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OWC miniStack 2TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 External Storage Review

OWC miniStack 2TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 External Storage Review

OWC outs the miniStack, a space saving backup solution for Mac Mini users. Here's our full review of the storage device.

By Tyler Bernath from Jan 5, 2017 @ 11:11 CST
TweakTown Rating: 81%Manufacturer: OWC
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As many of you know from past reviews, OWC specializes as a storefront for Apple hardware upgrades along with designing and building some of their own solutions.

The miniStack is an external storage solution that carries its external design notes from the Mac Mini and with that is built to be stackable with the 2010 and later Mac Mini sharing the same footprint. This device comes in two formats, one being a diskless solution allowing you to add your own drive, and the solution we have in house today, the 2TB HDD.

Connectivity is made available via its rear USB 3.1 Gen 1 connection in the Type-B flavor which leads us to marketing performance which OWC says we are looking at speeds up to 208 MB/s with the included drive. Compatibility includes both Windows 7+ and OS X 10.6.8+.

The MSRP of the OWC miniStack in the 2TB flavor comes in at $169.99 with a three-year warranty. You can also purchase the diskless version for $77.99 with a one-year warranty.

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Packaging is quite like what we have seen in the past with OWC products. The bottom left gives just a few marketing details including performance and connectivity, while to the top right, it has the capacity with an image of the device centered.

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The spine of the packaging gives the full specifications list including supported operating systems, connectivity, and dimensions.

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The scope of delivery includes the power adapter and USB 3.0 cable.

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Right off the bat, you can certainly see how well this solution would pair with a Mac Mini. The top is a gloss piano black with a simple OWC logo.

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The bulk of the enclosure is surrounded by an aluminum shell. The front right corner houses a small activity LED.

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The rear I/O is rather simple with power to the far left next to the Type-B connection. To the far right is a cooling channel powered by a near silent maglev fan.

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Once you plug in the hard drive, you will find the included software in finder. Opening the drive guide, we can set up the miniStack.

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The setup allows you to configure the drive however you would like. Easy installation will create a single partition with HFS formatting. We ran through the easy setup for testing.

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To start testing, we use Disk Speed Test from Black Magic. In this test, the miniStack brought in 188 MB/s read and 184 MB/s write.

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Next up was AJA Systems test. Starting with ProRes 4444 at 1080p, we saw 128 FPS read and 126 FPS write.

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Switching over to Ultra HD with the same ProRes4444 testing, the miniStack was able to reach 31 FPS read and 32 FPS write.

There we have it; the miniStack went through some mild testing with our MacBook Pro, and we did get a good idea of its performance. On the design, build, and durability, there will certainly be drop issues as the drive is mechanical but the enclosure while being aluminum isn't really meant to be an on the go solution. This will most likely be a solution that Mac Mini users stack and use for Time Machine backups. With that, the build quality is quite good and will fit right in with Apple products.

The performance was decent for a mechanical drive solution. Peak sequential performance reached near 188 MB/s, but then again, it's not really near the 208 MB/s advertised. AJA System test showed solid performance for those wanting to work with 1080p video with the miniStack reaching 128 FPS peak.

Overall, the miniStack is going to be a niche product, but for those that use the Mac Mini, it will be both a space saving and solid backup solution for years to come.

Tyler's Test System Specifications

Performance80%
Quality including Design and Build85%
General Features80%
Bundle and Packaging75%
Value for Money85%
Overall TweakTown Rating81%

The Bottom Line: OWC's miniStack is a good solution for anyone wanting storage that matches their Mac Mini at a price point that isn't down right terrible.

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