OWC Express 1M2 portable USB4 SSD gives superfast 3,151MB/sec transfers
OWC has announced their first SSD conforming to the new USB4 specification. USB4 is the next generation from USB 3.2 and expands its capabilities massively. Thunderbolt is now part of the spec and it offers transfer speeds up to 40Gbps.
OWC’s new Express 1M2 USB4 SSD takes advantage of all this bandwidth with up to 3,151MB/sec transfer speeds. Yes, a whole three gigabytes per second. If you need fast backup (or a fast portable editing drive), it’s worth a look.
OWC Express 1M2 USB4 SSD – 3,150MB/sec
The OWC Express 1M2 USB4 SSD presents the latest and greatest in USB technology. But it’s also backwards compatible with USB 3.2 up to 10Gbps, as well as Thunderbolt 3 and 4, also up to 10Gbps. Now, 10Gbps still gives you a little over a gigabyte per second in real transfer speeds. So, it’s not to be sniffed at. However, it will obviously perform at its best when used with a USB4 host computer.
USB4 might still be relatively new, but it’s expanding rapidly. Many new computers today are shipping with USB4 ports. Admittedly, it’s more so the higher-end computers, but I expect high-end is where most photographers’ and filmmakers’ computers will live. So, it’s not an unreasonable expectation.
Inside the OWC Express 1M2 case lives OWC’s high-performance Aura NVMe SSDs. But you’re also able to buy the empty enclosure and add an SSD of your own. It accepts 2230, 2242 or 2280 form factor NVMe M.2 SSDs.
No matter how fast the SSD inside it, however, you’re still limited to the USB4 cap of 40Gbps. Or a little over 3GB/sec.
Portable, rugged and fast storage on location
SSDs have massively taken over hard drives as the medium of choice for portable storage and backup. They’re a lot more durable than hard drives, which is their main biggest selling point over mechanical hard drives. Hard drives are delicate and can easily become permanently damaged if dropped.
SSDs don’t damage so easily, as they have no moving parts. They’re also a heck of a lot quicker than hard drives, offering up to 10x the speed of a typical USB mechanical hard drive. But are they still fast enough?
USB 3.2 and Thunderbolt 3 SSDs max out at around 1GB/sec transfer speeds within the 10Gbps limit of the spec. With CFexpress 4.0 cards now breaking these speeds, these SSDs will soon no longer be able to keep up as cameras push higher bitrates.
Your current USB 3.2 SSDs may be fine if you just want a backup, but if you want to be able to play and edit from SSD in real-time, you might struggle. This is where USB4 steps in. On today’s USB 3.2 equipment, the OWC Express 1M2 behave just as any other USB 3.2 drive would. But as soon as you step up to a USB4 socket, you’re flying at full speed – up to 4x faster than USB 3.2.
A sign of things to come
3,151MB/sec sure sounds very fast, and by today’s typical standards, it is. But we can definitely expect to see a lot more USB4 drives coming from more manufacturers over the next few short years. We’ll hopefully also continue to see SSD prices dropping and an increase in capacity over today’s mainstream 4TB limit.
After all, OWC’s new Express 1M2 comes in an 8TB flavour. So, perhaps this is the start of another new trend!
Price and Availability
The OWC Express 1M2 is available to buy as an empty enclosure for $119.99. It’s also available to buy in 1TB, 2TB, 4TB and 8TB capacities for $219.99, $299.99, $529.99 and $1,299.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.