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Review: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD WIth Data Doubler Kit

Posted in Mac on 16/02/2011 by J. Glenn Künzler

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With all of the recent discussion about SSD’s, and whether maybe even MacBook Pro’s may be getting them in the future, I began to ask myself the “SSD Question.”  Will this really speed up my Mac?  And if so, how significant would the increase be – enough to justify the cost?  It was in that realm of thinking that I decided to jump in feet-first and give an SSD a try – and not just any SSD, an OWC Mercury Extreme Pro – often said to be one of the best SSD’s currently available.

While browsing options, I noticed that perhaps the most cost-effective balance for size would be the 240GB version, offering a reasonable amount of space for the cost.  But even as I was contemplating that, I remembered that I had way more than 240GB of material on my hard drive…  What to do?   So I opted to try out OWC’s kit that includes a Data Doubler with the SSD, enabling me to replace my optical drive with the SSD and keep my original hard drive.

My MacBook Before The Surgery

The kit arrived very quickly, and I wasted no time in opening the boxes, reading the manual, and proceeding to install the kit.  I’m happy to report that the surgery was quite successful (and much simpler than I figured it might be), and that I now have a shiny blue piece of hardware living in my 15″ MacBook Pro.

The kit included everything I needed, even tools, to install the SSD and Data Doubler enclosure into my MacBook Pro. and came with detailed instructions, which included a lot of images that you could use as a reference point.  Instructions were included for all of Apple’s notebook models that have optical drives.

The installation process was very simple, and the instructions were extremely easy to read and follow.  I completed the entire process in about 40 minutes.  The shiny blue object with no moving parts was finally in union with my MacBook Pro.  Then it was time to test the device out, and see what it was really capable of.

After installing the SSD, I transferred all of my data (expect my huge iTunes library) to it, and allowed my original hard drive to store my movies, music, pictures, and iPhone apps.  This was an ideal arrangement.

So, you may be asking at this point: So, did the SSD make a difference?  Allow me to answer that with numbers rather than mere words.  Below are my load times before the SSD, and after.

Booting Pre-SSD: 47 seconds.  Booting Post-SSD?  17 seconds.

Loading Photoshop CS5 Pre-SSD – 12 Seconds.  Post-SSD? A mere 2.5 seconds.

Converting a video file from MKV to iTunes-friendly MP4 Pre-SSD? 34 minutes.  Post-SSD (and this one surprised me alot)? 17 minutes.

It truly amazes me to see how much of a bottleneck my old hard drive really was – my entire computing experience is much quicker in general, and I rarely find myself annoyed to be waiting for program X to perform function Y.

My MacBook Directly After The Surgery

All in all, if you have the money to throw down for an SSD, and you’re sitting on the fence about purchasing one, let me be the first to try to push you over the the other side.  It truly does make a tremendous difference in the speed and feel of your computer.  And as for my optical drive?  It’s sitting in an external enclosure, and I haven’t missed it even once.

To learn more, or to purchase one of OWC’s fine line of SSD’s, or to purchase the same 240GB Data Doubler kit that I just reviewed ($549), please visit OWC’s product page directly.



  • http://twitter.com/linuxbcn @linuxbcn

    Where is the system? SSD hard disk?

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Künzle

      Yes – everything is running from the SSD. Only the iTunes content remains on my old hard drive.

      • http://twitter.com/linuxbcn @linuxbcn

        Perfect! too expensive for me now, but is a good option for some hi-speed config requeriments. Tnx for the post!

  • anondude22

    the factory drives apple uses are notorious for being slow. on my 2008 Macbook I upgraded to WD blue, then to WD black, then to SSD. Each step I saw a boost, the largest were from stock HD to WD blue, and then from WD black to SSD. With my ADATA SSD the system booted up in 18 seconds.

  • CJC

    I'm considering the brand new Macbook Pro 15'' and installing the Data Doubler kit (60 or 120 GB) solely to house the OS and applications (I was hoping this would be a BTO option with the new MBP, but no), with all my other files on the HDD. How, and what did you use to transfer everything from your HDD to the new SDD? Is that doable in Migration Assistant, and if so, can I specify what exactly you do/don't want transferred? (I will be transferring my files from a 2008 iMac)

    • J. Glenn Kunzler

      Migration assistant will work, but it is limited in what you can choose to transfer or not transfer. You can be quite selective with apps, for instance, but you can't choose which documents, pictures, music, and so forth to transfer or not.

      I merely transferred my iTunes library to an external disk, and then cloned my drive over to an SSD using Disk Utility.

