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OWC Unveils Its Fastest Portable Drive Yet, the Express 1M2 with USB4

Today’s an exciting day here at OWC. Not only are we introducing our fastest bus-powered portable external drive ever, we’re also introducing our first ever USB4 drive.

But these aren’t two separate drives. The new OWC Express 1M2 USB4 enclosure is all of the above, a portable NVMe SSD powerhouse capable of unprecedented data transfer speeds and universal compatibility.

We designed Express 1M2 to allow owners of the latest USB4-equipped Macs and PCs to get the most performance possible out of those machines. Express 1M2 boasts real-world speeds up to 3151MB/s and gives you the DIY and BYOD (Bring Your Own Drive) flexibility of an enclosure that is built to last.

Why USB4?

OWC are known far and wide as the Thunderbolt experts. So, you may be wondering why our fastest drive yet is USB4 and not Thunderbolt. You might also be wondering “What is USB4?”

USB4 is the next generation of the USB standard. It brings significant improvements in both speed and connectivity, allowing you to connect to past, present, and future devices and all while enabling data transfer speeds the likes of which have never been seen before. In fact, USB4 enables data transfer speeds that are up to 2x as fast as Thunderbolt—at least when it comes to a 0GB DIY/BYOD enclosure. 

The other reason we opted for USB4 on the Express 1M2 had to do with power requirements. For a bus-powered enclosure to be Thunderbolt certified, it must meet Intel power certifications and Thunderbolt ‘options’ can have some higher power draws in general that this certification must meet. While we are able to get specific solutions certified for full speed on Thunderbolt, we would have been limited to a half-speed solution for a DIY/0GB kit. However, with USB4 and the Express 1M2, we can now unleash these higher speeds for our DIY/BYOD customers too and we’re excited to do so. 

So, while you can get similar performance from our Envoy Pro FX Thunderbolt solutions, for the DIYers out there, this is the absolute fastest bus-powered 0GB kit on the market today.

While many no-name brands claim to be USB4, they are in fact Thunderbolt 3 solutions that simply do not follow Intel specifications. Unlike those budget brand pretenders, the Express 1M2’s true USB4 connectivity assures you of an astounding doubling of the speed a Thunderbolt DIY enclosure would be capable of.

Plus, USB4 devices offer universal compatibility with support for USB4, USB 3.2, USB 2, and Thunderbolt 3 & 4 devices.

Harnessing all of that sweet, sweet speed

Because USB4 devices are can connect to devices with Thunderbolt 3 and 4 ports as well as less-performant, previous generation USB ports, in order to get the maximum possible speeds out of 1M2, you’ll need to use it with a modern M-Series Mac or a PC equipped with at least Thunderbolt 4.

You’ll get the full 3151MB/s speed from 1M2 when you connect it to most Macs and PCs from 2020 and newer. Here’s the full breakdown of what you can expect from 1M2 when connecting it to different devices.

Express 1M2 Connected To:Runs AsReal-World Speed
Any Apple Silicon M1/M2/M3 Mac & iPadUSB4 (40Gb/s)3151MB/s
USB4 (40Gb/s) port on any PCUSB4 (40Gb/s)3151MB/s
Thunderbolt 4 port on any PCUSB4 (40Gb/s)3151MB/s
Thunderbolt 3 port on Intel Mac or PCUSB (10Gb/s)990MB/s
USB-C (10Gb/s) port on iPad, Mac, or PCUSB (10Gb/s)990MB/s

Thanks to its universal port compatibility, the Express 1M2 can work cross-platform with Macs and PCs using OWC’s MacDrive software.

A flexible, portable, and secure powerhouse

The initial inspiration—and our first and foremost objective—with 1M2 was to provide customers that wanted to build their own drives an enclosure that had the proper cooling and capability for today’s modern drives—without the need of a fan. And this is a big point because fans can be a real pain when it comes to drives. Not only do they add another potential point of failure, they also bring in dust. Not only do they bring in dust, but the more dust they bring in the more potential that the fan itself will fail. It’s an ugly cycle and if you plan to use this drive on the road, the absence of a fan will mean a lot less to worry about.

Express 1M2 packs all of this performance and compatibility into a package as small as a smartphone. Plus, because it’s an enclosure, you can order it populated with OWC’s high-performance Aura SSD, or order it empty and add your own 2230, 2242, or 2280-sized NMVe M.2 SSD.

