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TESTED: 16TB OWC Accelsior 4M2 PCIe SSD

The 16TB model (June 2020) of the OWC Accelsior 4M2 PCIe SSD delivers similar performance to the 8TB model as tested in the 2019 Mac Pro.

This runs rings around a hard drive at about 25 times faster than a hard drive across the entire 16TB capacity.

This is so fast than almost nothing can make use of the full bandwidth except specialized and optimized software like diglloydTools IntegrityChecker.

Technology like this is so wonderful: fast beyond measure and totally silent. See Putting the 16TB OWC Accelsior 4M2 PCIe SSD to Use as Main Storage.

16TB OWC Accelsior 4M2 PCIe SSD in 2019 Mac Pro: speed across entire capacity
16TB OWC Accelsior 4M2 PCIe SSD in 2019 Mac Pro: speed vs transfer size
Protect Your Phone
NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads.
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
Plus, excellent grip for wet hands, cycling, etc.

REVIEWED: Netgear Nighthawk X10 Wireless-AD7200 Tri-Band Gigabit Router

MPG expressed expectations for a multi-antenna WiFi router with beamforming in Faster WiFi with Antennas and Beamforming? . Those expectations have been borne out in seeing a substantial performance increase using the Netgear Nighthawk X10 versus dual Apple Airport Extreme units.

Netgear Nighthawk X10 Wireless-AD7200 Tri-Band Gigabit Router

For most situations, a single high-performance WiFi router with multiple beamforming antennas using makes more sense than a “mesh” setup.

That’s because the mesh setup entails greater complexity, greater power draw, unnecessary electromagnetic saturation of a living space, and messy installation issues such as the need for multiple AC outlet strips due to power outlet blockage with a mesh node, along with unwanted blinking lights on each mesh node—inelegant and extra expense, not to mention the configuration headaches.

Two or more Netgear Nighthawk X10 units can be installed to cover very large areas, and each of them is far more capable than crude mesh units.

Buy it

MPG prefers that readers order from B&H Photo.

Get Netgear Nighthawk X10 Wireless-AD7200 Tri-Band Gigabit Router at B&H Photo
Get Netgear Nighthawk X10 Wireless-AD7200 Tri-Band Gigabit Router at Amazon.com

A more advanced model is the Netgear Nighthawk AX12 with 8 antennas. MPG has not tested it as yet, but with twice the antennas it might be better for situations with more devices in simultaneous use.

Get Netgear Nighthawk AX12 AX11000 at B&H Photo
Get Netgear Nighthawk AX12 AX11000 at Amazon.com

Background: WiFi vs ethernet

See also: Apple: Recommended settings for Wi-Fi routers and access points

TIP: when using ethernet, get an 8 or 16 port gigabit ethernet switch (not just a hub). Each device has its own cable to that switch (including any WiFi routers). A switch isolates traffic on the network, delivering full bandwidth to every device. A hub does not isolate traffic and performance drops from packet collisions.

  • Gigabit ethernet is superior in every way to all forms of WiFi (except the wire!).
  • Prefer ethernet over wireless until such time as WiFi gets to far higher speeds. And the latest Macs offer 10 gigabit ethernet which makes WiFi turtle slow as of 2020.
  • Security of wired networking (ethernet) is always preferable to a wireless network.
  • WiFi is great for entertainment and miscellaneous devices like iPad/iPhone/TV etc, but it is a terrible choice for any professional or high-performance workflow environment where speed matters.

Features

The Netgear Nighthawk X10 has a far wider features set than the Apple Airport Extreme, supporting the 60 GHz band (not supported by any Apple Macs), VLAN for all wireless bands and ethernet ports, port mapping and numerous other features. The Netgear is a far more capable unit in every way.

Setup

Most users might already have a cable modem or DSL modem with WiFi (the “internet modem”). Usually the WiFi in the internet modem should be DISABLED so that it does not interfere with the Netgear Nighthawk X10 WiFi traffic.

  1. Connect the Netgear Nighthawk X10 to the internet modem via ethernet or to an ethernet switch which connects to the internet modem.
  2. For most setups (cable modem or DSL), use the Netgear Nighthawk X10 in Access Point (AP) mode. Wireless devices connect to the Netgear, and it forwards internet traffic over ethernet to the internet modem. Other traffic is shuttled around via WiFi or ethernet on the local LAN.
  3. Test performance as described in Test Protocol, or via similar means.
Netgear Nighthawk X10 configuration: router mode set to Access Point (AP)

Using the Smart Connect feature is a bad idea; I found that this generally selects the 2.4 GHz band and delivers half the speed that 5GHz does. What a shame, but there is nothing for it—you’ll have to choose the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band manually on your device based on location.

Netgear Nighthawk X10 configuration: Smart Connect consistenty chooses a much slower link

In general, multiple WiFi units will interfere with each other unless widely spaced, so start by using only the Netgear Nighthawk X10 as the only WiFi node, adding other WiFi routers later if necessary.

Use additional WiFi routers only if superior performance in desired locations is proven via testing on the local network. Do not test internet speed for purposes of validating WiFi speed because that inserts a huge variability on top of WiFi speed, confusing the results and/or severely throttling the speed.

Excepting gigabit fiber internet or similar, internet speed is far slower than WiFi speed. If you are lucky enough to have gigabit fiber internet, then WiFi will throttle performance—use gigabit ethernet or faster when performance matters.

Netgear Nighthawk X10 configuration: Advance Wireless Settings

WiFi Speed: ad-hoc testing

As a tough test, MPG subjectively tested WiFi performance at a distance of about 50 feet from the router, inside a Sprinter van which has a steel structure with only a small window for ingress of signal.

