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OWC Announces Mercury Aura Pro as Industry’s First Solid State Drive Upgrade for 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina display

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 | Author:

Other World Computing announced today the OWC Mercury Aura Pro as the industry’s first high-performance Solid State Drive upgrade for 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina display (rMBP) computers. Available in 480GB capacity, the 6G (6Gb/s) SandForce Driven Mercury Aura Pro offers rMBP owners 87.5 percent more capacity than the factory 256GB model. Additionally, customers buying the $579.99 MSRP Aura Pro direct from OWC until September 30, 2012, will later receive the OWC Envoy Pro USB 3.0 bus-powered portable enclosure (a $59.95 value) for re-tasking the rMBP’s factory flash module as an external drive at no additional cost.

OWC “Unlocks” the Factory Capacity Limit

When introduced this past June, the MacBook Pro with Retina display base model offered a 256GB SSD configuration with no upgrade option. Now, instead of being “factory locked”, rMBP owners can add 87.5 percent more capacity with a 480GB Mercury Aura Pro SSD. The only other and far more costly and time-intensive option for rMBP owners, as discovered by The SSD Review.com, is to upgrade the SSD through an authorized dealer. Making this an even less desirable option is the fact that the original 256GB flash module is retained and sent back to Apple.

Pricing, Availability

The Mercury Aura Pro for 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina display is available immediately on a pre-order basis for $579.99 MSRP with shipping to commence on/about August 21. Orders placed direct with OWC by September 30, 2012, will receive the OWC Envoy Pro USB 3.0 bus-powered portable enclosure (a $59.95 value) for re-tasking the rMBP’s factory flash module as an external drive. The external Envoy Pro enclosure will be shipped separately to all qualifying customers by the end of 2012.

We’ve received significant user feedback that 256GB just doesn’t provide adequate capacity for this machine and in fact, some users have maxed out the factory drive space,” said Larry O’Connor, CEO, Other World Computing. “Offering nearly double the capacity along with the ability to reuse the factory drive as a high speed external drive is an unbeatable combination upgrade value.”

New Model Continues OWC’s First-to-Market Streak

The new Mercury Aura Pro for 2012 rMBP machines continues OWC’s two year streak as being the first manufacturer offering an SSD upgrade for the latest Apple notebook computers. There’s an Aura Pro/Envoy enclosure bundle for 2010 and 2011 MacBook® Air computers and an Aura Pro SSD upgrade for 2012 MacBook Air owners.

In addition offering first and only upgrades for the latest Apple machines, OWC also offers world record-breaking 3G (3Gb/s) and 6G (6Gb/s) Mercury SSDs for nearly every Mac and PC produced over the past decade in capacities from 30GB to 1TB with prices starting from $49.99.

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    1. Peter M says:

      Re. the 768gb Mercury Aura… ETA? Updates? Anything? Hallo… allo… allo…lo…lo….

      • OWC Michael says:

        I am sorry, but we can’t really speak as to the possibility, specifications, or timeframes of future products here on the OWC Blog.

    2. Ryan G says:

      As far as the Envoy Pro SSD enclosure for the rMBP SSD, when is the likely release of this to be? USB 3.0 connectivity I’m guessing….Thanks

      • OWC Michael says:

        From all indications, we’re gonna be running this one down to the wire on our initial release date of “End of 2012″. We’re currently expecting to have them available the week of December 31st.

    3. Stan Tron says:

      Any estimate on the Envoy enclosure for the 2012 MacBook Air 11″? I’m dying to pick up an Aura replacement but I really need to use the stock Apple SSD when I do the upgrade.

    4. Solaric says:

      Oh, thanks for the replies so far but one other quick question. Does OWC have any plans for an enclosure that would allow these card-type SSDs to be used as a standard SATA 2.5″ drive (which in turn could be used as a 3.5″ drive with an adapter)? If not I’d like to express interest in such a product over an external USB enclosure. It seems like it would be simpler to implement (if it’s SATA anyway maybe you could get away with routing pins?), and it would add a ton of versatility since it could be used with anything any other 2.5″ drive could be used for. Could get the Aura Pro, stick the original SSD into any other Mac, or use it in a different enclosure or whatever. That’d be killer IMO.

      Keep up the great work!

    5. Solaric says:

      While somewhat tempting, I really wish you weren’t still using Sandforce. Now that Apple has upped their game with 830 controllers for the first time we’re faced with a situation where your offering is significantly worse in terms of performance. Also unlike other products, in this case it actually matters.

      What you have on offer is very tempting from a price point of view, but I wish it was an absolute no-brainer rather then something I’m having to angst over. Please please consider switching to a better controller in the future so that you can be offering both these wonderful upgrade opportunities and competitive performance. Nevertheless, thanks for all your hard work on keeping upgrades alive.

      • OWC Michael says:

        The speeds depend entirely on what you’re using the computer for as to which is going to offer better performance. When performing operations using sequential (compressible) data, the Sandforce processor offers about 50MB/s better speeds than the 830 controller. However, when manipulating incompressible data, the 830 offers better transfer rates.

        Compressible data includes your operating system, applications, and many of your documents and files that can be stored on the drive in a smaller space without losing any integrity – but incompressible data has either already been compressed (or zipped) or by nature cannot be compressed further. For example, raw video capture deals with compressible data… whereas conversion to MP4, etc and editing of already compressed video file types is dealing with incompressible data. So, if you are using the machine mainly as a post-production video editing workstation, then the 830 would probably offer a little better performance as the main function of the machine would be to manipulate those already compressed files. But, for most other functions, (web design, photography, audio, clerical, etc.) the SandForce processor will offer better overall performance.

