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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LaCie’s anticipated Thunderbolt-equipped Little Big Disk arrives at the Apple Store, along with Thunderbolt updates

Since Apple and Intel’s joint announcement of the Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology, one of the most anticipated products to make use of the technology has been the Thunderbolt-compatible Little Big Disk from LaCie. The drive – which comes in both HDD and SSD flavors – was announced all the way back in February for a “summer” launch, and is now finally arriving at Apple Stores in both the United States and internationally. LaCie’s description of Thunderbolt and why it is important for a product like the Little Big Disk:

This new high-speed cable technology connects computers and electronic devices together like never before. Thunderbolt technology supports two 10Gb/s bi-directional channels from a single port, the fastest data connection available on a personal computer. At 10Gb/s, a full-length HD movie can be transferred in less than 30 seconds.

Since the drive carries two ports, it can be daisy chained. The drives have already arrived at Apple Stores, which suggest immediate availability, and we are expecting an official announcement from LaCie in the coming days. The hard disk drive variant with 1TB of storage will reportedly cost $399.

Update: here they are.

Apple also announced Thunderbolt updates, another firmware update and a software update for Snow Leopard…

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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

.

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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MacConnection coupon: 3% off already low-priced Apple desktops and laptops

From 9to5Toys:

MacConnection offers readers an additional 3% off Mac desktops and laptops via coupon code “3%MacDeal”. The coupon applies to MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, and iMac computers. It’s the best percent-off coupon we’ve seen from MacConnection in recent months. Even better, free shipping applies to most deals, yielding a trove of lowest-we-could-find prices.

Best Bets: New Core i5 MacBook Airs now start $921 (Amazon is $949).  Mac Minis start at $551.88  (Amazon is$569)

MacConnection also has the lowest price we could find on the new Thunderbolt display at $979 and a 128GB Crucial 6Gb/s SSD for $189.99.  AppleTVs are $94.99 as are Airport Express base stations..  Wireless Magic Mouse – $64.99. Read more

Macworld: for simple tasks, a decked out Mini beats a base iMac handily (or SSDs rule)

Macworld decided to put a decked out Mac Mini Mid-2011 against a current baseline iMac 2.5GHz to see what kind of performance could be gotten from Apple’s diminutive little machine when an SSD is added.

When we say “decked out”, we’re referring to the $100 2.5->2.7GHz CPU improvement + $600 SSD upgrade which almost doubles the price of the $799 ($769) high end Mini and pushes it above the price of the base model iMac. Minis start out at around $568.

The results are pretty apparent: when running simple tests, especially ones that rely only on CPU and disk access, the Mini beat the iMac handily (above). That’s almost entirely due to the added speed of the SSD compared with the iMac’s 3.5-inch HDD. When doing more graphics intensive tests (below), the iMac and its more powerful GPU took over.

The takeaway on this however is that a HDD to SSD upgrade can make a heck of a lot of difference in performance. For those handy out there, adding an SSD to a Mac Mini doesn’t have to be a $600 proposition either. Reasonable SSDs can start out at $100 and can be added to the new Minis’ hard drive configuration (not swapped) with a simple kit.

Another important tweak not detailled in these tests is adding 8GB of RAM to the Mini which will run you somewhere south of $40. Added RAM really improves performance when lots of windows or applications are open at the same time.

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Add SATA2, Firewire or Gig Ethernet to your new MacBook Air with Sonnet Thunderbolt ExpressCard adapter

If you aren’t interested in the $1000 Apple Thunderbolt display but still want to add some speedy data transfer to your new MacBook Air, Sonnet has a pretty good solution.  Shipping in October, Sonnet’s Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter
[ECHO-E34] will set you back $150 but give you access via ExpressCard to the faster data transfers including eSATA, USB 3, Firewire 800, Gig Ethernet or even speedier access to SDXC and CF cards.

There will be more of these “Thunderbolt docks” coming before the holidays.

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