We’ll take a closer look at OWC’s Mercury Extreme Pro 6G 240GB SSD, along with their Data Doubler Adapter and Value Line SuperSlim Optical Drive External Solution for Early 2011 Macbook Pro users.
Upgrade Parts and products
There is no doubt that the early 2011 MacBook Pros built with the latest Intel Core i5 and i7 Quad-Core Sandy Bridge architecture processors and AMD’s HD6xxx discrete graphics are a great combination to boost overall system performance. As a matter a fact, with the latest Intel Sandy Bridge processors, users can achieve double the performance of previous 2010 generation MacBook Pros, especially in media related tasks and rendering. However, the storage devices used in the latest MacBook Pros are nothing to brag about. Users that still run 5400RPM or 7200RPM hard drives in their system do not realize that their storage device is a major bottleneck for their system. It is possible to achieve much higher performance in everyday tasks like booting to OS X or Windows 7 through Bootcamp, surfing the web, opening up applications, reading massive video files during editing, or even loading multiple images with the proper storage device upgrade.
Current systems come with updated chipsets and controllers that can handle much higher Input/Output (I/O) operations than previous chipsets. Because the processor and other components in a system heavily rely on data stored on a storage device, having a faster storage device means better overall system performance. With the latest chipsets, like the one used in current MacBook Pro models, systems can support up to a 6Gbit/s data throughput. This is equivalent to about 750MB/s throughput performance.
A few years ago, when Solid State Drives (SSDs) were introduced to the market, they were not affordable to the majority of people, and were not significantly faster then current hard drives. SSDs are still quite expensive, however, many are starting to consider upgrading because of the performance the latest SSDs can offer with recent systems. Today we will be taking a look at OWC’s complete upgrade kit for a MacBook Pro user, that is considering to upgrade their system with an SSD, but also keep their current hard drive as a storage device for their files and documents.
What do users need to know when upgrading their MacBook Pro with an SSD? Because of space limitations and Apple’s compact design for their MacBook Pro laptops, there is only one slot designed for storage devices. If the user wants to keep their current hard drive as a back-up or as extra storage for data, they must consider another mounting method when installing their SSD. This option would be to take out the current DVD player installed with the MacBook Pros, and replace it with an adapter that would hold the SSD in place. Then the DVD player from the MacBook Pro would be put into an external USB optical drive enclosure that would allow the user to still use their MacBook slim DVD player even when it’s not installed internally.
Here are the products users would need for such setup, and we’ll explain why soon:
- OWC 120GB/240GB/480GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD (Electra is OWC’s slower model)
- OWC Data Doubler
- OWC Value Line SuperSlim
Of course it is not a problem to go with other brands, however OWC’s products are specifically designed for Apple products, so users are guaranteed to get a compatible product. So, why not just get an upgrade from Apple? The difference between Apple’s SSDs and other SSDs is that they most likely use different controllers which provide different performance. For example, recent SSDs we’ve seen from Apple use Toshiba’s T6UG1XBG SATA II controller with updated firmware, while OWC’s SSDs use the latest SandForce SF-2282 SATA III controller. This plays a significant difference in speed, as the SATA III controllers can make full use of SATA 6Gbps bandwidth (equalling 750MB/s throughput), whereas the SATA II controllers are limited to a maximum of half that amount.
Also, before we continue, we would like to give a quick introduction to each product we will be testing today. The OWC 240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SATA III SSD is going for $499.99 currently at MacSales.com. This is the main solid state drive that will provide the high performance for data stored on it. OWC claims up to 559MB/s read and 527MB/s write speeds with their SSD, which is phenomenal compared to even 4 hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration. The OWC Data Doubler is the adapter designed to hold the second drive that will be installed in place of the DVD player in a MacBook Pro. The Data Doubler is currently on sale for $74.99. Finally, we have the OWC Value Line SuperSlim enclosure, which will hold our internal DVD player that we take out from our MacBook Pro. The Value Line SuperSlim is sold for around $44.99. All told, the package will total around $620 (prices may vary by store).
