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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 01 August 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD
Closer Look: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G
Features and Specifications
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
PCMark Vantage HDD Tests
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G Conclusion

OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD Review

Manufacturer: Other World Computing, Inc.
Product Name: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD
Model Numbers: 120GB: OWCSSDMX6G120T, 240GB: OWCSSDMX6G240T, 480GB: OWCSSDMX6G480
Price As Tested: 120GB: $280, 240GB: $550, and 480GB: $1220 at

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Other World Computing.

Other World Computing is well known to Apple Mac users, because they've focused on their needs for many years. But when you offer a five year warranty on PC-friendly components, it's hard to ignore the value. The OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6G120T is built from the 2nd-generation SandForce SF-2281 controller, and delivers up to 60,000 IOPS over the latest SATA 6Gb/s connection. Best of all, OWC offers a no-risk no-hassle 30-day money back guarantee. In this article, Benchmark Reviews tests the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G solid state drive against the leading competition.

The second-generation SF-2281 SSD processor maintains all of the original core technology SandForce originally introduced in the SF-1200 series, but now improves SSD performance with 20% faster IOPS and 40% faster sequential read/write throughput. They've enhanced BCH ECC capability, and the new processor now supports ATA-7 Security Erase. Finally, the new SF-2200 series implements cost-effective 20nm-class NAND flash from all leading flash vendors with Asynch/ONFi1/ONFi2/Toggle interfaces.

For many within the industry, SandForce was seen to control the 2010 market in much the same way that Indilinx did in 2009. The difference now is that SandForce's platform offers several technical benefits that the Indilinx platform was not capable of. Already into the Q3-2011, the landscape is approximately the same, but with some interesting new twists. Benchmark Reviews confirms that they're keeping this promise with tests of the new storage device on a B3-stepping Sandy Bridge platform.


Even after decades of design improvements, the hard disk drive (HDD) is still the slowest component in any personal computer system. Consider that modern desktop processors have a 1 ns response time (nanosecond = one billionth of one second), while system memory responds between 30-90 ns. Traditional hard drive technology utilizes magnetic spinning media, and even the fastest spinning mechanical storage products still exhibit a 9,000,000 ns / 9 ms initial response time (millisecond = one thousandth of one second). In more relevant terms, the processor receives the command and must then wait 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; usually the hard drive.

In a perfect world all of the components operate at the same speed. Until that day comes, the real-world goal for achieving optimal performance is for system memory to operate as quickly as the central processor and then for the storage drive to operate as fast as memory. With present-day 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, consider then 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 in these response times. The difference a SSD makes to operational response 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 mechanical HDD counterparts. The biggest mistake PC hardware enthusiasts make with regard to SSD technology is grading them based on bandwidth speed. File transfer speeds are important, but only so long as the operational IOPS performance can sustain that bandwidth under load.

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: bandwidth determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and operational IOPS performance is how 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.



# suggestionmanup85 2011-08-01 23:49
now im confuse if is better to buy this one or ocz vertex 3! any suggestion?
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# RE: suggestionOlin Coles 2011-08-02 08:01
Compare the prices and warranty between these two models, as everything else is nearly the same.
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# HG3fresc0 2011-08-09 01:01
What happened to HG3 drives?
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# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-09 21:46
I'm disappointed by several things in this review.
First, the comparison of a OWC 120GB drive to OCZ's 240GB drives.
In this class 240GB drives are always faster.

Second, by not testing (or mentioning) the OWC extreme6, you completely missed that it now uses a different Sandforce controller! It uses the 2282, and is (as of now) the only drive to do so.
From your SandForce SF-2000 Series SSD Processor Overview:
"High-IO consumer systems will be well suited for the flagship consumer SSD processor: SF-2282. The SandForce SD-2282 is virtually an eight-channel/sixteen lane enterprise drive with MLC NAND, and won't be produced in the same quantities as other controllers."

What a shame to miss such a useful and helpful opportunity.
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# RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6GOlin Coles 2011-08-09 21:51
Explain to me how I am to compare other products OWC chooses not to send us, and compare against capacities that aren't offered to us? You seem to know how this should be done better than we do, so please explain how to overcome these obstacles.

Had OWC offer other products or capacities, we'd use them. Besides, the difference would be less than 5% max.
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# RE: RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-10 04:53
Wow, I wasn't attacking, just explaining my disappointment as I have both drives.

As OWC seems to be a very customer friendly small shop, maybe you could just ask your contact?
This is a potential major difference in hardware, as your site had highlighted in your SandForce Processor Overview.
Kudos on even having that bye the way.
Hadn't seen that elsewhere, even the SandForce site.

I'm like many, who need experts to help find the differences.
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# RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-09 22:02

I refer to the OWC 240GB and 480GB extreme6 drives with a "-T" part number as using the 2282 controller.

The OWC 120GB extreme6 drives with a "T" part number suffix still use the 2281, as you state in the review.

I should also mention that I have both a OCZ 120GB max IOPS, a OWC 120GB extreme6, and a pair of OWC 240 extreme6 drives.

I cloned my old HD (with Intel RST 10.6) onto all four drives and ran AS SSD benches, which I'll post later.
In brief OCZ 120 max IOPS was slowest, OWC 120GB extreme6 was quite a bit faster, and a OWC 240 extreme6 flat blew the others away.
Mind, this was just a quick test of just my drive set-up, but every thing was at least equal.
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# RE: RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6GOlin Coles 2011-08-09 22:07
Come on now. If you read any number of SSD review you should know that we ensure these drives are as apples-to-apples as possible, and that to test fairly each SSD must have NAND in the exact same condition (normally clean/SE) and benchmarked as secondary drives. A cursory test won't tell you very much on SSDs because the NAND condition changes performance so dramatically.
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# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-10 05:11
I never intended to infer that you didn't test fairly or well.
I just took the SSDs as shipped, cloned a HD and ran a canned test.

My results were:
OCZ 120GB Vertex 3 MI Overall = 356

OWC 120GB Mercury Extreme6 Overall = 373

OWC 240GB Mercury Extreme6 Overall = 489

Is that much of a difference that I might notice in doing video transcoding?
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# RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6GOlin Coles 2011-08-10 07:16
Video transcoding is a very BAD test to compare storage devices. It depends primarily on CPU/RAM/GPU, and have almost no relative need for storage performance. If you want to run a test, try ATTO Disk Benchmark. It's free, and very easy to understand. You can even match to our test settings in a few clicks.
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