The inevitable finally happened a couple of weeks ago. Everything has an expiration date written on it – from humans over animals to the stuff we make. That certainly goes for computers. We (should) all know that and back up our data on a regular basis – preferably daily and even more often. But sometimes a break-down will come so unexpected and hit you so fast, you’ll be gasping for air and you’ll realise you weren’t all that well prepared after all.
The T4 Thunderbolt 3 is CalDigit’s newest RAID storage solution. Except for the Thunderbolt 3 interface, the new T4 comes with a DisplayPort that allows you to connect to any monitor with a resolution of up to 4K@60Hz. It also has the ability to charge an attached laptop through the Thunderbolt 3 port with up to 85W of power.
Lately, OWC has been making devices that are blazingly fast at a price that is hard to compete with. With hard disks at its core and SoftRAID 5.6.5 as the controller – which can’t quite keep up with the fastest hardware RAID controllers out there – it’s only slightly better than an averagely performing RAID box.
OWC’s portable drive, the Envoy Pro, originally came in a USB 3 version, but with the push for ever higher throughput speeds required for 4K, HDR and 8K video shooting and streaming, the company has introduced another, new 300g lightweight Envoy Pro EX that’s been equipped with a captive Thunderbolt 3 cable. The Thunderbolt 3 Envoy Pro EX actually is a series of devices, all equipped with Thunderbolt 3, but split up in the Envoy Pro EX series and the Envoy Pro EX (VE) series, which is even faster and has bigger capacities.
All-in-one computers like the iMac – even the iMac Pro – rarely have enough ports to satisfy our needs. CalDigit’s small-footprint, cast-aluminium Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus is – what we usually call – a dock that adds a whopping 15 ports to any Thunderbolt 3 machine. The options go beyond the conventional, expanding connectivity as well as charge laptops.
The ThunderBlade V4 is designed to be rugged and dependable, but its major appeal will be its speed. It is truly blazing fast, with speeds up to 2800MB/sec read and 2450MB/sec write performance. When I first saw these specs, my first thought was that this must be the fastest external drive ever built, while my second thought was that this is the perfect drive for video producers and editors who are working with 4K/60fps and 8K footage, AR and VR content.
The newest SSD Crucial recently released has Micron's new 64-layer NAND memory and is the first high-speed SSD to leave the factory since the Lexar brand was sold. The MX500, as it’s called, is in some tests the fastest SSD currently available. It’s so fast that it suffers from the performance limitations of its form factor, which is a 2.5in SATA disk.
How efficient is a small, 2.5in mobile disk station with two disks inside? Very efficient, it turns out. Even more so if you can put those two small disks in one of four RAID modes. And if that external station also delivers on speed, you're sold — or at least, I am. It's flat, it's fanless and there are two 2.5in hard disks or SSDs inside. It's the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual Mini, which is a mouthful for a small unit that isn't much bigger than its two internal disks put next to each other. OWC Digital sent me an SSD version with 1TB of space on its SSDs in RAID 1 mode. This small-footprint OWC device offers USB 3.1 Gen 2 performance and can be bus-powered.
Here’s a puzzle: you’re shooting video or photos on location, using a CalDigit AV Pro 2. At your workstation you have a RAID system that you normally use for offloading images or video clips shot when in the studio directly. The AV Pro 2 is also used as a secondary offload drive for those studio-shot clips. That introduces a problem: how can you make sure — easily, quickly and simply — that everything on the AV Pro 2 is synchronised with the RAID? The answer can be to change your workflow, buy a new AV Pro 2 that’s going to be used only as secondary offload station, or buy a $50 licence to a software called ChronoSync.
With its new storage product range, CalDigit takes a completely different approach from its competitors. The company seems to realise more than any other supplier that Apple’s portable solutions are poor in legacy connection capabilities. Hence, the upcoming T4 RAID system and the recently released AV Pro 2 single-disk solution will charge your laptop and adds a USB 3.0 hub to get more connectivity without adding extra devices.