Other World Computing (OWC) has released the second generation of its ThunderBlade external SSD. The drive should offer strong performance, thanks to the not-quite-namesake Thunderbolt 3 ports, but it has the price tag to match.
ThunderBlade starts at $799 for a 1TB drive and goes all the way to $3,499 for an 8TB drive, with numerous models in between. Those prices alone are enough to push the drives from "enthusiast product" to "something you should only buy on the company's dime" although you may be able to find an OWC promo code to bring it down.
If you can scrounge up the cash, here's the rundown. ThunderBlade is essentially several M.2 NVMe drives in a case that’s supposed to be compact enough to travel. It comes with its own ballistic hard-shell case, too, so OWC actually expects people to move the drive around (perhaps because if you’re willing to pay for a drive like this, waiting for terabytes of information to transfer via the cloud is hardly an option). It’s compatible with Mac and Windows devices featuring Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 2, or Thunderbolt 3; the last offers the best performance.
OWC claims the second-gen ThunderBlade offers up to 2,800 MB/s read and 2,450 MB/s write transfer speeds on its own. Use two of 'em in a SoftRAID (OWN's own RAID tool) setup though, and the company claims they "can reach dizzying heights up to 3,800 MB/s.” You can also daisy chain up to six Thunderbolt 3 devices, and the ThunderBlade offers two ports to easily enable that setup.
So who is this for? The SSD is targeting creative professionals. Media creation is probably the most obvious example. People making a movie, dealing with complex 3D models, etc. want to be able to access huge files on a moment’s notice. High-capacity, high-speed SSDs fit the bill. For everyone else? Yes, we’re living in the age of the SSD, but the typical consumer doesn't need drives like these.
But those who really need this combination of capacity and performance can get the second-gen ThunderBlade now via the OWC website (opens in new tab).
For those who want DIY. OWC offers the OWC Express 4M2. Allowing up to four M.2 SSD.