OWC Announces Aura Flash Storage Upgrades for Mid-2013 and Later Mac Laptops

Other World Computing today announced a new product that will allow newer Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners to upgrade the storage in their notebooks for the first time.

Aura SSD upgrade kits are available in 480GB and 1TB capacities and will work with the Late-2013 Retina MacBook Pro and newer and the Mid-2013 MacBook Air and newer. At up to 1TB of storage, a Retina MacBook Pro or MacBook Air can gain up to 8x the capacity of the standard 128GB hard drive that comes with lower-end models. 1TB also exceeds the maximum factory drive available in the MacBook Air, which is limited to 512GB.

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According to OWC, its Aura PCIe-based flash storage is designed using high-quality components that are fully compatible with Mac notebooks.


Tier-1 Flash - Aura SSDs use only top-rated flash for amazing performance and dependability.
Superior Error Correction - Three-level error correction with low-density parity checks provides significantly improved reliability, and RAID-like protection for your data.
Cell-Level Data Refresh - Aura's powerful embedded processor monitors and re-writes data blocks as needed to maintain correct charge at the cell level, improving the integrity of your data and extending the life of your drive.
Global Wear-Leveling - A global wear-leveling algorithm helps evenly distribute data across your SSD cells, extending the life of your drive by preventing any section of flash from getting worn out prematurely.

Upgrade kits include all of the tools that are necessary to replace the solid state drive in a Mac notebook, and it also includes an OWC Envoy Pro drive enclosure to house the existing factory drive in the Retina MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, so it can be used as an external SSD.

OWC's 480GB Aura SSD Kit (with enclosure) is available for $399, with a standalone drive priced at $347.99. The 1TB Kit is priced at $649, with the 1TB standalone drive available for $597. Both drives are available from the OWC website and will begin shipping out at the end of March.

Tag: OWC

Top Rated Comments

Bentron Avatar
63 months ago
If only there were a way to upgrade RAM specs yourself too...
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OWC Larry Avatar
63 months ago
It's a tough crowd here and none the less always appreciate the feedback and discussion. A few things -

TRIM will be history in a few years. It's always been a crutch and in the simplest terms it's a means for the controller to hand off work load to the computer's processor. In the early days of SSD, the drive controllers simply did not have the horsepower to do the block management necessary for the I/O capability available. That changed in 2010 with enterprise core designed controllers which targeted RAID setups where TRIM interface wasn't even a possibility - but was ideal for the Mac platform where there initially was no TRIM support. Our drives do NOT slow down and give consistent performance when empty or 99.9% full (note that if any boot drive is that full there isn't the free space the OS needs and slow down from that has nothing do do with the drive regardless of what drive type/model). Further - many drives that do depend on TRIM do slow down and start showing less consistent mixed I/O performance in real world use even as they only get past 75-85% capacity - this doesn't happen with our drives as noted. We had no luxury of TRIM when we came into this space and have focused on never depending on TRIM. It is an engineering choice and not depending on TRIM provides real benefit short term and long.

The quality and components of the drives has always been consistently maintained with Tier 1. While I can name more than a couple companies, at least one effectively defunct, that played a different game - we have always listed out our build details and we just don't do the start at X and then reduce to Y later. Never. On our external drive solutions we list the drives that are inside. We list the power supply and chipset specs - we provide more transparency that most any manufacturer for all the solutions we offer. And it's been like that here from the get go.

Everyone has different experiences and with respect to where SSDs were 6 years ago. Where Apple was with proper 6Gb/s SATA support in their laptops 4-5 years ago - I can't say there were not bumps in the road. Until various 'quiet' Apple EFI updates fixed the SATA 6G issues in the 2011 MacBook Pro models (updates of impact that occurred over about a 1.5yr period) and OS X stabilized on how Wake/Sleep timing and commands were issued for SSD/Flash based drives (about 2-3 years ago) - there was a lot more going on that added challenges that are thankfully now in the past. That being said - these challenges were universal and I have used our SSDs in my own systems from day#1 and still use those same SSDs in Macs I run at home and absolutely stand by them in terms of their quality and industry position. We are the only ones with a true focus and dedication to building drives that really are built for Mac first and provide a line up with support of Mac models no one else provides both with these latest as well as IDE/ATA models for Macs most may not even care about - but we do and we have customers that do which is the why in everything we do.

These latest drives are up to 1.5X faster in raw throughput speeds vs. original models - but are slower than the latest 4 lane modules shipping in more recent models in that throughput. However, and we will be publishing a bunch of real world benchmarks that include the array of factory drives, due to our dual processor design and focus on the real world - the Aura SSDs actually perform exceptionally well in real world mixed load and even where raw numbers (which are great for file copies and basic ingest performance) would imply a real difference - these drives shine and perform very respectively in terms of where the real work is done.

FileVault is supported on these drives. A spec now obsolete from a time over 3 years ago came into the original listing we posted - that is now removed/updated. There was a time when there were issue FileVault and most SSDs, today we do not have that limitation between current OS and drive controller firmwares.

Quick bit - support of the iMac and Mac mini 2013+ models are just a couple weeks away. Technically what we are shipping now are 100% compatible with those models. But each of these models have their own special installation requirements which we will have fully presented and made understandable prior to offering. Simple stuff even like where the heat transfer pad needs to be to the Mac mini requiring a special cable for adding a flash blade to a unit without one installed at the factory. It's the details and taking the time to get the details nailed is important.

One last comment concerning controller/processors. For a lot of different reasons Sandforce has some negative associations their processors really doesn't deserve. That said- and larger related to current capacity capabilities and performance attributes in capacity - we do use the Silicon Motion processor for all of our new Aura SSD PCIe flash storage models as well as in all our 1TB and higher capacity 2.5" offerings. The highly regarded Silicon Motion processor/controllers have had the benefit of coming into a space after standards and implementations had become stable and more fixed vs. dealing with the shifting sands that prior were the norm (why critical firmware updates for SSDs until a couple years ago used to be somewhat frequent occurrence). Timing is everything. That said we do understand the importance of perception and definitely need to work to align some perceptions in general with the actual realities.

Thank you for the feed - all the good, bad, and ugly. We are customer focused, here for you and absolutely because of you. Happy to reply to messages here (as best as can) or email owc@macsales.com. Thanks!

- OWC Larry
Founder & CEO
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Reds622 Avatar
63 months ago
At these prices couldn't a person just sell their current Macbook or Macbook Air and put this money towards buying a brand new computer? I'm pretty sure it would be pretty close.. Maybe only a difference of a $100.00 or so.

Not sure why anyone would do this.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bdkennedy1 Avatar
63 months ago
Nothing OWC sells is reasonably priced.

How about some reasonably priced nMP storage upgrades?

Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
modent Avatar
63 months ago
How about some reasonably priced nMP storage upgrades?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zdigital2015 Avatar
63 months ago

these are the comparable new write speeds apple is offering?

Unfortunately, they are quite a bit slower than the SM951 that Apple is using in the Mid-2015 MacBook Pros - http://www.owcdigital.com/products/ssd/aura-mid-2013-and-later-macs-specs - while this upgrade may be good for some with older MacBook Pros and Airs, it's a BIG step backwards for those of us who want to expand a Mid-2015 rMBP. I was hoping that OWC might be able to overcome this, but it doesn't look like they did. At least they've created an upgrade for those who need that extra storage.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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