With the Apple Airport Extreme, internet is barely usable inside the Sprinter van, taking 20-30 seconds to load pages and sometimes failing. With the Netgear Nighthawk X10, pages were responsive, taking only a few seconds to load.

WiFi Speed: Netgear Nighthawk X10 vs Apple Airport Extreme

Network throughput reported by Apple Activity Monitor was observed to be at least 2X higher than the file copy speeds shown here, suggesting considerable overhead to WiFi networking (SMB). Other protocols may be more efficient.

...

These results are the best achieved in repeated testing. They show the Apple Airport Extreme in a far more favorable light than it typically delivers; speeds up to 3X slower were seen with the Airport (high variability). Minimal variation was seen with the Netgear Nighthawk X10; The Netgear is a far more consistent performer, always delivering performance very close to what is shown here. In heavy-use environments and/or with interference, it should be a far superior performer.

The Netgear Nighthawk X10 easily outperforms the Apple Airport Extreme, running about 30% faster. However, some test runs showed more than a 3X speed superiority in favor of the Netgear, with the Airport Extreme unable to deliver consistent performance and the Netgear varying no more than a few percent.

Gigabit ethernet is shown for comparison, demonstrating why it is far superior to even the best WiFi.

Netgear Nighthawk X10 vs Apple Airport Extreme: best speed test results

WiFi Speed: 2 GHz vs 5 GHz band

In general, the 2 GHz band offers lower performance at closer range, but beyond a certain range, it retains good performance even as 5 GHz drops to unusable.

Close range — 50 feet through two walls and brick fireplace area

Here, the 5 GHz band is considerably faster than 2 GHz through multiple interior walls at a distance of about 50 feet. But see the next graph.

Netgear Nighthawk X10: 2GHz vs 5GHz band speed

Distance range — 135 feet to outdoor area through three walls

Shen the distance grows and/or other conditions exist, 2 GHz is massively faster than the 5GHz band, which becomes unreliable to the point of being unusable.

Apple Airport Extreme failed this test and could not be used.

Netgear Nighthawk X10: 2GHz vs 5GHz band speed

Appendix A: Test protocol

Choose one machine as a Client; connect it to WiFi. A second machine is the Server using gigabit ethernet or faster, on the same LAN as the WiFi router. General procedure for Mac or PC, using SMB file sharing:

  1. Turn on file sharing on the Server.
  2. Connect the Client to the Server, mounting the appropriate file share.
  3. Using a file of at least a gigabyte in size, time the file copy speed to and from the server.

Testing can be done in the Finder with a stopwatch or similar (tedious). The best way is to time it in Terminal as follows:

# download / pull
sudo purge
time cp /pathToServer/testfile.dat ./testfile.dat

# upload / push
sudo purge
time cp ./testfile.dat /pathToServer/junk.out

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Thoughts on Apple’s Transition away from Intel CPUs to Apple ARM, macOS Big Sur

Apple has announced a shift away from Intel CPUs to its own internal Apple ARM* CPU architecture, with machines available to the public in late 2020. It’s likely that the full transition will take at least a year for the Mac lineup.

Wiki: ARM Architecture

While Apple has surely been planning this transition for years, the ARM chips to date have been designed with iPhone and iPad usage and thus an emphasis on power efficiency and computing that is specific to iOS needs—how that translates to general purpose desktop software remains to be seen. But there will surely be major performance advances in a few areas, and perhaps significant losses in other areas and the net benefit is not at all clear and may take years to evolve.

* ARM = Advanced RISC Machine

Emulating Intel on ARM

The transition to the the architecture means the introduction of Rosetta II, which will emulate existing Intel-based software. That approach worked quite well with PowerPC-to-Intel, but this go-round, Apple has changed so many APIs and locked down so much of the system that I have to wonder just how smoothly that will go.

Compatibility is a key concern—not likely an issue for most software, but when it comes to any specialized software... buyer beware! For example, will Java for Mac even exist initially?

How fast the emulated software runs for pro apps remains to be seen. It might be excellent, and it might be so-so, depending on the application and instruction set. I would not want to bet, for example, that Photoshop will run fast at all but presumably Adobe will issue native-ARM versions and eliminate the emulation speed hit.

macOS will get buggier and more oriented to consumer usage

ARM-based Macs will requirem macOS Big Sur, which as far as I can tell will bastardize macOS to include iOS-like features, useless visual changes*, scads of new bugs, etc.

So even if the ARM Macs emulate perfectly, the macOS Big Sure requirement carries a risk to anyone concerned with efficient workflow, GUI changes that screw with color management and dozens of other concerns. If macOS Crapalina is our guide, then things that damage my workflow to this day in Catalina will become much worse.

It is very unlikely to see much concern with software quality in macOS Big Sur, since the schedule will be all about the new and far greater complexity of making a fundamental switch in computing architecture. Bet on strong odds of macOS Big Sur being the most troubled macOS release in history.

* The new dog in town must needs urinates on the fire hydrant, and that’s waht macOS Big Sure is all about.

Pro users and pro workflow

While ARM might produce faster Macs (when is unclear), it might come with serious workflow liabilities and compatibility headaches, and thus MPG advises all pro users to get that 2019 iMac 5K or 2019 Mac Pro or iMac Pro or 2019 MacBook Pro within 3 months, sticking with macOS Mojave if it can run on the machine.

I don’t see support for those Macs being an issue in 3 years and less, and I’d expect 5 years at a minimum from Apple. Yet the disdain Apple has shown for pro users for years make me wary, so count on 3 solid years, and make a business decision on that basis.