Limitations of Early 2011 Model Macbook Pros
Many early buyers of the 2011 Macbook Pros were quite disappointed and frustrated that their systems might not fully support SATA III. Even though the main chipset used for the SATA III controller is present on the motherboard, many suffer from not being able to achieve a 6Gb/s throughput, or even having a 6Gb/s option. In short, this means that performance is drastically degraded and the price-efficiency of that new MacBook Pro might just have flown out the window. Here is a quick description of each model and compatibility for the Early 2011 models:
- 13” – 100% no issues with 6Gbp/s SSD in any bay that has 6Gbp/s available
- 15” – 100% no issues with 6Gbp/s SSD in main bay, no-go with 6Gbp/s SSD in optical bay.
- 17” – Hit or Miss for main bay with 6Gbp/s SSD, no-go with 6Gbp/s SSD in optical bay.
So what does this mean to an average user or an enthusiast trying to upgrade to an SSD? Since certain models, like the 17″ or the 15″, have issues on some or all SATA ports, it is possible that a 6Gb/s drive like the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G drive might only perform at a 3Gb/s throughput. This would limit the performance of a 559MB per second SSD to about 300-350MB/s. A user might as well just get an SSD that runs at 3Gb/s and save a bit of money.
We will be testing the OWC’s products on our latest 2011 model 15″ MacBook Pro, running Intel’s i7-2720QM Quad-Core processor at 2.2GHz (3.3GHz with Turbo), AMD’s HD6750M 1024MB discrete graphics and 8GB of Kingston’s Plug-n-Play 1600MHz DDR3 memory. We have also figured out that our MacBook Pro does have it’s 3Gb/s limitation on the main optical drive bay, which is the secondary SATA Port inside the MacBook Pro. This helps us to determine exactly how we will install our new OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD. We’ll explain that on our installation page.
To figure out whether your MacBook supports the new 6Gb/s ports, go to the “About This Mac” option under the Apple logo button, in the top menu bar. Then click the “More Info…” button (may depend on OS X version). Next, click on “System Report”, and you will find the information under the Serial-ATA tab. You should now see two Intel 6 Series Chipset drop down menus in the Device Tree menu. If you click on each, it will give you the specification of each port. What we are looking for is the Link Speed. If you see 6Gb/s on both menus, then you have a perfect MacBook Pro without any problems. If you see one as 6Gb/s and the other at 3Gb/s then you know your second port is only compatible with SATA II performance drives. Finally if both are 3Gb/s then you will not be able to use 6Gb/s drives with 6Gb/s performance.
OWC 240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD
- Get maximum mobile performance and battery life from your notebook.
- Turn your Mac Pro or PC desktop into an EXTREME performance single drive.
- DuraWrite™ extends the endurance of your Solid State Drive (SSD).
- Intelligent Block Management & Wear Leveling automatically distributes data evenly across the entire SSD.
- Intelligent Read Disturb Management spreads the active read/write across the flash components eliminating data corruption caused by constant use.
- Intelligent “Recycling” for advanced free space management gradually re-writes data across the SSD over time to ensure data never gets corrupted.
- RAISE™ (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) protects the data on your drive similar to having a RAID setup.
- Best-in-Class ECC Protection for longest data retention and drive life.
Replace your conventional hard drive with a reliable solid state drive. Unlike traditional hard disk drives, OWC solid state drives have no moving parts, resulting in a quiet, cool, highly rugged storage solution that also offers faster system responsiveness.
OWC Data Doubler
Add up to an additional 1.0TB of internal storage. Add a Solid State Drive (SSD) for near instantaneous boot and app load. Even create a RAID array! Includes bracket, 5 piece toolkit, screws, and detailed installation guide for complete all in one solution.
- Creating an individual volume with its own desktop icon.
- Combining a new drive with the existing internal drive for one larger volume (SPAN).
- Combining a new matching drive with existing internal for high-performance RAID-0 Stripe volume.
- Configuring a new drive as a Time Machine® backup drive.
- Formatting one drive for the Mac OS and the other dedicated for Windows.
USB 2.0 Optical Drive External Enclosure
- Ideal solution for Macs with replaced optical drive
- Uses any 9.5mm SuperSlim Slot Loading optical drive
- Compact and versatile – No AC Adapter Required
- No bottlenecks when used as USB 2.0 device
OWC 240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD
OWC Data Doubler
- Supports: SATA / SATA 3G / SATA 6G Interface 2.5″ Drive
or SSD (Solid State Drive) of up to 9.5mm (Super Slim) height.
