Thunderbolt 3 External Enclosure for NVMe/SSD Drive?

I have a 2018 Mac Mini and need to add an external SSD drive. I’d like to add next-gen drive/speed beyond the Read-Write speeds of up to 540 MB/s range.

It looks like an external SSD drive enclosure would be great with a Samsung 970 EVO drive inserted as these run up to a theoretical 3400 MB/s read speed. However, to reach anywhere near these speeds an external NVMe/SSD enclosure would need to use the Thunderbolt 3 interface I believe - there are a few USB-C/3.1 external enclosures, but USB-C/3.1 has a max throughput of 10 Gigabits/sec or 1280 MB/sec (far below the 970 EVO drive’s theoretical 3400 MB/s read speed).

All good with the logic, but I’m finding it challenging to find a good/reasonably priced external Thunderbolt 3 NVMe/SSD drive enclosure - anyone have any experience/recommendation here?

Have you considered a Drobo? The 5D3 model has a thunderbolt interface + space for extra drives etc… I was going to say Drobo doesn’t have a reputation for being particularly cheap but then when I looked at the prices of some other thunderbolt 3 drive enclosures; Drobo didn’t look that bad.

Here’s an example from OWC, that purports up to 2800MB/s. They probably have others too.


I looked for a thunderbolt enclosure and there wasn’t much out there. I ended up getting a Samsung X5 1TB drive a couple weeks ago for my 2017 iMac. It’s basically a 970 already built into an enclosure. I have it as my boot dive now and get over 2000MB/s read and write. It has been great so far.

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Thanks - yes, the Samsung X5 is the most impressive I’ve seen performance-wise (next-gen SSD and Thunderbolt 3 interface together). I’ll need 2TB as a secondary data drive for photo/video’s, so it gets expensive currently with the X5 at 2TB :-!

Thanks - checked out the Drobo - overall performance vs cost for the 5D3 (Thunderbolt) isn’t what I want I think - but I like the RAID/expandability it offers…


Update - thanks all for feedback/thoughts/recommendations - from a cost/performance/lack-of-hassle perspective I’m currently thinking of a Glyph Atom RAID SSD 2TB drive. These get around 850-900 MB/s in speed tests from reviews. Glyph also has a 4TB version, which would be great for some growth capacity + future-proofing. The drive is about twice the performance of a Samsung T5 (for not much more money), and half the performance of a Samsung X5 (but for about half the cost per MB currently).

The drive uses RAID-0 (using the two internal SSD’s), which initially concerned me, but Glyph give a 3 year warranty (I need to double-check that), plus I’d have a good backup process in place for the data also.

I haven’t 100% decided yet, so haven’t ordered one + was hoping they might be on sale for the President’s Day holiday here - but no such luck :frowning:

I am able to get 900MB/s with a USB 3.1 gen 2 drive. I have it in a plugable enclosure I got off Amazon for $50. I would love a true thunderbolt 3 NVME enclosure for under $200 though.

Plugable USB C to M.2 NVMe Tool-free Enclosure

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There’s a “gotcha” with that device. From the second review for it:

Each of the 4 m.2 pcnvme slots have only 1 pci express lane. This means that the drive in the slot is limited to 8Gbit transfer speeds.

If you populate all 4 slots and use the included softraid software you will be able to reach the announced speed of 2600Mbyte/sec speed but with fewer drives you will loose out on speed.

So if you want speed you’ve got to commit softraid 0 and to 4 NVMes off the bat, which in turn makes incremental upgrading not really possible.