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OWC Announces Industry’s First 6Gbps SSD For ’11 MacBook Air

Other World Computing announced today the industry’s first 6G SSD upgrade for the 2011 Apple MacBook Air 11.1″ and 13.3″ models.  The new OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSDs combine award-winning SandForce technologies and Tier 1/Grade A Toggle Synchronous NAND to deliver data rates that are more than 3x faster and capacities that are up to 4x greater than factory available SSD options.  Currently available in two sizes–120GB and 240GB–the new 6Gb/s SATA 3.0 Revision models continue OWC’s position as the only alternative to factory SSD options for the 2010-2011 MacBook Air. 3G speed models from OWC are also available in capacities of up to 480GB.

The OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G offers 2011 MacBook Air owners a cost-effective SSD upgrade path that delivers higher performance, functionality, and reliability over the factory installed SSD. Because the Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD is SATA Revision 3.0 (6Gb/s) compatible, it can take advantage of the 2011 MacBook Air’s built-in 6Gb/s SATA data bus to deliver peak, sustained data rates over 500MB/s, versus the factory installed SSDs, which are limited by SATA Revision 2.0 (3Gb/s) capability.

No Slow-down with Repeated Use

While ordinary SSDs initially offer fast read/write performance; they experience significant write speed degradation over repeated usage. Independent simulation tests conducted by leading drive performance experts like MacPerformanceGuide confirm OWC Mercury SSD’s ultra-efficient Block Management & Wear Leveling technologies are able to eliminate virtually any reduction in data transfer speeds over heavy, long-term usage without dependency on less-than-effective OS TRIM management.


Up to 100X Greater Data Protection

Utilizing SandForce DuraClass technology, the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G provides an increase of up to 100X in data protection, compared to ordinary SSDs and leading enterprise-class hard disk drives. By combining the highest level of Error Correction Code (ECC) and SandForce RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology, along with 7% over provisioning, the Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G provides RAID-like data protection and reliability without loss of transfer speed due to parity.

As the first and only SSD alternative to factory installed options in Apple’s 2010 and 2011 MacBook Air models, the Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G sets the bar high. We’re extremely excited to offer this model which completely eclipses any factory installed SSD and gives MacBook Air users the leading performance our Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSDs have been delivering to MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and PC owners,” said Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO, Other World Computing. “Our new Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G models enable 2011 MacBook Air owners to unleash substantially higher performance capabilities that are otherwise unrealized and limited by the factory drive.

OWC’s new Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G leverages the proven success of its previously released 3G model. 2010-2011 MacBook Air owners seeking maximum storage/backup capacity can replace their factory installed SSD with up to 8x greater capacity offered by the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 3G SSD. Available in capacities up to 480GB, the 3G model SSD also delivers up to 68% faster performance in real world use.

Pricing, Availability

Compatible with 11.1″ and 13.3″ 2011 MacBook Air models, the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G is available now from Other World Computing as well as through select retailers. Both models include 7% over provisioning, Toggle Synchronous NAND and a three-year warranty. The 120GB version has an MSRP of $349.99 and the 240GB version has an MSRP of $599.99.

Industry’s Most Comprehensive SSD Line for Macs and PCs
The new Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G model joins OWC’s existing line of performance-leading, world record-breaking ‘3G’ (3Gb/s) and ‘6G’ (6Gb/s) Mercury SSDs available for nearly every Mac and PC produced over the past decade in capacities from 40GB to 480GB starting from $87.99.


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  • Since an encrypted SSD isn’t an option for the MacBook Air, some of us will be using File Vault 2 despite the performance hit. How about a comparison chart that shows its impact on the Auro Pro Express 6G performance? I’m concerned that the 10-30% degradation reported with the standard 3G SSD would be worse with a 6G drive, and I’d love to see some benchmarks that tell me I’m wrong.

    • You’re not wrong. The Write speed degradation is up to about 40% on the 6G drives (and that’s regardless whether you’re using a 6Gb/s capable MacBook Air, Mac Mini or MacBook Pro). Granted there is no degradation in read speeds at all as the encryption happens in the write cycle itself.

  • Hi OWC.

    I’m interested in the 6G 240Gb version, but it’s quite expensive. One thing to help me justify the price would be reusing my factory 256Gb SSD as external storage, which I see you guys have designed two solutions for.

    I’m wondering why the enclosures are so big relative to the small size of the SSD. I’m hoping for a USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt solution that would take the form of a thumb drive rather than a 2.5in. enclosure. I remember another manufacture briefly providing a solution that was similar in size and function to a USB thumb drive back in very late 2010.

    • Both enclosures are additions to our existing On-the-Go and Mercury Elite product lines. Designing a case from scratch to accommodate the flash storage would take some time, while making adjustments to an existing line proved a more expedient way to bring a solution for what to do with the existing storage to market.

    • Thunderbolt solutions will become prevalent in 2012. As for a Thunderbolt enclosure for transferring data and retasking/re-using the Apple SSD displaced by an Aura upgrade – we will review when practical.

  • This is probably just a dumb question, but here it goes:

    Since these SSDs use the Sandforce controller, do they play well with an encrypted volume?

    I am *not* using FileVault2 to encrypt my entire disk, but I do use an encrypted disk image to store source code and business documentation when toting around my Macbook Air.

    This is not a problem when using an SSD with a Sandforce controller is it?

    • The short answer is – today it is not and hasn’t been for some time although still highly recommended to avoid whole SSD encryption via software(matters not which SSD or controller inside) – something you are already wise in not doing.

      • Why is it recommended ro avoid whole SSD encryption? I have FileVault2 enabled on my OWC SSD so I’m interested in a response.

        • Depending on the software encryption type – whole drive encryption doesn’t just do the files, it does the entire drive including free space on the drive. This substantially increases activity load to the SSD and also substantially slows it down as well. From what I can tell, FileVault doesn’t work like that and is much better than some others in that respect and also appears to provide much higher performance as a result – but still a 10-30% hit vs. non-encrypted.

    • The amount of space available for the flash drive in the MacBook air is very small. The Flash chips currently available do not currently provide for production a solution for 6G 480GB which is why we currently only offer 480GB in the 3G version. At some future point the NAND we need for a 6G 480GB version will be available, but not soon.

  • That is great news. Likely a common question, is there anything useful that can be done with the SSD module that is removed? Would make replacing the stock SSD more attractive. Thanks.

  • In a discussion of your announcement on, there was a concern about the impact that your high-performance SSD would have on the battery life of the MBA. Could you please comment on what you have measured with these new modules installed? Thanks.

    • While it is absolutely true that these drives have higher power consumption during data transfer processes vs. lower performing drives like the factory models – the amount of time the drives are active in this way is less than those drives. Further, if you’re doing a processor intensive task – the amount of time your processors are are full power consumption is also reduced since these tasks are also now completed faster. We will publish comprehensive real world results, but at the end of the day I think the overall results will surprise some. :)

  • Now that I have a new 13″ MBAir to replace my original October 11″ model, will I be able to swap the 240 GB MAPE I got from you 2-12-2011 for a new 6G model?

    • Unfortunately, eight months is well outside our normal return/upgrade window of thirty days, so swapping the 3G version for the 6G version isn’t an option.

      However, the 3G version you do have will work just fine in the 2011 MBA, just not at “6G” speeds.