Mark A writes:

I (and my people) will likely be giving Macs up if I can't leverage virtual machines for development and testing.

How would one boot up an Intel VM on an ARM machine? Answer: cannot. And unless VMs properly support ARM (hello VirtualBox, talking to you) and Apple's ARM designs properly support virtualization, we're screwed.

In the end, cost is a non issue for people like us. I'd pay extra for a laptop with a full keyboard (and if they want the stupid touch bar put it over the f-keys not instead of the f-keys), lots of RAM 64-128GB, big battery(ies), a Unix O/S that's flawless at the core (file systems, device I/O, process scheduling, memory management, etc.) and the rest is gravy. I really don't care about things like Finder since I'm nearly 100% command line living most of my life within Emacs/terminal windows, Chrome, and Excel/spotify/sonos and a few other apps. The amortized costs to us power users of shitty designs, underpowered computers, unreliable O/S is immense.

One other thing driving me away from Macs... I need proper GPU support for AI/ML work and the stupid AMD chips in most Macs are not well supported. That makes it painful to work disconnected and just in general having to use multiple platforms and deal with remote work/paying rent. AAPL may have Nvidia but their GPU support in software is ubiquitous.

MPG: virtualization (emulation) will presumably work at some point  via 3rd-party emulators, but Boot Camp of course can no longer function and its absence may be a huge downside for some users.

At present, virtualization can use native Intel machine instructions but with ARM it has to become virtualization on top of emulating the Intel instruction set—slower and more complex.

New Mac?

Work from home?
Consult with Lloyd before buying!


System configuration for CPU, GPU, memory, SSD, backup, RAID, optimizing performance, workflow.
For YOUR optimal workflow

Avoid costly mistakes in throwing money at the problem for less performance and/or buying the wrong machine for your own needs!

Remote screen sharing available for RAID, software configuration, etc.

More about 2019 Mac Pro vs iMac 5K vs iMac Pro...

Update your PC or Older Mac with a FAST High Capacity SSD: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD Now to 4TB Capacity

Many computers out there still take 3.5" SATA SSDs, including PCs, older laptops, etc.

And while extending the life of an older computer is often about storage capacity, but it is also about performance, which means replacing a glacially slow hard drive with an SSD; see Making an Old Dog of a Laptop Run Like a Young Puppy.

Note well that the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro series maintains its high performance across drive capacity—it does not use the dual-type flash designs found in many lower-cost SSDs (including some models by OWC)—those types of SSDs see large performance losses once the faster flash is saturated by writes. While such SSDs are fine for many uses and users (since writes are relative small and infrequent), the sustained performance of the Mercury Extreme Pro line is the smart move for Photoshop, Lightroom, video, etc.

Get OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD at MacSales.com.

MPG will be testing the 4TB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD soon — report to follow.

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REVITALIZE OLDER MACS AND PCS TO LIKE-NEW PERFORMANCE WITH THE MASSIVE NEW 4TB OWC MERCURY EXTREME PRO 6G SSD

UNIVERSAL FIT, BEST-IN-CLASS INTERNAL 2.5-INCH SATA 6GB/S SSD DELIVERS SUSTAINED PERFORMANCE FOR EVERYONE FROM PERFORMANCE ENTHUSIASTS TO PRODUCTION PROFESSIONALS, NOW IN UP TO AN IMMENSE 4TB CAPACITY

WOODSTOCK, IL — June 9, 2020 —OWC®; a leading zero emissions Mac and PC technology company and one of the world’s most respected providers of MemoryExternal DrivesSSDsMac & PC docking solutions and performance upgrade kits, announced the availability of the new Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD, in capacities from 240GB up to 4TB. OWC’s newest 2.5-inch SATA SSD is among the most versatile and reliable on the planet, featuring state-of-the-art components and engineering that bring older Macs and PCs up to current model performance levels.

The Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD is ideal for audio, video, photography editing, and production, for users who require sustained performance. They are the standard for use in video capture with Black Magic cameras, AJA and more, in situations where sustained write performance is critical, and when a drop in performance can lead to lost frames and production time. Some drives drop to 50-60MB/s after their cache is exhausted, but the Mercury Extreme Pro is up to 10x faster performance than what many drives deliver today after their peak speed is exhausted with as little as 2-3 percent of the drive written. When sustained performance is non-negotiable, the Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD has users covered end to end. 

A 10-year Legacy of Class-Leading Performance and Reliability

When the first Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD was launched nearly a decade ago, it was built to be the fastest, most reliable, and longest endurance 2.5-inch SATA Solid State Drive available on the market. The evolution of OWC’s premier 2.5-inch SATA SSD continues that legacy with up to 5X faster performance over the entirety of its capacity compared to other drives. For Macs or PCs with a 6G SATA drive bay, the Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD is the fastest 2.5-inch SSD available today, with rock-solid engineering to keep users working full speed ahead throughout its life for a lower Total Cost of Ownership.

Revitalize Beloved Macs & PCs into Modern Day Workhorses

With users’ investment in apps plus time devoted to getting that beloved Mac or PC configured just the way they like, it makes sense for users to maximize the lifespan and longevity of their machine before retiring it. By revitalizing any Mac or PC with a Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD, it can be transformed to like-new performance levels. Built using today’s highest quality NAND flash memory and controller design, the Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD delivers sustained real-world tested read/write speeds over 500MB/s throughout its storage capacity. From faster boots and application launch times to greatly improved system responsiveness, users will love using their “new” computer at a fraction of the cost of buying the latest model.

