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OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 120GB Solid State Drive Review

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AkG

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XP Start Up / Adobe CS3 Load Time

XP Start Up


When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. For our tests the clock starts as soon as the system “beeps!” and stops when our Anti-Virus splash screen disappears. While all the other tests were run with a streamlined XP image this particular image is the test bed's “day to day” OS and it has accumulated a lot of crud over the months from installs and removals. We chose the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line as it is the last program to be loaded on start up.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/OWC/boot.jpg " border="0" alt="" />​

At this point there really isn’t much to say besides we were not surprised in the least by these numbers. One second off the pace of the Inferno might not seem like much but other SandForce drives were able to deliver nearly 10% better performance without too much of a price difference.


Adobe CS3 Load Time


Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, but when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit faired in the Adobe crucible!

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/OWC/adobe.jpg " border="0" alt="" />​

It is important to remember that Patriot has not yet released their version of the 310 firmware so it is possible that the gap between the drives becomes more pronounced as time goes by. That being said, we had hoped for more from OWC’s product here.
 
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AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
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5,270
Real World Data Transfers

Real World Data Transfers


No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it can not really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 4.00GB contiguous RAR file and a folder containing 49 subfolders with a total 2108 files varying in length from 20mb to 1kb (1.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, timing each process individually to provide an approximate Read and Write performance. To then stress the dive even more we will then make a copy of the large file to another portion of the same drive and then repeat the process with the small one. This will test the drive to its limits as it will be reading and writing simultaneously. Here is what we found.



<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/OWC/copy_sm.jpg " border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/OWC/copy_lg.jpg " border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/OWC/copy_self.jpg " border="0" alt="" />

What we are seeing here are average numbers when it comes to SSDs so the Mercury didn't really stand out all that much. We know it certainly lacks the “pep” of other drives and even the seemingly slow Patriot Inferno feels quite fast compared to the Extreme Pro. Unfortunately, no number of charts can accurate reflect this.
 
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AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
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5,270
Value

Value


The term “Value” is such an amorphous term that it truly has different meanings for different people. For some a hard drive is only as good as its performance potential, for others it is how quiet or durable it is; for others still it’s how effective it is for its cost. We here at HWC try to provide as many answers as possible for the term “Value”. Hopefully by this point in the review people looking at performance potential will have a fairly good idea of what its Value is. For the “best bang for the buck” crowd we have included a chart below showing how much a give drive costs per GB . No consideration has been made for performance, “durability” or any other extraneous factors; this is just raw performance vs. monetary cost. All prices are based on the average of the three lowest prices found online via Froogle. If less then three price options were available they were based on the average of those that were. Please note all prices are now in USD and not Canadian.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/OWC/value.jpg " border="0" alt="" />​

Since this drive is only slightly more expensive than the competition yet packs in an extra 20% of space it is actually a pretty decent value. However, it is important to remember that the Mercury also costs almost $400 and really doesn’t outperform any of the competition. Unless a drive sports a customized NAND selection like the G.Skill Phoenix or the Vertex 2’s adrenalin-injected firmware, it better be cheaper then $360 for 120GB of space. However, if you are going for capacity over performance, this may actually prove to be quite good value for your money.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


Please note that this conclusion has been modified on launch date after it became apparent that the actual retail price of the Mercury was indeed much lower than our research had shown. We apologize for any confusion.

Admittedly, we and the market in general have come to expect a lot of modern solid state drives. We have seen that most of the time these drives live up to expectations while others simply surpass any preconceptions and prove themselves to be giants among men. There are a few out there however that completely fail on every level possible. It really has been a roller-coaster ride when it comes to SSDs.

In our opinion, OWC’s Mercury Extreme Pro doesn’t quite fit into any of these above-mentioned categories for a number of reasons. It doesn't strike us as an abject failure in any way, shape or form since its performance is in-line with other SandForce-based SSDs yet its price hollers value from the rooftops. Granted, the numbers we received from it were quite good but some companies have taken the SandForce controller with its inherent limitations and have modified things to increase performance. G.Skill is one of these and we will soon be looking at some drives that offer the same. OWC on the other hand stayed the course which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but this makes differentiation a bit hard from a performance perspective.

We also noticed that the Mercury Extreme Pro did loose quite a few blocks to early death. This does concern us to a certain extent since it just doesn’t have the same number of reserve blocks as the 100GB products. With a mere 40 hours of testing seeing the percentage of available bad block allocation sink to 88% which would normally be worrying. To be fair and balanced though, the drive still had plenty of spare blocks ready to go and even with a further 20 hours of testing - 100% write only tests on IOMeter we might add - it stayed at 2048 bad blocks or 88%. So while the initial drop is concerning, we would feel completely comfortable using this particular drive for years if not decades.

While it may not be a top-rung balls to the wall fast SSD with a price to match, the Mercury is still one hell of a fast drive with a killer price. In addition, OWC’s excellent customer service should be mentioned as a shining example of what made their drives so popular on Apple’s platforms. With this support now extending to PC users as well, things could get very interesting indeed if this company can continue offering up high performance solutions at reasonable prices.

We consider the Mercury to be a good drive that doesn't really stand out in any one performance category but makes up for its benchmark numbers with a capacity of 120GB and a great price. All in all, it is worth a look if you are in the market for this type of drive and receives our Dam Good Value Award.


Pros:

- TRIM capable
- Good read & write performance
- Excellent customer service
- 120GB of space
- Good looks
- Simply amazing price


Cons:

- Performance doesn't stand out from other Sandforce drives
- Availability is next to nil here in Canada (you'll have to order from south of the border)



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http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/foru...reme-pro-120gb-ssd-review-comment-thread.html
 
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