Thunderbolt 3 M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosures

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by oreggero, Jan 16, 2017.

  1. oreggero macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 27, 2016
    #1
    Since I am owning a great new MacBook Pro, I have been searching the web for a worthy external storage to go with it.

    So far, I only know of stationary Thunderbolt 3 drives (mainly in the form of full-size PCIe boxes with NVMe SSDs in them or large RAID systems that weigh upwards of 5 kg), but I am wondering, whether there's such a thing as an M.2 NVMe SSD enclosure that uses Thunderbolt 3 to connect to the computer.
    I could not find anything like that up until now, with the closest match being a bulky M.2 enclosure from Sonnet that is called a "Windows Edition" (probably due to an incompatible TB3 chipset, I guess).

    On the other hand, there are some cheap USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C enclosures on Amazon, that can house an M.2 SATA SSD, which will not get you the highest transfer speeds possible (in fact, they are pretty limited at the 480 MB/s that USB 3.1 Gen1 supports), with NVMe and Thunderbolt being able to transfer data much faster (theoretically 5 GB/s, but at this point in time the highest rates I could find for desktop drives were about 2400 MB/s).
    And last but not least there are the Glyph Atom (RAID) SSDs, which get closer (~800 MB/s) to the speed I desire, but still use USB 3.1 Gen2, and they are rather expensive at 1 TB at ~ $ 420. (usual prices for M.2 NVMe SSDs range from 450 to 600 bucks and they are way faster at ~1600 to 3200 MB/s read speed).

    So my question is: Did I miss something, or are there just no portable Thunderbolt 3 external SSDs/SSD enclosures?
     
  2. anson42 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #3
    I was looking for a TB3 M.2 NVMe RAID solution and the only thing I could find that didn't terminate in a SATA interface — like what's the point of that — is a product like this:

    http://www.sonnettech.com/product/echoexpressseltb3.html

    an outboard PCIe expansion box connected via TB3 that can house a PCIe-based M.2 SSD controller. There doesn't seem to be a ton of those either at this point but they are starting to pop up. I don't follow PC hardware releases but Sonnet's web site has a compatibility matrix that is somewhat revealing of the available Mac-compatible controllers out there:

    http://www.sonnettech.com/support/charts/thunderbolt/index.html

    I suspect a small outboard enclosures for dual or quad M.2 SSD RAID with a TB3 interface are imminent from various hardware makers. The SATA-based SSDs are ok if you need the 2.5" form factor but no longer adequate for speed demons.
     
  3. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Finger Lakes Region
    #4
    Look at the video review. Ace sure you see on YouTube to use a hack for unsupported TB3 devices.
     
  4. KarthikUnboxed macrumors newbie

    KarthikUnboxed

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2017
    #5
    --- Post Merged, Aug 24, 2017 ---
    Have you looked into AtomRAID SSD by Glyph?
     
  5. fembrey macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2013
    #6
    AtomRAID seems pretty slow and not very cheap. A decent M.2 SSD is 'only' $300 and a USB-C external container is $30 or so with speeds up to 10Gbps which translates to probable transfer speeds of 1GB/s. Which is higher than the 860MB/s and cheaper. Plus you get more options in terms of upgradability etc.
     
  6. SecuritySteve macrumors 6502

    SecuritySteve

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2017
    Location:
    California
    #7
    I'm interested in this too. I'm looking to spend ~1-2k on an external fixed RAID 0 enclosure (RAID 0 needed for speed, I'll be running 10 VMs with heavy IO pressure on the external RAID array's drives). Ideally I'd like TB3 level-bandwidth with M.2 PCIe SSDs internally. Any recommendations? Must be macOS compatible obviously.

    Edit: I've looked at the LaCie Bolt 3: https://www.lacie.com/personal/special-edition/bolt3/ and I like the specs, I just think it looks tacky.
     
  7. machou macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    #8
    You can use this : https://www.akitio.com/expansion/node-lite
    coupled with a PCI-E / M2 adapter and a Samsung 960 Pro 2TB for example.

    Must be on High Sierra though to use non-Apple NVMe PCI-E drives and TRIM is supported.
     
  8. DirkM macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2011
    #9
    I have recently installed the Aplicata Quad M.2 NVMe SSD PCIe x8 Adapter in a OWC Mercury Helios 3 Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis together with two Samsung 960 2TB NVMe SSDs and set up a RAID from macOS, not cheap but works great and leaves room to add two more drives. In RAID 0 I get 2900MB/s write and 2500MB/s read on my iMac Pro.
     

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