- Dimensions: 5″(D) x 5″(W) x 03″(H) (12.7 x 12.7 x 7.6mm)
- Weight: 2.4oz. / 0.15lbs.
- Product Manual: OWC Data Doubler
- One Year Warranty
The SandForce SF-2000 Controller
The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD uses the SandForce SF-2282 controller. While the SF-2000 is not a major architecture change, the new controller brings a few major upgrades. Among the upgrades include 6Gbps interface, up to 500 MB/s of sequential read and write, 60K IOPS of sustained 4K read and burst write, and 20K IOPS of sustained write. Older SSDs on the SF-1000 series controller, on the other hand, supports the SATA II 3 Gbps interface, up to 285 MB/s read and 275 MB/s write, and 50,000 IOPS random 4K write. The 6 Gbps interface is a much welcomed feature since SSDs are easily bottlenecked by SATA II’s 3 Gbps bandwidth limit.
We should take a moment here to note that though this has not been tested, X58-based motherboards are expected to provide far lower SATA 6Gbps performance than P67 or Z68-based boards. This is because P67/Z68 boards natively support SATA 6Gbps, whereas most X58 boards use a third-party controller. Similarly, P67/Z68 boards that use a third-party chip for their SATA 6Gbps ports will experience slower performance. This is not because of the SSD, but because of the controller on the motherboard.
The SF-2282 controller also features support basic smart attributes, 8 channels of 8 bytes per lane asynchronous IOs and supports storage capacity up to 512GB. Also, it supports 128 bit and 256 bit encryption and features a 55-bit BCH ECC engine for error correcting.
SandForce SF-2000 controller also adds support for Toggle Mode and ONFI 2 NAND support. ONFI 2 and Toggle Mode increase the NAND interface speed up to 133MB/s (ONFI 2) or 166MB/s (ONFI 2.1) whereas the older NAND interface was limited to 50MB/s. This extra bandwidth available contributes to the fact that while the new controller does not have major architectural changes, it can still provide significant gains in the performance.
SSDs use NAND flash to store data. Performance grade SSDs often use single-level cell (SLC), allowing for greater durability, while mainstream drives use multi-level cell (MLC). Think of the single-level cell as a one story house, while the MLC is like an apartment building. Within the same area, more people can fit in an apartment than a single story house. Similarly, though SLC has greater durability, it has less overall data capacity.
Flash memories have a finite number of program-erase cycles. As the NAND gets smaller in size, its program-erase cycles decrease. A 50nm MLC NAND can have 10,000 cycles before it stops being able to write any data. As we transition to 34nm, the number is reduced to 5,000 cycles. Current SSD use 25nm NAND, for which the durability for the program-erase cycle is about 3,000-5,000.
To compensate for this, the new SandForce controller features DuraWrite Technology, in which the controller intelligently compress the data using a deduplication algorithm on-the-fly. Data is also encrypted and has redundancy to ensure data integrity, which the company calls RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements). This effectively reduces the file size needing to be written to the SSD. By writing less data, less NAND will be wear out, and the lifespan can be increased, not to mention the benefit of extra performance gain.
The only place where SandForce’s approach may not be beneficial is when dealing with incompressible data, such as MP3 and videos. For average desktop users, many files are compressible and the performance gain can be dramatic. This approach also reduced the need for a large DRAM cache to keep track of data. This in turn, drives the cost down.
We’re taking a look at the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G, which is specifically designed to perform exceptionally well even with incompressible files, compared to the standard OWC Mercury Electra 6G SSD or other SSDs currently on the market.
The first SandForce based SSD had limitations where the performance was severely hindered to about 80MB/s when the whole drive is filled with incompressible data. 80MB/s is the maximum speed that the controller clean the NAND block and write new data. Even if the TRIM command was enabled, the performance would never recover to original levels because TRIM only marked the NAND as available, and did not actually clean it. This is an inherent problem with the way solid state drives handle data, as SSD’s want to write the least amount of NAND in order to reduce wear on the NAND.
