OWC Mercury Pro Extreme RE 100Gb SSD Review

Lets just get the article going by stating that this drive is a rocket of a SSD and if you want the best in performance right out of the gate, you have it here.  We were so accustomed to the huge success of the Intel drives in overall performance that we had to give the Intel a few runs just to see if we could get it anywhere near this monster. For Mac owners considering an upgrade, this is definitely the way to go as it is geared specifically for the Mac with its new GC abilities but wait, it also has TRIM for those PC users wanting the best.

SPECIFICATIONS

The OWC Mercury Extreme Pro RE SSD is a May 2010 release available exclusively from Other World Computing and is identifiable by the letters RE for ‘Raid-Ready Enhanced’ in the name. For those looking to trade performance for value and extra storage, the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro is also available. The RE SSD stands out with its 5 year warranty and industry leading 28% over provisioning.  Over provisioning is used to fine tune the Garbage Collection (GC) abilities of the drive for Mac systems and maintain peak performance throughout the life of the drive.

  • Controller: SandForce SF1200 Series Processor with 28% Over Provisioning
  • Bandwidth: Sustained Sequential Read: up to 285MB/s
  • Sustained Sequential Write: up to 275MB/s
  • Read/Write Latency Less than 0.1ms
  • Reliability: 10,000,000 Mean Time To Failure (7x Better Than Competitors)
  • 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: 550mW (.5W)Typical Idle (DIPM): 50mW (.05W) Typical
  • Protection: ECC Recovery: Up to 24 bytes correctable per 512-byte secto
  • Unrecoverable Read Errors: Less than 1 sector per 1017 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: 5 Year OWC Warranty
  • Made in the USA: Made in the U.S. from imported parts

TEST SYSTEM DETAILS, SOFTWARE AND BENCHMARK INTEGRITY

Our test system is an Acer Timeline 1810T-6188 11.6″ Laptop with an Intel SU9400 processor, 4Gb RAM, 4500HD graphics, and Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit for the OS. It is in AHCI mode with the Intel(R) ICH9M-E/M SATA AHCI Controller displayed in Device Manager and Intels newest RST 9.6 software onboard. The system has a Dell 22″ external monitor and an Aluratek HD Docking Hub is used along with Acronis True Image in order to clone the SSDs for testing purposes. The comparison drive is an Intel X25-m SSD. Of benefit, this ultra-portable does an excellent job of demonstrating what little heat is produced by the SSDs resulting in less fan usage and increased battery life.

Software utilized for the review included Crystal Disk Mark, HDTune Pro, 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 RE 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 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.
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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, 28Gb is reserved for over provisioning and unavailable to the user. Formatting of the drive also steals away another 6.8Gb of space for the drives own programs which leaves the user with 93.2Gb of available real estate. One may growl a bit at this (and even choose to look at the Mercury Extreme Pro 120Gb SSD) but remember, this specific drive contains an industry leading 28% of reserved memory to guarantee longer life and continued peak performance above all others. Its 5 year warranty shows the confidence OWC has in their product and if you value MTTF calculations, the OWC is well ahead of the pack at 10 million hours which is 7 times better than most other SSDs.

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.

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