Akitio releases red Node Lite Thunderbolt 3 drive with fast Intel Optane SSD

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited September 10
Akitio has announced the immediate availability of their latest Thunderbolt 3 device, the bright red Node Lite that comes equipped with a 960GB Intel Optane NVMe SSD with speeds up to 2600 MB/s.

Akitio Node Lite


After being available for a couple years, more and more Thunderbolt 3 devices have been coming to market. The Node Lite enclosure has been around for a bit, though the new color and Optane storage pre-built are new.

The red Node Lite has an aluminum enclosure with a transparent acrylic side that shows off bright LEDs of the exposed SSD as well as the inner workings of the enclosure. Ports include a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports, a dedicated DisplayPort, and the power jack.

Akitio Node Lite Ports


Leveraging Thunderbolt 3, up to six devices can be daisy chained together. By including a dedicated DisplayPort, the second Thunderbolt 3 port can be used for connecting other drives, eGPUs, a monitor, or other peripherals.

For storage, Akitio is bundling the Intel Optane 905P 960GB PCIe SSD that can handle 2.6 Gigabytes per second read speed, and 2.2 Gigabytes per second write speed. Of course, real world usage can vary.

Apple first included Thunderbolt 3 on the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and has been including it on more machines ever since.

The Special Edition red Node Lite with 960GB Intel Optane SSD 905P is available from Amazon for $1499.99. If you like the enclosure, but don't need the Intel Optane SSD or the red color scheme, you can pick up the PCI-E Node Lite Thunderbolt 3 enclosure for $198.99.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    A product looking for a problem to solve.
  • Reply 2 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,174member
    That enclosure looks huge for its capacity. Is there really that much heat from the faster read/writes that it can't be powered by TB3 alone and needs to be that large?

    Great if you need 4x the speed* and don't mind paying 5x the price for a bulkier option over something like the Samsung T5 Portable SSD.

    * With other bottlenecks in a system I wonder what the real world advantage is for using this drive.
    edited September 10
  • Reply 3 of 20
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,198member
    Soli said:
    That enclosure looks huge for its capacity. Is there really that much heat from the faster read/writes that it can't be powered by TB3 alone and needs to be that large?

    Great if you need 4x the speed* and don't mind paying 5x the price for a bulkier option over something like the Samsung T5 Portable SSD.

    * With other bottlenecks in a system I wonder what the real world advantage is for using this drive.
    I am absolutely confused by this product.   Why the huge chassis for what is essentially an SSD drive?  Is it because of the Thunderbolt circuitry that requires that much more real-estate?

    It may be 5x the price of the Samsung T5, but then again, the throughput is almost 5x that of the Samsung drive so it's relative.  I'm all for faster speeds as I love my Promise Thunderbolt2 drive array, but this is some pricey stuff for what I think is not very much storage capacity.  
  • Reply 4 of 20
    I really want to know what such a fast storage is useful for. It hugely impresses on the benchmarks, but what kind of workload does it actually improve.  (Legitimate question. Not trolling).
  • Reply 5 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,174member
    scottw2 said:
    I really want to know what such a fast storage is useful for. It hugely impresses on the benchmarks, but what kind of workload does it actually improve.  (Legitimate question. Not trolling).
    At one time I would've loved to have a faster option for moving up to a TB of data to client servers and PC for a restore via images that I kept. This would absolutely make it faster over the HDD that I kept, but I'm not sure it would be worth the extra power cable, the bulk, and price over more contained SSDs that are 1/4 the price since it's still be moved though other slow interfaces, which typically also meant copying to an HDD which is the slowest option in the chain. Now, if you're coming to another very fast SSD that exceeds the speeds of other solutions, like the aforementioned T5, it would likely speed things up. The larger the transfer the more time is saved, and if you bill the same for a client and you can see more clients I can see how it could be worthwhile.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    scottw2 said:
    I really want to know what such a fast storage is useful for. It hugely impresses on the benchmarks, but what kind of workload does it actually improve.  (Legitimate question. Not trolling).
    Realtime processing 8k video? I think these are for Pixar and ILM.
    chasm
  • Reply 7 of 20
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,198member
    scottw2 said:
    I really want to know what such a fast storage is useful for. It hugely impresses on the benchmarks, but what kind of workload does it actually improve.  (Legitimate question. Not trolling).
    If your work involves a lot of video and/or photographs, then fast/external storage is the way to go.  I have a Thunderbolt2 6-drive storage drive that I use exclusively for my photography work in Lightroom and Photoshop.  There's so much bandwidth, almost as fast as my native SSD speeds on my iMac, I can do all my work - and catalog files - straight from the drive without loading anything on my Mac - with the exception of the LR/PS application itself.  I haven't even been able to saturate the TB2 pipe and it's still crazy fast.

    That's just one just and justification for fast, external storage.  

    This particular device though, seems strange to me.  I must be missing something.  Not a fan of the design.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    xgmanxgman Posts: 147member
    It really seems like faster and large SSD drives are never going to become reasonably priced for the masses. It's a shame, since it really does improve the user experience quite dramatically .
  • Reply 9 of 20
    xgman said:
    It really seems like faster and large SSD drives are never going to become reasonably priced for the masses. It's a shame, since it really does improve the user experience quite dramatically .
    There are no inexpensive options yet, but there has been progress. Bypassing the SATA bus and tying NVMe storage directly to the PCIe bus has resulted in storage that is four or five times as fast as it was five years ago at about the same price as what equivalent capacities cost five years ago.

