Review: OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G 480GB SSD (Verdict: sick!)

Review: OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G 480GB SSD (Verdict: sick!)

Summary: OWC makes the fastest SSD on the planet for the MacBook Air and if you need to have the most performance possible, it's the only game in town.


Review: OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD - Jason O'Grady

Back in February 2011 I called the OWC 3G Mercury Aura Pro Express Solid State Drive (SSD) upgrade for the 2010 MacBook Air the best upgrade that you can get because it bested the performance of the stock Apple SSD by a considerable margin and pushed data rates to over 275MB/second -- or up to 68 percent faster than the Apple OEM SSD.

This year OWC's outdone themselves. Again.

The 2011 MacBook Air comes with an unadvertised feature: support for the SATA 6 Gb/s interface -- which has twice the bandwidth of the 3 Gb/s SATA bus in the 2010 MacBook Air. This means that the 2011 MBA is capable of pushing data rates to over 500MB/s -- if you have the right SSD, that is. Apple basically hobbles the MacBook Air by shipping it with a SATA 3 Gb/s SSD.

OWC's 6G Mercury Aura Pro Express uses a screaming SandForce SF-2281 controller and Toshiba Toggle NAND and when combined with the 2011 MBA's SATA 6 Gb/s interface pushes 511 MB/s read speeds and 448 MB/s write speeds according to OWC's benchmarks.

All I can say is that the thing is fast. If you like benchmark porn, check out which is loaded with the stuff. Here's a sample:

Storage Review Benchmarks the 6G Merc SSD from OWC

The 6G Merc from OWC fully leverages the 6G SSD bus and cranks data rates to over 500MB/s -- which is scorching fast. OWC's 6G SSD's were capped at 240GB in capacity until January when it released a 480GB model ($1129) which is simply the biggest and fastest SSD that you can put in the 2011 MacBook Air.

If you need raw drive speed and the capacity to store a hefty photo, video or music library the 6G Mercury Aura Pro Express is the only SSD to get.

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility

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  • Not just for MBA

    I'd love one of these for my UX31
    • I mean...

      I know... UX31 already gets those speeds, but the 480GB size!!!
  • Super fast!

    I have an OWC 240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD in my desktop right now and this thing is smokin' fast! =)
  • iMac SSD

    I've had my 27" 2011 iMac since May. The SSD option would have meant waiting a month and paying an additional $600 for a 3G drive. I just put in a 120GB OCZ Agility3 6G drive for $130 ($150 less $30 rebate plus $10 cable) This involved removing the screen, dozens of screws, unplugging the HD and optical drives as well as all motherboard connections before tipping up the motherboard to plug in the cable. The drive is attached to the aluminum case with double stick tape under the optical drive.

    Now I have my OS and applications on the SSD and data on the HD. Boot up and application launching is so fast! Performance is greatly enhanced. Last year, I replaced the HD in an original Black Macbook with a small 60GB SSD and it boosted performance and battery life for under $100.
  • where can I buy?

    Can you only order the OWC SSD's on their site? I can't find any stores that stock it. I want to physically walk out of a store with a drive in my hands! Call me old fashioned..
    • Old Fashioned,

      Tacking a measly ~$21 for next day air on an already spendy 480GB SSD would hardly be noticed. AFAIK, these are only available from OWC directly. Besides, brick and mortar are so 20th century.