If you’ve been reading the OWC Blog for the past few months, you’re probably well aware of the problems that 2011 MacBook Pros were having with 6.0Gb/s SATA performance. If you’re not familiar with it, the short form is that in many 17″ 2011 MacBook Pros (and some 15″ and 13″ as well) had problems with SATA 3.0 Revision SSDs such as the Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G—through no fault of the SSD— resulting in spotty performance, beach ball timeout delays, and even complete failure to recognize SATA 3.0 6Gb/s SSDs at all.
Well, if you ran Software Update this morning, MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.2 appears to be the answer. Nearly seven months after these machines first became available, all indications are that we can now reliably count on taking full advantage of the 6Gb/s capability provided.
Apple has somewhat dodged giving any direct response on the issue itself, but this long awaited solution just happens to be there in this update with the official description on Apple’s support site only mentioning the update as addressing Lion Internet Recovery and Thunderbolt. We are very thankful and excited to see the ‘quiet’ fix for 6Gb/s SATA 3.0 main bay drive reliability as a further benefit of this update.
Very important points though concerning the optical bay. #1 – if your MacBook Pro 2011 model currently has SATA 2.0 3Gb/s reported for your optical bay max link speed, this EFI update does not change that to SATA 3.0 6Gb/s. It really makes no difference for the optical drive, but if you wish to add an additional 9.5mm hard drive or SSD with a product such as our Data Doubler, you can continue to do so with pretty much any 3G or 6G drive of your choosing.
#2 – For those with a MacBook Pro 15″ or 17″ model that has SATA 3.0 6Gb/s link capability reported, it is very important to note that this EFI update does not appear to have resolved reliability of using a 6Gb/s drive in the optical bay. If you have a 6Gb/s optical drive bay connnection and are using a product like our Data Doubler, we still recommend only using a SATA 2.0 3Gb/s drive in that bay. MacBook Pro 13″ owners who find 6Gb/s links in their optical bay are not experiencing issues with 6Gb/s drives and this update doesn’t affect that usage.
Our testing has included multiple models of the 2011 MacBook Pro models and using the highest performing OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G and Mercury Electra 6G SSDs. From this testing, we are confident today that Apple has now, by and large, resolved the issues with 6Gb/s drives where issues were being experienced with said drives in the Main Bay/standard drive location. We will continue to review possible solutions for the optical bay, as 15″ and 17″ owners may be rightly jealous of the near 1GB (1000MB/s) data rates currently achievable in MacBook Pro 13″ models with two OWC 6G SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration.
Here are a pair of “before & after” benchmark tests with an OWC SSD in the main drive bay, which show the elimination of the performance inconsistencies after applying the update.
Further testing is being done to confirm this resolution on other 2011 MacBook Pros and we’ll post the result of those findings in an update as well as possible further benefits relating to this under OS 10.7 vs. 10.6.8.
In the meantime, if you’ve been frustrated with how your 2011 MacBook Pro has behaved with a 6Gb/s SATA 3.0 drive to this point, it looks like your system is a “lemon no more”. Now you can enjoy unleashed performance by installing an OWC 6G SSD into the main drive bay of a 2011 MacBook Pro. The SATA 3.0 6Gb/s potential that has been tantalizingly close for so long is denied no longer!