OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD Review – MBA Owners Get an Upgrade Storage Choice

PCMARK VANTAGE X64 HDD SUITE

The SSD Review uses benchmark software called PCMark Vantage x64 HDD Suite to create testing scenarios that might be used in the typical user experience. There are eight tests in all and the tests performed record the speed of data movement in MB/s to which they are then given a numerical score after all of the tests are complete. The simulations are as follows:

  • Windows Defender In Use
  • Streaming Data from storage in games such as Alan Wake which allows for massive worlds and riveting non-stop action
  • Importing digital photos into Windows Photo Gallery
  • Starting the Vista Operating System
  • Home Video editing with Movie Maker which can be very time consuming
  • Media Center which can handle video recording, time shifting and streaming from Windows media center to an extender such as XBox
  • Cataloging a music library
  • Starting applications

If you are new to testing and considering benchmark software, this is the best you can get because the program goes well beyond the results of simulated testing as we have already done. In comparing SATA 2.0 SSDs, we had reached the bandwidth limit and the performance of most new SATA 2 SSDs is as high as it can get with typical high sequential access speeds in the area of 280MB/s read and 270MB/s write.  This has become relatively similar in SATA 3 with most current generation 6Gbps SSDs breaking the 500MB/s plateau and falling just short of the theoretical 6Gbps maximum.

We needed a way to differentiate these drives and to find a method that can actually put one drive above another and this is exactly what Vantage testing does. Its tests combined can provide an accurate comparison between drives and its tests individually can assist a smart shopper in finding the best SSD for their needs. Next to actual ‘true to life’ testing which can take an insurmountable length of time, PCMark Vantage is the only program that can compare any SSD, side by side, regardless of SATA interface or controller in use.

OWC MERCURY AURA PRO 240GB SSD VANTAGE RESULTS

Without including the previous results for the MBA Samsung PM830 Apple SM256E SSD, we can link it’s result of 36892 and, although the MBA grabbed Editor’s Choice honors, the drive never would have with results like that.  Next up to bat came the Toshiba ‘LSI SandForce Driven’ Apple TS128E SSD which climbed to 56812 and we still found that to be low as compared to what we are seeing from today’s drives.

The Apple Aura Pro topped both of these with a Total Points Score of 58737 points and a high transfer speed reached of 383MB/s while testing in Media Center. It should be noted that, in fine tuning the system and SSD, we were able to hit a high of 69509 points which was significantly higher and right up there with our best, however, this was not a consistent score and it was not in line with the testing of the other two Apple SSDs.  Evaluation Integrity required the exact stock OS X configuration in all three tests.

It is a valid point to note that the lower PCMark Vantage Total Point Scores seem to fall in line with the low 4k random write performance results seen in Crystal DiskMark, AS SSD and Anvil Storage Utilities, a factor that we are investigating and believe can be attributed to the stock OS X configuration.

The following chart is our mSATA Vantage hierarchy and ranks all mSATA SSDs according to their Vantage Total Point Score only.  As of this report, we have decided to include all Apple ‘blade’ mSATA SSDs and they are highlighted:

11 comments

  1. “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

  2. 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.

    • 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…

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

      • 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!

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

  5. 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.

  6. Hello Mr. What is your experience with durability of OWC SSD? I recently purchased one, but I was reading some other reviews about it and they said it does not last long, what can you tell me about it?
    Nice review by the way!

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