Czech manufacturer Unibos built an external M.2 SSD (opens in new tab) enclosure that uses the Thunderbolt 3 interface, as spotted by ComputerBase. The Unibos Portable SSD X4 Storage Box (opens in new tab) (SKU BR-TB3-X4) is quite a rarity, as most external Thunderbolt 3 enclosures are notably bigger, offering space for either multiple NVMe SSDs or RAID arrays with 3.5-inch hard drives.
This makes this enclosure a bit of a unicorn, though it's a welcome addition to the market. The Thunderbolt 3 interface gives the system direct access to the four PCIe (opens in new tab)3.0 lanes that M.2 NVMe SSDs need, allowing up to 32 Gbps of transfer speed. It uses the Intel JH6340 as its internal controller.
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For comparison, the next best option that uses a USB interface is the WD Black P50 (opens in new tab), which uses a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 interface for up to 20 Gbps of bandwidth. But we've seen reports (opens in new tab)that that the portable drive doesn't play nicely with the existing USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 controllers, (but we haven't had the chance to test this ourselves). All other USB-based external SSDs have access to half that bandwidth at best, which is a shame considering that NVMe SSDs (opens in new tab)are capable of far higher speeds.
The enclosure of the Unibos Portable SSD X4 Storage Box is made from a CNC-machined block of aluminium. Cooling is handled passively.
MSRP pricing is €149, which isn't cheap, but that's the price you'll have to pay if you want one of the fastest external SSDs money can buy. Alternatively, you can wait for USB 4 (opens in new tab)to come out, which will come with Thunderbolt 3 support as standard. No word on U.S. availability.