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Introducing the New OWC ThunderBlade X8: More Speed, More RAID Capacity, Improved Design

We’re kicking off the New Year with a big announcement: an all-new and very improved ThunderBlade.

Meet the new ThunderBlade X8. The new ThunderBlade is still the high-performance, mobile-ready RAID SSD that creative professionals have come to know, love, and depend on, but with several improvements that boost performance and redefine what it means to be the fastest shuttle and edit SSD in the universe.

The team here at OWC is composed of equal parts engineering experts and creative professionals with backgrounds in the film, recording, and photography industries. Thanks to this eclectic group of professionals, we have a unique understanding of the growing need for more speed and capacity in demanding creative applications. For the last few years, we’ve pondered “How do we make ThunderBlade—the best SSD—even better?”

We knew it needed to be faster. Everything from making backups and editing 10- and 12-bit 8K footage benefits from a faster drive. But there were other aspects of the original ThunderBlade that we felt could use some tweaking as well to make this drive fit in even better while on the go and on the set.

ThunderBlade X8 Improvements

More speed

For starters, we made the ThunderBlade even faster than before. The new ThunderBlade X8 propels performance to new heights with up to 2949MB/s real-world speed.

These improvements to speed apply to all platforms: Windows PCs, Macs with Intel processors, and Macs with Apple M-Series chips.

In fact, on Windows, ThunderBlade offers data transfer speed improvements of up to 21% over the original ThunderBlade. On Intel-based Macs, ThunderBlade brings speed improvements up to 15%, while on M-Series Macs, testing has shown speed improvements of up to 10%. An important note: Though M-Series Macs see the smallest improvement percentage, they also account for the highest possible data transfer speeds.

Improved RAID 4/5 performance

But one of the most important new features in ThunderBlade X8 is improved performance when used in RAID 4 and 5. With double the NVMe SSD Blades as the original Thunderblade, the Thunderblade X8 really gets a boost here.

On Thunderbolt SSDs like the original ThunderBlade, using RAID 5 in particular meant giving up precious capacity and taking a big hit on performance. This is because RAID 4 and RAID 5 provide redundancy at the expense of a single drive’s capacity from the drive array set. This also means a division of the available bandwidth as well. In a four-drive array, that means RAID 4 or 5 utilizes 25% of capacity and data bandwidth for that redundancy.

By comparison, the ThunderBlade X8, with its eight blades, provides 16% more usable capacity in a RAID 4 or 5 configuration and with eye-popping sustained speeds up to 2464MB/s. Incredible performance, exceptional reliability, and even more room to store.

Plus, when used in RAID 4/5 configurations with Apple Silicon machines (those with M1 chips and later, including Pro/Max/Ultra), ThunderBlade X8 increases performance by 16%.

These improvements to RAID 5 performance mean you’ll be able to adhere to the 3-2-1 rule of data backups—3 copies of data, on 2 different types of media, with at least 1 copy in a different location from your home office/desk—without sacrificing capacity, performance, and therefore, your precious time.

Design improvements

While ThunderBlade still features a solid aluminum, fanless case that keeps the SSD cool and quiet like the original, we have made a few tweaks to the overall design.

The most prominent change is to the ThunderBlade’s lighting. We’ve replaced the solid LED light bar that adorned the front face of the original ThunderBlade, with a series of individual LEDs that now point downward, toward the surface the drive is sitting on.

The change in angle ensures that the ThunderBlade is less of a distraction on set. Meanwhile, the switch to a series of LEDs allows you to see with a glance the status of the SSD and its individual blades.

The ThunderBlade X8 also features a ruggedized power connector in recognition of the needs of more intense production environments and workflows.

One thing that hasn’t changed about the ThunderBlade? Durability. ThunderBlade X8 features a fin-design, ballistic hard-shell case that keeps your data safe during transport.

Why ThunderBlade X8 is the best RAID SSD in the universe

ThunderBlade can hold up to eight (8) NVMe M.2 SSDs and supports capacities up to 32TB. When it comes to performance, ThunderBlade is truly without competition thanks to data transfer speeds up to 2949MB/s.

As noted before, ThunderBlade X8 brings data transfer speed improvements of up to 21% across all platforms. The most prominent of these speed increases came in write speeds, making ThunderBlade the best editing drive for professional video editors and VFX houses.  

And using RAID configurations with ThunderBlade is extremely easy thanks to the included SoftRAID XT software which allows for creating, monitoring, and managing advanced RAID sets.

ThunderBlade also offers unmatched versatility thanks to its second Thunderbolt port. This extra port allows for connecting a USB-C device or display or daisy-chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices. 

The ThunerBlade X Spacer keeps your connected ThunderBlades secure.

In fact, via the extra Thunderbolt port, you can daisy-chain a second ThunderBlade for additional speed and capacity gains. And you can keep your ThunderBlades securely connected together with the OWC ThunderBlade X Spacer. This no-tools-required aluminum drive spacer stands your drives up in a single package, keeping your space tidy and your drives secure.

Before a ThunderBlade is delivered, it undergoes rigorous multi-hour “burn-in” performance certification to ensure it arrives in pristine condition and is ready to begin work immediately.

Purpose-built for video professionals

We designed ThunderBlade with professional video editors and film industry professionals in mind. Simply put: there is no better RAID SSD available for on-set edit or shuttle drive purposes. Here are just some of the ways ThunderBlade is a perfect fit professional video workflows:

  • DITs needing to offload memory cards on set at maximum transfer speeds while also having the option to choose RAID 5 reliability for peace-of-mind or production requirements.
  • DITs and productions needing a blazing fast, highly reliable shuttle drive that can be easily and safely shipped.
  • Creative professionals working with cutting edge workflows such as multicam sequences, 8K RAW video, and VFX looking for the best possible performance from an easy to transport, plug and play external storage solution.
  • Remote editors working with cloud-based workflows such as LucidLink which require a high performance cache drive solution to ensure flawless video editing performance.
  • Professional video editors desiring a seamless editing experience when working on large projects with all their files centralized for easy access.

Which ThunderBlade is right for you?

ThunderBlade (left) and ThunderBlade X8.

Though the ThunderBlade X8 boasts several improvements that make it the perfect drive for video and film industry professionals, the original ThunderBlade will remain available and is still a great option for many. Take a look at the chart for a breakdown on how to decide which mode is right for you.

Pricing and Availability

ThunderBlade is available in 8TB, 16TB, or 32TB capacities. Pre-order today at starting at $1,749.99. 

The 8TB-and 16TB-capacity ThunderBlade X8 will be available starting Jan. 18, 2024, The 32TB model will be available in February.

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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1 Comment

  • Benchmarking (read/write sequential as MB/s and random as IOPS) as well as take apart to see inside would be great!