Friday , 19 September 2014
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OWC Mercury Electra MAX 3G 960GB SSD Review – Imagine a 1TB SSD in Your Notebook!

Since Day One in the SSD arena, there has been a constant struggle where a seemingly three way tug of war is seen between performance, capacity and value.

Enter TLC memory and we just may hit both value and capacity at some point, however, manufacturers still believe the feasibility of marketing a 1TB SSD just isn’t there yet. This a mainstream vision, and one held strictly on predicted sales figures alone, so what is available for those that require that 1TB SSD for their needs today?

OWC just may have answered that question with their marketing of the OWC Mercury Electra MAX 3G 960GB SSD and we think that the specific composition of this SSD just might interest you. Take a look at the picture below and observe, not one but, two PCBs within.  Is this really the first time anyone has considered this idea for additional capacity in an SSD?

Well, as we might like to believe adding additional memory to an SSD is nothing more than throwing on an additional PCB, it is actually much more than that and accompanied by a great deal of fine tuning and validation testing.  This is why we have been so fond of the work ethic of Larry O’Connor and OWC for so long and, once again, we are seeing an innovation bump from a smaller ‘mostly Mac stuff’ company that we would have expected from Intel, Samsung or even the likes of Crucial first.  Nope…once again OWC forged ahead with an idea and here it is!

SPECIFICATIONS

The OWC Mercury Electra Max 960GB SSD is (as far as we know) the first consumer SSD to be publicly available in it’s capacity and it is accompanied by a premium price of $1117.99.  Let’s not fool ourselves.  It is the only of its kind, it is a niche product and it does answer the call of a specific SSD shortfall; high capacity. It is a SATA 2 SSD with performance specifications of 254MB/s read and 250MB/s write and this SSD has a standard three year OWC warranty, as well as a 30 day return policy.

As much as we would have liked to see the Electra MAX available in a SATA 3 format, there are two distinct barriers that prevent this.  The first would be that pricing would be elevated considerably along with a most probable later date of release with respect to validation.  The second is the physical composition of this SSDs components where the changing of any would most likely mandate the need for a larger form factor casing.

COMPONENTS

The OWC Mercury Electra MAX 960GB SSD is typical of the OWC Mercury SSD line and is of a heavy metal exterior, painted blue and with rounded and smoothed edging.  The case is secured with four screws on its face and security tape covers one to prevent disassembly of the unit.

The inside of this SSD is what makes it so special.  It is comprised of two identical PCBs, each with a LSI SandForce SF-2181 SATA 2 controller and each containing 16 pieces of  Micron 25nm MLC asynchronous 32GB NAND flash memory. Click on the picture for a higher resolution.

If we remove the top PCB, we find that there are two ‘daughterboards’ that hold the two main PCBs in place by very small connectors.  The one side contains the SATA 2 interface and a Silicon Image SteelVine Sil5923 3Gbps SATA-To-Dual eSATA host controller which allows for both 512GB PCBs to be set up in a RAID 0 configuration. Considering that this is a 3Gbps chip, performance listed in the specifications is ‘as expected’.

Last but not least, the branding of the memory is also very unique and is that of OWC and not Micron, although the modules are 100% Micron born and bred.  Considering OWC’s significant upgrades in the last bit to include new facilities in Las Vegas and Texas, this just might become commonplace along with a few more SSD firsts along the way.

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+
  • Zaxx

    $1100 based solely it’s size…can’t be performance, it’s sub par at best. I just don’t see this one selling very well. ~$1 a gig for sata2 performance with even slower 4ks…never could I pull that trigger.

  • GaLuburt

    Awesome about time some one made a large capacity SSD drive for laptop and ultrabook users. we need capacity NOW! Ill be buying this. sure sata3 would be great but sata 2 is good enough for now. besides who is going to match that capacity and speed for less. not many if any at that price.

  • Anon

    OCZ Octane 1TB

  • alan1476

    I need the space but I am almost getting those speeds with a much cheaper spinner.

    • Terri Carr

      Where can I get both speed and capacity besides the OWC Mercury Electra? Not ready for a new laptop at this time. I do heavy video and photo editing. Thank you!

      • Trane Francks

        The OWC is still a rarity when it comes to high capacity in a SATA 2 drive. I’ve got an Intel Series 320, which I like, but its maximum capacity is 600GB. Intel has a few SATA 3 800GB drives now, but they’re outside the consumer range and command a higher price/GB.

  • http://www.facebook.com/d3c33u Dan Valentin

    Don’t like the idea of usind SATA II with SSDs.

  • MAMacUser

    I bought this drive about 2 months ago because the hard drive failed in my mid 2009 MacBook with 8G — I had upgraded that when I bought it to a 1TB 5400 drive a few years ago. I figured I would give it a try and spend the $1K on the drive rather than a new MacBook. All I can say is it has made my MBP 3-5 times faster in everything and something that I could certainly use for the next 3 years. It was well worth it to me even if it is not the speediest SSD out there. Hope this helps…

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