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

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.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

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!

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