Highlights

  • Ideal for high-performance computing, gaming, RAID, and audio/video/photo editing and capture applications including in-camera
  • Starts Fast, Stays Fast: maintains consistent read/write speeds exceeding 500MB/s over entire drive capacity, many other drives slow down after only 2-3 percent use
  • Saves Money: use drive until full vs. replacing slowed down drive 
  • Big Space: up to 4TB capacity for the largest projects
  • A/V Ready: use with Blackmagic, SoundDevice, Atomos devices
  • Universal Fit: includes full-sized spacer for 100% secure and compatible use in applications with 9.5mm drive height 
  • Peace of Mind Ownership: 5-Year Limited Warranty with award-winning live support
  • Supercharges Macs and PCs: ideal for both notebooks and desktops

“With each passing day audio, video and graphic applications are demanding more and more from our machines whether you are an enthusiast or a production pro, and older Macs and PCs just can’t keep up with those demands,” said OWC founder and CEO Larry O’Connor. “Most of our loyal customers are very fond of their current laptops and desktops and can’t stand the thought of spending thousands to replace them, which is why we live by the mantra ‘repair don’t replace.’ Our new state-of-the-art Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD sets a new benchmark for performance, reliability and warranty support in this category, and is the culmination of over a decade of brilliant engineering innovation by OWC.”

Pricing & Availability

The OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G 4TB 2.5-inch SSD is available now at MacSales.com for $899.75.  The Mercury Extreme Pro 6G line starts at 240GB for $79.75.

About OWC

Other World Computing (OWC), founded in 1988, is dedicated to helping Mac and PC enthusiasts do more and reach higher. OWC creates and delivers the best storage, connectivity, software and expansion solutions for performance, reliability and longevity to enhance, accelerate and extend the capabilities of technology. We believe in sustainability and OWC solutions are truly built to last, go the distance, and enable users to maximize the technology investment they have already made. True sustainability is good business – maximizing existing hardware vs. starting over or needing to replace saves time, money and benefits the environment and resources we all share. OWC’s operation provides leadership in business sustainability, with our headquarters among the first in the world awarded LEED Platinum Certification and running as a net provider of renewable wind and solar energy to the local power grid. OWC features an award-winning technical support team as well as an unparalleled library of step-by-step DIY and informational videos. From the home desktop to the enterprise rack, to the audio recording studio to the motion picture set and beyond, there should be no compromise, and that is why OWC is here. 

OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

OWC Envoy Express Thunderbolt 3 DIY Enclosure : World’s First Thunderbolt 3 Bus-Powered M.2 NVME SSD Solution

Great new option for turning any M.2 NVME SSD blade into a Thunderbolt 3 external drive!

OWC Announces First-ever Thunderbolt™ 3 Certified Bus-powered Portable Storage Enclosure with OWC Envoy Express

Leading tech provider puts DIY projects in the fast lane with new Envoy Express; taking pre-orders now for August shipping

Woodstock, IL – June 25, 2020  OWC®; a leading zero emissions Mac and PC technology company and one of the world’s most respected providers of Memory, External Drives, SSDs, Mac & PC docking solutions and performance upgrade kits announces the new OWC Envoy Express, the world’s first Thunderbolt™ 3 certified bus-powered portable storage enclosure that makes for effortless DIY projects. Shorter than a ballpoint pen and weighing only 3.3 ounces, the rugged anodized aluminum pocket-sized enclosure and unique laptop mounting system are ready for go-anywhere use.

OWC Envoy Express Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure

History-Making DIY Pocket-Sized Storage Solution
While small in form, the OWC Envoy Express is big news. For the first time ever in the history of Thunderbolt™, users can buy a bus-powered Thunderbolt™ certified enclosure and install their own drive in it. Finally, a DIY kit that allows users to break free of pre-configured choice limits in order to build a pocket-sized storage solution that meets their specific needs. And rebuild it anytime those needs change. Equally revolutionary is the included slide mount. This surface-safe removable drive holder allows the user to slide the Envoy Express onto the back of a laptop screen for out-of-the-way mobile use convenience. More options. More usability. More functionality….first and only from OWC.

The Power of Build Your Own Options
Build the Envoy Express with a brand-new drive for a fast boot drive. Retask an existing drive replaced during an upgrade for added storage and backup capacity. Or, use Envoy Express to regain access to files on a drive removed from an inoperable machine. Whatever the reason for building a bus-powered Thunderbolt™ enclosure, Envoy Express has the power to make it happen.

Backup, Play and Edit. Faster.
Whether you want to backup your growing photo and music libraries, share files, play your favorite games and movies anywhere, or even want to capture and edit up to 8K video, the Envoy Express can do it all. And it’s built to support super-fast sustained data transfer rates up to 1553MB/s…often faster than a machine’s internal drive performance!

Uses Today’s and Tomorrow’s Drives
Designed to support any 2280 M.2 NVMe SSD, the Envoy Express gives users the freedom of flexibility to use any drive today - including OWC Aura SSDs up to 4.0TB capacity - as well as being ready for tomorrow’s 8.0TB, 16TB and future capacities without limit.

