OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 120GB
For those who may be unfamiliar with Solid State Disk drives (SSDs), let’s have a quick recap to briefly explain some of the characteristics and benefits that differ from traditional mechanical hard drive counterparts.
First, it is important to note that SSDs are currently designed to meet connectivity standards of HDDs; they use the same SATA ports and power connectors, and may even fit the same drive bay racks and computer towers that we’re all accustomed to using. Many SSDs do, however, come in a smaller 2.5" form factor, same as notebook drives, which is a bit smaller than the traditional 3.5" size that most of us have. In short, SSDs can fit anywhere HDDs can, and in most cases the SSDs are even smaller.
The other advantage of an SSD over a HDD is its durability; solid state drives are far more rugged, able to withstand up to 1500G. So you don’t really need to worry about dropping it, though I didn’t actually toss any of our SSDs out a 7-storey window to test it. Call me unadverturous but running the risk of trashing a fast new SSD isn’t my idea of a fun time. Lastly, Solid State Drives have exceptionally fast response times which are almost instantaneous, while even the fastest hard disk drives on the market are downright sluggish by comparison.
When pulling apart an SSD (which will void your warranty, so think twice before doing it) you’ll see that SSDs contain NAND Flash chips that are used with a wear-leveling algorithm to ensure the erase and rewrite cycles are spread across all of the storage chips. Therefore, should you have the misfortune of having a sector become corrupted, your previous data won’t be lost; it simply means that data can’t be written over again there. Consequently, this means that there shouldn’t be degradation of data in a physical sense, and when the drive’s lifespan is reached then you should have all your data still fully intact before the drive finally just wears out.
So we essentially have a drive that is smaller, faster, quieter, cooler, and draws less power. What’s not to like? The price. Solid State Drives are currently very expensive compared to mechanical hard drives, many times the magnitude of price per megabyte of storage.
Now that we have basic SSD technology and pricing out of the way, there is one other area of SSDs that requires a special mention: performance degradation. After many reads and writes, SSD performance will degrade due to the way that cells in the flash memory are filled and erased. This is not a hardware issue in the sense that something is broke, it’s more of a "data allocation" issue. While Windows 7 supports TRIM, a feature that helps restore SSD performance, not all SSDs support TRIM, though most current top-tier drives now do. This OWC Mercury Extreme Pro does support TRIM so we’re beyond most of these performance issues, provided that you’re running Windows 7.
With that out of the way, let’s quickly examine the features and specifications of this OWC SSD.