Unless you had a lot of money to burn, chances are you didn't opt for the maximum amount of storage when you bought your MacBook or Ultrabook. But, with the increasing size of multimedia files, there's also a good chance that you're running out of space. The OWC Envoy Pro EX is a small external SSD that looks as good as your Mac, and transfers files just as quickly. At $314, this 240GB drive isn't cheap, but it's worth the investment if you prioritize performance.
If Apple were to design an external hard drive, it might look like the OWC Envoy Pro. The entire drive is made of anodized aluminum, which mimics the look of every Mac laptop on the market. Its all-metal design also makes it very durable, and combined with the fact that it has no moving parts, means that it should survive more than a few drops.
Trapezoidal in shape, the Envoy Pro is wider on top than the bottom. On one of the short sides is a USB 3.0 port, and on the other end is a small status light.
At 4.5 x 2.2 x 0.43 inches and 3.8 ounces, the Envoy Pro packs easily into a travel bag; for added convenience, it comes with a small felt pouch.
Adding to its portability is the fact that the Envoy Pro is bus-powered, so you don't need an external power source.
Click to EnlargeThis is one fast SSD. We tested the OWC Envoy Pro with a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. Using the Disk Speed Test app by Blackmagic Design, we selected the 5GB file size, and ran the benchmark. It recorded a write speed of 253.8MBps, and a read speed of 406.4MBps.
Real-world tests backed up the synthetic test results. Copying 5GB of multimedia files to the OWC drive took just 21 seconds, a write speed of 242.3 MBps. Reading the folder from the OWC drive took an even faster 16 seconds, a speed of 330.6MBps. Just how fast is that? The average USB 3.0 hard drive read speed is 50 MBps, and the average write speed is 61 MBps.
The Envoy Pro was also speedy when copying large individual files. A 1.93GB AVI file took just 7 seconds to write to the Envoy Pro; copying it back to the notebook took 5 seconds. That means you could copy enough movies to last a flight from New York to Hong Kong in a minute.
Value, Configurations and Warranty
Click to EnlargeAt $314 for 240GB, ($1.31 per GB), the Envoy Pro EX isn't cheap, but depending on the Mac you have -- or are thinking of purchasing -- it's less expensive than adding internal storage.
Adding 128GB on the MacBook Air costs $200 ($1.56 per GB). Adding 256GB of internal storage to the 15-inch MacBook Pro or the 13-inch MacBook Air costs $300, or $1.17 per GB.
Increasing the storage to 512GB from 128GB (an increase of 384GB) on the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina costs $500, or $1.30 per GB.
OWC also sells a 480GB Envoy Pro EX for $559, which works out to $1.16/GB.
The drive comes with a 3-year warranty.
Click to EnlargeWho needs Thunderbolt? OWC's Envoy Pro EX proves that, with the right hard drive, even USB 3.0 is still more than fast enough to transfer all your data quickly. While you'll pay for the convenience, if you need to expand the storage on your Mac, the Envoy Pro EX will seem just as fast as the SSD inside your notebook.