Highlights

  • Certified: first bus-powered enclosure that meets stringent Thunderbolt™ power requirements
  • DIY easy: uses any 2280 M.2 NVMe SSD available today and in the future
  • Super-fast: supports up to 1553MB/s real-world performance1
  • Convenient: ready to go with 10.2-inch Thunderbolt™ 3 cable
  • Compact: shorter than a ballpoint pen and weighs only 3.3 ounces with drive
  • Silent: runs cool and distraction-free
  • Stylishly rugged: Black anodized aluminum provides “field-tough” data protection
  • Gets onboard: includes back of laptop screen slide mount for safe, out-of-the-way use
  • Worry-free: 2 Year OWC Limited Warranty

Gets Onboard with Macs and PCs
When working space is limited, the Envoy Express mounting system is the solution. Today’s office is where you make it - a cramped airplane seat, a tiny coffeeshop table, on your lap in a remote location. There’s no power outlet and not enough room for an external drive. Besides being the industry’s first Thunderbolt™ 3 bus-powered (no power adapter required) enclosure, the Envoy Express is the first to include a laptop mounting system.

Super-strong, removable adhesive gel and a lightweight yet durable plastic holder secure the Envoy Express to the back of a Thunderbolt™ 3-equipped Mac or PC laptop screen. Need to share the Envoy Express? It can work cross-platform with Macs and PCs using OWC's MacDrive software (sold separately).

“The entire team at OWC is excited about this first-to-market offering of a bus-powered Thunderbolt™ certified enclosure,” said Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO of OWC. “We receive requests all of the time from customers as to what they need from OWC. Our development team and engineers worked closely with Intel on the Envoy Express, and we are proud to continue to bring our customers cutting-edge offerings that allow them to work to peak performance. The Envoy Express DIY kit allows OWC customers to build a certified ultra-portable storage solution that meets their exact needs. We can’t wait to see and hear how creatives use it and what they think.”

OWC’s Aura P12 SSDs provide a perfect fit for the Envoy Express, with an optimized blend of speed and reliability. With speeds up to 3400MB/s, the Aura P12s offer dependable speed and data protection for large media files including 8K video, high-res photos and audio files. With faster data transfer, users can quickly move to the next phase of their projects, worry-free.

The Envoy Express comes complete with the tools required for easy drive installation. OWC also offers a wide variety of the toolkits users need to support servicing of Macs, PCs and other electronics.

The OWC Envoy Express is available for pre-order now, with special pricing for a limited time. Units will begin shipping in August.

About OWC
Other World Computing (OWC), founded in 1988, is dedicated to helping Mac and PC enthusiasts do more and reach higher. We believe in sustainability and OWC solutions are truly built to last, go the distance, and enable users to maximize the technology investment they have already made. OWC’s operation provides leadership in business sustainability, with our headquarters among the first in the world awarded LEED Platinum OWC features an award-winning technical support team as well as an unparalleled library of step-by-step DIY and informational videos. From the home desktop to the enterprise rack, to the audio recording studio to the motion picture set and beyond, there should be no compromise, and that is why OWC is here.

# # #

Get social: follow OWC on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
Company Contact: Jennifer Myers: (815) 502-5640 or jmyers@owcdigital.com.

© 2020 Other World Computing, Inc. All rights reserved. Apple and Mac are the trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Intel and Thunderbolt are trademarks of Intel Corporation registered in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other marks may be the trademark or registered trademark property of their respective owners.

Disclosures
#1:  Drive not included. Performance results will vary depending on user-installed drive.
1553MB/s performance based on testing a 2.0TB OWC Aura Pro P12 equipped Envoy Express connected to an iMac Pro Late 2017 (iMacPro1,1) with 32GB RAM and 3.2GHz processor running AJA System Test (4K-Full resolution, 16GB file size, 10bit RGB codec, single file test).


Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Daily Aggravation with macOS Catalina Sleep Problems: Still the Same Piece of Shit as 4 Months Ago

On the road photographing in my Sprinter van for nearly 4 months running my 2019 iMac 5K running macOS Mojave, the absence of numerous aggravations was a wonderful relief versus macOS Crapalina, which takes the prize for the most aggravating software ever designed, degrading my productivity every day.

More than four months ago in February in macOS Catalina: System Sleep Frequently Fails, I wrote about sleep problems with macOS Crapalina. Apple has had lots of time now to fix the problems in macOS Crapalina, but it has not happened—not a priority apparently.

Apple brags about being “green” as a major marketing point, but all I know is that power plants out there are burning fossil fuels to power my Mac Pro 24 hours a day because 90% of the time the 2019 Mac Pro won’t go to sleep at all, wasting huge amounts of energy. If I shut down, then it takes time to boot up and none of my USB devices work until I unplug and replug them, and I have to restart all my work windows and such. So most days, I let 'er waste power overnight.

Ironically, the displays will sleep (even as CPU does not) and then upon wakeup I often 'lose' the primary display, all my windows get rearranged, etc. A godamn mess and time-wasting daily hassle—multiple times per day.

Do Apple’s 'green' ratings take into account such end-user waste? No way, which makes the whole set of environmental claims total bullshit.

And it’s about a lot more than system sleep problems—way more bugs in Adobe software for example. Every day it’s like wearing a hair shirt.

Reader Stu from Down Under recently inquired if things had improved.

Hello, thanks for your blog. Having the same problems with a MacBook Early 2015. Fine until Catalina. Have you come across a workaround?

10.15.5 has made my laptop almost unusable—5 mins and a number of times to just power up. Hope they release an update soon.

Good luck with that. :( Go back to Mojave if feasible.

No workaround to fundamental Apple bugs that I know of. Stick with macOS Mojavedo not “upgrade” to macOS Catalina. I’d love to run Mojave instead of Catalina on my 2019 Mac Pro, but it’s not feasible AFAIK.

