In our recent post, Get Up to 67% Faster External Drive Performance With Your M1 Mac, we promised to keep looking into the Thunderbolt drive speed issues. We wanted to do some additional testing to see what other device configurations might offer a similar speed boost.
So, in between designing cool new products that we are launching throughout the rest of 2021, our engineering and product development teams took the time to examine a few of their hypotheses thoroughly. And they uncovered some interesting results.
Here’s what we found…
In order to get the fastest write speed of an external drive when used in conjunction with an M1 Mac, the following conditions are required:
- The storage device (either bus-powered or AC “self-powered”) MUST be connected directly to one of the M1 Mac’s Thunderbolt ports.
- Plus ONE of the following:
- Connect a TB3 Display to the second Thunderbolt port on the M1 Mac.
- Connect a TB3 Dock such as our 14-Port Dock, which offers native multiple display type support (HDMI, DisplayPort, or VGA without needing an active adapter) to the second Thunderbolt port on the M1 Mac. In this scenario, no external display needs to be connected to the M1 Mac.
- Connect a TB3 device to the second Thunderbolt port on the M1 Mac AND connect a TB3 OR USB-C display to a Thunderbolt port on the TB3 device. The good news here is our Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock and the Mercury Elite Pro Dock (a unique combination of storage and connectivity) both provide a speed boost. When using an OWC Envoy Pro EX (Thunderbolt 3) drive connected to an M1 Mac, a USB-C display connected to the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock, and the Dock connected to the M1 Mac, there was a 56% write speed increase!
Note: Thunderbolt-equipped drives get the most significant increase, but USB-C drives have seen up to a 25.8% speed increase as well.
Are There Any Other Solutions?
We were hopeful a low-cost solution to this issue would be our NewerTech HDMI Headless 4K Display Emulator. But, unfortunately, there was no drive speed increase.
Next up to be tested were the popular new Thunderbolt Hub and Thunderbolt Dock. These feature Thunderbolt 4 ports to offer a universal multi-connectivity solution for millions of existing and future Thunderbolt and USB-C computers and devices. They are also fully USB4 future compatible.
Sadly, neither of these docking products offered any speed boost to an external drive while following the conditions required above. This is a head-scratcher, so we’ll be looking into this further.
We were going to test our new NewerTech display adapters (USB-C to HDMI and USB-C to DisplayPort 1.4), but with our testing thus far revealing that the key to a speed boost is that there MUST be a Thunderbolt signal/device connected to the host M1 Mac and not only a USB-C or HDMI signal/device, we figured that proceeding was a moot point.
Sharing is Caring
We’re continuing to share all this information with our contacts at Apple. We expect that unless there is some sort of technical hardware issue at the heart of this, Apple will create a firmware fix to resolve the issue.
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