The problem with SF-1200 controller is that the drive was bottlenecked by its block recycling process speed of around 80MB/s. When the drive was filled with compressed data, the performance would eventually be limited to 80MB/s.
With the SF-2000 controller, SandForce has improved the block recycling process, and the drive now is able to clean the NAND block at rate of approximately 200MB/s. Thus, while we still will experience a performance drop, it is, at least, much more acceptable performance.
OWC 240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD
The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G comes in a rather simple plastic clamshell packaging. This type of packaging is way better then the heat-sealed packaging as it is easier to open up and does not require cutting around the edges that could lead to possible injuries during opening. This type of design can also be reused since there is no cutting required like on heat-sealed packaging. Its a good design for things like SSDs, however this does not necessarily allow the manufacturer to include additional accessories or hardware along with the SSD that might come handy when placing the SSD in a desktop system.
The SSD itself does not come with any accessories, and there is nothing too special about its design. Most SSDs do come in a 2.5″ form factor, and are therefore difficult to install in a desktop system if no 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter is included with the SSD. The SSD is mainly designed for the MacBook Pro, therefore no additional hardware are required, and separate accessories can be bought from OWC if needed.
Other than that, it does have a very nice dark sky blue like color with a printed design where the OWC logo and the name of the SSD is located. Looks like OWC is also using special screws to make it difficult to take apart. Also do remember that disassembling the solid-state drive will void the drive’s warranty. The back of the SSD has the SATA Power, and SATA data cable connectors, and additional information about the SSD.
It is also very nice to see that OWC decided to design and build their SSDs in the USA!
OWC Data Doubler
Optical to SATA Hard Drive Converter Bracket Solution
The OWC data doubler comes in very simple packaging as well, but that is not a problem with us. If the packaging can save a slight amount of money, that is always nice, especially considering that the Data Doubler runs for about $74.99 at the moment. That is slightly expensive, but it does allow users to retain their original drive internally. At first when we take a look at the packaging, we can only see the OWC logo on it, which does not tell us too much about the product. Once we open up the box, we can see the Installation manual for the Data Doubler, and the Data Doubler adapter itself.
Under the Data Doubler inside the box, several accessories are included. The two longer screws are used to secure the Hard Drive or the SSD to the Data Doubler. There are additional screws included for different installation methods. Finally, OWC also includes 5 different tools that help out tremendously during the installation process. It is difficult to find the exact screw drivers for the types of screws that Apple uses, therefore OWC has done all the work and prepared a complete set of tools that users will need. The following tools are included:
- Nylon Spudger
- Phillips #00
- Straight Blade 1.8mm
- Torx T8
- Torx T6
Even though the tools have a 1 year warranty, the Nylon Spudger tool which is used to pry open plastic items such as iPods, or to disconnect the power connectors inside your MacBook Pro, is not covered by the warranty. These tools are sensitive to pressure, therefore they can break easily, but thankfully the Nylon Spudger tool is only $0.99 at MacSales.com.
At first glance the Data Doubler doesn’t look too special. It is designed to take the shape of the Optical Drive that should be installed in the MacBook Pro. Once the main DVD player is removed, the Data Doubler should pop in without any force.
The Data Doubler is rather stiff and sturdy enough to hold heavy hardware like hard drives. SSDs are much lighter than hard drives, as there are no moving parts or heavy platters, but even if hard drives are heavy, it should have no problem supporting the hard drive. The two screws on the side of the Data Doubler will hold the SSD or Hard Drive in place after the user has inserted the drive into the SATA Power and Data sockets. The outside of the Data Doubler will have another SATA Power and Data connector, but userswill have to reuse the little adapter attached to the DVD player with the Data Doubler to attach the Data Doubler to the mainboard, which will later communicate with and power up the installed SSD or Hard Drive.
USB 2.0 Optical Drive External Enclosure
The OWC Value Line SuperSlim is one of the products that actually gets a colorful and informative boxing with extra soft cushioning inside to make sure the product arrives in once piece. The outside of the box has information about compatibility, specifications and the features the SuperSlim offers.
