In our past Solid State Drive Roundup, we found that the performance offered by SSDs is nothing short of phenominal. Apple, a company that prides itself in its focus of customer experience knows this, and as a result offers the availability of SSDs across it's Mac computing product line. However when looking at its MacBook Pro line, the cost of configuring an Apple built-to-order SSD powered notebook is steep. Apple offers 128GB, 256GB and 512GB SSD storage upgrades at the prices of $200, $600 and $1200 respectively (as per the Apple Store in Canada). Luckily there are vendors like Other World Computing who specialize in providing products and upgrade solutions catering towards Apple users. Their offering which we will be examining in this article is a full SSD upgrade solution for Apple notebooks.
Other World Computing offers a few styles of SSD upgrade kits depending on what your needs and usage patterns are. Generally, the kits are customizable and can consist of the following parts:
The kit that we're reviewing from Other World Computing is comprised of a Mercury Electra 6G 240GB SSD, a Data Doubler and a SuperSlim USB 2.0 Enclosure. As a MacBook Pro owner, the reason why I chose this combination is because I wanted a fast SSD to use for the OS X boot drive and application install location, but I didn't want to lose out on storage capacity. The Data Doubler would allow me to install the new OWC SSD while still keeping the 320GB hard drive that originally came with my MacBook Pro installed internally. As for my MacBook Pro's SuperDrive, I rarely use it so I don't mind making it external in the SuperSlim USB 2.0 Enclosure.
Others on the otherhand may opt for a different combination kit, like getting an SSD with the Express 2.5" Enclosure Kit so that the original Apple hard drive came be used for a Time Machine.
The Data Doubler is a lightweight aluminum bracket with a SATA to SATA slimline adapter. It allows you to use a standard 2.5" SATA drive in the optical bay of a notebook like the MacBook Pro. There are two mounting holes to attach the drive to the bracket. Included in the packaging are various sets of mounting screws, for use depending on which generation and model of MacBook you are upgrading.
The SuperSlim enclosure is a black plastic case for slot loading notebook optical drives, like Apple's SuperDrive for the MacBook series. It has a USB 2.0 interface and comes with a unified data and power cable. As we tested, the functionality of our MacBook Pro's SuperDrive wasn't impacted when used externally. DVDs were able be read and written to without issue. Cosmetically, it would have been nice to have an aluminum version of the enclosure to better match the look of the MacBook line.
The installation of the Data Doubler with the Mercury Electra 6G was a simple process for my Early 2011 generation MacBook Pro 13". The process is different depending on which notebook you have, but OWC has good instructions and how-to videos available on its Tech Center website. All in all, it took about 10 minutes to do, and the only tool required was a small size Phillips screwdriver. If you want to use the SSD in the primary hard drive bay, you need a Torx T5 screwdriver. To clone your original hard drive to the SSD, the SuperDuper app is a good (and free) choice.
So after the installation of my OWC DIY Solid State Drive Upgrade kit, I have a 240GB Mercury Electra 6G SSD and the stock Apple 320GB 5400 hard drive (Hitachi 5K500) installed internally in my MacBook Pro 13". For external use via USB 2.0, the SuperDrive is installed in the SuperSlim enclosure.
And this kit cost $454US. Not only was this kit approximately $150 less than what it would have cost for the Apple built-to-order for a 256GB SSD, but I still have the original base hard drive that came with the notebook. On top of that, the Mercury Electra 6G SSD comes with a 3 year warranty instead of the base 1 year system warranty the Apple SSD would have been covered under.