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OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD Review

Apple is great – they make products people want to buy, like their very cool and very portable 2010 MacBook Air that comes with an 11″ or 13.3″ display. Apple also puts in the latest tech features, like an elongated stick of gum shaped SSD. Apple is also not so great – because an SSD shaped like a stick of gum with its own specialized interface connector, isn’t readily available as a replacement should you need to replace it. While Apple likes to control their computing environments the best they can, MacBook Air owners at least now have an option when it comes to replacing or upgrading their SSDs, the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express.

OWC Mercury Pro Aura Express SSD top

While saying OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express several times in a row is certain to lead to a tired tongue, MacBook Air owners should be excited about two things. First, the OWC MPAE (is that any better?) uses a SandForce SF-1200 processor to deliver speeds that are purportedly 22% faster than the stock SSD. While not a tremendous difference, the second reason to buy is that the Mercury Aura Pro Express comes in capacities of 180GB, 240GB and 360GB, whlie the current MacBook Air SSD offerings top out at 256GB.

Being on the cutting edge has a price though, OWC’s MacBook Air SSDs carry a premium. The 180GB, 240GB and 360GB drives run $499.99, $579.99 and $1179.99 respectively, making them $2.77, $2.41 and $3.28 per gigabyte. Part of the premium is the cost of being unique. OWC had to create an entirely new form factor to suit the MacBook Air and is limited by the number of NAND chips they could use (maximum of eight). That means for the 360GB model for instance, OWC has to use 64GB NAND, where a standard 2.5″ drive would use smaller capacity (and cheaper) NAND.


  • Larger capacity options for MacBook Air
  • Big gains in our real world benchmarks
  • Upgrade kit includes the required screw drivers


  • Expensive per GB
  • Lack of full channel utilization hampers upside performance
  • No external adapter for easy data migration

Bottom Line

More choice is always a good thing for consumers; the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD adds a viable option compared to the stock SSD found in the current generation of the Apple MacBook Air. Even though it’s the only alternative out there, the performance gains are much better than advertised in our real world traces. If you can bite the bullet on price, the Express SSD does more than promised while giving users access to more capacity options.

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