    • Pdf Ninja

      You can use either SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner to make a bootable copy of your HDD on your SSD. Of course if the SSD is smaller, you can't copy all your files, but the system and your applications will fit. Then you go to System Preferences -> Startup Disk and select the SSD as your new startup drive, and use your HDD as a secondary storage and/or time machine backup, or simply store your large multimedia files there. After the transfer Spotlight needs to reindex all your files, which may take a while.

      • http://www.composeusa.com Michael Jahn

        Hi PDF Ninja – this is PDF Evangelist. – like your comment and your moniker.

  • ukarmy04

    HI there, I am considering purchasing the 120GB version of this kit and I was just wondering exactly how splitting content between the two drives works. You said you put your itunes library in the HDD, so does that mean when you open itunes, it takes a longer time when compared to other applications?

    • J. Glenn Kunzler

      No. iTunes itself is very quick, as the app resides on the main drive. My library, though, where all the music is stored, is on my old drive. It doesn't make much difference unless I am adding new things to my library (USB 2 is still much slower than the drive itself, so syncing is done at the same speed.)

  • http://www.101-005.com/ 婚前徵信

    Its great that you Shed light on a few things I didn’t understand. Thank you , hope you can keep writing blog.2

  • kman

    I've been trying to find an external enclosure for my optical drive. Where did you get yours? I'm not exactly sure what products on the market are recommended to use. Thanks!

    • Joel

      OWC has one for your formerly internal optical drive called the "OWC Value Line Slim USB 2.0 5.25" Enclosure Kit for 12.5mm SATA Laptop Optical Drive" for less than $30. I had a little trouble finding it, but it is there.

      I'm still trying to determine the optimal to set up the 120 GB SSD with my current 750 GB 7200 RPM internal drive.

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      I got mine from Other World Computing (MacSales.com).

  • m3kw

    Hey, what software did you use to transfer your OS to the new SSD drive to make it bootable? where there any special steps you took??

    • http://twitter.com/JGKunzler J. Glenn Künzler

      I just used Migration Assistant.

    • Anonymous

      Carbon Copy Cloner is also an awesome, free program used for the same purpose.

  • Juan Pablo Cook

    Hi, good review and post. I have a question… the battery life? is affected with this change? your internal hdd is 5400rpm? Thanks for the time :)

    JP Cook

    • http://twitter.com/JGKunzler J. Glenn Künzler

      My internal hard drive was a 7200RPM. With the SSD in there, and my original hard drive in place of the optical drive, I have noticed no significant change in battery life, save perhaps a 5% decrease at the most.

  • Falzhobel

    Hey J. nice article!

    I’ve been itching to get a Data Doubler kit from OWC with the 115Gb Mercury Extreme Pro SSD (http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DDMBSSD115/) for my Macbook Pro 2.53ghz Core 2 Duo 4Gb RAM.

    I have 3 questions for you :

    1. Where did you get the USB DVD installer for Snow Leopard?

    2. Could you recommend a good USB enclosure to put my optical drive in?

    3. This one is important. I work 95% of the time with my lid closed, connected to a ACD 24″ (roughly 8-9 hours a day). I red on some forums that they’re was issues with sleep/wake with some SSDs, can you tell me if that’s the case with the OWC Mercury Pro SSDs?

    Thanks again, man I’m really close to getting this kit now!

    Guillaume

    • http://twitter.com/JGKunzler J. Glenn Künzler

      1. I simply used disk utility to clone my Snow Leopard disc to a partition on an external USB drive.

      2. Unfortunately I have had troubles finding a really great one – there is mention of one earlier in the comments, but I am having trouble in this area myself.

      3. I had no issue with waking from sleep or hibernation with this SSD.

      Thanks for your questions – I recommend you make the jump!

      • Falzhobel

        I will probably do that real soon. Thanks for the response!

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  • http://twitter.com/cbrendel Christian Brendel

    Great article! I’m about to order a Data Doubler kit. 
    Allow me one question: Why did you place the SSD in the main bay and your HDD in the optical drive bay (as stated in the comments below). Is this beneficial from a performance point of view? Are there any downsides like missing fall protection for the HDD in the optical bay?

    Thanks a lot.
    Cheers
    Chris

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  • Tlmnlai4

    I’m thinking of doing the same on my Macbook Pro 15 2011 version. Did use a 3 or 6 G drive? thx

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      It was a 6G drive.

  • http://fullspike.com/ Workout Supplements

    What if the SSD and orig. HD are dif sizes?

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      Then you’d need a different sort of mount. Most SSD’s are 2.5″, however – the same size as a laptop hard drive.

Author

J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he's up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor's house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.