Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

Summary: After the honeymoon was over two things irked me about the 2010 MacBook Air: its non-backlit keyboard and its too-small SSD. The first is a bummer, but OWC has a solution for the second.

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When the second-generation MacBook Air came out in 2010 I embraced it. Finally, a MacBook that I could take everywhere -- without thinking twice. But after the honeymoon was over two things irked me about the MBA11: its non-backlit keyboard and its too-small SSD.

(The first-gen MBA had a backlit keyboard, but Apple omitted it from the second-gen? Grrr... I'll save my no-backlit-keyboard rant for another post.)

The 11-inch 'Air only has two SSD options from the factory -- 64GB and 128GB. And even 128GB will simply be too small for many people to use as their primary/only drive. (Hopefully you opted for the 4GB configuration because unlike the SSD, the RAM is soldered to the motherboard.)

OWC has answered the call and is now shipping its Mercury Aura Pro Express line of SSD upgrades for MacBook Air (pictured above). The Aura Pro Express comes in three capacities:

  • 180GB - $499
  • 240GB - $579
  • 320GB - $1,179

I opted the 240GB Aura Pro Express and it morphed my MBA11 from a machine that I could use some of the time to a machine that I can use all of the time. Installation was simple, painless and OWC provided the tools to do the job. The new SSD doesn't come with an external enclosure, so you'll have to clone your original SSD to an external drive (I use Super Duper, but Carbon Copy Cloner works too), then clone it back post swap.

The Aura Pro SSDs aren't cheap, but if you can afford one, it's the best upgrade that you can get for the MacBook Air. With a large enough SSD the MacBook Air can truly become your full-time and only machine. I love being able to tote my large-ish music and photo libraries without having to drag along an external hard drive everywhere I go.

The Aura Pro Express is a hot item right now and inventory status is updated daily on OWC's site (they're currently listing an 8-day lead time). If you think that you want one, you should reserve your spot now.

Check out my photo gallery of the installation process:

...with bonus close-up of Apple's controversial pentalobular screws!

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility

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10 comments
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  • RE: Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

    Hurray for Apple being so paranoid about a computer that looks incredibly easy to work on - for an Apple.
    nix_hed
    • RE: Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

      @nix_hed define 'work on'. I don't see anything aside from a plug and play module system in the photos and even that appears to be pretty delicate. I used to add RAM to Mac Pluses where you had to clip a resistor and occasionally replace an analog board capacitor where you had to desolder and solder. Those days are long gone. Apple's paranoia seems well placed.
      dheady
  • Who needs a backlit keyboard anyway?

    Anyone using a computer needs to be able to touch type.
    Laraine Anne Barker
    • RE: Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

      @Laraine Anne Barker I couldn't agree with you more on that. I'm 61 and one of the few men of my generation that learned in high school to touch type. In an aside, I got ribbed about it at the time by my male peers until they realized that I was the only guy in a room full of thirty five girls. Who's the smart one? In any event, my wife touch types as well and has a MBP with the backlighting and loves it. She will often work into the wee hours while in bed with one eye on TV. So, I guess it's a matter of taste in some cases. Oh, I do about 90 wpm, just for the record, and no, I didn't meet my wife in Typing 1 or Typing 2.
      dheady
    • RE: Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

      @Laraine Anne Barker - That's an incredibly ignorant statement. I have been a mainframe programmer for 15 years and cannot touch type. I probable could learn with a little practice but it is definitely not a requirement for my job. Journalists/admin assistants are really the only ones who need to type that well.
      jsanko
  • RE: Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

    Jason, has the aura SSD continued to work flawlessly for you? I"m (pinches fingers) THIS close to ordering the 360 for my 11", but i don't want to do something i'll regret.
    rtdunham
  • RE: Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

    go research the sandforce SSD wake from sleep issues that have plagued this unit - i've been through 3, just got my new one, and same issues.
    holographicyogi
  • RE: Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

    Got one of these (480GB) back on May 17th, right after it came out. It just failed on Friday, July 29th - blinking ?, two different MBAs wouldn't recognize it. OWC refused do a paid, advance replacement with CC. Not pleased about this. I've a bad feeling about this.
    Mark Maytum
  • RE: Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

    MacBook Air also features the Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor, which includes an on-chip engine for video encoding and decoding. That means you experience video playback and FaceTime calls that are smoother, more responsive, and more true to life.-<a href="http://anylabshouston.com/">Any Lab Test Now</a>
    shantelle143
  • RE: Review: Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air (verdict: get one)

    Other World Computing has officially announced their brand new Mercury Aura Pro SSDs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, aiming the new drives at earlier models of Apple???s MacBook Air notebook line-up. The drives are meant for the first generation MacBook Air models.-<a href="http://oceans2003.org/dr-jerry-m-foster/">Dr. Jerry M. Foster</a>
    liezelee1109