Boris Mann

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Nov 14, 2020

  • November 14, 2020

Rachael and I actually slept in a bit (for us) and had breakfast at home, and then went out to the Vancouver Art Gallery.

I spent a lot of the week only being indoors, on way too many Zoom calls.

You need to book an appointment ahead of time, and have to wear a mask in the gallery. There were maybe 4 other people we encountered wandering around during our booking slot.

The Victor Vasarely exhibition – pop art – was amazing. I posted on social.coop, including a painting that matches Rachael’s new sweater. We’ll see if I get around to posting more research and photos about Vasarely later.

Then we went to The Bay. Much more crowded and feeling uncomfortable, although masks are required. Bought a 9x13” baking pan, and a quarter sheet with a grill/tray that will be for roasting various things.

I suggested Miku for lunch. Yes, a bit high end and pricey – but very delicious. Reflecting on how lucky and privileged we are to do things like this occasionally.

Researching External Drives at OWC

I bought my RAM upgrade for the Mac Mini1 at OWC, and thought I’d look at their external drive options too.

Do I need a Networked Attached Storage (NAS) device, or do I just need drives attached to the computer directly? I’m thinking that I don’t actually need a NAS, although it would do other things as well.

I think what I need is:

  • 2.5” SSD drives – not 3.5” spinning platters
  • multiple drives in an enclosure – I don’t think I need RAID for redundancy (this isn’t backup, for which, for my purposes, some cloud solution still works) – but some sort of spanning and ability to swap out drives
  • Thunderbolt 3 aka USB-C connection
  • at least 2TB to start – my 500GB Mac Mini hard drive is almost full, in part because of Steam games

The Thunderbolt Drives section of OWC is a good starting point for letting you filter.

I narrowed it down to:

Mercury Elite Pro Dual with 3-Port Hub: 2 x 2TB SSDs, USB3 rather than Thunderbolt, but it’s a USB-C connector. $799USD.

ThunderBay 4 mini: 4 x 1TB SSDs, SoftRAID / RAID 4, Thunderbolt 3. $1079USD.

Express 4M2: 4 slot M.2 NVMe SSD – the “hard drives” that look like RAM sticks. Thunderbolt 3. Comes with SoftRAID. No drives included. $279USD (enclosure only). The reviews on Amazon for the 4M2 are helpful, e.g. “not at full 4x speed unless you have four SSDs in the enclosure. It seems stable when occupying a Thunderbolt-3 slot with no daisy-chaining”

Hmmm. Now down the rabbit hole of NVMe drives, which are VERY interesting. OWC has a couple of enclosures:

Envoy Pro EX: 2TB NMVe, USB3 speeds / USB-C connection. $349USD (enclosure only is $49USD).

Envoy Express: a Thunderbolt 3 connection, no drives included, and looks like it’s in pre-order. About 50% faster than the USB3 connection. $79USD.

Looking over at Memory ExpressMemory Express
Vancouver and Canada-wide computer parts and components store. The store on W Broadway at Cypress is the one closest to me in Vancouver.
with a search for NVMe there are lots of results of different types of drives (in CAD rather than USD).

Here’s a USB3 NVMe enclosure Elite M.2 NVMe PCIe 2280 External Enclosure – $49CAD.

And here’s a 2TB NVMe drive that is Gen3/Gen4 – so “slower”, but since this is external, the external bus interface is the max speed anyway, and all NVMe drives are faster than the bus interface. XPG SX8200 Pro 2TB is $299CAD. Newer and well known brands like Samsung EVO are like $400CAD+ for 2TB.

Conclusion: I don’t know enough about this at all, and this is before I start researching NAS solutions.

I think an NVMe enclosure and 2TB drive makes the most sense right now. The Express 4M2 then becomes an upgrade to re-use the 2TB drive. And, generally, Thunderbolt 3 interfaces are just coming to market.

  1. Still not installed! The last Amazon delivery got me the right T6 “secure” size of screwdriver, and I got two of the flush fit screws off, but the other ones won’t turn with the screwdriver. I don’t really know what I’m going to do at this point. I had read elsewhere about someone in the same situation whose screws didn’t turn out of the box, and took it in to Apple to help with having the screws removed. I’m super annoyed that I can’t get this done!