OWC Envoy Pro EX USB-C review: A fast, vast, and tough external SSD

The Envoy Pro EX USB-C is one of those products that actually lives up to the “Pro” in its moniker. Available in up to 4TB, it has twice the capacity of the current competition, and also just happens to be a hair faster. The pièce de résistance is IP67 (Ingress Protection) certification, meaning the drive can survive 30 minutes under 3.3 feet of water. That’s sweet, though we don’t recommend you put that to the test.

USB-C

USB Type-C, or USB-C (same thing, new name), is a physical connector employed by both Thunderbolt 3 and USB. It’s not indicative of the protocol being used, which in this case is SuperSpeed USB 10gbps (nee USB 3.x Gen 2). The Thunderbolt 3 Envoy Pro EX uses a USB-C connector, if you get my drift. 

envoy pro ex usbc rear OWC

This is the Type-C port on one end of the Envoy Pro EX.

You’ll likely understand what OWC means by USB-C, but Thunderbolt 3 compatibility is mentioned. In this case, that means you can connect the Envoy EX USB-C to a Type-C port (what it should be called) with the lightning icon, but it will use the USB protocol, not Thunderbolt.

Note that there’s a third Envoy Pro EX USB 3 model with an older Micro-B SuperSpeed connector that is SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps (USB 3.x Gen 1). If you want the info on the latest attempt to straighten out the rat’s nest of a naming convention that is USB straight from the horse’s mouth, click here. Back to the review.

Design and features

The secret to the Envoy Pro EX USB-C’s large capacity is that it houses one of the first 4TB M.2 NVMe SSDs to hit the market—the Aura P12. It’s also available from OWC as a bare SSD for internal use.

At $1100, the 4TB Envoy Pro EX USB-C is hardly cheap, but considering its bleeding edge capacity, and that the bare Aura P12 is over $1000, that’s really not bad. If you need it, you need it. On the other hand, there are less expensive options at $119 (240GB), $170 (480GB), $249 (1TB), and $479 (2TB). You can also purchase the enclosure unpopulated (no drive) for $60, if you want to roll your own.

The roll-your-own option might save you a few bucks if you opt for a bargain basement drive, but OWC isn’t charging all the much more per gigabyte, and the Aura P12 seems to be a nice solid performer that, again, is really not that expensive. That said, 1GBps is about all you’ll ever see from any SuperSpeed 10Gbps device in the real world, so just about any NVMe SSD is workable with small data sets. 

envoy pro ex usbc front OWC

Apple-style minimalism dictates that only an activity light disrupt the smooth countenance of the Envoy Pro EX.

The Envoy Pro EX USB-C is a good-looking, light silver drive that matches the aesthetics of most Macs. It’s 2.6-inches wide, 4.5-inches long, and 0.4-inches thick with a Type-C port on one end, and an activity light on the other. As I mentioned, it’s IP67 certified, meaning it’s sealed against both dust and water. If you want to know more about IP (Ingress Protection) ratings, check out this TehcHive article. The only other IP67-rated external SSD we are aware of is Adata’s SE800.