OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI-SSD benchmarked

For those of us still with pre-Thunderbolt Mac Pros or Xserves (or Hackintoshes), there are not a lot of inexpensive choices for getting super fast data access onto our machines. Sure, you can buy a SATA 3 hard drive like my favorite Samsung 830 series, but the built in SATA 2 on these old machines is a bottleneck that will “only” yield 250 MB/second read speeds.

Along comes OWC last month with its first-ever Mercury Accelsior Mac-bootable PCI SSD card that is actually a PCI-to-striped RAID SATA array. The two SATA3 cards you see above actually look like (but aren’t – don’t try it) the same super high-speed Sandforce 3 drives that OWC sells as MacBook Air updates.

By the way, the cards are a snap to install and configure. If you have ever added a PCI video card, this is the same thing. Even better, there are no drivers to install, and the drive automatically shows up as a mounted disk that can (and should!) be booted from.

How did they compare to the single MacBook Air SSDs?

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Juice your MacBook Air SSD to Other World speeds with Aura Pro

MacBook Airs ship with one of two models of SSD.  You either get a moderately fast Toshiba SSD or a significantly faster samsung drive with an updated controller. But for some, that’s not enough.

We’ve pointed out in the past that OWC provides a new SSD called the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD, and it’s definitely something speed freaks will want to look into. AnandTech has reviewed the Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD, confirming the benchmarks and blowing away just about any laptop or desktop SSD on the market.

AnandTech breaks it down:

Performance is just staggering. The comparison is borderline unfair because both the Samsung and Toshiba controllers Apple uses in its MacBook Air are really a generation old at this point, while the Mercury Aura Pro Express is the absolute latest and greatest 6Gbps solution SandForce offers. 

As you can see in the chart above, the 6G SSD offers a 4KB  88.4 MB/s write and 30.4 MB/s read speed, and 128KB sequential write speed of 495.1 MB/s and read speed of 451.4 MB/s. Sadly, the SSD packs a SandForce controller which requires more power, so using this SSD adds up to 5% to battery drain on the notebook, but with these speeds we think you’ll get over it.

OWC makes 6G SSD available in both a 120GB and 240GB version, costing $280 and $550 respectively. If you’re big into speed this might be for you.  For all the details check out AnandTech’s review.

So is the speed advantage noticeable day to day?  Want a bigger product? Read on:

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Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD upgrade boosts MacBook Air speed more than 3X

If you really want to turn your new MacBook Air out, OWC is offering up a new SSD upgrade option that promise up to 4X read/write performance (>500MB/s) over Apple’s factory installed SSDs. The SSDs, priced at $350 for 120GB and $600 for 240GB use a Sandforce 2200 controller.

• Tier 1/Grade A Toggle Synchronous NAND
• SandForce 2200 Series Processor
• Offers nearly 4x factory SSD capacity.**
• Compatible with 2011 MacBook Air
• Utilizes 6G SATA bus in 2011 MacBook Air to deliver over 500MB/s data rate performance

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In other OWC news, they mention that yesterday’s MacBook Pro update fixed lingering issues with the 6GB SATA port on the MacBook Pros (not to be confused with the 3GB Optical port.)

See performance benefits, below:
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