Reviews |OWC Envoy Pro FX

OWC Envoy Pro FX Review

OWC Envoy Pro FX review
Review

Price when reviewed

£274

$319

Our Verdict

Shoot video? HD, 4Kor even 8K, it matters not; the fact is that video consumes vast amounts of resources and processing power.

The OWC Envoy Pro Thunderbolt 3 external hard drive aims to help accelerate your editing prowess by offering blisteringly fast transfer speeds that compete with high-end internal drives.

In our test, the tough all-metal design of the Envoy Pro FX meant that it was an ideal choice for backing up and editing in the field. Transfer speeds were close to the internal hard drive enabling smooth and fluid editing. The Envoy Pro FX also had the surprising effect of keeping my laptop cool. This effect was due to the storage being removed from the inner workings of the machine.

The drive might seem expensive compared with a standard SSD, but the performance benefits will pay for themselves in less time than you would expect.

For

  • Ultrafast
  • Reasonable price for the speed
  • Tough all-metal design

Against

  • Picky about USB 3.1 cables

What is the OWC Envoy Pro FX?

I have a problem with storage, not because it seems to run out of space as quickly as I amass it, but working drives aren’t portable.

I’ve tried to lug the RAID Nvme with me, but there’s often no power to plugin. In the end, I resort to a standard external SSD, and while they’re good, the transfer speed often means there’s some lag when editing.

OWC Envoy Pro FX review

OK, I could switch to the ultrafast internal storage, but I’m using a MacBook Pro, and when editing, the machine heats to a speed that fires the fans into overdrive.

The OWC Envoy Pro FX is the solution, offering a versatile, solid solution for working storage.

The OWC Envoy Pro FX drive is built for speed with Thunderbolt 3 and Nvme technology, leaving other external hard drives looking decidedly slow.

Specification

  • Capacity: 240GB, 480GB, 1TB and 2TB
  • Connection: Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.2 Gen 2
  • Power: BUS-powered
  • External Power: No
  • Housing Material: Aluminium
  • Dimensions: 20x110x65mm
  • Weight: 235g

Build and Handling

External hard drives have come along way in a short time. Firstly, the speeds have rapidly increased, but that’s almost a side point to the increased reliability of the latest NVMe drives.

Optical external hard drives we’re renowned for failing, even the tough ones, and no wonder with all the complex mechanisms inside.

OWC Envoy Pro FX review

Then came SSD, and this form on solid-state memory revolutionised the external and portable storage format. Finally, a storage format could survive a knock or two and was built for use beyond the home or studio.

Now, as standard SSDs make way for the even more secure and reliable Nvme SSDs, we finally have a meeting of speed and robustness that gives access to the performance of powered drives but out in the field.

The latest OWC Envoy Pro FX blends the latest technology with one of the most robust hard drive cases I’ve seen.

The drive itself is compact and lined up against a LACIE and ICY BOX, both of a similar size; the OWC feels weighty and built for action.

There’s a good reason for this design, the Envoy Pro FX case has been designed with two main aims. Firstly the case provides solid and robust protection for the drive, it doesn’t just feel solid, but the case offers military-level MIL-STD810G protection.

Secondly, the aluminium case provides excellent heat dissipation, a major advantage for anyone editing video. One of the biggest slowdowns for any editor is the heat of your working components. This drive not only keeps itself cool underload but also keeps that working heat away from your machine.

Everything about the drive design is solid; it feels robust, reliable, and ideal for a very real problem.

Performance

Read the specs and the preamble to this performance section, and you’ll know that I’m more than a little taken with this metal jacketed external hard drive.

It looks great and backs up the looks with the Thunderbolt 3 interface and ultrafast NVMe drive inside. Checking the specs, and all measures up, 2800MB/s transfer speeds mean that in this test I should see some serious performance.

OWC Envoy Pro FX review

Sometimes a piece of kit arrives at just the right time, and with a couple of corporate gigs to shoot, the Envoy Pro FX’s packaging was stripped, and the drive put it straight into use.

Starting on the shoot and files were download directly to the drive from the Lexar LRW-500U-A10U memory card reader.

Download speeds are impressively fast, taking 132 seconds to download 26GB of data from a SanDisk 64GB USB-II SD card, which equates to 197MB/s. Compare this with the same download to the laptops NVMe hard drive, which took 128 seconds, 203MB/s.

I know what you’re thinking; that’s fast, but not that fast. We’ll this is over USB 3.1 from an SD card that is almost supplying data at 200MB/s.

To get a real insight into the speed, copying that same 26GB folder from the desktop to the Envoy Pro FX takes a full 15 seconds; that’s 1,733MB/s and fast, but still doesn’t show the whole picture.

To see just how fast this drive is, I ran it through the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test with the following results.

Read: 2,661MB/s
Write: 2,077MB/s

Final thoughts

It has to be said that buying an external hard drive is essential if your a jobbing photographer or videographer. The need to backup your image data, video or stills, makes sense, and while there are plenty of options out there, you want something fast and robust.

The OWC provides on both accounts, and during our test, there was little to report with performance or robustness issues. To test robustness I dropped this hard drive onto a hard wooden floor was from a height of 1m, and afterwards, everything worked just fine.

Possible long term damage aside (If the drive suddenly dies in the near future I’ll let you know) this drive stood up to everything I demanded. Even being stepped on for good measure.

The only point of weakness that I could see would be the Thunderbolt 3 connector. As long as you keep it detached when not in use, it’s going to be as strong and robust as any other.

OWC Envoy Pro FX review

The only other small quirk was with a couple of longer USB Type-C cables, which didn’t provide the necessary power to the bus to connect properly to the machine for reasons unknown. These USB Type_C cables were all 50cm in length, so maybe just a little too long for the high-speed data connection, which is no a real surprise.

Ultimately the OWC Envoy Pro FX is the best external hard drive of its type, it’s fast, robust and another kit bag essential.

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