OWC Mercury Accelsior 480GB PCIe SSD Review – First Upgradeable PCIe SSD Hits The Streets

It was only a matter of time before the idea of expandable storage was introduced into the world of PCIe SSDs and, although we have seen a few prototypes in the last year, none have quite made it to market just yet.

Our analysis of the OWC Mercury Accelsior 480GB PCIe SSD not only opens the possibility of upgradeable capacity sizes, but also, it just so happens to be only the second consumer targeted PCIe SSD on the market right now and is both Mac and PC ‘plug and play’ compatible.

SPECIFICATIONS

The OWC Mercury Accelsior is available in capacities of 120, 240 480 and 960GB.  There are three detachable components which are the PCIe itself and two upgradable ‘blade’ mPCIe SSDs that can be switched off for higher capacity.  Performance of the Accelsior does not suffer the SATA 3 bottleneck at 600MB/s and speeds are listed at 780MB/s read and 648MB/s write.

Similar to only the SuperTalent RAID Drive upStream prototype that we reviewed, the Mercury Accelsior requires no driver installation and is plug and play. Simply insert it into an available PCIe slot in your system and reboot. The Mercury Accelsior has a three year warranty, is available now, and prices are $359.99 (120GB), $529.99 (240GB), $949.99 (480GB) and $2079.99 (960GB). In a search, we found the Accelsior available at OWC and Amazon.Com, for those who want the bigger capacity and can use AmazonPayments.

COMPONENTS

The OWC  Mercury Accelsior contains a PCIe card and two detachable ”blades’ which are mPCIe SSDs that are typically spoken of as being a ‘gumstick’ design because of their look, although OWC prefers to call them ‘blade’ drives.  The performance of the Accelsior is a result of running both SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration which increases their performance significantly.

The main card houses a Marvell 88SE9230 RAID controller under the heatsink which is significantly small in size and prevents removal of the heatsink for shots.  This host controller connects the two SATA 3 SSDs to the PCIe 2.0 host and will allow up to 1GB/s bandwidth in ideal conditions.  The controller actually supports four devices which becomes an interesting consideration when you look at the back of the card.

Each mPCIe blade SSD contains the SandForce SF-2281 controller and eight pieces of Toshiba 32Gb 24nm Toggle Mode mlc NAND flash memory for a total of 256GB RAW capacity on each SSD.  SandForce firmware and over provisioning needs reduce the capacity of each to 240GB which provides for 480 total advertised capacity.

Final formatted capacity is 447 GB, but remember, this is one of those rare storage devices where you can upgrade the capacity as needed and as it becomes affordable. Here is a pik of the card in one of our Test Bench’s:

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Faiakes
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Faiakes

Is it bootable?

Les@TheSSDReview
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Yes it is bootable.

Valyursache
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Valyursache

can i use trim comand? does it have a garbage collector? after intensive use of the drive will it perform slower?

Jon Coulter
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Jon Coulter

no, yes, yes

Faiakes
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Faiakes

Does the drive maintain the same performance figures in its smaller configuration (120GB)?

sKepTik
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sKepTik

It seems wrong to call this card a PCIe SSD card as such since it is really a Raid/HBA card which happens to accept mPCIe SSD’s on the board itself. And just why wasn’t this card manufactured with the ability to install 4 mPCIe SSD’s from the get go?

joevt
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joevt

The Accelsior uses the Marvell 88SE9230 which only supports PCIe 2.0 x2 which only allows up 1000 MB/s. You would need to use a chip with 4 lanes (such as the Marvell 88SE9445) to get the full performance out of 4 SSD’s. Maybe that chip doesn’t have the boot ability that OWC advertises.

Joran
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Joran

Would you happen to know/offer any card or adaptor to connect an SSD like this (http://www.toshiba.com/taec/news/press_releases/2010/memy_10_604.jsp) and retrieve the data? It is the SSD from an Asus UX31 and I think the connection is similar to the ones of the SSDs in the newer versions of the Macbook Air.

Les@TheSSDReview
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No, I don’t know of any adapters to assist other than installing this SSD in a system that utilizes it such as the Zenbook. Beware as they may look the same but the ‘blade’ type SSD is of a different configuration for Mac and PC. They aren’t interchangeable.

Joran
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Joran

Thank you kindly for your reply. I actually might have found a solution, see http://www.digitalintelligence.com/products/blade_type_adapter.
But since they’re of a different configuration this might not work you say? I’d just like to know my changes before buying 😉 Thanks heaps for your help!