    That's desirable, and I paid the Holy Shit price to get the full 2TB in my Touch Bar, but like you say, what we still haven't seen is a viable alternative to hard drives. I expected, or at least hoped, that by now we'd have simple, slower-than-premium-but-still-faster-than-hard-drives SSDs at prices that are at least in the same ballpark as hard drives. I'm disappointed that we don't.

    What the world needs now, in addition to Love, Sweet Love, (sorry, Jackie DeShannon) is a 1TB 250Mb/s SSD for $100.
  • Reply 10 of 20
    Soli said:
    That enclosure looks huge for its capacity. Is there really that much heat from the faster read/writes that it can't be powered by TB3 alone and needs to be that large?

    Great if you need 4x the speed* and don't mind paying 5x the price for a bulkier option over something like the Samsung T5 Portable SSD.

    * With other bottlenecks in a system I wonder what the real world advantage is for using this drive.
     Or that new Samsung X5 SSD that was announced that's about the same speed, and only $699 for that matter.

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/08/28/samsungs-thunderbolt-3-portable-ssd-x5-boasts-high-read-and-write-speeds

    Using a faster drive definitely does make a difference when using as a scratch disk, working with video, or even importing/exporting from Lightroom. 
  • Reply 11 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,174member
    Aloysius said:
    Soli said:
    That enclosure looks huge for its capacity. Is there really that much heat from the faster read/writes that it can't be powered by TB3 alone and needs to be that large?

    Great if you need 4x the speed* and don't mind paying 5x the price for a bulkier option over something like the Samsung T5 Portable SSD.

    * With other bottlenecks in a system I wonder what the real world advantage is for using this drive.
     Or that new Samsung X5 SSD that was announced that's about the same speed, and only $699 for that matter.

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/08/28/samsungs-thunderbolt-3-portable-ssd-x5-boasts-high-read-and-write-speeds
    I didn't know about (or remember) this one. Thanks.

    Even with the 2TB option it still comes $100 under this drive and it still looks much more compact and doesn't seem to need an external power source besides what is offered by the data connection. So why is this Akitio so large and so expensive for an equivalent performance? I feel like I must be missing something since they don't seem to be products that should come out around the same time, but rather several years ago with that chassis and cost difference.
    edited September 10
  • Reply 12 of 20
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,207member
    I would go the cheaper enclosure.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,207member
    I get that someone would need this level of performance, but for this kind of money for a box this size wouldn’t you want the ability to have two drives in the enclosure to leverage performance, and not have the enclosure look like some pimply gamer’s wet dream? 
  • Reply 14 of 20
    It's too bad Apple just doesn't give the user a couple NVMe m.2 slots on the system board to add drives (like almost any new Windows system).  $300 for 1TB NVMe and done.  Instead, everyone gets all excited about TB3 and you wind up with an oversized, overpriced box like this that you have to not only plug into power, but also find a place to put it.
    edited September 10
  • Reply 15 of 20
    chasmchasm Posts: 770member
    Ugh, get that butt-ugly gamer PC design out of here!

    Thank you to Andrew for including an grownup-person option for a case that can deliver the same performance. Optane's numbers are great, sure -- but not any better than various cheaper NVme/M2 options I've seen elsewhere. IMO, this product doesn't offer great value for money -- unless silly lights, obnoxious colours, and see-through panels are your thing.
  • Reply 16 of 20
    OWC Thunderblade - $300 less ($1200 for 1 TB), and WAY smaller physical size:
    https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/TB3TBV4T1.0/

    The enclosure for the Optane SSD seems like overkill.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    macinfish said:
    [...] WAY smaller physical size
    The ACTUAL physical size of that device is more than double what OWC shows in the photos. The 5A power supply will be bigger than the drive itself.

    It's still smaller than the Akitio, but not as diminutive in actual use as the photos would suggest.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    macinfish said:
    [...] WAY smaller physical size
    The ACTUAL physical size of that device is more than double what OWC shows in the photos. The 5A power supply will be bigger than the drive itself.

    It's still smaller than the Akitio, but not as diminutive in actual use as the photos would suggest.
    It’s very small in person. About the size of an external optical drive. 
  • Reply 19 of 20
    Soli said:
    Aloysius said:
    Soli said:
    That enclosure looks huge for its capacity. Is there really that much heat from the faster read/writes that it can't be powered by TB3 alone and needs to be that large?

    Great if you need 4x the speed* and don't mind paying 5x the price for a bulkier option over something like the Samsung T5 Portable SSD.

    * With other bottlenecks in a system I wonder what the real world advantage is for using this drive.
     Or that new Samsung X5 SSD that was announced that's about the same speed, and only $699 for that matter.

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/08/28/samsungs-thunderbolt-3-portable-ssd-x5-boasts-high-read-and-write-speeds
    I didn't know about (or remember) this one. Thanks.

    Even with the 2TB option it still comes $100 under this drive and it still looks much more compact and doesn't seem to need an external power source besides what is offered by the data connection. So why is this Akitio so large and so expensive for an equivalent performance? I feel like I must be missing something since they don't seem to be products that should come out around the same time, but rather several years ago with that chassis and cost difference.
    I’m not sure. I know my T5 can get pretty hot, and I have no idea if thermal issues impact performance in the real world? 

    My my opinion is that they made it look like this to look like this. An ugly PC gamer look, as someone else posted. 
  • Reply 20 of 20
    Aloysius said:
    macinfish said:
    [...] WAY smaller physical size
    The ACTUAL physical size of that device is more than double what OWC shows in the photos. The 5A power supply will be bigger than the drive itself.

    It's still smaller than the Akitio, but not as diminutive in actual use as the photos would suggest.
    It’s very small in person. About the size of an external optical drive. 
    Right, but then add the 5A power brick... that power supply will be about the same volume as the drive itself.
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