Thunderbolt-Packing OWC ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Enclosures

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There are many important factors that one should consider when purchasing additional storage for their computer, such as OS compatibility, whether they need network attached storage, the manufacturer and type of drive being purchased, and more. However, three of the most important things that anyone should consider when purchasing additional storage for their computer are speed, capacity, and data redundancy. This is especially important in today’s market, where digital workflows are utilized not only by large corporations and professionals working at home, but by varying levels of amateurs as well. Additionally, older analog capture techniques are rapidly undergoing conversion processes to make them digital, such as the digitizing of old film negatives and positives. To this end, OWC / Other World Computing offers today’s consumers and professionals the ThunderBay 4 series, which is made up of several options for creating an at-home storage array.

All of OWC’s ThunderBay 4 offerings have these three key items in common. They are also designed for Mac, and each ThunderBay 4 model is Thunderbolt 2 compatible with bidirectional transfer speeds of up to 20 Gb/s from each of its two Thunderbolt 2 ports. They are also pre-configured for RAID 5 using a software configuration. RAID 5 requires at least three disks and consists of block-level striping with distributed parity, meaning that it distributes all the stored data across the available drives. One drive in the array is always used to create the necessary distributed parity / data redundancy. This means that if you have a 24TB RAID that is made of up 4 x 6TB drives, one of the 6TB drives will be unavailable for data storage by the user. Thus, your 24TB RAID will have a user-available capacity of 18TB, with the additional 6TB being used for distributed parity / data redundancy. In the event that one drive fails, subsequent reads may be calculated from the distributed parity so that no data is lost. In the meantime, the failed drive may be replaced and the RAID may then rebuild itself.

The OWC ThunderBay 4 RAID 5 Edition helps to improve the performance of your workflow, not only with its RAID 5 performance, but also with its SoftRAID for OS X software. SoftRAID combines advanced RAID modes and helps to decrease the times require for drive rebuilds. SoftRAID also helps monitor your array and has the ability to send e-mail notifications.

Moving on to the specific models of the ThunderBay 4 that are sold by OWC, we’ll start with their most basic, the OWC / Other World Computing ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Enclosure (RAID 5 Edition). This unit comes with no included storage and requires users to purchase their own internal drives before it may be used. However, this has the advantage of allowing users to choose the specific kind of drives that will be used, such as WD Red or HGST Deskstar models. 3.5" drives are natively compatible and 2.5" drives, both HDDs and SSDs, may also be used via a separately sold adapter.

As we cross over into models of the ThunderBay 4 that are sold with drives, the first one that we encounter is the OWC / Other World Computing 4TB (4 x 1TB) ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Array (RAID 5 Edition). This array comes with 4 x 1TB drives that connect via a SATA III 6 Gb/s interface, operates at a rotational speed of 7200 rpm, and has a per-drive cache of 32MB with a total array cache of 128MB. It also supports read speeds of up to 914 MB/s and write speeds of up to 680 MB/s. As it comes pre-configured in RAID 5 mode, users will have 3TB of available storage. Also, please bear in mind that the read and write speeds for this product are reported by OWC. This means that the advertised read and write speed values are what OWC has achieved while testing this product. Your actual read and write speeds may vary, depending on your system’s configuration and your intended use for the array.

The OWC / Other World Computing 8TB (4 x 2TB) ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Array (RAID 5 Edition) is similar to its 4TB counterpart, but has a few differences aside from its increased capacity. Specifically, it features read speeds of up to 1,010 MB/s and write speeds of up to 755 MB/s. Otherwise, the technical specs are similar. This array comes with 4 x 2TB drives that connect via a SATA III 6 Gb/s interface, operate at a rotational speed of 7200 rpm, and have a per-drive cache of 32MB with a total array cache of 128MB. As it comes pre-configured in RAID 5 mode, this 8TB array will provide users with 6TB of available storage. Again, please bear in mind that the read and write speeds for this product are reported by OWC. This means that the advertised read and write speed values are what OWC has achieved while testing this product. Your actual read and write speeds may vary, depending on your system’s configuration and your intended use for the array.

The OWC / Other World Computing 12TB (4 x 3TB) ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Array (RAID 5 Edition) is a 12TB array in the form of 4 x 3TB drives. However, as it is pre-configured in RAID 5 mode, users will be provided with 9TB of available storage. Read speeds of up to 1,004 MB/s and write speeds of up to 783 MB/s may be achieved and the drives connect via a SATA III 6 Gb/s interface, operate at a rotational speed of 7200 rpm, and have a per-drive cache of 32MB with a total array cache of 128MB. It is also important to remember that the reported read and write speed values are given by OWC and are what OWC achieved while testing this product. Your actual read and write speeds may vary depending on your system’s configuration and your intended use for the array.

The OWC / Other World Computing 16TB (4 x 4TB) ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Array (RAID 5 Edition) features a 16TB array in the form of 4 x 4TB drives. However, the RAID 5 pre-configuration will limit users to 12TB of available storage, while the remainder continues to help ensure data redundancy. Read speeds go up to 1009 MB/s and write speeds reach 807 MB/s. The drives connect via a SATA III 6 Gb/s interface, operate at a rotational speed of 7200 rpm, and have a per-drive cache of 32MB with a total array cache of 128MB.  Don’t forget that the reported read and write speed values are given by OWC and are what OWC achieved while testing this product. Your actual read and write speeds may vary depending on your system’s configuration and your intended use for the array.

