January 11th, 2011 by Brian Beeler
Hands On: OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express for MacBook Air 2010 [CES 2011]
It may be a mouthful, but the OWC Mercury Auro Pro Express is the first and only legitimate SSD upgrade option available for the 2010 Apple MacBook Air line of notebooks. Part of OWC's CES announcements, the MacBook Air upgrade leverages the SandForce SF-1200 processor to deliver up to a 22% speed improvement over the stock SSD, with capacities up to 360GB.
Of course, the SSD itself is tiny, not much larger than a few sticks of gum, and part of the disparate SSD form factors that will grow in popularity over the coming years. Of course, the drive is highlighted by the SF-1200 series processor, which delivers a nice boost in performance over the installed SSD. The drives also use Micron NAND.
Outside of speed, the other benefit of the Aura Pro Express upgrade is capacity. The drives come in 180GB, 240GB and 360GB capacities, where the 11" MacBook Air only comes with a maximum SSD capacity of 128GB and the 13" 256GB. Of course, there's a cost to be on the leading edge, and these SSDs are no different, coming in at $499.99, $579.99 and $1179.99 respectively.
At least OWC is going to make the upgrade easy. They'll offer an upgrade kit with everything a user needs to handle the swap themselves, including the proper tool to open the MacBook Air and a video to show how it's done. If you're not inclined to do the work OWC will do the upgrade for you. OWC also plans on offering an SSD buyback program for the factory-installed SSDs from Apple.
As a 13" MacBook Air user, the prospect of a SandForce powered SSD is alluring, if for no other reason then to just squeak out a little more performance. Obviously the cost is going to be a problem for most, but from OWC's perspective, they at least wanted to give buyers an option. And the way they tell it, units are pre-selling at a rapid pace. Expect the drives to start shipping before the end of the month.