Here we have a closer look at the inside of the box where we have a few things. The buyer will receive a USB cable that is used to provide power and communication for the external enclosure. The USB cable comes with two USB connectors, that way in case the system used does not deliver enough power from a single USB port, the user can attach the 2nd end of the cable providing additional power to the SuperSlim.
Next up there is an informative assembly guide included that will help you assemble your SuperSlim and install the DVD player from your MacBook Pro. Before reading the assembly guide, we were not sure whether the SuperSlim came with missing rubber grommets on the bottom. After reading it, we found out that additional screws and rubber feet are included inside.
To open up the SuperSlim, all the user has to do is slide the top cover of the SuperSlim from the back to the front. This should be a simple process and should not take too much force. One of the screws will help keep the SuperSlim closed once the DVD drive is placed into the enclosure. Once again, we see a similar design as we have seen on the Data Doubler, however, the SATA port is slightly different as it needs to fit Apple’s optical drive connector.
Overall the quality of the SuperSlim is not what we have expected to be. Perhaps having a stronger plastic would have been better because it feel like it would shatter if it is accidentally dropped. The quality is mediocre, but it gets the job done at the end of the day.
The circular port on the back of the SuperSlim is used for additional power if needed. Unfortunately the SuperSlim does not come with a power adapter since most systems should be able to power up the SuperSlim without any problems, but it would have been nice if it would have been included in the price, considering that its very cheap feeling.
Another thing to notice about the SuperSlim is that it does not come with any indicator whether the drive is powered up or whether it is reading a disk. At first when we plugged it into our system we were not sure whether it was recognized or even running, as no noise is made and there is no indicator of the enclosure powering up the DVD player from the MacBook Pro.
Here is a closer look at the rubber feet included inside the enclosure, and the 4 screws that are also included that will help you attach the DVD player from the MacBook Pro into the enclosure. For some reason, we were not able to screw in all screws as our DVD player did not have the appropriate holes for securing it to the enclosure. Either way, once the enclosure is closed and the rest of the enclosure screws and feet are added, the drive is securely placed in the enclosure.
Opening up the Apple MacBook Pro 15″ Early 2011 Model
- Turn off your MacBook Pro, close it and turn it upside down
- There are 10 small Phillips screws that need to be removed, three longer Phillips screws on the top right hand side of the MacBook Pro.
- Remove all the screws starting with the longer screws.
- Gently lift the cover off the MacBook Pro.
Replacing the Hitachi 500GB 7200RPM Hard Drive with the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD
- Disconnect the battery connector from the motherboard (logic board) with the nylon tool.
- Remove the retainer bar held in place by two black screws that is holding the installed hard drive in place.
- Use the transparent strip on the Hard drive to pull out the hard drive from the hard drive area.
- Make sure to detach the SATA Power and Data connector carefully.
- Use the Torx T6 tool included with the Data Doubler to remove the 4 Torx T6 screws on the side of the hard drives.
- Also remove the transparent plastic tab.
- Now attach the plastic tab to the SSD you will be installing.
- Also screw in the four Torx T6 screws for your SSD just like they were screwed in for the hard drive.
- Line up the SATA connector with the SSD and the MacBook Pro, and attach them together.
- Start by placing the SSD into the rubber grommets on the edge of the MacBook Pro followed by gently letting the SSD fall into its place in the bay.
- Replace the retaining bar and tighten the two black screws.
Removing the DVD player from the MacBook Pro
- Using your nylon pry tool, detach the two cables, one going to the AirPort (Wi-Fi) network card and the other being the SATA connector for the optical DVD drive.
- Use either your Phillips screw driver or the Torx T6 screw driver (depending on what screws used) to detach the 3 screws that hold the optical drive in place.
- You might have to detach a tiny cable right by the fan to get at the right screw.
- One of the screws is located right by one of the fans in between two other small black screws.
- To get to the 2nd screw, you need to loosen the Wi-Fi network card.
- Remove the two black screws at the top left hand side corner and at the end of the Wi-Fi network cards V shaped end to loosen your Wi-Fi network card.
- Pull the network card to the side to reveal the hidden screw at the left top corner of the MacBook Pro.
- Unscrew the 2nd screw.
- The last Optical screw is located at the bottom left had side of the optical DVD drive.
