Sunday , 21 September 2014
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OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD Review – MBA Owners Get an Upgrade Storage Choice

This SSD report will be a detailed analysis of the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD, the first and only third party SSD compatible with the new 2012 MacBook Air.

This report will also carry things a step further by detailing our migration of the Aura Pro into our 2012 MBA, a system that we had successfully set up with Boot Camp as a dual Boot OS X Lion/Win 7 system.   To speak of how things went, we are writing this report up on our new ‘OWC Charged’ MBA.

A BIT MORE ABOUT APPLE

In the short time that I have been an Apple enthusiast, I have to admit that they are a bit of an odd duck and, although they portray an image of ‘customer first’, the reality of it is nothing could be further from the truth.  I was on the outside looking in and and am now on the inside looking out (seemingly behind bars) and must say that, as much as I have found a certain addiction to my Apple products, there have been times when I just wanted to introduce them to my 20 oz. straight claw rip hammer.

I have spoken freely about these things here and here but for now, I am going to start with the new Apple motto of ‘Not User Upgradable”.  Apple’s use of their proprietary pentalobe screws should be the first clue! The new MBA SSD, as it seems, is not only incompatible with other similar ‘blade’ style SSDs but also, the new 2012 MBA cannot even be upgraded with a 2011 MBA SSD if you wanted to do a simple switch on upgrade.  In fact, they went one step further and the new MacBook Pro SSD form factor is totally different yet and cannot be interchanged with anything that we are aware of.  Through all of this, Mac and I seem to have developed a great love/hate relationship though.

OWC MERCURY AURA PRO EXPRESS 6G SSD

…and then there was OWC… (intentional play on a popular Genesis album)

It was almost like OWC had the inside word of the new MBA SSD compatibility issue.  I ordered my MBA on release and, not two weeks after posting my initial review and experience, I have this OWC Mercury Aura Pro 240GB ‘LSI SandForce Driven’ SSD on my desk and am wondering how the heck I migrate a SSD in OSX.  Everything is proprietary remember?  I can’t even delete an uploaded picture from my iPAD with this company.

The OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD is available in capacities of 120, 180, 240 and 480GB.  It is a ‘LSI SandForce Driven’ design which means it’s high sequential read and write speeds exceed 500MB/s with typical 80,000 IOPS at low 4k aligned random write disk access.

The Aura’s engine is none other than the  SF-2281 processor along with eight 32GB modules of Sandisk 24nm MLC NAND flash memory for a total RAW capacity of 256GB.

 LSI SandForce over provisioning and firmware needs require 16GB which reduces the drive to it’s advertised capacity of 240GB and formatting leaves the end user with  224GB of available space typically.

About Les Tokar

is a technology nut and Founder of The SSD Review. His early work includes the first consumer SSD review along with MS Vista, Win 7 and SSD Optimization Guides. Les is fortunate to, not only evaluate and provide opinion on consumer and enterprise solid state storage but also, travel the world in search of new technologies and great friendships. Google+
  • renosablast

    “there have been times when I just wanted to introduce them to my 20 oz. straight claw rip hammer” — 20-oz. claw hammer = adjustment tool / 5-lb. sledge hammer = FINE adjustment tool

  • Cape Dave

    Those pentalobe screws turned me off big time. Les, I truly hope you have not gone over to the dark side :) I am back with Lenovo with their keyboard that is 3 times better than a flat key keyboard. Looking hard at the upcoming Carbon X1.

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Yes th X1 is very attractive. I have to admit that I do find myself using both the MBA and iPAD quite a bit, however, even though the mainstay of my work is on our main benches. Tempted to grab a Thunderbolt Display though….patience…

  • Cape Dave

    I use the iPhone and much less often the ipad. But I really do not consider them macs. I love them both. But the flat keys on the mac laptops compared to the beautiful new keyboard on the Lenovo’s is no contest for me. The coming soon Lenovo 430u is also very interesting. I will be selling my current X1 to get one of the new Lenovo’s. And then, of course, slap a nice 240gb SSD in it.

  • leonsk

    My new Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-DB51 has 128GB mSATA but I need larger one. Will this OWC fit? The UX31 SSD is also a “blade” type with one screw at the end eg. AnandTech 6/3/2012 teardown of the UX21A (looks like twin of the 31A). Really have a need for the larger mSATA.

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      The OWC drive is made specifically for Macs. It will not work.

      • http://www.facebook.com/fmarchesano1 Francis Marchesano

        Are you certain? Have you tried this? I have been looking at the pinouts for this drive and it looks exactly the same (18-PINS). “Other” MB AIR drive, like the Toshiba, Samsung, etc. have (20-PINS) the outter (2-PINS) look as is they would prohibit the drive in being used in another NON-MB AIR system, but the OWC Aura PRO doesn’t have these (2) extra PINS (they act like blockers).

        Has anyone else tried installing this OWC Aura PRO SSD in an ASUS Zenbook MOBO? Please advise. Can’t find the SanDISK U100 or the ADATA XM11. Need help!

      • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

        The ONLY thing we can suggest is to follow the manufacturers compatibility listing.

  • artworks

    Hi How reliable are these ssd’s? amazon customer reviews were not good … poor quality after repeated replacements…not sure i want to take the risk.

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      We can only speak for our own experience and have one installed in one of our bench systems without any problem whatsoever.

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