Jonannes B writes:

I have had the same sleep problems, including bridgeOS panics & reboots after wake from hibernation, on my 2018 MBP, on Mojave and now Catalina, but I solved it with the following Power Management settings (pmset -g) System-wide power settings:

System-wide power settings:
DestroyFVKeyOnStandby		1
Currently in use:
standby              1
standbydelaylow      30
womp                 0
halfdim              0
hibernatefile        /var/vm/sleepimage
proximitywake        0
powernap             0
gpuswitch            2
networkoversleep     0
disksleep            25
standbydelayhigh     30
sleep                5
hibernatemode        25
ttyskeepawake        0
displaysleep         5
tcpkeepalive         0
highstandbythreshold 100
acwake               0
lidwake              0

With these settings, FindMy will not always work, because that feature needs wake on network access. So if your Mac is stolen and put to sleep, it won't be found. So you'll need something like a honeypot guest account.

If I want my Mac to stay wake, and not go to sleep after a couple of minutes, which in my case means hibernation & destruction of FileVault keys, I have mapped a `caffeinate` command to a TouchBar button. Then (depending on the active processes) it might still go to regular sleep, but it won't hibernate.

MPG: additional bugs can interact with sleep problems, and these can be dependent on the hardware design, version of the Thunderbolt 3 hardware, and a host of other factors.'

Michael S writes:

On my 16 inch MacBook Pro, Catalina is running fine. No trouble at all. Sleeps like a baby, right on schedule, wakes up fresh and ready to go.

MPG: I don’t have cancer, so I don’t understand why some people do.

My car has no problems but someone else’s car of the same model has lots of problems—how can that be true? I had better let them know that my car is running fine, just to be helpful.


Upgrade the memory of your 2019 iMac up to 128GB

Faster WiFi with Antennas and Beamforming? (Updated with reader comments)

See the other B&H Photo Mega Deal Zone deals  ending today.

UPDATE: see the MPG review of the Netgear Nighthawk X10.

...

I haven’t been happy with my WiFi for quite some time now—Apple Airport Extreme not only has very poor range and poor performance, but they go AWOL often enough to be annoying.

Today I ordered the Netgear Nighthawk X10 Wireless-AD7200 Tri-Band Gigabit Router, currently $230 off (deal ends today).

Hopefully I will see much better performance—I’ll post a review once up and running.

Note well that regardless, I strongly recommend wired Gigabit (or 10G) ethernet as vastly superior to all forms of WiFi. All my Macs are using Gigabit. The WiFi is for entertainment and miscellaneous devices like iPad/iPhone/TV etc—not for serious work.

Netgear Nighthawk X10 Wireless-AD7200 Tri-Band Gigabit Router

Kevin B writes:

May I suggest an alternative that has worked extremely well for me and has had a bonus perk that I am absolutely thrilled about? A WiFi Mesh network.

My wife and I recently moved … we’ve got Comcast / Xfinity for our Internet and I had bought an inexpensive Netgear cable modem / WiFi router all-in-one. It worked fine, but as you’ve noted with your setup, range was limited. That turned out to especially bite us in regards to phone calls of all things. We happen to be in an area with poor Verizon coverage and were therefore using WiFi calling on our iPhones. You basically had to be in the living room to talk on the phone.

I looked at the various mesh network vendors and ended up going with Eero based on:

1) the recommendation of my neighbor, and
2) the recommendation of Dave Hamilton from the Mac Geek Gab podcast, who probably knows more about mesh networking than anybody I know of.

The Eero mesh network solved our range problems … both for Internet and for our WiFi calling. It was very easy to setup and has worked flawlessly.

So what’s the perk? Eero Secure. It’s a $3/month or $30/year subscription they offer that does a number of things … you can do content filtering, for example. It also does malicious website protection and pretty much the things you would expect. But the thing that I am absolutely thrilled about is the ad blocking it does! I’ve used various browser plugins like Ghostery and Ad Block in the past and they were mediocre at best. Eero’s ad blocker is the 2nd best ad blocker I’ve ever seen (I work at one of the National Labs and theirs is the best!). I would pay triple what I’m paying for Eero Secure just for the ad blocker.

MPG: I've considered a mesh network, and at first glance, it seems to make sense.

BUT... the apt comparison is simplicity vs complexity as well as peak performance and low latency. Complexity should always be suspect as an inferior technology without exception until and unless it has unequivocal benefits that outweigh all else. I just do not see that happening here, here’s why.

Seems to me that a directional beamformed signal always wins unless a many-unit mesh is used to cover all usage locations, and no mesh network is going to compete with a beamformed signal out on my patio where no mesh-node is nearby. Nor do I wish to add extra mesh units to deal with those locations. Nor do I wish to spend time trying to find the optimal locations for every mesh unit (not at all obvious given wall construction). Then there is winter vs summer location indoors vs outdoors... gah!

It's a lot simpler to plug in one capable router than the 3 or 5 or 10 mesh units, each of which blocks an AC outlet, which in my home means adding a multiple outlet strip for more expense and quite a mess in multiple rooms. There is also the power draw of all those units and terribly annoying LED lights at nighttime too (though I suppose that black tape can fix that unwanted illumination).

Health: the wisdom of blanket-saturating a dwelling with radio frequency emissions at 5 GHz seems dubious at best. The beamformed external antenna design can use a lower power signal than would otherwise be required. If there is any health consideration, that’s a big plus.

I already know how mediocre-signal devices perform (eg Apple Airport Extreme)—they suck. If I get lousy performance 6-10 feet away through open air , I don’t see how a mesh makes that better other than raising the performance floor from poor to mediocre, but not optimal. Maybe other brands and newer technology is better, but making a mesh of relatively low performance devices is not likely to make them perform better than a high grade directional signal that is beamformed and in reasonable proximity.

