updated 06:05 pm EDT, Thu September 15, 2011
Faster, more capacity than Apple factory options
Other World Computing (OWC) has announced the availability of 6Gbps (6G) Mercury Aura Pro Express SSDs for the 2011 model MacBook Airs (older MBAs can still use the third-generation version of the drives). Currently only available in two sizes -- 120GB and 240GB -- the 6G drives can be more than three times faster than the Apple SSD factory options. The drives feature protection against write speed degradation over time, and make full use of the 6Gb per second SATA bus.
Because Apple's own built-in SSDs for the 2011 MacBook Air only use SATA 2.0, the SATA 3.0 revision used by the OWC drives can take full advantage of the bus, delivering peak sustained data rates of over 500MB per second. In a test of 4K random reads and writes, the drives offer up to 3.5 times the performance of the Apple default SSDs, and in real-world normal use users should see roughly 70 percent better performance.
OWC's SSDs do not use the TRIM standard, but instead use a technique called "over-provisioning" to protect the drives from slowdowns and uneven wear over time. The drives are actually 128GB and 256GB in capacity, but reserve seven percent of that for the provisioning technique. The drives also use Sandforce DuraClass technology for up to 100 times the data protection. The company continues to be the only supplier of third-party, MBA-specific compatible SSDs.
The OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express SSDs are available now, with the 120GB model selling for $350 and the 240GB version costing $600. The company offers 3G SSDs for both the 2010 and 2011 MacBook Air models with capacities up to 480GB.