2011 iMac Benchmark Testing With the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD

What a whirlwind of information these new iMacs have been creating. Just a few hours after the machines were released, we had five out of the six base models unboxed and going through our gamut of tests.

We were shocked when we installed our new OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSDs only to find that Apple had essentially throttled the internal SATA connections on the latest Z68 chipset from Intel to 3Gb/s speeds when the Z68 chipset itself could accommodate up to two SATA Revision 3.0 (6Gb/s) ports and up to four SATA Revision 2.0 (3Gb/s) ports. News of this travesty rocked the Mac community – even one of our Twitter followers heard the news and tweeted Phil Schiller directly.

Shortly after the news spread far and wide, Apple released iMac EFI Update 1.6 and two SATA Revision 3.0 (6Gb/s) ports were available on the latest iMac and all was right in the world again.

We fired up the machines, installed the OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD and started our testing again. As promised, here is a glimpse of our initial benchmark testing…

OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD results in the latest 27″ iMac 3.4GHz…

For comparison here is the same tests run in the latest 15″ MacBook Pro 2.3GHz…

And for good measure in a SATA Revision 3.0 capable PC…

As you can see from the tests, read and write speeds in all are reaching 500MB/s or beyond!


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  • Hailing from Jamaica and thanks for all the work and my encouraged hope in getting this iMac to run as I’d like it.
    I didn’t know Apple would just remove the SSD option entirely if we didn’t order it with one so my question is, any updates on you guys being able to put one in? Or at least a do it yourself kit?




  • Grant, do the fans run at full speed, I would really like to make a decision on this.




  • So for the hard of hearing crowd……

    Do the new iMacs (27″) now have the necessary bracket and cable included to add a Pro 6G SSD while keeping the optical?

    I’d love a low GB SSD boot/app drive and an internal 2TB audio drive.

    -Thanks!




    • Hi Erik…if you didn’t order a new iMac with the SSD option from the factory, it won’t have a cable or bracket needed to install an SSD. But there is hope via our to be announced/expanded Turnkey service program…here’s the 2010 model info so you can see how program works:

      http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/turnkey/iMac_2010_27




      • When will this announcement be? It is a six week wait for the SSD from Apple now. If you can do it sooner, why not get moving on this??




        • Well…since we’re tearing into the machines currently…and have found a VERY interesting development – teaser alert….will have to read upcoming blog posts here ;-)

          I’d say we’re moving on this topic fairly well….want to make sure all aspects are in order…so patience going to be a virtue…and rewarded…in this matter.

          Don’t forget, we were first with eSATA on any Mac with the 2010 27″ iMac.




          • Hey Grant,

            I’ve been following these developments for a while now (notice how old this thread is…) and I know you guys have been teasing upcoming support for adding an SSD to the 2011 iMacs, but I’m trying to figure out what to buy from Apple.

            I was actually given one of your Mercury Extreme SSD’s for Xmas ’10 (nice parents) and I’d like to buy a new iMac to put it into (through your turnkey program). What should I do slash buy now, and when will I be able to send you the drive I already own and my new iMac 3.4 i7 27″ to have new RAM and the SSD installed? Any idea?

            Thanks! You guys are hardcore.




            • Hey Jeff, I’ve not heard of any definitive date on the rollout for the Turnkey Program for the 2011 machines…so unfortunately I can’t give you any kind of concrete date on that. So do you own the 3.4GHz 27″…or is that the one you are going to buy? As you have probably seen, our program for the 2010 was for the 27″ so I’d expect that same size to be in the 2011 program….bigger chassis so we can add up to three storage drives internally.

              In meantime….why not use the Extreme as an external boot and app load so you can start taking advantage of that drive now?




              • Wait— are you suggesting that I won’t be able to have OWC install a Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD in a new 21.5-inch 2.7GHz iMac that I want to purchase with only Apple’s HDD in it? You intend to do “turnkey” installs only on the 27-inch iMacs?




                • We’re still working out the details on the turnkey program and at this point, we haven’t specifically ruled out adding the 21.5-inch model to the program, but with the smaller overall space inside and the differences in layout means we need to make adjustments to the components, cabling, & routing configurations. Of course, this all comes after we tackle the heat-reporting / full-speed fan issue that affects all the 2011 models.