And because 1M2 is built to be the perfect companion in the office or on the go, the enclosure is secure and rugged to keep your data safe. OWC data storage products are globally recognized for their reliability in safeguarding critical user data, and the Express 1M2 is no exception. The enclosure’s solid aluminum heat sink design distinguishes it from low-cost, snap-together enclosures and properly dissipates heat to ensure throttle-free, consistent maximum performance.

“The Express 1M2 is built to keep the drive cool and performance high, continuing OWC’s tradition of building products right vs. targeting a low priced disposable commodity level,” said Larry O’Connor, founder and CEO of OWC. “Our customer’s data reliability is our #1 priority and the Express 1M2 is the ideal choice for those seeking long-term reliability and high performance.”

Pricing and Availability

Express 1M2 is available empty without an SSD or in 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB capacities starting at $119.99. Click here to configure yours.

3151MB/s performance based on testing an 8.0TB OWC Aura Ultra IV equipped Express 1M2 connected to a 14-inch 2023 MacBook Pro (Mac14,5) with 32GB RAM and Apple M2 Max running AJA System Test (4K-Full resolution, 64GB file size, 16bit RGBA codec, single file test).

OWC Wayne G
the authorOWC Wayne G
Tech lover, multimedia creator, and marketing manager for OWC's Rocket Yard and Mission Control blogs.
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    Why this product is given a thunderbolt 3 speed result at 990 MB/s

    • Thanks for the question, Marcel. If you don’t have a machine that supports USB4 speeds, but do have a machine that supports Thunderbolt 3, the 1M2 will operate at a max Thunderbolt 3 speed of 990MB/s. Hope that helps!

      • The maximum thunderbolt 3 speed is about 2800 MB/s normally ??????

      • Thunderbolt 4 is 40 Mbit/s
        Thunderbolt 3 is 40 Mbit/s

        So why your product is rated at 990 MB/s connected to thunderbolt 3 , it does not make sense to me ,.

        • The 1M2 is a USB4 drive, not a Thunderbolt 3 drive. Thunderbolt drives have a dedicated Thunderbolt chipset that is required to reach the speed you have mentioned. The 1M2 does not have a Thunderbolt chipset as it is a USB4 drive. If you connect the 1M2 to a device that does not support USB4, you will get the 990 MB/s speed.

          If you want a bring your own M.2 Thunderbolt drive that is faster, you should check out the Envoy Pro Express:

 This drive is rated at 1553 MB/s.

          Alternatively, if you want full Thunderbolt 3 speeds, you can check out the Envoy Pro FX. It’s not a bring your own drive/DIY kit like the Envoy Express or Express 1M2, but it does reach up to 2847 MB/s.

  • “While we are able to get specific solutions certified for full speed on Thunderbolt, we would have been limited to a half-speed solution for a DIY/0GB kit.”

    Is this an Intel requirement that you can’t use 4x PCIe lanes with DIY enclosures? What is the reasoning for that? I’m just curious. I haven’t read the spec but I feel like this might be minutia that’s buried in a doc somewhere. I mean, it’s still better than what PC manufacturers get away with when saying they support “USB-C” or “USB4 (but really only 10Gbps)”. I just can’t think of a technical reason why you have to rate limit to ~1.5GBps R/W speeds. BTW, my Envoy Express has been flawless.

  • OWC Express 1M2

    Hi , That look like a very nice new product . I was waiting for that ;-)
    One thing it misses for my needs is an external power supply !
    Thank you to read me .

  • Awesome work!! The USB 4/TB 4 is a really great standard. But I need more endurance and continuous through put. I just built a portable USB4/TB4 NvME drive using the Micron 9300 Pro 15.3 TB. 3 GB/s read and write 100% of the time. Drive endurance is one drive write per day for 5 years. All protections like power loss that come with enterprise drives. (~$1600 total) But my solution is a little bigger than Express 1m2 and not buss powered.

    The challenge (no SoftRAID) build a U.2/U.3 USB4/TB4 buss powered enclosure 15 to 32 TB drive. The maximum speed is limited by USB4/TB4 so maybe just start the design off with TB5 80/120 Gbps and U.3.