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OWC ThunderBay IV 8TB Thunderbolt External Storage Drive Review

OWC ThunderBay IV 8TB Thunderbolt External Storage Drive Review

Today Tyler takes a look at the latest Thunderbolt solution from OWC, the ThunderBay IV, which provides a stunning 8TB of fast external storage.

@TylerBernath
Tyler Bernath
Published Fri, Apr 4 2014 9:06 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: OWC

Introduction & Pricing, Availability and Specifications

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For anyone that has owned an Apple computer, it's rather safe to say you have heard of OWC, and chances are, you have most likely purchased your Mac memory or SSD upgrade from them.

Today, we won't be looking at memory or solid state drives but rather an external storage solution from OWC called the ThunderBay IV. The ThunderBay IV, as you can imagine, is a Thunderbolt storage solution featuring a four bay design. Capacity options range from 4TB to 16TB with an additional diskless option.

Being a multiple bay storage solution, through Disk Utility in OS X, you can setup this storage solution in striped, mirrored, or concatenated modes with the additional JBOD mode as well.

Pricing, Availability and Specifications

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MSRP of the 8TB ThunderBay IV is set at $869.99 with a three-year warranty. Availability has the unit ready to ship and is directly available from OWC.

PRICING: You can find the OWC ThunderBay IV (8TB) for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The OWC ThunderBay IV (8TB) retails for $869.99 at Amazon.

OWC ThunderBay IV

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The packaging for the ThunderBay IV carries a simple exterior. We have an image of the enclosure on the front with bits and pieces of branding on the box.

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Scope of delivery included a Thunderbolt cable, power adapter, keys for locking the front of the chassis, and reading materials.

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With our sample that was sent over for review, OWC included four of their AdaptaDrive sleds. These will allow us to test the enclosure with our Seagate 600 Pro SSDs in addition to the included 3.5-inch hard drives.

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Here you can see all of the drives we are using for testing. We have four Seagate 600 Pro 200GB SSDs and four 2TB Toshiba hard drives.

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In our first look at the unit, you can see the ThunderBay IV carries an aluminum design. The front of the chassis locks and tucks away your drives behind.

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The back of the enclosure houses both Thunderbolt ports; next to those, we have the power switch and connection. To the top of the enclosure, we have a large 120mm fan.

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Here we have the front of the enclosure with the bay cover removed. The ThunderBay IV utilizes a thumbscrew design to latch the drives in place, and each drive sled is lettered accordingly.

Test System Setup

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In testing the performance of Thunderbolt storage solutions, we utilize the Apple MacBook Pro Retina Late 2013 model, which as of this article is running OS X 10.9.1. Full system specifications are available above. To create RAID volumes in OS X, I use SoftRAID 4.5.3 with 64k stripe size for RAID 0 volumes. All results pertaining to SSD performance are run with three Seagate 600 Pro 200GB Enterprise SSDs.

Black Magic Design Disk Speed Test

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Disk Speed Test is an easy-to-use tool to quickly measure and certify your disk performance for working with high quality video. Simply click the start button, and Disk Speed Test will write test your disk using large blocks of data, and then display the result. Disk Speed Test will continue to test writes and reads from your disk so you can evaluate both performance and readability over time.

AJA System Test

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Check the performance of any drive on your system to ensure it is tuned for the performance you need.

Benchmarks - Black Magic Design Disk Speed Test

Black Magic Design Disk Speed Test

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In our first test, we take a look at the mirrored performance with our Seagate 600 Pro SSDs. Above, you can see we were able to reach 736 MB/s read and 714 MB/s write.

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Moving on, we swap over to the included 2TB Toshiba drives in a mirrored array. Here we were able to reach 242MB/s read and 178 MB/s write.

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Switching RAID mode to Striping with 64k block size, we ran our Seagate 600 Pro SSDs through testing once again. Here we were able to get slightly better performance with read coming in at 808 MB/s and write at 775 MB/s.

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With the Toshiba drives in the same configuration, striped with 64k block size, we were able to touch 555 MB/s read and 215 MB/s write.

Benchmarks - AJA System Test

AJA System Test

All testing with AJA System Test is done with a 16GB file size over 500 frames.

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In our first test, we see the tight grouping between HDD RAID 0 and both SSD arrays near the top of the chart.

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Moving to 720p write, we find the drives separating a bit more with both striped arrays staying at the top, while the mirrored arrays come in around 200 MB/s.

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1080p had the grouping similar to what we saw with 720p read testing. Here we have the RAID 0 HDD array and both SSD arrays near 800 MB/s.

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Over on write testing, we have both striped arrays at the top again near 800 MB/s.

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4k read managed to stretch things out quite a bit, and this is where we see the performance advantage of the solid state arrays. Here we have the hard drive striped array top out at 800 MB/s and the SSD striped array near 900 MB/s.

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Write speeds at 4k have both the striped arrays at the top with the hard drive array sitting around 800 MB/s and the SSD striped array at 900 MB/s.

Final Thoughts

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The ThunderBay IV is quite the storage solution, especially if you're one that craves capacity. With four bays and configurations in 4TB to 16TB capacities, this should give any prosumer the amount of storage they need with ample performance to get the job done. Build quality of the ThunderBay IV was quite exceptional; it's not every day that you get a full on aluminum enclosure with tool less drive sleds and a hefty cooling fan in one unit.

Performance of the ThunderBay IV was great; we were able to saturate the Thunderbolt connection with the hard drives in a striped array. Again, not every drive set will be able to do this, but OWC took the extra step to use Toshiba drives, which are traditionally some of the quickest available. With solid state drives, we were able to peak the unit at 900 MB/s in our 4k testing. Additionally, using SSDs over traditional hard drives should allow for lower latency in switching between workloads.

If you are one that tends to work from your storage solution, the ThunderBay IV with the 8TB hard drive configuration in a striped array may be the best price-to-performance solution for you. On the flip side, if you're working with 4k video, you may want to run a hybrid setup with solid state drives and hard drives, which is something that can be done within the ThunderBay IV as well.

The OWC ThunderBay IV in the 8TB configuration carries a MSRP of $869.99 with a three year warranty. Current market pricing for the unit can be found below.

PRICING: You can find the OWC ThunderBay IV (8TB) for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The OWC ThunderBay IV (8TB) retails for $869.99 at Amazon.

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Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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