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Overview of OWC Thunderbay 6
Related: Other World Computing, OWC Thunderbay, OWC Thunderbay 6, RAID, RAID-4, RAID-5, SoftRAID, SSD, storage, Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 3
The OWC Thunderbay 6 houses six hard drives or SSDs of either 3.5" or 2.5" form factor. OWC supplies a one-meter Thunderbolt cable with the Thunderbay.
The Thunderbay 6 RAID edition includes software RAID via SoftRAID.
- Mac and Windows
- Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort 1.2
- Works with 3.5" or 2.5" drives — no adapter needed.
- Capacities up to 84TB.
- Up to 1125MB/s of sustained performance.
- Supports RAID 0, 1, 4, 5 and 1+0 (10) via OWC's advanced SoftRAID engine
- Optional M.2 NVMe SSD (such as the Samsung 970 EVO)
- Daisy chain up to six units together
- Up to 5 Year OWC Limited Warranty1
The Thunderbay is a JBOD* solution (not a hardware RAID): the system sees all six drives as separate drives and thus it can be utilized that way using Apple’s Disk Utility or SoftRAID.
* JBOD = Just a Bunch Of Disks, meaning each drive is seen independently.
OWC ships the RAID edition as a single large volume (e.g., 70TB for an 84TB Thunderbay 6). While this suit some users looking for huge large storage device, some users might opt for more than one volume, or to not use RAID at all.
Partitioning can be done whether using RAID is used or not. For example, in an 84TB Thunderbay 6, it is possible to configure six 14TB RAID-0 volumes or six 10TB RAID-5 volumes.
Other examples include six 14TB single volumes, or three 14TB RAID-1 mirror volumes or 1 or more RAID-5 volumes using 4 drives along with two single-drive volumes—the possibilities are expansive.
At much lower cost than Apple, with more options.
Lloyd recommends 64GB for iMac or Mac Pro for photography/videography.
Additional drives, drive removal
Drives are mounted in drive carriers that are released without tools with a thumbscrew mechanism. Because OWC sells additional drive carriers, it is possible to use the Thunderbay 6 to swap drives—not tools needed. Just screw the spare drives into the spare carriers, and swap at will (unmount drives and power down the unit before swapping).
OWC has put a lot of effort into fan and vibration control; the Thunderbay 6 is on par with the OWC Thunderbay 4 in acoustics even though it has two more drives to cool.
Finished in a black semi-smooth finish which should hold up well to wear.
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The front grill can be locked if desired using the supplied keys.
Status lights on the front indicate the status of each drive, labeled A/B/C/D/E/F.
At front are six drive lights one for each bay. OWC sells extra drive carriers, and the unit can be used to swap drives out, such as for backup purposes or swappable storage.
Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports allow daisy-chaining. Bonuses include:
- DisplayPort (not show in the picture below), should be below the power port.
- A Kensington locking slot is provided.
- Power supply is internal (no external power brick).
Slot for M.2 NVMe SSD
The M.2 slot is a separate internal slot that can be used in addition to the six drive bays.
Installation of an M.2 NVMe SSD (such as the Samsung 970 EVO or the OWC Mercury M.2) is a convenience feature if one wants an up-to 2TB SSD (4TB might be possible as higher density flash arrives). The .2 NVMe SSD has two PCIe lanes of its own and should be able to deliver a real-world ~800 MB/sec performance.
Below, the 2018 Mac mini fits neatly on top of the OWC Thunderbay 6.