- Once all screws are removed, the DVD player will easily come out.
Installing the Hitachi 500GB 7200RPM Hard Drive into the Data Doubler
- First the SATA Power and Data cable adapter needs to be removed from the DVD drive.
- Then two screws need to be removed to take off the mounting bracket from the optical drive.
- Place mounting bracket onto the Data Doubler the same way it was removed from the optical drive.
- You can also go ahead and attach the SATA Power and Data cable adapter onto the Data Doubler.
- Take your hard drive and align it with the SATA connector and gently push it into the connector.
- Secure the hard drive to the Data Doubler with the two screws that came with the Data Doubler.
Installing the Data Doubler into the Macbook Pro
- Place the Data Doubler inside the chassis of the Macbook Pro in the appropriate location where the optical drive was removed from.
- Make sure to not place it on any cables.
- Install the three screws to secure the Data Doubler to the MacBook Pro.
- Screw in the two screws you removed from the Network Card.
- Attach the SATA cable to the motherboard (logic board).
- Attach the rest of the cables that were detached at the beginning to their appropriate locations.
Finishing the Installation and closing the MacBook Pro
- If not yet done, connect the battery power cable to the motherboard.
- Place the top of the MacBook Pro’s cover on and install thed 10 screws removed earlier.
- The three long screws are installed at the top 3 right hand side screw holes.
- The rest of the 7 screws are screwed in around the edges of the MacBook Pro.
Installation videos straight from OWC’s Youtube Channel. If you are afraid to experiment and replace your hardware, please take a look at these videos to give you a better idea on how to replace your drives and install the Data Doubler.
Replacing your Hard Drive with SSD
Installing the Data Doubler into your MacBook Pro
TESTING & METHODOLOGY
PC – Windows 7
To test the OWC 240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SATA III SSD we cloned our test rig drive to the SSD. It is the same test drive we’ve been using on all of our drive testing and is nothing more than a clean Windows load with all the drive testing software installed, as well as all the current drivers and patches for the OS. It’s the equivalent of doing a fresh load of Windows 7 from the disc but takes a lot less time and ensures that every drive tested uses exactly the same OS load and drivers. Nothing that may effect the outcome of the testing procedure can creep in. We ran all of the tests a total of 3 times and averaged those results. The Average of the three results are presented here. In the case of a pictorial benchmark we ran the bench 3 times and picked the median result. As with most SSD testing differences from run to run are minimal and the median result is a good indication of what you can expect from the drive.
We ran our usual battery of tests on the drive, and used it as the primary boot drive during testing. All of the drives tested were used as the primary boot drive during testing. That’s a more realistic test than strapping the drive in and testing it with a bare format or as a non-boot drive and it represents real life transfer rates, much like you can expect when you install and operate the drive in your own system. Each test was performed 3 times and the average of the 3 test run is reported here.
Mac OS X
We have performed the same cloning procedure as we have done on windows, but when we used the SSD in our Macbook Pro 2011 mode, we made sure it was placed in the SATA III main connectors, and that we had a fresh install of OS X Lion installed.
