OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 120Gb SSD Review

The SSD Review has been utilizing two drives for the passed two months now and we have to say that we just can’t get enough of these drives!!! They are truly hidden gems of the ssd world and we are not alone in this belief. It seems that everyone that seems to be buying them or, as in our case, reviewing them, just cannot speak highly enough of the ssd or the company itself

The question we have to ask ourselves then becomes that of why they aren’t as popular as the OCZ or other similar drives with the SandForce controller. The funny part of it all is that OWC was the first to use the SandForce controller and really had a head start in the game.In doing a little background, we learned of a few things that might be hindering their sales just a bit, the first being that OWC has built a solid reputation on Mac sales and we know where any discussion of PC vs. Mac brings us now don’t we? I would be the first to admit that I wouldn’t be running to a Mac store to look for my ssd because the first thing I might believe is that they don’t support TRIM. Wrong! In addition to this, OWC has earned a great reputation for customer service and insists on a hands on approach with respect to these drives so don’t be looking on Amazon or Newegg for these anytime soon. This then leaves customers wondering about shipping cost and delivery as OWC ships solely from the USA.

Having said all that, we can say that our communication with OWC has been no less than excellent and that both drives ordered were received in Canada in less than 24 hours. Simply, if you are in the market for a serious contender for top spot in the ssd ring, this drive is a very wise investment. In fact, a lengthy search on the web has shown nothing less than raving reviews and extremely satisfied consumers alike. Unlike a few unmentionable manufacturers, stories of the OWC bricking or someone having any problem whatsoever are pretty much non-existent.Lets make this abundantly clear. If you are a PC owner (or Mac) and seriously considering your first ssd purchase, this is one of the best purchases you can make. The ssd has shown great results, the company has built a solid reputation.
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COMPARISON

The SSD Review first looked at the OWC Extreme Pro RE (RAID Enterprise) on its release this past May and questions then arose from many with respect to the difference between the Extreme Pro 120Gb version and the Extreme Pro RE 100Gb version of the drives. Both drives contain 128 Gb in NAND Flash whereas the Pro version dedicates 7% of the flash for over provisioning while the RE version dedicates 28Gb which is where we can see how there advertised capacities are reached. OWC states that the RE version is ideal for systems at the enterprise level where the larger over provisioning is perfect for multi-drive high performance RAID array usage. The RAID enterprise version has a premium cost in comparison, as expected, but also comes with an industry leading 5 year warranty vice the 3 years offered in the Pro version. Having utilized both of these drives extensively in the past few months, we can state that there is no difference whatsoever in performance and it appears that the over provisioning is most increases upon the overall thorough-put and life of the drive.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Controller: SandForce SF1200 Series Processor with 7% Over Provisioning
  • Bandwidth: Sustained Sequential Read: up to 285MB/s
  • Sustained Sequential Write: up to 275MB/s
  • Rd/Wr Latency: Less than 0.1ms
  • Reliability: 2,000,000 Mean Time To Failure
  • Interface: SATA 1.5 Gb/s and 3.0 Gb/s
  • TRIM Support: Advanced TRIM Support in Windows 7
  • Operating Temp: 0ºC to +70ºC
  • Power Consumption: Active: 2200mW (2.2W)Typical
  • Idle (DIPM): 90mW (.09W) Typical
  • Protection: ECC Recovery: Up to 24 bytes correctable per 512-byte sector
  • Unrecoverable Read Errors: Less than 1 sector per 1016 bits read
  • Security: Chip Based Data Encryption: 128-bit AES-compliant
  • Form Factor: 2.5″ Industry Standard Hard Drive
  • Weight/Dimensions: 80 grams +/- 2 grams – 100.12mm x 70.06mm x 9.45mm
  • Warranty: 3 Year OWC Warranty
  • Made in the USA: Made in the U.S. from imported parts

TEST SYSTEM DESCRIPTION, SOFTWARE AND BENCH INTEGRITY

This review was the first opportunity to test a ssd on our new Bench computer we thoroughly enjoyed the tests. The system is described in detail with photographs on the site and comprises of the following hardware components:
  • Asus Rampage III Gene SATA 6Gb/s USB3 motherboard
  • Intel i7-930 CPU@2.80Ghz (OC’d to 4Ghz)
  • 6Gb G.Skill 1600 Triple Channel RAM
  • MSI N460GTX Graphics Card
  • OCZ ModXStream-Pro 600w CPU
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212+ CPU Cooler
  • Windows 7 64 Bit Ultimate
  • Rosewill Wireless LAN PCI Card
  • Dell E228WFP 22″ Flat Panel Monitor
  • Dell Wireless Keyboard and Mouse

Software utilized for the review included Crystal Disk Mark, HDTune, ATTO Benchmark, Boot Timer, Win7 WEI along with FutureMark PCMark Vantage. Both SSDs are tested within the same system and both installations are exact copies of one another. All tests are conducted in Windows 7 safe mode, wherever possible, as this gives the truest result for evaluation purposes; the sole exception being PCMark Vantage which would not function in safe mode.

EXTERIOR CASING, INSTALLATION AND START UP

The OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD is protected within a brushed aluminum casing with a blue paint job and the OWC sticker on the front. The edges of the SSD have been smoothed and it can be disassembled by simple removal of four screws, an activity OWC strongly discouraged (but not forbidden) as part of our evaluation. Opening of the drive will immediately VOID any warranty and there is a security sticker over one of the screws preventing discreet opening of the unit.

This SSD is a simple swap with any 2.5″ SATA form factor HDD/SSD and contains a total of 128GB NAND flash memory, however, 7Gb is reserved for over provisioning and unavailable to the user. A quick peak inside will show 8 NAND chips on either side of the board, each of which is 8Gb bringing the total to 128Gb of NAND flash (16×8). You might also notice the all important SandForce controller chip surrounded by the NAND on the first side.

Windows 7 startup time is determined by a program called Boot Timer which accounts for the startup time from the press of the on switch until the desktop is active with background activities loaded. To a certain extent, the time it takes your system to start and load applications can be one of many indicators of your systems health. On installation, many applications install components and update programs that load when the computer starts regardless of whether the individual application that installed it will be used or not. For the purposes of this review, the system start time will be determined with all system services and start up programs disabled to determine the absolute quickest boot possible with the SSD. This measurement can be duplicated by each and every reader whereas the inclusion of services and start up applications could not result in a comparable equal.

OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 120Gb

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