OWC miniStack STX review

OWC’s miniStack has been a Mac Mini companion device for a long time. The STX is the newest version, featuring storage and Thunderbolt expansion. OWC says it’s the world’s first Thunderbolt certified Thunderbolt 4 storage solution.

The miniStack STX has the same form factor as the earlier miniStack models and as a Mac Mini, but comes in black and has a universal SATA HDD/SSD and an NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD slot. Both can be filled and used, so you can expand your Mac Mini’s storage capacity to a level that previously was useful only if you owned a Mac Pro. As the M1 Mac Mini is about as powerful as the Intel Mac Pro, the miniStack STX is bound to find a good number of buyers who previously couldn’t afford a Mac Pro but who do need power and much storage space.

Storage, however, isn’t the only thing the miniStack can have plenty of. It has three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C type ports to hook up USB drives, displays, A/V mixers, cameras, and tablets, turning the STX in a capable Thunderbolt station. The XTS supports charging 60W notebooks via Thunderbolt or USB-C.

The miniStack STX comes with a power brick and the obligatory 80cm Thunderbolt 4 cable. The top is of glossy black plastic, the sides of black aluminium. The front is home to two tiny LEDs, one that lights up when the SSD NVMe is in use, the other when the hardware drive — if you install one or buy the HDD or combo version — is used. Dead centre you’ll find the bright blue lit OWC logo LED.

The back is home to the power port, a Kensington lock slot and four Thunderbolt 4 ports of which one is designated as the one to connect to your Mac. There aren’t USB-A ports on the miniStack STX. While the design allows you to place the miniStack underneath the Mac Mini, you can also use the STX with other Macs and OWC even sells a stand to put the thing safely on its side.

When I hooked up the STX to my iMac, it was clear this isn’t as whisper quiet as OWC’s recent storage units. The noise from the fan is definitely audible in a quiet office, although it isn’t loud or high-pitched which, for most people, will be good enough.

I received the 2TB SSD version to try it out and the performance of the NVMe SSD inside the STX is good but by no means comparable with OWC’s fastest NVMe. Still, a write speed of about 680MB/sec and read speed of over 750MB/sec is fast enough for anything from photo editing to small 4K video projects.

The miniStack STX is also Apple Time Machine and Windows File History ready, and can be used with Thunderbolt or USB equipped Macs, PCs, iPads, Chromebook, and Android tablets.

The miniStack STX I had the pleasure of testing retails at $599.