For users who require robust storage, the OWC / Other World Computing 20TB (4 x 5TB) ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Array (RAID 5 Edition) boasts 20TB of storage with read speeds up to 581 MB/s, write speeds up to 680 MB/s, and a 64MB cache per drive. This 64MB cache per drive affords the solution of a total of a 256MB buffer, which will further help enable faster data transfers and data access. As with the other models, RAID 5 pre-configuration will limit users to 19TB of available space and each 5TB drive connects via a SATA III 6 Gb/s interface and operates at a rotational speed of 7200 rpm. As with the other ThunderBay 4 arrays, the reported read and write speed values are given by OWC and are what OWC achieved while testing this product. Your actual read and write speeds may vary depending on your system’s configuration and your intended use for the array.

For amateurs and professionals, the OWC / Other World Computing ThunderBay 4 models are worthy options to consider while working with HD / 2K / 4K video, and audio workflows in programs such as Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, Avid Media Composer, Pro Tools, and Logic. Each array also features a 92mm fan to keep operations running at a cool temperature, daisy-chaining of up to six ThunderBays, vibration dampening, and DisplayPort 1.2 support. All of these arrays may also be used as an external startup drive for your Mac. While it is designed for Thunderbolt 2 20 Gb/s technology, it is also backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 10 Gb/s technology.

OWC / Other World Computing 4TB (4 x 1TB) ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Array (RAID 5 Edition)  OWC / Other World Computing 8TB (4 x 2TB) ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Array (RAID 5 Edition)  OWC / Other World Computing 12TB (4 x 3TB) ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Array (RAID 5 Edition)  OWC / Other World Computing 16TB (4 x 4TB) ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Array (RAID 5 Edition)  OWC / Other World Computing 20TB (4 x 5TB) ThunderBay 4 Hard Drive Array (RAID 5 Edition) 
Chipset
Thunderbolt 2
Interfaces Supported
Thunderbolt 2
RAID Support / JBOD Support
RAID: Use any Software RAID of your choice to set up the ThunderBay 4 for multi-drive performance or data redundancy
JBOD: Utilize each of the four drives independently
Standard Mechanism
4 x 1.0 TB Toshiba DT01ACAxx Series Hard Disk Drives 4 x 2.0 TB Toshiba DT01ACAxx Series Hard Disk Drives 4 x 3.0 TB Toshiba DT01ACAxx Series Hard Disk Drives 4 x 4.0 TB Toshiba MC04ACA Series Hard Disk Drives 4 x 5.0 TB Toshiba MC04ACA 500Series Hard Disk Drives
Drive Rotation Speed
7200 rpm
Drive Cache Size
32MB per drive; 128MB total for the solution 64MB per drive; 256MB for the solution
Format
Comes pre-formatted for SoftRAID and configured as a RAID 5 volume. Please be aware that if this array is being used on a Mac with OS X 10.8.5 or earlier, the SoftRAID sotware must be installed prior 
Port Configuration
Thunderbolt – 2 x Thunderbolt 2 ports
Read / Write Speed
Read: 914 MB/s
Write: 680 MB/s 
Read: 1,010 MB/s
Write: 755 MB/s 
Read: 1,004 MB/s
Write: 783 MB/s 
Read: 1,009 MB/s
Write: 807 MB/s 
Read: 581 MB/s
Write: 680 MB/s 
Max Data Transfer Rate
Thunderbolt 2 – 20 Gb/sec
Port / Interface Bootability
It can be used as a Thunderbolt startup drive on Macs running Mac OS X
Temperature
Operating: 41 – 107°F / 5 – 42°C
Non-Operating: -40 – 149°F / -40 – 65°C
Relative Humidity
Operating: 8 – 90% (non-condensing)
Non-Operating: 5 – 95% (non-consensing)
Shock
Operating: 65G at 2 ms
Non-Operating: 175 G at 2 ms
Vibration
1.0 G (5 – 300 Hz)
Non-Operating: 5.0 G (5 – 500 Hz)
Power Supply
Input: 100 - 240 V AC; 50/60 Hz
Output: Output: 12 V; 16.66 A 
Software Included
SoftRAID 5
Intech Hard Disk SpeedTools Utilities OEM (For Mac OS 8.6 - X only)
ProSoft Engineering Data Backup for Mac OS X v10.2.8 or later
Over 1.5GB of Freeware, Shareware, and Public domain software installed
System Requirements
Any Mac with a Thunderbolt port running OS X 10.6 or later
Any PC running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or later with a Thunderbolt port. Driver required for proper installation. (3.3 MB ZIP)
Boot Camp is not supported. The Thunderbolt certification process does not include Macs running Windows through Boot Camp
Product Manual
OWC ThunderBay 4 Manual (2.9 MB PDF)
External Case Dimensions
9.65 x 5.31 x 6.96″ / 245.11 x 134.87 x 176.78mm
Enclosure Weight (no accessories)
Approximately 8.6 lb / 3.9 kg
Warranty
Limited 3-Year Warranty
48 Hour Warranty Service
1-Year Level 1 Data Recovery Service

3 Comments

How can i book order from B&H Store

At the end of this article, there is a section listed "Items Discussed in Article" where we feature the drive.  You may then click on the image of the drive, which will take you to all of the options we offer the drive in on our website.  From there you may make your selection by clicking on the "Add to cart" button and proceed to checking out. 

That's a great product overview, but I'd hardly call it a review.

In my book a Review adds some user experience with a typical system, reports on ease of setup, configuration, and various other items such as - how easy it is to remove a drive, replace it, can this be done hot or do you have to dismount, how long does it tyically take to rebuild the array when you replace a faulty drive, what if you use drives of different capacity, what happens if the drive that stores the distributed data/parity gets corrupted or goes down, how easy is it to install 2.5" drives... you get my drift(!)

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