This author has been a customer of Other World Computing (OWC) since 2003 for upgradeable components for various Apple desktops and laptops that were seemingly unavailable anywhere else on the internet. In fact, all of those past transactions yielded reliable and quality products that just "worked." For example, older Apple computers had been discriminating about accepting only certain RAM; yet, all of OWC’s memory was perfectly accepted by this author’s computers.
Similarly, Apple’s Macbook Air line of laptops only accepts a non-standard solid-state drive (SSD) that normally can only be purchased from Apple at the time of purchase. Thus, if a user runs out of storage on his/her laptop, then Apple does not provide an easy alternative for adding a larger internal SSD.
Thus, OWC has introduced their line of Aura Pro SSD’s for the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Macbook Air’s (all with starting prices of $189.99). All of the aforementioned models are available in the following three capacities: 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB. The 240GB version for the 2010 11” Macbook Air model was reviewed for this article ($279.99).
OWC’s online videos made installation straightforward and all of the necessary tools (a pentalobe and Torx T5 screwdriver visible in picture 9 of the accompanying slideshow) are included with this reviewed product. Instructions are as follows (make sure to follow “anti-static precautions” outlined by OWC):
• Backup your current Macbook Air’s SSD
• Remove the 10 screws with the pentalobe screwdriver (note: the two middle screws near the hinge are longer than the rest and are colored purple in picture 10)
• Remove the one Torx T5 screw attaching the SSD to the Macbook Air (the screw’s location is outlined in yellow, while the SSD’s location is outlined in green in photo 11)
• Then, the SSD is removed from its connection by carefully and slowly pulling to the right
• Replacing the standard SSD with OWC’s Aura Pro, then the above instructions are followed in reverse order (caveat: replace the two middle screws first when reinstalling the Macbook Air’s lower case)
Intelligently, OWC has the developed the Envoy, a wedge-shaped enclosure, that houses the non-standard Apple SSD and connects to one’s computer via USB 3.0. Thus, instead of having this SSD gather dust in the corner, one is able to utilize it for additional storage! Moreover, with the Envoy, one is able to transfer over one’s data via “Method #2” of OWC’s outlined instructions.
Utilizing terminal commands, as described by the Cult of Mac, this author benchmarked OWC’s Aura Pro. Upon repeated trials, the author found that the average read speeds of the Aura Pro were 67% faster than the Apple SSD (i.e., 204 Mb/sec for the Aura Pro versus 138Mb/sec for Apple’s SSD). Thus, OWC’s claims that the Auro Pro is “up to 68% fastest” were definitely supported by this author’s benchmarking.
In terms of the “feel” of the Aura Pro, it is amazing for iTunes and iPhoto (each containing over 100GB’s) launch within seconds, as opposed to the tedious minutes previously required when pulling from the author’s network attached storage.
While the Auro Pro and Envoy is a solid product, due to the cost of SSD’s in general, this upgrade is too costly to sweepingly recommend. In time, as the price of SSD’s continues to lower, OWC’s SSD will be a required purchase for all, especially in comparison to Apple’s price of $200 to upgrade from the 128GB to the 256SSD (at time of press). On the other hand, if one has run out of internal storage space and/or desires a boost in performance, then this author definitely recommends the OWC’s Auro Pro for the Macbook Air.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Of course, perform these instructions at your own risk to yourself and/or your computer, as I am not responsible for any injury and/or damage that may occur.
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