Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
57,450
20,284


A few months ago, OWC introduced the Envoy Pro FX, a portable SSD storage drive that is described as "the fastest, most compatible drive ever." I take a closer look at the Envoy Pro FX and its capabilities in my review below.

owc-envoy-pro-fx-featured.jpg

Key Features
  • Wide compatibility: The drive can be connected to a wide range of devices with Thunderbolt 3/4 or USB-C ports, such as the latest Mac, iPad Pro, and iPad Air models, as well as PCs and Microsoft Surface devices. There is also a USB-A adapter attached to the Thunderbolt cable included in the box.
  • Very fast speeds: Thunderbolt 3/4 compatibility allows for very fast read/write speeds up to an advertised 2,800 MB/s. I test speeds below.
  • Bus-powered: The drive is powered by the device it is connected to, not a power supply.
  • Tough design: The drive's aluminum housing has IP67-rated water and dust resistance and military-grade drop protection.
  • Storage capacities: 240GB, 480GB, 1TB, and 2TB.

Performance

The Envoy Pro FX enclosure is equipped with OWC's Aura P12 Pro, a high-performance SSD with M.2 NVMe 1.3 technology. With a PCI-Express 3.1 connection via Thunderbolt 3, OWC promises impressive read/write speeds up to 2,800 MB/s.

My test setup consisted of a base model 16-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.6GHz six-core 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor running macOS Big Sur 11.2, with a 1TB Envoy Pro FX connected directly to the MacBook Pro with a single Thunderbolt 3 cable. The drive was formatted with a single Apple File System (APFS) volume for macOS.

Using the popular AmorphousDiskMark 3.1 storage benchmark app by Katsura Shareware, the Envoy Pro FX achieved sequential read and write speeds of up to 3,002 MB/s and 2,324 MB/s respectively on my Mac. This is a bit above what OWC advertises, but in my actual usage of the drive, data transfer speeds were around the 2,700-2,800 MB/s mark. For example, I was able to transfer a 25GB file in around nine seconds.

envoy-pro-fx-benchmark.jpg

By comparison, SanDisk's 1TB Extreme Pro SSD also uses M.2 NVMe 1.3 technology, but without Thunderbolt 3, sequential read performance is limited to up to 2,000 MB/s. And at the low end, external HDDs often top out at read speeds of around 100 MB/s to 150 MB/s. Of course, both of those options are far cheaper than the Envoy Pro FX, with some comparisons included in my pricing section below.

Design

With a sleek aluminum housing, the Envoy Pro FX resembles an Apple product, but the white OWC logo and Envoy Pro FX branding takes away from the aesthetic. The drive's "charcoal gray" color is a bit darker than the Space Gray finish of the MacBook Pro, but they still look nice side by side. Along the left and right sides of the drive are what OWC calls "deeply grooved fins" to help with heat dissipation and ensure sustained performance. The fanless drive never felt overly hot to the touch during some large file transfers in my testing.

envoy-pro-fx-3.jpg

The bottom of the drive has two non-skid rubber feet to prevent it from sliding around on a desk or other surface. On the front of the drive is a slim LED status light that appears blue when the drive is powered on and flashes slowly during file transfers, but the LED isn't very bright, so I found it pretty useless during daylight hours. (I'm no pro photographer, so the picture above makes the LED look brighter than it is.)

The back of the drive has a single USB-C port with support for Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2.

envoy-pro-fx-4.jpeg

With no fan, the Envoy Pro FX has silent operation. As expected, the drive didn't make any noise during my testing, which is certainly pleasant. Unfortunately, the fans in my Intel-based MacBook Pro quickly revved up while completing a Time Machine backup to the drive, but I'll take the blame here for not upgrading to an M1 Mac yet.

As an external drive that fits in the palm of my hand, the Envoy Pro FX can easily be brought on the go, making it a convenient, portable solution for storing files while traveling. With a single Thunderbolt 3 cable that connects to a Mac for data and power, IP67-rated water and dust resistance, and military-grade drop protection, the Envoy Pro FX provides a plug-and-play experience without any worry.

Compatibility

The Envoy Pro FX can be connected to a wide range of devices with Thunderbolt 3/4 or USB-C ports, such as the latest Mac, iPad Pro, and iPad Air models, as well as PCs and Microsoft Surface devices. There is also a USB-A adapter attached to the Thunderbolt cable included in the box that allows the drive to be connected to USB-A devices.

To take advantage of the maximum speeds that the Envoy Pro FX offers, a 2016 or newer Mac with Thunderbolt 3/4 ports running macOS High Sierra or later is needed. OWC lists full system requirements on its website.

envoy-pro-fx-drive-guide.jpg

The drive comes preloaded with OWC's Drive Guide formatting utility for configuring the drive, with options to create a single Apple File System (APFS) volume that fills the entire drive for macOS High Sierra and later, a single HFS+ volume that fills the entire drive for older macOS versions, or a single exFAT volume that fills the entire drive for use with both macOS and Windows. The drive can also be configured manually.

