OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 and Plugable TBT3-NVME2TB Portable SSDs Reviewby Ganesh T S on November 12, 2019 9:00 AM EST
Various synthetic benchmarks are available to quickly evaluate the performance of direct-attached storage devices. Real-world performance testing often has to be a customized test. We present both varieties in this review, starting with the synthetic benchmarks in this section. All benchmarks were processed with the drive formatted in NTFS, even though the Plugable TBT3-NVME2TB comes pre-formatted in exFAT. Prior to covering the performance benchmarks, a quick note on our testbed - The Thunderbolt 3 host used for performance measurement across all considered devices today is enabled by the Alpine Ridge controller in the Hades Canyon NUC. The list of DAS units used for comparison purposes is provided below:
- Plugable TBT3-NVME2TB 2TB
- OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 2TB
- DIY TEKQ Rapide - WD Black SN750 TB3 SSD 1TB (Win 10 1809)
ATTO and Crystal DiskMark
OWC claims reads of up to 2500 MBps, while Plugable claims read and write speeds of 2400 MBps+ and 1800 MBps+. The write speed is with write caching enabled in Windows, which we did not opt to test with. The read speed claims are backed up by the ATTO benchmarks provided below. Unfortunately, these access traces are not very common in real-life scenarios. That said, it is interesting to see that the WD Black in the TEKQ Rapide is able to sustain 2000 MBps+ on the writes despite the default disabling of write caching in the OS.
|Drive Performance Benchmarks - ATTO|
CrystalDiskMark, despite being a canned benchmark, provides a better estimate of the performance range with a selected set of numbers. As evident from the screenshot below, the performance can dip to as low as 6 - 10 MBps for high queue-depth 4K writes. Thankfully, those are not typical use-cases for external SSDs.
|Drive Performance Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark|
For relatively small writes and reads (within the SLC cache size, such as the 8GB access span for the CrystalDiskMark workloads above), the DIY SSD with the WD Black SN750 easily emerges as the top performer. Between the Plugable and the OWC drives, we see reads performing very similarly. The writes show a slight edge for the Plugable drive, probably due to the additional firmware tuning.