The Netgear Nighthawk X10 has four directional antennas with beam-forming. My guess is that directional antennas with beamforming will outperform a mesh network in peak performance and over a wider area (unless many mesh units are used, costly and wasteful), and with lower latency.

...antennas are designed to strengthen weak signals and increase Wi-Fi coverage throughout large homes and buildings. Combine the external active antennas with built-in Beamforming+ technology and wireless users have a direct link to the router. Rather than provide a blanket signal, the Nighthawk X10 beams the Wi-Fi signal directly to connected devices for a stronger, more reliable connection.

My guess is that the Netgear Nighthawk X10 will outperform a mesh network if placed in an optimal location for a house, particularly since it can directionally beamform for 4 devices simultaneously with substantial antennas. With 3-5 people in the house, that means that each user should get a 'prime' signal.

But all of that is just my educated guess based on 30 years of working with technology. It will be interesting to see how the Netgear Nighthawk X10 actually performs.

Sidney L writes:

Was reading your post about getting a new WiFi access point. I went through a similar process about a year ago. I don’t have a demanding network, but have a lot of different devices that most tech households would have.

What I found was the traffic from devices was causing interference on a single WiFi access point that it didn’t matter what speed or power it was, it became unreliable over time. A single network is also now recognised as a security risk from devices like printers, HomePods, Alexa, TVs that can be compromised and attack computers. The current standard approach is to isolate homogenous devices into their own VLAN. This results in traffic isolation which gave me much better security, throughout and reliability.

The problem was implementing VLANs in a relatively simple way. Netgear routers and access points have almost no functionality in this area. There’s a bunch of freeware/shareware open source solutions like Tomato, DD-WRT and Asuswrt Merlin, running on various models of Netgear, Asus, etc. After trying a bunch, I ended up with a Ubiquity UDM. I’ve had Ubiquity devices a few years ago and I was quite underwhelmed. But the UDM makes creating VLANs pretty much point and click. You might want to take a look.

MPG: I have not seen reliability change over time, nor have I seen evidence of degradation from devices. It seems to me that home appliances are more of an issue for the signal than a few iPhones and a TV or two—even right now with two Apple Airport Extreme. With 4 beamformed antennas/channels on the Netgear Nighthawk X10 , I am skeptical that this is a real issue.

Agreed that the security of devices on a network is a valid consideration, though I mostly dismiss it for myself (large lot well back from street, sparse neighborhood). I can dedicate the existing Apple Airport Extremes each to its own local LAN if need be, and I can do the same for the Netgear. I also disable WiFi on everything I don't need it for, and I use ethernet for printers and one of the TVs.

The security issue is real, but isn’t it 100X more of a concern for laptop users away from home using random WiFi networks, so how real is this issue, as a practical behavioral thing? Still, security and privacy are things to at least consider.

I don't enslave myself to headache-inducing technology kruft like Alexa or HomePod—I don't ever want them in my home. It’s bad enough keeping up with useless Apple iOS updates and damned TV software updates. Useless solutions-in-search-of-a-problem gadgets that create new maintenance chores are just ways to degrade my life, which is why such useless garbage devices will never enter my home, barring something with an ROI far exceeding its cost and maintenance headaches. OTOH, I am sure the people I see staring at their iPhones on a nature walk embrace such kruft—each to his/her own.


Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

OWC Thunderblade 16TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD: Double the Fun

OWC doubled the capacity of the OWC Thunderblade from 8TB to 16TB in late spring of 2020.

16TB OWC Thunderblade

The new capacity option is incredible in historical terms: while hardly inexpensive, multi-gigabyte per second performance across 16TB of capacity opens up new possibilities for photo and video professional, or for anyone who just wants to dispense with noisy 'spinners (hard drives) for main storage.

To put this enormous capacity into perspective, I am primarily a photographer, and all the images shot in my entire life will fit within the 16TB Thunderblade—and I shoot a lot and have more images than 99% of my readers.

Putting it into numbers: the 100-megapixel Fujifilm GFX100 produces 16-bit raw files that average 124MB each. Rounding the 15.36TB capacity to 15TB, the 16TB Thunderblade can hold 121 thousand raw files at 124MB each. For Sony A7R IV files, that figure rises to 242 thousand raw files at 61.9MB each. Very few photographers will push beyond that capacity but those that do can always buy a second Thunderblade, or tier their storage to high-capacity hard drives for older files.

Read more: OWC Thunderblade 16TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD: Double the Fun

Cell Signal Booster: weBoost Drive Reach Substantially Improves Uplink Performance Over WeBoost Drive 4G-X

Over the past two years, I used the WeBoost Drive 4G-X heavily for about 9 months in remote areas, using it far more heavily than most people are ever likely to use such a device. It was my internet connection and was crucial to my work. See my review of the WeBoost Drive 4G-X.

weBoost Drive Reach 470154 Cell Phone Signal Booster

In May of 2020, I upgraded to the WeBoost Drive Reach, a model claiming up to 75% faster speed. I am pleased to report that for upload speed, the WeBoost Reach is up to 3X as fast.

weBoost Drive Reach (470154) Vehicle Cell Phone Signal Booster
Prior model: weBoost Drive 4G-X 470510 Cell Phone Signal Booster

The older Drive 4G-X model is no wimp: I gave it to a friend, who for the first time ever was able to make cell phone calls out of the Onion Valley parking lot at 8800' (a gorgeous 5500 scenic road from Independence, CA). He was thrilled, because one of his key activities is shuttling hikers to and from the Pacific Crest Trail trailheads where cell phone reception has long been an issue.

weBoost Drive Reach (470154)

The weBoost Drive Reach is a solid upgrade over the weBoost Drive 4G-X, worth every penny to me:

  • The 'Reach' is better built, with push-on cables and a USB charging port.
  • The Reach main unit is high grade metal with deep heat fins for the main unit. The Reach consumes considerably more power (8 watts at idle) and those heat fins get quite warm. When running on battery power, this power usage is a significant downside vs the far more power efficient Drive 4G-X. But this is the only downside I found.
  • Uplink speed in remote areas shows up to 3X the speed of the 'Drive 4G-X' (computer to the internet). This is more important to my use than download speed, since I regularly push several hundred megabytes to my server.
  • Download speed of the Reach looks slightly better, but due to highly variable cell network behavior, I was unable to put a number to it without huge bandwidth utilization, which I could not afford to do as it would have quickly decimated my cell phone monthly data allotment of 30GB per device.