Pricing

Given that the Envoy Pro FX is a top-of-the-line portable SSD, it should come as no surprise that the drive isn't cheap. Pricing starts at $199 for 240GB of storage, followed by 480GB for $229, 1TB for $319, and 2TB for $499.

A few comparisons with other 1TB drives compatible with the Mac:
A black 0.7-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable is included in the box with the Envoy Pro FX.

envoy-pro-fx-2.jpg

Final Verdict

The Envoy Pro FX is excellent, but pricey. If you want ultra-fast read/write speeds, this drive has certainly earned my stamp of approval; however, if you are simply looking for a drive to store your Time Machine backups, then it would be more economical to consider a basic 1TB hard drive for around a quarter of the price of the Envoy Pro FX, or a non-Thunderbolt SSD as a good middle ground in terms of price and speed.

The Envoy Pro FX can be ordered on OWC's website.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with OWC and Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. OWC provided MacRumors with an Envoy Pro FX for this review. No other compensation was received.

Article Link: Review: OWC's Envoy Pro FX is an Ultra Fast, Expensive Portable SSD for Macs
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Rock Star

mielie

macrumors member
Aug 19, 2020
65
116
My 4TB Lacie drive is three quarters full. I purchased it several years ago. External drives just aren't getting any bigger! I need 6-8TB as a minimum now, but companies keep releasing drives with small capacities.
 

reyesmac

macrumors 6502a
Jul 17, 2002
753
419
Central Texas
OWC making an expensive product? Shocking. If Apple can overcharge for ssd's you can buy at a fraction of the cost I guess OWC can too. I built a bootable 1tb drive for the price of the 480gb OWC model. But the difference is to do that you need to do your research and put it together yourself. So the added cost is basically having someone else do all that work for you which is worth a bit extra. The tech is so new that there's just room to charge what you want for such convenience because there isn't competition everywhere driving the prices down. The good news is that when paired to the new Macs they allow you to use externals as boot up drives and save money on Apples own storage without taking a speed hit. I am counting on that to purchase an iMac and throw my money at the only part Apple holds ransom, the RAM. 8 gigs just feels wrong on a system that can do so much more than in the past.
 

hot-gril

macrumors 68000
Jul 11, 2020
1,924
1,965
Northern California, USA
OWC making an expensive product? Shocking. If Apple can overcharge for ssd's you can buy at a fraction of the cost I guess OWC can too. I built a bootable 1tb drive for the price of the 480gb OWC model. But the difference is to do that you need to do your research and put it together yourself. So the added cost is basically having someone else do all that work for you which is worth a bit extra. The tech is so new that there's just room to charge what you want for such convenience because there isn't competition everywhere driving the prices down. The good news is that when paired to the new Macs they allow you to use externals as boot up drives and save money on Apples own storage without taking a speed hit. I am counting on that to purchase an iMac and throw my money at the only part Apple holds ransom, the RAM. 8 gigs just feels wrong on a system that can do so much more than in the past.
Yeah, but I've had bad experiences with the cheaper enclosures in the past. Most often overlooked item is the heat dissipation.
 

SFjohn

macrumors 65816
Sep 8, 2016
1,133
1,859
My 4TB Lacie drive is three quarters full. I purchased it several years ago. External drives just aren't getting any bigger! I need 6-8TB as a minimum now, but companies keep releasing drives with small capacities.
I feel for you. I wish they were growing larger, faster as well. Sounds like you could use a RAID Array. We added one to take the stress off the 4TB in our iMac Pro. It’s been great so far.
 

apparatchik

macrumors 6502a
Mar 6, 2008
692
2,079
I really wish the mac minis made room for one more m.2 drive or a single 2.5/3.5" bay for expansion. I have a need for a lightweight NAS/backup type situation, but don't want USB stuff dangling off of a mac mini.

Apparently a new Apple Silicon Mac Pro Mini is in the works, about the size of two Mac Mini's stacked together according to rumors, it will hopefully offer expandable storage and high-end dedicated graphics as well.
 

btbeme

macrumors 6502
Jul 29, 2010
268
627
I love mine. I bought it pretty much to just good with it. The first couple times I used it to copy data I thought i had messed up, as it copied faster than the notification. Frankly I’m not entirely sure who would benefit from this directly but I am damned impressed with its speed and I think the design is rock-solid.
 

