The Envoy Pro FX from OWC is advertised as everything you want in a portable SSD: flexible plug & play compatible, rugged and extremely fast. Does it live up to the billing? OWC sent me one to try out.
Before getting into the technical details of this drive, I should mention OWC. If you only shop in big box stores, you may not recognize the brand, but OWC (Other World Computing) is an American company that has been selling components, upgrades, peripherals and accessories for the Apple crowd for the past 30 years. You can find its full — and very extensive — catalog online. Sharp-eyed readers may recognize the OWC logo from some of my previous posts, including my M1 MacBook Pro review, and a how-to for replacing a MacBook Air’s SSD.
Envoy Pro FX Unboxing and Impressions
A few years ago, the Envoy Pro FX would have seemed tiny. Today, it’s still a small and very portable drive, but it dwarfs some of the ultra-portable options out there. It’s also heavy. But all this is by design. There’s no plastic here, the enclosure is a chunk of aluminum. It’s prominently ridged down the sides — not for looks but because the extra surface area turns the entire case into a heatsink. This lets the drive operate at full speed for extend periods without overheating.
That case also makes the Envoy Pro FX extremely rugged. It passes MIL-STD810G certified military standards for drop testing, and carries an IP67 rating. What does all this mean? This is a portable drive that can take being used in extreme conditions, including being dropped from four feet, or submerged in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes.
The aluminum housing also conceals a blistering fast OWC Aura P12 Pro NVMe M.2 SSD.
The drive is minimalist in appearance. The OWC logo is on top, there’s a blue LED indicator light on the front, the rear is equipped with a USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) port, and the bottom surface is adorned with rubber strips to keep the drive from sliding around. OWC includes a 28-inch Thunderbolt 3 cable with integrated USB Type-A adapter in the box, so you can plug into virtually anything.
OWC Envoy Pro FX Key Specs:
- OWC Aura P12 Pro NVMe M.2 SSD (240GB, 480GB, 1.0TB or 2.0TB capacity)
- USB-C port (USB 3.2 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 3)
- Bus-powered, fanless operation
- Maximum data transfer rate Thunderbolt 3: up to 2711MB/s
- Aluminum enclosure measures 4.3 x 2.6 x 0.8-inches
- MIL-STD810G certified, IP67
- 28-inch Thunderbolt 3 cable with USB Type-A adapter included
- Plug and play operation
- Backed by 3-year limited warranty
- MSRP $199 to $499
Note: See OWC product page for full list of OS and system compatibilities.
Real Life Performance
When the drive is plugged into a computer, you are immediately prompted to configure it. After after formatting as ExFAT, I tried out the Envoy Pro FX with several systems, including a 2017 MacBook Air running macOS Mojave (using the USB adapter), a Google PixelBook Go, and an M1 MacBook Pro running macOS Big Sur. I didn’t have a Windows machine handy during the evaluation, but there’s nothing in this configuration that should cause issues there.
As advertised, there was no problem accessing the drive on any of these systems. I subsequently formatted it as APFS for use macOS. Copying files back and forth on my M1 MacBook Pro — which is equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 compatible USB-C port — I saw speeds very close to the advertised maximum. All sorts of variables can impact the speed of data transfers, including the OS and the number of files involved.
As an example of what to expect in a typical use situation, copying a 32GB folder consisting of 260 files from the MBP running macOS Big Sur to the Envoy Pro XS took all of 16 seconds. That works out to about 2000 MB/s. That’s not quite as fast as the 2711 MB/s maximum, but there were a lot of files instead of one big file, which can slow the operation. I’ve left it hanging off the MacBook Air (using that integrated USB Type-A adapter) as the library host drive for an iTunes media server, and it’s been solid. A rugged, ultra-fast portable drive like this would be overkill for that sort of application, but it has shown it can stand up to hours of sustained use.
I haven’t dropped it repeatedly from four feet, but the drive did survive being pushed off my workbench (about three feet high) onto a hardwood floor by a curious cat.
If you need fast, rugged, high capacity portable storage, the OWC Envoy Pro FX Portable SSD should be on your radar. It’s not a cheap drive, but it’s wicked fast and built to last.
Disclosure: OWC provided an Envoy Pro FX Portable SSD for evaluation but had no input into this review.