Tiny OWC Envoy Pro Elektron USB-C 3.2 drive with huge performance

Noticed how I took over the product description from the box in the title? Why I did that? Because it’s downright ridiculous to call the Elektron a portable drive. It’s a thumb drive, a put it in your shirt pocket drive, bit it’s not “portable”. Please reserve the term “portable” for things that you can lug with you in a briefcase, breaking your back in the process, but not for the tiny OWC Envoy Pro Elektron, the solid aluminium packaged OWC Aura advanced NVMe based drive that comes in 240GB, 480GB, 1TB and 2TB formats.

Cute is what first came up in my mind when I saw the drive. Cute and well designed, it looks like a gold ingot, but instead of gold, OWC used aluminium for the enclosure. It’s even cuter than the CalDigit Tuff Nano but about as small, which is probably because you expect a solid metal block to look like, well, a real ingot.

I got the pleasure of receiving a test unit of 480GB and connected it to my iMac with the included USB-C cable. The performance was lacklustre, but, as I’m used to dealing with the perplexing reality of a mid-2017 iMac’s performance, I decided to exchange the USB-C cable for a passive Thunderbolt 3 cable and the USB-C 10Gb port on the CalDigit TS3+ dock for the Thunderbolt port on the iMac. The performance jumped to an impressive 940MB/sec.

A test with Blackmagic Design Speed Test or AJA’s test app usually is very limited in time if you let it run only once. It’s when you use AJA’s “run continuously” feature the drive really shows its pedigree. The OWC Envoy Pro Elektron did well, but after 2 minutes of warming up inside its alu casing it did start to show some frame drops and then some more. Within that time, frame, though, the drive never throttled down or lost so many frames it would become troublesome (though it would if you’re relying on it to offload movies, for example).

When I stopped running the test, the drive was as warm as my hand.

It faired much better than my Tuff Nano test unit, though. That one showed dropped frames from the second I started the test when it reached its 800MB/sec top speed and it became worse with every second that went by. Almost two-thirds the time it took for the Elektron to become more erratic in its performance, the Tuff Nano finally caved in and its temperature throttle mechanism kicked in to protect the components inside from overheating.

The conclusion is clear: the OWC Envoy Pro Elektron is far better at heat dissipation and, as a result, is much faster to begin with. Better yet, it is much better at sustaining its highest throughput rate under high stress.

The OWC Envoy Pro Elektron 1TB costs 167 EUR ex VAT. The 480GB version retails at 125 EUR ex VAT.