OWC PCIe Enclosures: PCIe Card Requirements

Created on: March 1, 2024
Last updated: March 4, 2024


There are several different factors to consider for understanding if a PCIe card is compatible with an external OWC PCIe expansion enclosure.

  • Physical Fit – Will your PCIe card physically fit in the enclosure when installed?
  • Power Requirements – Will your PCIe card have the proper power available in the enclosure?
  • PCIe Lane Requirements – Will your PCIe card have enough data throughput available from the external enclosure’s PCIe slot?
  • OS Compatibility – Will your PCIe card be compatible with the System’s operating system.
  • Drivers – Will your PCIe card require a driver to function properly.

NOTE: Consulting the PCIe card Support Manual provided by the manufacture can provide details to better understand the hardware requirements.

Physical Fit

  • PCIe cards have 3 physical fit categories: Height (Full or Half), Length (Full or Half), and Width (single, double, etc).
  • Each capable OWC PCIe enclosure will provide “Supported PCIe Cards” information in the Specs. This information will help to identify if the desired PCIe card will fit into an OWC PCIe enclosure.
    • As an example, the OWC ThunderBay Flex 8 has an available PCIe slot. The device supports one full-height | half-length | single-width PCIe card.
    • As another example, the OWC ThunderBay Flex 8’s single-width PCIe slot is not compatible with the size of a double width Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). However, the Akitio Node Titan is compatible with double width cards and is a great option for GPUs.

Power Requirements

  • The PCIe slots of most OWC PCIe enclosures provide up to 75 watts of power to the PCIe card. Some PCIe cards, like a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), may require more than 75 watts of power to function. Users with PCIe cards that require extra power should investigate an enclosure that can accommodate like the Akitio Node Titan. Please consult the PCIe card Support Manual provided by the manufacture for power requirements.

PCIe Lane Requirements

  • Due to Thunderbolt protocol limitations, all OWC external PCIe enclosures are limited in providing x4 lanes of bandwidth to any PCIe card connected via Thunderbolt. This despite being able to fit a x16 lane mechanical PCIe card. Users with PCIe cards requiring more than x4 lanes to function will unfortunately not find an OWC PCIe enclosure that will meet their needs. Please consult the PCIe card Support Manual provided by the manufacture for lane requirements.

OS Compatibility and Drivers

  • PCIe cards have specific Operating System compatibility and driver requirements. Please consult the PCIe card Support Manual provided by the manufacture for operating system compatibility and driver requirements.