good deals on an SSD or two to throw in it.

    To those who have been using them for a while, can you speak to how loud the fan is? That's my main concern because I'm doing audio production. Unfortunately, the single Mercury Pro fan-less enclosure isn't available with ThunderBolt yet.
     
  12. scottomfg macrumors member

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    Oct 21, 2014
    #12
    How's the fan noise?

    Positive reviews of the fan are the #1 reason I'm looking to use this array. Apparently in April they changed the fan, for the third time, to and ultra-quite fan. Let me know what your experience has been, and when you bought yours.

    Thanks!

    edit: somehow missed second part of post above mine, my bad for duplicating the same question.
     
  13. Darby67 macrumors 6502

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    the corner of Fire and Brimstone
    #13
    Two ThunderBay4's here: quiet and fast.

    I have used the Apple's Disk Utility RAID in the past but had several corruption issues and refuse to use it any longer. Been using SoftRaid for a few months now and am a huge fan: reliable with many options.

    Actually prefer this set-up over hardware RAIDs at this point. Your mileage may vary though.
     
  14. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #14
    You could also install ZFS+ :)
     
  15. nrubenstein macrumors 6502

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    Washington, DC
    #15
    Ping OWC and they will sell it to you for a discounted price if you have a Thunderbay.
     
  16. Ray2 macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 8, 2014
    #16
    Having now gone through 5 USB 3 enclosures within 5 months, I would not use them for anything. Random ejects, failures to mount, failure to show up in DU, may have to reboot to get them to mount, improper ejects on sleep and inability to remount with a 2014 Air after an improper eject. The Jettison app solved the improper ejects issue but still could not remount them 50% of the time.

    I've now tried 5 different drives and 6 different cables (one premium spec), its not an drive or cable problem. The spec is weak, the chipsets aren't there yet or Apple has an implementation problem. Whatever it is, I'm back to FireWire and reliable I/O.
     
  17. adww12321 macrumors member

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    Dec 24, 2012
    #17
    Review

    to revive this thread, in case anyone is still looking for a thunderbolt 2 enclosure that doesn't break the bank....

    I've been testing a Thunderbay 4 here with the 5k imac, here's my observations --

    I've been running it so far with two SSDs in a RAID0 formation.

    the good:
    1) it is reliable -- no drop-outs or corruption, unlike USB 3 enclosures.
    2) it is fast. With RAID0, i'm getting 700MB/s across the SSDs, which is identical to the iMac's internal drive.
    3) I've been able to daisy chain 2 firewire devices off it (a digital mixer and an audio interface) with no reliability issues, using the apple thunderbolt-to-firewire converter.

    the bad:

    1) build quality isn't great -- the front cover of mine came slightly bent, it is hard to get on and off. It doesn't 'feel' up to the same level of care as, say, a LaCie drive enclosure.

    2) Noise. I know people are saying this enclosure is 'quiet', and perhaps if you are using spinning disks it seems that way. But for those used to SSDs, this thing is loud. They claim to be using a low-noise fan, mine however looks like a generic off-the-shelf part from china. (If you ask OWC nicely though, they will send you a replacement Zalmann quiet fan.) That fan still makes some noise -- rated at >20db, it is clearly audible, and if you keep the enclosure next to your iMac, you *will* hear it when doing any sensitive audio work (i.e., like making recordings.)

    The solutions to noise:
    ** this may not be for everyone, and would probably void your warranty, so proceed at your own risk **

    1) OWC was thoughtful enough to use a standard 92x92x25 case fan with a 3-pin header. You can get the stock fan out by removing two screws. This is excellent -- You can easily replace the stock fan with any number of similar-CFM rated low-noise fans. Or..

    2) Install a Zalmann Fan Mate to slow down the fan. There appears to be enough room inside the case to fit the fan mate, but I haven't tried, because...

    3) Just ditch the fan. If you are just using SSDs, my observation is that they will run cool enough without any fan whatsoever. For instance, my 2 Crucial SSDs in the enclosure are running at 82 and 81 degrees F respectively. For comparison, the iMac's internal SSD is running at 91 degrees F!

    Again, OWC would never approve of something like this. But just be aware that at least for my SSDs, heat isn't a problem at all in this enclosure. I suspect that OWC had to really overdo it with the fan, because they had no idea what people would put into the enclosure -- it needed to be good enough to cool 10k spinners, etc....

    So, once the noise problem is taken care of, it seems to be a decent little enclosure that's worked just fine with a simple RAID array.

    Hope it helps.
     
  18. lewisd25 macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 6, 2007
    #18
    I just bought a Thunderbay IV for my new new Retina iMac. Will I be able to daisy chain a non-4k monitor that has mini display port?
     
