OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100 E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage
Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 01 June 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100
Features and Specifications
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD
SandForce SF-1200 SSD Controller
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
SSD vs Hard Disk Drive
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE Conclusion

OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD Review

SSDs are both PC and Mac friendly, which is great news since Apple Computers have made significant progress taking up market share over the past decade. Although Mac computers can be expensive, Other World Computing offers hardware upgrades at prices that compete with the PC market. One such product, the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE, is one of the most affordable SandForce-based SSD's available. SandForce-based SSDs are getting tremendous attention from the industry, and products based on the SF-1222 controller have demonstrated exceptional operational performance and speed. In this article Benchmark Reviews tests the 100GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE, model SSDMXRE100, against some of the fastest storage solutions on the market.

SandForce is the hot ticket in SSD controller technology for 2010, offering outstanding bandwidth speed and operational performance. OWC utilizes the SandForce SF-1222TA3-SBH (SF-1200) processor in their Mercury Extreme Pro RE enthusiast MLC SSD series, which features hand-picked high-performance NAND flash memory modules. SandForce RAISE technology provides redundant protection for single SSD computer systems, while data is automatically secured with AES-128 encryption. With transfer speeds nearly saturating the SATA-3GB/s interface, and operational IOPS performance reaching SLC-NAND levels, it makes sense for OWC to use the new industry leader.

As of June 2010, the SandForce SF-1200 SSD controller has already found its way into many of the fastest SSDs available: ADATA S599, Corsair Force F100, RunCore Pro-V, Patriot Inferno, PhotoFast G-Monster 2, OCZ Agility-2, OCZ Vertex-2, Mach Xtreme, and now the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE. As we've discovered with our previous SandForce reviews, operational performance and SSD bandwidth speed is very similar across the spectrum. Selling virtually identical products has forced manufacturers to offer other consumer incentives, such as an extended warranty periods and custom SandForce firmware.


The biggest mistake PC hardware enthusiast make with SSDs is grading them by their speed. File transfer speed is important, but only so long as the operational IOPS performance can sustain that bandwidth under load. Benchmark Reviews tests the 100GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE against some of the most popular storage devices available and demonstrates that 4K IOPS performance is more important than speed. Additionally, Benchmark Reviews has used two similar SSDs to publish our SandForce SF1200 RAID-0 SSD Performance review.

For decades, the slowest component in any computer system was the hard drive. Most modern processors operate within approximately 1-ns (nanosecond = one billionth of one second) response time, while system memory responds between 30-90 ns. Traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) technology utilizes magnetic spinning media, and even the fastest spinning desktop storage products exhibit a 9,000,000 ns - or 9 ms (millisecond = one thousandth of one second) initial response time. In more relevant terms, The processor receives the command and waits for system memory to fetch related data from the storage drive. This is why any computer system is only as fast as the slowest component in the data chain; which is usually the hard drive.

The theoretical goal for achieving optimal performance is for system memory to operate as quickly as the central processor, and the storage drive to operate as fast as memory. With present technology this is an impossible task, so enthusiasts try to close the speed gaps between components as much as possible. Although system memory is up to 90x (9000%) slower than most processors, just consider that the hard drive is an added 1000x (100,000%) slower than that same memory. Essentially, these three components are as different in speed as walking is to driving and flying.

Solid State Drive technology bridges the largest gap. The difference a SSD makes to operational reaction times and program speeds is dramatic, and takes the storage drive from a slow 'walking' speed to a much faster 'driving' speed. Solid State Drive technology improves initial response times by more than 450x (45,000%) for applications and Operating System software, when compared to their HDD counterparts.

Bandwidth Speed vs Operational Performance

As we've explained in our SSD Benchmark Tests: SATA IDE vs AHCI Mode guide, Solid State Drive performance revolves around two dynamics: bandwidth speed (MB/s) and operational performance (IOPS). These two metrics work together, but one is more important than the other. Consider this analogy: operational IOPS performance determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and the bandwidth speed is to fast the ship moves. By understanding this and applying it to SSD storage, there is a clear importance set on each variable depending on the task at hand.

For casual users, especially those with laptop or desktop computers that have been upgraded to use an SSD, the naturally quick response time is enough to automatically improve the user experience. Bandwidth speed is important, but only to the extent that operational performance meets the minimum needs of the system. If an SSD has a very high bandwidth speed but a low operational performance, it will take longer to load applications and boot the computer into Windows than if the SSD offered a higher IOPS performance.

About OWC: Other World Computing

Other World Computing (OWC) has been providing quality hardware products and support to the computer industry since 1988 and features one of the largest online catalogs of computer, iPod, and iPhone enhancement products through its e-commerce portal www.macsales.com. As a Premiere Level Apple Developer Connection member, OWC also provides extensive US based technical support for Macintosh users around the world as well as Internet access via www.fastermac.net and www.owc.net.



# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100David Ramsey 2010-06-01 20:31
It's true that OWC has supported the Mac for many years; and it's also true that the very latest Snow Leopard operating system does not support TRIM. This is especially annoying when you consider that Apple was one of the first (if not the first) company to ship an SSD in their computer-- the original MacBook Air.
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# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100v_lestat 2010-06-02 02:57
not sure how you can say its one of the most affordable when clearly it is not.
the agility 2, Vertex 2 and, i might be wrong, but the corsair are all cheaper.

the mistake here being that it is sold on a MAC website, which, instantly means you will pay more for it, because it is pushed as a MAC product.

she's fast, or dear is she fast, but its not the cheaper of the SF-1200 controllers.
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# Apples and orangesJohn 2011-01-01 14:12
You are comparing to lower end drives. If you want a price comparison, you should compare to the Vertex 2 pro which is closer is specs, etc... If you compare to drives meeting similar specs you will find this is fairly attractive for entry level enterprise. The drives are you are comparing to will not last for high-abuse data server systems. Drop the RE from the product and you will get a lower cost model that closer compares.
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# ChiefGlitchJames Yafchak 2010-07-07 14:18
I?m exceedingly satisfied with my 60GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD drive. It replaced my 250GB MacBook HHD.

Boot up time is more then twice as fast as before. Prior boot up average 52.6 seconds. Boot up average now 22.1 seconds. Applications even faster !

AS of 7/05/10 23.79gb Used 35.89gb Free Total 59.68gb.
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# Grobius MalverannoGosmond 2010-07-19 13:39
I second that -- just installed the 60GB OWC Mercury Pro Extreme SSD in my Mac Mini 3,1 (late 2009), and am impressed with the overall improvement in real-world performance.

Boot time reduced by about 40 to 50%.
At start up, the 7 or 8 apps I have set to auto-launch ALL open together within one or two bounces. I never used auto-launch at login before because it used to be so slow.
Even apps like OpenOffice 3.2 and Filemaker Pro 11 launch within 1 or 2 dock bounces. Mail launches and is usable within .5 second of clicking on it. Paging through large PDFs in preview is smooth and almost seamless, as is Coverflow or iPhoto preview of large groups of photos or PDFs.

Best upgrade I've made to any computer I can ever recall owning; been using them since the Timex Sinclair 1000 in 1980.
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# Wrong PerceptionRebert 2011-09-21 02:58
through the years, What I know memory ram and cpu are the most important to open fast and load the windows...now i know it's the SSD !! Geez hw many years wasting time for memory and cpu ideology!
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