                  • If Apple can sell me a 21.5-inch model with an an HDD and an SDD, there must be adequate space in it for the SSD, yes?

                    And inasmuch as you’d not be replacing the HDD, why should there be a “heat-reporting / full-speed fan issue” with a 21.5-inch model that comes with an empty SSD bay, if there are no such issues when you add an SSD to a 27-inch model?




                    • Space for the SSD, of course there is. Whether our mounting system is transferrable from one system to the next is the question. When an SSD is not installed by Apple, neither is the mounting hardware for an SSD. That just makes fiscal sense on Apple’s part not to add additional, unnecessary components.

                      The heat-reporting / full-speed fan issue is in regards to the main 3.5″ hard drive; the cable, components and re-routing refers to adding an external eSATA port – both are part of the current 2010 iMac 27″ Turnkey Upgrade Program… and both need to be addressed before we offer the 2011 iMacs in the Turnkey Upgrade Program.




  • I hope that you can put a test on 2 OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G with RAID Strip config. Looking forward to see that 1GB/s =)




  • I was told at a apple store all cables needed to plug in the SSD are already there just no drive… Was that the case on the 27″ you guys had? If not what cable part number and mounting part is needed thanks. I am buying your SSD then a sata3 HD what 3.5″ do you recommend for that setup? Thanks




  • Do any of the configurations that you guys are testing include Apple’s SSD option? If so, could you please provide a benchmark comparison to show just how much faster your products are?




    • Our 2011 machines sourced at a local Apple store only have the base configuration…that’s a somewhat unknown fact…that only base machines are available at local stores…but the processor variances are available at the stores.




  • For these tests, did the SSD replace the hard drive, or are you adding the SSD where Apple installs theirs and leaving the original hard drive?




  • Fans will run even less if you remove the HD … less heat. SSD’s don’t move so f all heat. So even if you add a fast SSD and still use the HD heat & fans will remain approximately the same.

    Now for some Raid 0 stripe benchmarks accross the two Sata 3 ports please :P




  • Wow, those suckers look fast. Question for you guys: will it be possible to add a second SSD to the “entry-level” $1200 iMac? I know Apple doesn’t even offer it as an upgrade, but is it even equipped to take on an OWC drive later on?

    Thanks! Keep up the great work.




    • Hi Jonathan…unsure yet on what we can add to the 21.5…need more time with it. For sure we are offering our Turnkey Service for the 27″ which offers the option of having us install up to three drives…




  • Congrats on putting an SSD in a non-SSD model. It’ll be interesting to see if the SSD models ship with mounting brackets for 3,5″ disks or if it’ll just be an empty space there as well




  • Oh yes, I forgot to add — very impressive Mercury SSD results. I’d love to have one, but I have to wait until there’s more competition which makes the prices fall to my affordability level (like the great slide in the early ’70s after the introduction of portable electronic four-function calculators — 1970 when they were so impressive at $395 and only weighed 1.5 lbs — then sliding to less than $100 by 1972 and could finally fit into your pocket albeit taking up the whole space. : )




  • How much RAM in these tests? Did you use factory RAM or OWC increased RAM?
    It will be interesting to see the results of tests done with 16GB vs 32 GB RAM as to whether it makes any difference in speed (I am doubting whether the system can make use of the additional 16GB beyond factory max specs).




  • Hi OWC,

    A thread there of someone with 6gbs in their optical bay…

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1104245&page=6

    Whats going on?




    • Hi Daniel….dunno what to tell you…our machines are not reporting such….but we are hearing those reports as well….but to be sure, the EFI update doesn’t change that on the optical bay.




  • Hi OWC,

    There seems to be unconfirmed reports on the net that recent buyers (May) of the 2011 MBP are reporting SATA3 in the optical bay. Can OWC check on this news?

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1104245

    Daniel




    • Ok. It seems on closer reading, the optical bay is still SATA 2. i.e. 3gbs. Well still hoping that the same that happened for the iMac will occur for the 2011 MBP in the future.




  • Hi Tom and Travis….we’re investigating matter…hold tight pls.




  • Looks good – what about the fan speeds?




  • Do the fans run full speed with these drives installed?