Our review of the OWC Mercury Aura Pro is going to be conducted through a side by side comparison with the stock Samsung 256GB PM830 SSD. We can attest right off that both drives are of the highest quality and performance, however, there are instances where people will want to upgrade through such things as brand preference and the need for higher capacity.
Our Test Bench for this report is a 13″ MacBook Air (mid-2012) with the 2Ghz Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor and 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM.
The software we will be using for today’s analysis is typical of many of our reviews and consists of ATTO Disk Benchmark, Crystal DiskMark, AS SSD, Anvil Storage Utilities and PCMark Vantage. We rely on these as they each have a way of supporting one another yet, at the same time, adding a new performance benchmark to the total picture. Much of the software is free and can be downloaded simply by clicking on the linked title.
SSD COMPRESSION AND TESTING FLUCTUATIONS
All SSDs are not created equal and many new SSD enthusiasts realize that when they test their new drive to confirm specifications and ensure all is in order. LSI SandForce controlled SSDs, as in the OWC Mercury Aura Pro we are testing today, use compression techniques in storage whereas many others do not.
This creates a bit of confusion when enthusiasts test the drive with random data through benchmarking programs such as AS SSD and Crystal DiskMark. The results seem to be lower than the listed specifications.
ATTO Disk Benchmark is perhaps one of the oldest benchmarks going and is definitely the main staple for manufacturer performance specifications. ATTO uses RAW or compressible data and, for our benchmarks, we use a set length of 256mb and test both the read and write performance of various transfer sizes ranging from 0.5 to 8192kb. Manufacturers prefer this method of testing as it deals with raw (compressible) data rather than random (includes incompressible data) which, although more realistic, results in lower performance results.
Our first comparison displays our Aura Pro results on the left with Samsung on the right. The Aura Pro displays what we would expect to see from a ‘LSI SandForce Driven’ SSD and the Samsung SSD meets its performance specifications as well. ATTO tests in highly compressible data and this type of data is the sweet spot for all SSDs utilizing LSI Sandforce Flash Storage processors (FSPs).