nquinn

macrumors 6502a
Jun 25, 2020
696
552
Apparently a new Apple Silicon Mac Pro Mini is in the works, about the size of two Mac Mini's stacked together according to rumors, it will hopefully offer expandable storage and high-end dedicated graphics as well.
Pricing will be insane though - i'm just looking for a cheap NAS like box.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jazz1

freedomlinux

macrumors regular
Jul 27, 2008
158
278
CT, USA
Apparently a new Apple Silicon Mac Pro Mini is in the works, about the size of two Mac Mini's stacked together according to rumors, it will hopefully offer expandable storage and high-end dedicated graphics as well.
I'm hopefully optimistic for this kind of product.
Something with some internal expansion, positioned between the Mini and Pro.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BKDad

dmylrea

macrumors 68040
Sep 27, 2005
3,990
5,451
Or you can buy your own TB3 enclosure and put whatever PCI-e SSD you want in it, and when it's full, buy a bigger SSD and swap it out. For way less than $200 for 240GB.
 

ikramerica

macrumors 65816
Apr 10, 2009
1,268
1,498
I have an OWC USB3 only version and it is plenty fast. I boot my MBP 2012 from it in High Sierra and it is only about 25% slower than booting from the internal SSD in Catalina, and after boot, there is no noticeable difference between the internal and external in OS response, applications opening, files opening, etc.
 

embraceware

macrumors member
Jan 14, 2008
45
53
Shouldn't the Samsung X5 be in the comparison list instead of the T7? I've been using the Samsung X5 for the past year and this looks like it's performing at the same rates. Feels like the X5 was excluded from this review as it is a competitor in the same class. I would have liked to see how it compared.
 

nStyle

macrumors 65816
Dec 6, 2009
1,311
556
It should be noted that there’s no way to get the full 2k speed on the Sandisk unless the device also has USB 3.2 2x2. About 99% of USB 3.2 devices are going to be 2x1 including all Macs. So it will be capped at 1k speeds. From what I’ve read it’s basically as cheap as the older 10Gbps drives though. Still, no current Mac can utilize the full speed of this drive unless they had some sort of Thunderbolt dock that had its own USB controller with suppprt for the proper spec. That surely wouldn’t be cheap though.

With USB 4 around the corner I’m not even sure why they bothered with what will prove to be a very poorly adopted spec. M1 Macs have USB 4 support but they didn’t implement support for (20Gbps) USB 3.2 2x2.

Best option if speed is your primary concern is to buy a TB3 enclosure and put whatever NVME you want in it.
 
Last edited:

chabig

macrumors G3
Sep 6, 2002
9,510
6,924
The back of the drive has a single Thunderbolt 3 port, which doubles as a USB-C port, as the two standards share the same connector design.
This is bad journalism. Thunderbolt 3 is not a port and USB-C is not a data transfer standard. It should say, “The back of the drive has a single USB-C port, which supports both Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 data transfers.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,849
1,017
I recall seeing a comparison of SSD drives where some did reasonably well until they have to do very large transfers. Once their "buffer" (SSLC cache) was saturated, the transfer times dropped. Some far more than others.

Though I find the drive in the video impressive, the chart and understanding of the above is what is demonstrated.

 
  • Like
Reactions: ImaxGuy

MacCheetah3

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2003
1,496
602
Central MN
Pretty sweet. This is still well below TB3's max theoretical 40gbit/s (5GiB/s) bandwidth. They could even make a dual striped version without bottlenecking on the TB3 cable, except in the sequential read case.
Keyword "theoretical" (i.e., in a perfect configuration)

Doing the math with what I've seen in benchmarks for USB 3.0 and SATA-III, both are very close to 2/3 of the theoretical max. So, TB3/4's more realistic top is ~3,330 MB/s -- which does seem very plausible.

My 4TB Lacie drive is three quarters full. I purchased it several years ago. External drives just aren't getting any bigger! I need 6-8TB as a minimum now, but companies keep releasing drives with small capacities.
I feel for you. I wish they were growing larger, faster as well. Sounds like you could use a RAID Array. We added one to take the stress off the 4TB in our iMac Pro. It’s been great so far.
Are you referring to strictly SSD? Because HDD capacities have gotten quite large (I think).
 

joecomo

macrumors 6502a
Jul 10, 2010
559
743
Why not at least 4TB - that is available as an internal drive for Mac since quite some time. For a fast back-up you‘ll need at least that (better twice that). But why do that - when you can offer the same stuff like all the other providers!
 
  • Like
Reactions: masterhiggins

gnasher729

Suspended
Nov 25, 2005
17,980
5,561
My 4TB Lacie drive is three quarters full. I purchased it several years ago. External drives just aren't getting any bigger! I need 6-8TB as a minimum now, but companies keep releasing drives with small capacities.
You can get an internal 18TB drive and buy a case, together maybe £450. And I’ve seen 10tb external drives.

If you have too much cash I think Samsung has a 60 TB SSD drive, but that’s generous five digits. if you buy one they’ll throw in a MacBook for free if you ask nicely :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: NMBob and KeithBN
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.