OWC Express 4M2 NVMe Thunderbolt 3 Review

The OWC Express 4M2 shocks us with incredible Thunderbolt 3 performance. Come and take a look.

Published Wed, May 13 2020 9:40 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:57 PM CST
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: OWC (OWCTB3EX4M2SL)

OWC is one of the largest suppliers of Thunderbolt 3 solutions in the world. Making everything from multiple bay enclosures in their ThunderBay lineup to high-performance solutions like the ThunderBlade V4. Another part of their business lies in storage enclosures that cater to DIYers that want a little more control of the drives used in their high-performance solutions; the Express 4M2 caters to this.

The 4M2 is a rather small form factor solution that offers Thunderbolt 3 connectivity to reach out and connect with 4x NVMe m.2 SSDs. Each of the four "bays" supports 2280 form factor drives, while the internal electronics give each a 1x PCIe 3.0 lane to work with to match up with the x4 that Thunderbolt 3 operates with.

Additional features include an integrated DisplayPort connection allowing for full 4K monitor support. Compatibility includes certification for Mac and Windows platforms with SoftRAID support available for RAID 0 and 1.

The MSRP of the Express 4M2 comes in at $294.99 with a one-year warranty.

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Packaging has that OWC flair blue on white colorway. We have an image of the enclosure on the front.

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The side goes into more detail with dimensions of the drive along with box contents.

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Unboxing, we have a power adapter and Thunderbolt 3 cable included.

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The enclosure is an all-metal box, mesh front panel.

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The backside offers I/O connectivity, including two Thunderbolt 3 and one DP port.

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Inside, we have a large cooling fan to pull heat off the NVMe drives.

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Removing the fan, we get a look at the slots available, all secured with screws for 2280 drives.

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For this review, OWC has blessed us with four Aura P12 NVMe drives to test with.

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SoftRAID is still in beta for Windows, but we were able to get our hands-on an evaluation copy for testing. As you can see, the interface is quite familiar coming over from MacOS with all drives listed to the left and arrays to the right.

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Setting up a volume, we have the option of RAID 0 and 1 for the Express 4M2.

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You can then choose additional options such as file system, stripe size, and any optimizations.

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Performance starts with 2883 MB/s read and 2976 MB/s write in RAID 0.

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RAID 1, we see similar performance for read operations at 2882 MB/s read, while write falls off a cliff at 725 MB/s.

Starting with performance on this solution, the Express 4M2 might just be the quickest Thunderbolt 3 enclosure I have had in the lab. I can't recall the last time I've seen over 2900 MB/s, and we nearly passed up 3000 MB/s in write testing on this unit. Switching to build quality, I will say this is about as solid as they come. An all-metal slide through design, and plenty of cooling for the drives with the attached fan.

With the addition of SoftRAID, setting up arrays on Windows has never been easier. Add to this the ability to customize your array to fit your workload, and the software is a must-have part of the hardware.

Pricing is rough for the Express 4M2. At $294.99, this four-slot enclosure will set you back a bit, but you can more than make up for it by choosing the correct drives for your build.

Tyler's Test System Specifications

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The Bottom Line

For consumers that love the DIY ability, the OWC Express 4M2 is easily one of the best we have ever had the pleasure of testing.

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OWC Express 4M2 NVMe Thunderbolt 3

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* Prices last scanned on 11/25/2020 at 11:32 am CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

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.

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