|Test Setup – PC|
|Case Type||Cooler Master Storm Trooper|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-2600K @ 4.8GHz|
|Motherboard||ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution|
|Ram||Patriot Gamer 2 Series 16GB (4x4GB) Memory Kit|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler|
|Storage Drives||OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SSD
Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD OCZ Vertex 3
OCZ Solid 2
Kingston SSDNow V+ 128GB MLC
OCZ Agility EX 60GB (SLC)
Kingston SSDNow V 40GB (MLC)
Kingston SSDNow V+ 128GB (MLC)
G.Skill Titan 256 GB SSD (FM-25S2S-256GBT1) (MLC)
Patriot 128GB Warp SSD (MLC)
Intel 80 GB SSD X25-M
G.Skill 64GB SSD (FM-25S25-64GB) (MLC)
2 WD VelociRaptor’s 300GB (In single and RAID 0)
WD 160 GB SATA 2
Maxtor 160 GB SATA 2
WD & Maxtor in RAID 0
|Optical||ASUS DVD-RW Drive|
|GPU||3x Nvidia GeFroce GTX 580 in 3-Way SLI|
|Testing PSU||Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200W Modular PSU|
|Keyboard||Tt eSports Meka G1 Mechanical Keyboard|
|OS||Windows 7 Pro 64-bit|
|Test Setup – Mac|
|Model||MacBook Pro, 15-inch, Early 2011|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-2720QM 2.2GHz Processor (3.3GHz Max Turbo Freq)|
|Ram||Kingston HyperX Plug-n-Play 8GB (2x4GB) 1600MHz Memory|
|Storage Drives||OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB SATA III SSD(Main SATA)Hitachi 7200RPM 500GB 2.5″ SATA II Hard Drive (Secondary SATA)|
|GPU||AMD Radeon HD 6750M 1024MBIntel HD Graphics 3000|
|OS||OS X Lion v.10.7.2|
|HD Tune Pro|
|AS SSD Benchmark|
|OS X Lion Boot-Up Time with Browser|
|Speedtools Utilities 3 Pro|
|AJA System Test|
We are displaying the average performance of the SSDs in ATTO. In the 1024K 8MB Read test, there was an occasion when we actually got 558.823MB/s for our result, but because we are averaging 3 runs into one, the average performance of the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G was roughly around the Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD, or just a few MB/s higher or lower. These are very impressive scores.
HDTach is a well trusted benchmarking suites that we use for testing our SSDs and Hard Drives. We performed the 8MB test just like we have done it on ATTO and the results were once again very impressive compared to the competition. We see about 9MB/s higher average read performance, and slightly higher Burst speeds compared to the Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD.
HD Tune Pro
HD Tune Pro never fails to give us very precise and accurate performance numbers on our tested drives. The test goes through the whole drive getting an average read results along with the Min and Maximum performance the SSD reached. Its very interesting to see that the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G just surpassed the Kingston HyperX SATA III SSD in all but minimum performance.
We have so far only tested Read performance. With CrystalDiskMark we take a look at the performance we can get out of the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G during write operations. Once again we see the same pattern for the Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G as on the previous tests. It performs between first and second place in each test. It is important to understand though that with 4K tests, it is normal to see much slower performance. Compared to single and RAID 0 based hard drives, we can see about a 10x-30x performance difference, which is amazing. This is where SSDs have a big performance increase over hard drives and that’s why reading and writing of thousands of small files is so much faster on SSDs.
Next up we take a look at the Sequential Read and Write performance. This type of reading and writing is mainly used when working with videos and other massive files. For read, the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD managed a crazy 516.9MB/s throughput which is multiple times the amount of throughput a Full HD video requires (35MB/s). This means that even a 4K video recorded at YUV 4:2:2 color model at 24FPS and 12-bits/color would require about 2.55Gbps or about 318.5MB/s maximum throughput. This means that having a system with one of the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD would easily allow a person working with 4K footage to playback the videos without any lags, unless other parts of their system would be bottlenecking the playback. At 517MB/s the up to 5K resolution video could be used at a 4:2:2 and 12bits/color compression. Add another SSD for RAID0, and the performance would almost double.
ASS SSD Benchmark
There are a few interesting points to take a look at in these results. As we’ve seen previously the OWC performs exceptionally well, but AS SSD reported a much lower number for Sequential Read performance than what we were expecting. The OCZ Vertex 3 is about at the same performance as the Kingston HyperX SSD, however, the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G fell almost 20MB/s short from the Vertex 3. On the other hand, for the 4K read resutls, the OWC SSD performed way better than the Kingston HyperX SSD.
OS X Lion Boot Time
As we can see from the video, the upgrade from a standard 7200RPM Hard Drive to a 6Gb/s SandForce SF-2282 controller SSD shows a tremendous performance increase. Users that have the 5600RPM hard drives would most likely have a slower booting time as well. The clear conclusion from this video is that if you want to have a fast booting time and fast application loading time, get an SSD for your system. SATA II SSDs running the older SandForce SF-1xxx series controllers will be slightly slower than the SF-2xxx series controllers, but they should still be way faster than a traditional hard drive.