        • Solaric says:

          First, thank you very much for your reply. FWIW, I am quite familiar with performance profiles of the various drives and controllers out there, and I didn’t speak at random.

          “Compressible data includes your operating system, applications, and many of your documents and files that can be stored on the drive in a smaller space without losing any integrity”
          The problem is that is very likely to be incorrect here. There is a reason I made sure to write “Also unlike other products, in this case it actually matters.” For a desktop system, and for the majority of users not on the cutting edge, you are most likely correct. Mobile users, however, are very, VERY likely to be using Full Disk Encryption (and in fact there is no reason not to have that be the rule, rather then the exception, *particularly* for solid state where it’s very hard to ensure a true secure erase). With encryption, everything becomes random (compression is a typical first step in fact, as it both improves performance and serves as a good initial way to increase entropy). So for mobile products more then normal ones “incompressible” performance is a true concern.

          Even for desktops though I consider the trend to be unfavorable towards Sandforce’s approach. The natural place for compression is at the filesystem level. Even without awesome stuff like ZFS more and more high level compression is happening (Apple now includes it in the OS for HFS+). It’s true that SF is hardly terrible, and can provide solid sequential performance and do very well with compressible writes. It’s always handled high queue depths quite well too, although that’s more the domain of servers. Nevertheless I think in the mobile world in particularly its flaws are a much stronger negative, and other controllers have surpassed it. Even OCZ moved on for the Vertex 4.

          Anyway, any upgrade at all is still a wonderful option to have, and I’m happy to see OWC continuing to provide solutions. I just urge you to at least consider this in your future plans. Thanks again.

      • Daniel says:

        The original Apple OEM Flash Storage Drive is now available for later upgrades to all 2012 Retina Display MacBook Pros including the:
        Late 2012 13-inch Retinal models
        MD212LL/A (2.5 GHz with 128 GB), MD213LL/A (2.5 GHz with 256 GB
        . . . and the
        Mid 2012 15-inch Retina models
        MC975LL/A (2.3 GHz) MC976LL/A (2.6 GHz).

        Original Apple 512 GB flash storage drives can be found on eBay.

    6. Mike says:

      Possible for a 768 gb or 960 gb upgrade in the future?

    7. Sr. Mac says:

      This sounds great, but does it still allow the computer to use the deep sleep function. Also in regards to Power Nap for those on Mountain Lion, will Power Nap still work with this SSD installed?

      • OWC Michael says:

        All features and functions of the machine and the OS work just the same whether you have the Apple original SSD or the Aura Pro SSD installed.

    8. Michael DeLeon says:

      Does this instalation void Apple’s warranty?

      • OWC Michael says:

        Installing the upgrades in and of themselves does not void Apple’s warranty. HOWEVER, the warranty does not cover any damages that may result from doing so and physically damaging the computer will void the warranty.

    9. Dale says:

      I had faith that you would offer some form of aftermarket upgrade; however, I, like others hope that there will potentially be an aftermarket SSD produced by your company that will offer close to a Terabyte of storage for this computer. I think you’ll find that there is a market for such a device.

    10. Machole says:

      Got my 2.6Ghz/16GB Ram/256GB rMBP in the mail yesterday…
      4 words.
      I love you guys!

    11. Ryan says:

      This is fantastic news. Unfortunately I already ordered my MacBook Pro with the 512 option. I patiently await larger capacities. 960 gig with Sandforce perhaps???

    12. Marcos Leal says:

      Are planing to release a higher capacity Solid State Upgrade for Macbook Pro retina display?

      I purchased my Macbook Pro with 512 GB which is the minimum I can work with, so I would like to know if your are working on an upgrade of higher capacity than the 768 GB offered by apple as max. 1 TB would would be great, still not enough for my needs but much better.

      • OWC Michael says:

        Unfortunately we really can’t speak as to future products here on the OWC Blog. That said, in the technology industry in general capacities are getting larger and speeds are getting faster as time goes on. I wouldn’t anticipate anything different when it comes to our products.

        • Peter R Payne says:

          Definitely NEED 1 TB or near enough worth of space in order to pull the trigger. I currently have 1 TB + 240 SSD courtesy of you awesome guys, and I can’t go below 1 TB of storage. So get to work guys!

        • Elijah Pedroso says:

          Will it be possible to take the OWC SSD and install it in the enclosure to use as an external hard drive? Or does the enclosure only work with Apple’s included SSD?

          • OWC Michael says:

            The Envoy could use either the Apple original or the Aura Pro SSD.

            • Elijah says:

              That’s perfect! I can keep the 768gb in my mac and have an external 480gb. If only the enclosure was Thunderbolt instead of USB 3.0 and the upgrade came in a 1tb size.

    13. Tomas Villegas says:

      Awesome! You guys rock, but I think if I were to go with more storage I would just do it through Apple. They’re offering 512GB for $500. Thanks for the great work and giving us more options when it comes to the rMBP and MBA.

      • Capt NaCl says:

        Though it appears to be more expensive, the OWC upgrade does allow users to keep the 256GB drive that comes in the notebook by default. For purchasers ordering the Mercury Aura Pro before September 30, OWC will include the $60 OWC Envoy Pro for free, an external USB 3.0 enclosure for the SSD drive from the Retina MacBook Pro. This gives users a very speedy (and very small) external drive.

        You’re not getting 512GB for $579. If you purchase the 256GB MBPro Retina you’re getting the 256GB SSD from Apple (to put in OWC’s external enclosure) AND the 512GB SSD. 768GB + Enclosure (for $579) > 512GB (for $500).

        More often than not this is offered for early adopters who already bought the 256GB model as an awesome upgrade — and a 256GB external SSD drive that’s super small and about the fastest thing out there (for only about $80) is a very nice bonus.

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