During CES 2020, OWC just announced two new Thunderbolt 3 storage solutions targeted at creative professionals: the ThunderBay 8 and ThunderBay FLEX 8. These eight drive enclosures are capable of reaching transfer speeds up to 2750MB/s. You can load them with up to 128TB of storage, and thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 technology, it is possible to daisy chain six of them together to expand your storage capacity. Let’s take a closer look at these!
OWC ThunderBay 8 Features
The ThunderBay 8 is OWC’s latest addition to their already-existing ThunderBay line of Thunderbolt 3 external hard drives. It features eight hot-swappable drive bays that can take 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch HDDs and/or SSDs. In total, if you max it out with 14TB drives, you can reach a maximum total capacity of 112TB. If this is not enough for you, don’t worry: you can daisy-chain up to six units together and reach an incredible total capacity of 672TB.
Several drive configurations are available; you can use each drive independently or match all drives and create any flavor of RAID you want with the included SoftRAID software. According to OWC, you can reach speeds up to 2586MB/s, if you use SSDs drives in a RAID 0 configuration of course.
At the back of the unit, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which are OWC ClingOn-Ready: a cable stabilizer to prevent unwanted cable disconnection. Also, there is a DisplayPort 1.2 port for connecting up to 4K monitors. It comes with a 5-Year OWC Limited Warranty with 1-Year Level 1 data recovery.
OWC ThunderBay FLEX 8 Features
The ThunderBay FLEX 8 is what OWC qualifies as the “industry-first 3-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 storage, docking, and PCIe expansion solution.” This enclosure offers you eight drive bays. In the top four bays, you can install your choice of U.2 NVMe SSDs, 2.5-inch SATA 6Gb/s SSDs, or 3.5-inch SATA 6Gb/s HDDs. In the four bottom bays, you can install 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA 6Gb/s drives. If you fully-load it, you can reach a total storage capacity of up to 128TB.
The idea behind the ThunderBay FLEX 8 is that it is not merely an external hard drive, but more of a hybrid with docking capabilities. Indeed, at the back of the unit, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a DisplayPort 1.4 port that can support two 4K displays or one 8K display. At the front of the ThunderBay FLEX 8, there are two USB-A ports, a USB Type-C port, and an SD 4.0 plus CF-Express card readers.
Finally, there is one PCIe (x16) slot that can take a half-length, full-height, single-width card. That way, you can add audio and video capture cards, an SSD storage card, or an I/O card without the need to purchase another adapter box. The ThunderBay FLEX 8 houses a 500W power supply so that it can handle every drive and expansion card with enough juice.
Pricing and Availability
The OWC ThunderBay 8 and ThunderBay FLEX 8 will be available in Q1 this year. You can purchase the ThunderBay 8 as an enclosure only (with no drives) for $1228.99, or in capacities from 16TB to 112TB. The ThunderBay FLEX 8 is also available as an enclosure and from 16TB to 128TB solutions. There is no word on the pricing of the ThunderBay FLEX 8 yet.
What do you think of these new Thunderbolt 3 storage solutions from OWC? Are eight drives enough for your storage needs? Let us know in the comments below!