OWC puts 480GB SSD into the MacBook Air (but it'll cost you)

Apple's switch to SSD-only storage in the MacBook Air made for a whippet-fast boot/resume time, but the expense of solid-state memory meant capacity was limited. Officially up to 256GB is on offer, but entry-level users are stuck with a measly 64GB. Now OWC is teasing us with up to 480GB in the shape of the new Mercury Aura Pro Express upgrade.

The huge flash drive falls at the top end of a new range of upgrades for the MacBook Air – offering 180GB, 240GB or 360GB – and is also apparently faster, too, with its 275MB/s transfer rate offering up to a 68-percent boost over the regular SSD Apple uses. Of course, you pay handsomely for the privilege: the 180GB drive kicks things off at $479.99, but the 480GB drive is a huge $1,579.99, almost as much as a top-spec 13-inch MacBook Air itself.

This isn't the first time we've seen an aftermarket MacBook Air drive offered, with PhotoFast announcing a 256GB upgrade kit shortly after the ultraportable was made official. However, the company reportedly froze its retail plans in order to keep Apple happy. No word on whether OWC will feel the same pressure with its Mercury Aura Pro Express.

Press Release:

OWC Announces Mercury Aura Pro Express 480GB As Industry's Largest Capacity High Performance Solid State Drive For 2010 Apple MacBook Air

First and only SSD upgrades for 11.1" and 13.3" models starting at $479.99 now available in four models – 180GB, 240GB, 360GB, and 480GB – with up to nearly 4X greater capacity over factory options

Uses award-winning SandForce technologies and Tier 1/Grade A NAND to deliver up to 68% faster real-world performance and up to 3.5X faster 4K random reads/writes than factory options

May 5, 2011 Woodstock, IL — Other World Computing (OWC®) http://www.macsales.com, a leading zero emissions Mac® and PC technology company, today announced its OWC Mercury Aura™ Pro Express Solid State Drive is now shipping in an industry largest 480GB capacity for all 2010 Apple® MacBook® Air models. First announced at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show this past January, the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express line now offers up to 4X greater capacity and up to 68% faster real-world performance than factory available options. This new 480GB model introduction continues OWC's position as the only aftermarket SSD manufacturer for the 2010 MacBook Air and the most comprehensive U.S. manufacturer of industry leading SandForce® processor based SSDs available today with OWC Mercury Pro brand SSD models available for nearly every Mac and PC produced over the past decade.

Four Models Starting At $479.99 MSRP

The OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express is available immediately for same day order fulfillment in four capacities compatible with all 11.1" and 13.3" 2010 MacBook Air models:

• 180GB Mercury Aura Pro Express with 7% over provisioning & three year warranty – $479.99

• 240GB Mercury Aura Pro Express with 7% over provisioning & three year warranty – $579.99

• 360GB Mercury Aura Pro Express with 7% over provisioning & three year warranty – $1179.99

• 480GB Mercury Aura Pro Express with 7% over provisioning & three year warranty – $1579.99

For more information on the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express line, including reseller inquires, visit: http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/OWC/Aura_Pro_Express

More Speed, Capacity, and Options Than Factory SSD

The OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express offers owners of and those interested in the 2010 MacBook Air models a SSD upgrade path that delivers higher performance, functionality, and reliability. With peak data rates of 275MB/s, the Mercury Aura Pro Express was benchmark test proven by The Storage Review to offer up to 68% higher speed than factory installed SSDs. The OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express is available in four sizes -180GB, 240GB, 360GB, 480GB – for more upgrade choices and nearly 4X higher data storage/backup capacity than factory SSD options when compared to 11.1" model factory options up to only 128GB and 13" model factory options up to 256GB.

Doesn't Slow Down With Use Like Ordinary SSDs

Ordinary SSDs offer fast read/write performance during first initial uses, but then experience significant write speed degradation over repeated usage. Independent simulation tests conducted by leading drive performance experts like MacPerformanceGuide confirm OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD's ultra-efficient Block Management & Wear Leveling technologies are able to eliminate virtually any reduction in data transfer speeds over heavy long term usage of the drive and without dependency on less than effective OS TRIM management.

Up To 100X Greater Data Protection

Utilizing SandForce DuraClass™ technology, the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express is able to provide up to 100X higher data protection than provided by ordinary SSDs as well as leading enterprise class hard disk drives. By combining the highest level of Error Correction Code (ECC) and SandForce RAISE™ (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology along with 7% over provisioning, the Mercury Aura Pro Express provides RAID like data protection and reliability without loss of transfer speed due to parity.

Earns Industry Expert Praise & Accolades

Out of a field of more than 230 exhibitors and thousands of exhibited products at this past January's Macworld 2011 conference, the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express SSD was named one of 10 Macworld Expo 2011 "Best of Show" products by Macworld magazine as well as earning "Best Mac Hardware" honors by MacLife magazine.