Note that download speed improvements are relatively minor in this practical sense: 5 MB/sec is scarcely different from 10MB/sec or 20MB/sec in any real-world scenario, since a 6GB download at 5MB/sec still takes only 2 minutes—it just doesn’t matter much.

Field observations, weak signal

There is a huge variability in the cell network for download performance, which made it impossible to get reliable numbers on download performance. Furthermore, the cell network is clearly implementing a burst algorithm: peak speed for a short while then dropping in half or worse, then highly variable—some kind of bandwidth management.

Reliably better in every way:

Cell phone alone: "no signal" vs
with weBoost Drive Reach
10MB/sec to 27MB/sec
  • Multiplying by a true zero (no signal at all) does nothing of course, but more than once a “No Signal” status on the phone disappeared as soon as I turned on the booster.
  • In several locations with a very poor signal, the weBoost Drive Reach turned a “No Signal” or 1-bar signal into as much as 27MB/sec download and 1MB/sec upload. WOW!
  • There is a low-signal range for which the boost is huge.: with a very weak signal, I regularly see a 20X to 30X speed improvement vs the cell phone alone—30K/sec can go to 1MB/sec.
  • Phone calls that would drop within a minute outside the van could go on without incident for an hour in the van near the booster.
  • With any 2-bar signal or better, speed is superior to what many home internet users ever see; it is simply not a concern.

Poor cell signal in your home or office? Check out weBoost Home Booster.

Background — travel requirements

I travel for photography in my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van. Invariably this means remote areas where cell phone coverage ranges from excellent to barely there to not at all. My #1 issue when traveling is the availability of a good cell signal.

I frequently upload up to 500MB at a time to my server for my photography publications and photo blog and cycling blog, with many high-res images. But it’s not just about lots of data—even email can take half an hour with a weak cell signal without a booster because it is very “chatty” back and forth— high latency so that even a single 64K email could take 30 seconds when the signal is barely there.

I recall roasting in the hot sun for up to two hours waiting for an upload to finish. That is, before I had the weBoost; I could not change location lest I lose the signal. Those days are long gone thank to the weBoost.

I greatly prefer locations where I have peace and solitude free of the noises and campfire smoke and idling engines of other people (I never stay in campgrounds for that reason). But I also need a cell signal regularly. Without the weBoost, I can be forced to make as much as an hour round-trip to check on business. So it’s a Big Deal if I can get a usable signal versus not. There are still areas where this is truly no signal and the weBoost can do nothing, but those locations are no far fewer thanks to the weBoost.

View external SSDs excellent for travel.

Sprinter in National Forest, Mt Whitney Foothills
f13 @ 1/40 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2020-04-18 18:03:26
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR @ 40mm equiv (50mm)
ENV: Whitney foothhills road 100S103A, altitude 6430 ft / 1960 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, push 0.55 stops, +100 Shadows, -90 Highlights, +56 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +20 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Use Apple’s “Night Shift” to Reduce Blue Light on Computer Display and iPhone, iPad

Blue light from sunlight can cause macular degeneration, but the jury is out as for blue light from computer screens, iPads, iPhone etc—unlikely but not ruled out by science quite yet given the short-term studies and intensive usage by young people today. See Macular Degeneration Linked to Blue Light (sunlight and most forms of LED lights).

Setting aside macular degeneration, the blue tint to the iMac 5K and iPhone and similar devices can irritate the eyes of some people and disrupt sleep patterns, hence the inclusion of Night Shift in macOS.

My elderly father recently was having eye discomfort using his iMac 5K, so I suggested he try warming up the screen color to reduce the amount of blue light (“warm” means more yellow, “cool” means more blue).

On iOS, use System Preferences=> Display => Night Shift.

 
Apple macOS: Enabling blue light reduction via Night Shift

On iOS, use Settings => Display & Brightness => Night Shift.

 
Apple iOS: Enabling blue light reduction via Night Shift
OWC Accelsior 4M2 PCIe SSD
6000 MB/sec!
Mac or PC.


Ideal for Lightroom, Photoshop, video.
Capacity up to 16TB!

Reviewed: OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C

MPG tested the 4TB OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 and the 4TB OWC Envoy Pro EX USB-C. Capacities available from 240GB to 4TB for both models.

For my photography needs, both of these SSDs are awesome—the 4TB capacity is a problem-solver for me on extended trips when the skimpy internal 2TB SSD in the 2019 iMac 5K overflows. And the performance is ample for even my most demanding work, particularly with the Thunderbolt 3 model.

The silent and bus-powered operation make both of these units the ultimate in convenience, especially for laptop users. And if you bought a Mac or PC with too-small an SSD, both of these units preserve that investment with no fuss.

  
OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3
OWC Envoy Pro EX USB-C

Upgrade the memory of your 2019 iMac up to 128GB

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