  19. adww12321 macrumors member

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    Dec 24, 2012
    #19
    is it a "4" or a "IV" -- they are different. The 4 is the new Thunderbolt 2 enclosure. If that's what you've got, you should be able to daisychain a monitor off it without a problem. I've been impressed by the stability of the device so far.

    One thing I didn't mention in my review -- the thunderbolt cable it ships with is on the short side, so if you insist on leaving the (IMO loud) fan running, get a long thunderbolt cable & move the thing away from your mac....
     
  20. scottomfg macrumors member

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    Oct 21, 2014
    #20

    Man, that's a bummer to hear about the noise. though I will have 2 SSDs in mine and 2 HDDs, so I suppose that will mitigate it a bit. When did you purchase yours and was it direct from OWC? According to Lloyd that makes a difference:

    I'll be sad if you just got yours recently. I guess It's time to proceed with my plan B to build a mounting bracket for this to mount under my desk. Thanks for sharing your experience!
     
  21. nrubenstein macrumors 6502

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    Washington, DC
    #21
    Bah. The four hard drives are louder than or as loud as the fan. Some really OCD folks install a 120mm fan off the back (you can get adapter ducts) to minimize noise, but it really isn't a huge deal. In a four SSD array, I can see how it would be annoying, but in *most* environments, it will be barely audible at a reasonable distance.

    I completely agree on the long cable, though. There's no reason to have that close by, unless you like to stare at the blinky lights. I've got mine on a 3m cable so that it can go on the far side of the table.
     
  22. adww12321 macrumors member

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    Dec 24, 2012
    #22
    I bought mine from OWC directly last week. I think they want to make people happy, since they know the type of customer that buys these things will be back to buy more stuff in the future. So they didn't balk at mailing me a new fan. Kudos to them. (I admit I was surprised that the Zalmann wasn't the default fan as i'd heard in other threads.... oh well.)

    The thing I really appreciate about the device is the fact that it is so easy to get to the fan and replace it (or, in my case -- disable it. Still can't make the SSDs get any hotter than 82F when running fanless.)

    Most enclosures make this process much more painful, so I commend OWC for using standard off-the-shelf parts that are easily swapped out.
     
  23. hfg, Oct 31, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

    hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #23
    BootCamp drive in Thunderbay IV?

    Has anyone put an external Windows drive in the Thunderbay IV?

    So far, I have discovered my external Thunderbolt SSD with Windows 87on it doesn't want to boot if the Thunderbay is on-line. I just get a black screen with cursor in the upper left corner (possibly too many disk partitions for the Windows booter). Simply turning off the Thunderbay and rebooting Windows works fine however, but I would prefer a cleaner solution as the Thunderbay is under my desk.

    I have found that it also won't boot the Windows 7 SSD if it is installed in the Thunderbay IV. I just get a black screen with cursor in the upper left corner.

    -----------------

    Edit:
    I made some changes by now using Windows 8.1 and a Retnia iMac and it sort of is working. The Windows 8 is on a Samsung 840 EVO and is in a LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt enclosure.

    Windows will boot and run, but freezes a short time (1-2 minutes) after it starts requiring a power cycle. Possibly due to some event within the ThunderBay such as sleep. The Windows SSD behaves the same connected to separate Thunderbolt ports, or connected to the Thunderbay and thus running off of the same port.

    Installing the Windows SSD inside the ThunderBay also boots and works for awhile ... then it freezes.

    However, if I turn the ThunderBay IV off, leaving it attached to the iMac, then Windows 8 (external TB) boots and runs fine.
     
  24. scottomfg macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    #24
    That's super lame. I've been a loyal OWC customer for a very long time but if that's the case with mine when it comes, I will make sure they know about it. Totally unacceptable for the customer not to know what they are going to get. That enclosure isn't cheap and to skimp and try to save $5 by putting in a crappy fan is just ridiculous.
     
  25. adww12321 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2012
    #25
    Well, overall I can say this -- so far, the Thunderbay 4 (that is "4", the new one, not IV, the old one), has exceeded my expectations so far. It is stable, and it is fast, with RAID0 speeds matching the speed of the riMac's internal SSD.

    The one area which they really need to look closely at going forward is the noise. Frankly, the fans they are installing are overkill for most people, yet they have to use them because you never know if someone is going to stick 4 super-hot 10k screamers into the enclosure & start a bonfire.

    What they *should* do is pony up for the quietest fans available that move the most amount of air per dB, AND have good programmable thermal support, so the fans can ramp themselves up and slow down as needed. Keeping fans running full-bore no matter what is a very un-apple like thing to do.
     

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