The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 120 GB drive has 128 GB physically on board but uses 7% overprovisioning to assist with wear leveling and drive maintenance. This leaves roughly 120 GB available to the user; however, in logical measure it’s 111 GiB which is reflected in Windows.
The “buy American” sentiment continues to gain steam here in the states so those that feel strongly about this will appreciate that the OWC drives are designed and assembled in the USA and appear to be the only manufacturer doing so. They also use only “Tier 1/Grade A” NAND flash in their drives and they specifically call out OCZ on their blog for using OEM grade and even “off-spec” NAND in their drives. While an interesting and apparently well documented claim, we’ll stay out of that debate by simply saying the topic of part quality of other manufacturers is out of scope for this article and we’ll leave it to you, the readers, to form your own opinion based on the information available. Based on performance metrics alone, it doesn’t seem to amount to much.
As mentioned OWC has clarified that the drive does not have 16 channels per die which they had originally published and was subsequently repeated on several sites. All in all, performance wasn’t unlike that of the Vertex 3 120GB. We’d be remiss if we didn’t remark that the firmware employed is a release candidate version and the final version could have tweaks that would impact performance and we are told by OWC that the drives shipping now have the updated firmware.
All of this amounts to a drive that’s one of the best in its class. However, it’s currently priced at $319.99 which is roughly $2.87 per usable GB and $20 more than the Vertex 3 or Intel 510 Series drives at comparable capacities. Granted, high grade components are used and they offer a 3-year warranty so maybe the longer term look would show greater durability and extended performance but that’s not something we can easily test and consumers are generally more concerned with the here and now with price being a very large consideration. Mac users will probably gravitate towards the OWC drive the most since they are a very Mac friendly company. With other drives being slower out of the gate, OWC may be able to capitalize on the market vacancy.
Legit Bottom Line: The OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G is exactly what we would expect from a SandForce SF-2200 drive – fast and reliable. However, there’s stiff competition from both OCZ and Intel with others emerging as the year progresses so tweaks in their firmware may help differentiate them in the long run.