Review of OWC’s Envoy Express NVMe module enclosure

The OWC Envoy Express enclosure is an empty NVMe enclosure with Thunderbolt 3 port and cable. Its cable isn’t integrated as with many other such enclosures, which is one huge plus. In addition, the Envoy Express comes with a clear plastic mounting plate that you attach to any Mac’s or PC’s surface with a glue-less strip. That allows you to mount and unmount the attachment plate many times without losing any of its attachment power. It’s all quite unique and attractive.

The OWC Envoy Express is made of black aluminium and is meant to the NVMe module being mounted with a small screw by you, the user. The enclosure is about two NVMe modules wide and one module long. It opens with two small screws on the bottom. Inside is the module mount that, as I said, needs a screwdriver — which comes with the unit — to fix it in place. On the print plate is a soldered port for the already connected very short Thunderbolt 3 cable that is kept in place with a special metal female socket.

I did say “port”. The cable is not soldered to the print plate which is good news because you can replace it, which is what I immediately did; I replaced it with a generous 80cm passive Thunderbolt 3 cable of a comparable quality brand. This is one of the aspects that make the Envoy Express stand out.

The lid of the Envoy Express has a special “sticker” on the inside that sits firmly against the NVMe module you install. It is clearly meant to conduct heat from the module to the aluminium lid, keeping the SSD inside as cool as it possibly can be. Even then, the Envoy Express does not support read/write speeds in excess of 1550MB/sec, probably to avoid overheating inside the enclosure.

The Envoy Express, once closed up, can be mounted onto any more or less smooth surface thanks to the included mounting plate. That plate has a strip of clear plastic stuck to it of which the surface feels sticky but not the point that you’d think it will permanently hold to any surface. And it has been designed exactly to allow mounting/unmounting several times. Although it’s not mentioned anywhere on OWC’s site, my guess is the sticky strip is actually something called “Gecko strip”. That’s a sort of spongy tape in clear plastic that does not exploit the Van der Waals forces in the same way as glue does. In contrast, is is based on the way a gecko’s (the animal) feet stick to surfaces. On its feet, the gecko has many microscopic hairs that increase the Van der Waals forces between its feet and the surface.

I tried the plate on the aluminium strip of my iMac and found it indeed does not leave any traces when removed, as OWC claims, but also that holds pretty well, although, after a week, I could see some parts of the “glue” parts were coming loose. As a result, I don’t know if I would trust my Envoy Express to be stuck to the lid of a laptop that I take with me. The Envoy Express, though, is small enough — certainly with the short cable it comes with — not to have to be mounted anywhere.

Rounding up, the Envoy Express is a fantastic enclosure for NVMe M.2 modules even if they can’t run at their highest speed. It costs less than €100 and is available from MacSales.

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