Speedtools Utilities 3 Pro
We used the Test Data Transfer Integrity tool to measure Read and Write throughput. This feature benchmarks the storage device in a MacBook Pro for its ability to reliably and repeatedly read and write precise data patterns. After running the benchmark for 10 minutes, the minimum performance we got were 185.048MB/s for write and 182.183MB/s for read. On the other hand, the maximum performance we reached was 480.077MB/s write speed and 505.306MB/s read speed. Average write and read performance was between 410MB-450MB/s
AJA System Test
AJA System Test showed spot on results for the Read speed compared to the SpeedTools Utilities 3 Pro tool. The Write speed was slightly slower then what we saw on SpeedTools, but still very nice results of 467.0MB/s AJA System Test helps us take a look at performance we can reach with different video formats. In our case, we were testing 4K video resolution with 10bits/color RGB compression, and a video file size of 4GB. We have also disabled the file system cache option, which prevents the cache from interfering with our results.
Our Final Thoughts
The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD is one of the fastest 2.5″ form factor SATA III SSDs on the market running with the SandForce SF-2282 controller. Its incredible speed of up to 556MB/s really shows off what this solid-state drive is capable of. With the applications we have tested, and the benchmarks we have done, we can highly recommend the Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G to any extreme enthusiast. Whether they want to just do basic document editing, surfing the net or other related activities, all the way up to the professional video editing software that can use high-definition video and much more, the Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G will not disappoint. Also, a 5-Year Warranty is greatly appreciated from OWC.
Even though we do not necessarily consider this as a major con, there are no accessories that come with the Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G that would allow the user to install the SSD in a Desktop system; the buyer would have to go out and spend extra money on other mounting accessories in order to mount the SSD in the system properly. Fortunately, when ordering from macsales.com, a bracket can be added for only $2.99 after rebate, which is a very good price. If bought separately, the 2.5″ to 3.5″ SSD bracket will cost about $14.99.
|OUR VERDICT: OWC 240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD|
|Summary: The OWC 240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD not only provides plenty of space to install your operating system on, but also enough to get most of your other applications and files on it as well providing a much smoother and snappier system. With its excellent performance, it earns the Bjorn3D Golden Bear Award.|
OWC Data Doubler
The Data Doubler is a very handy, useful and high-quality mounting adapter for the MacBook Pro that allows users to install additional storage devices like SSDs into their system for expanded storage space with extra performance. Overall the Data Doubler gets the job done and is very sturdy, meaning that it will handle heavy devices and keep everything fit perfectly, however, we are a bit worried about its price of around $74.99, which seems a bit on the expensive side for just an adapter considering that products like these could be designed for much cheaper.
While not a con for the product itself, with the installation of additional storage devices, the user must remove their optical DVD player in order to install the Data Doubler.
|OUR VERDICT: OWC Data Doubler|
|Summary: Even though the OWC Data Doubler is a very high quality sturdy and straight forward product to work with, we believe it is very expensive for what it actually does. We will be awarding the OWC Data Doubler the Bjorn3D Silver Bear Award.|
Finally the OWC SuperSlim is a very handy enclosure to have around when you upgrade your MacBook Pro with additional storage devices, as the Data Doubler will take up the space where the optical DVD player is currently located. While the SuperSlim performs very nicely with the same performance as the internal setup, the OWC SuperSlim is missing some key features. One of the features would be a small LED indicating whether the unit is powered on or not. The 2nd LED should be showing read/write operations when the drive is used. We find these features to be essential parts of a proper enclosure, because users need to know whether their device is working, or is even turned on.
Other than that, we were not big fans of the overall construction and quality of the SuperSlim, as it is made out of thin plastic that easily bends. With the optical DVD player placed inside the enclosure, the enclosure gains a bit of strength, though this is only because of the sturdier construction of the DVD player itself. Overall the anti-vibration and non-sliding design is excellent with the rubber feet that comes with the OWC SuperSlim.
|OUR VERDICT: OWC SuperSlim|
|Summary: Even though the OWC SuperSlim gets the job done and allows us to run DVDs externally through a USB 2.0 port, we are still not quite satisfied with its overall construction, and the features it provides.|
As a conclusion, it is worth looking into OWC’s SSD upgrades for your MacBook Pro, as they offer much faster SSDs than what Apple offers for the same price, while also providing you with additional upgrade options and different solutions to fit your needs.