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Old Oct 1, 2012, 09:24 PM   #1
mediacomposer
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Thumbs down OWC SSD "Upgrade" 2012 Macbook Air - Buyer Beware

Hey Guys,

Long time lurker first time thread-starter, you guys have solved A LOT of problems of mine over the years and I thank you for that.

I wanted to let you know of a recent problem I had with the brand new 2012 third party solid-state drive upgrade for the Macbook Air. The new Macbook Air in 2012 has a new form-factor for the SSD "blade" and is touted to have a much faster read/write speed from the 2011 version. After a little delay, third-party Mac parts manufacturer "Other World Computing" came out with a compatible 2012 version of this SSD. I was excited to get this upgrade because while Apple tends to gloss over their "performance" improvements, I knew OWC was a solid SSD manufacturer for all Mac products. I have bought memory and SSDs from them in the past and found them to be reliable, fast, and a great value.

This time however was a completely different story. I bought the computer with the 128GB SSD option and looked to install the 120GB Aura Pro 6G SSD. For $170 I thought it was an applicable upgrade if it meant over 500 MB/s read/write speeds as advertised. As a video editor, I occasionally use the air to throw video together. The advantage of having the fastest SSD as my system drive becomes apparent with highly intensive program use. I did drive speed benchmarks on the factory SSD before installing OWC's version.

During installation I hit a major snag. The drive did not fit my machine! I have the 11" and I don't know if they only measured the 13" version but I had to shave off a corner of the plastic battery container with an X-acto knife to get the drive to lay flat (Inside red circle).

Now, admittedly, this alone would not have been a deal breaker for me. The drive did ultimately fit and I installed a fresh 10.8.2 OSX onto it. Upon setting that up, I ran my benchmarks again and found that the drive did not even come close to the factory drive. The factory drive ran a read/write speed consistently around 450MB/s and this drive could barely break 200MB/s using BlackMagic's Disk Speed Test. Very disappointed.

I removed OWC's and reinstalled the factory drive no harm no foul except for the installation scar. I RMA'ed the drive to OWC and they only refunded $130 of the $170 cost and I also paid shipping for the return (which I wouldn't have minded if I got all $170 back.)

I have to say the worst part of this is that I wrote all this in a review under the drive's OWC product page and it was never posted. As of right now it has a perfect 5 star review when I posted mine roughly 3 weeks ago. This blatant screening of reviews is why I write this today... so people know, buyer beware.
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Old Oct 1, 2012, 10:41 PM   #2
briguy21
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thanks

Thank You for Posting - I was going to order one of those in the morning. I won't now. Call your credit card company and file a dispute for the remaining amount of the money they didn't give back. Don't they have a customer satisfaction policy?
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Old Oct 2, 2012, 03:31 AM   #3
aleni
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i too have this problem. and the worst thing is im in indonesia (asia) so shipping fee costs a lot of money, and the tax here is very expensive (about $90-100) for that flash storage.

what i did to it was shaving the flash storage's pcb board with sand paper. it worked beautifully.

too bad u had to shave the air's plastic though because you can just shave off the pcb board.
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 01:53 AM   #4
Total Respray
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Yes, thanks for the info. I had been considering an OWC SSD until I read about the impact on battery life/heat in another thread. But vetting customer reviews - if that is indeed what they are doing - is just poor form, and makes me wonder how many of the five star reviews are genuine.
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 06:25 AM   #5
solsearchin
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I don't get it, you had a constant 450/mb/s and you paid 170 for possibly 50 ish more? Why would you hack the computer... If it doesn't fit return it lol.
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 09:30 AM   #6
Abazigal
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Originally Posted by solsearchin View Post
I don't get it, you had a constant 450/mb/s and you paid 170 for possibly 50 ish more? Why would you hack the computer... If it doesn't fit return it lol.
As it mentioned, it isn't always so easy to return stuff. It takes time and costs money, and if the problem could be resolved with just a little more effort on your part, wouldn't it be a more elegant solution considering all the time and money spent already?
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 10:10 AM   #7
pectin232
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A lot of reviews these days I feel are fake actually. Not sure how much of it but there were news on CNN a few months or some MSNBC sites stating that as well.
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Old Oct 5, 2012, 02:18 AM   #8
solsearchin
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It's takes time not money because its the sellers fault so it shouldn't cost a dime.
A little effort yes, but not hacking my 1000+ computer lol, I have warranty as well, I don't think that would look great if it was brought in for service. Anyways, hope you resolve your issue, owc has never been a " great " brand, a lot of people have issues with there drives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abazigal View Post
As it mentioned, it isn't always so easy to return stuff. It takes time and costs money, and if the problem could be resolved with just a little more effort on your part, wouldn't it be a more elegant solution considering all the time and money spent already?
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Old Oct 5, 2012, 06:19 AM   #9
TheRealDamager
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I think OWC has a pretty stellar reputation.
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 07:49 AM   #10
aleni
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Total Respray View Post
Yes, thanks for the info. I had been considering an OWC SSD until I read about the impact on battery life/heat in another thread. But vetting customer reviews - if that is indeed what they are doing - is just poor form, and makes me wonder how many of the five star reviews are genuine.
there is no heat and battery life issue regarding on my flash storage.

it's very speedy when its installed. just the pcb board didnt fit which is lame.
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 08:38 AM   #11
robvas
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Let me point out a couple of things:

First, the issue of the drive not fitting falls directly on OWC. I would have called them and demanded a refund right there. A picture from another review shows the drive having a notch in it, and fitting an 11" Air without modification. Perhaps they sent you the wrong one?



Secondly, the Aura drives use Sandforce chipsets that rely on compression to achieve their advertised 500MB/s speeds. This means that files that can be compressed will move faster, but files that are already compressed (many binary files such as movies, music, images) will be written at slower speeds. The BlackMagic disk speed test tool uses compressed data, so you will get the worst-case scenario performance. If you use another program that writes "all 0's" or "all 1's" to the disk during the test, it will get compressed and write at the best-case scenario performance. Sandforce (and OWC) advertise the best-case numbers when they say "up to 505MB/s". In the real-world you will end up somewhere between the two.

Third: I'm not sure if you're aware of it or not, but the SSD Apple uses in the 2012 Airs is way, way faster than the old ones, and upgrading to an OWC isn't even going to be an improvement. The OWC was an upgrade for the 2010 and 2011 models, because Apple used a much slower SSD.

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Old Nov 5, 2012, 01:00 PM   #12
OWC Nick
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We're sorry for the experience you had, mediacomposer. We did try reaching out to you directly via phone and email, but our contacts went unanswered.

On 10/10, we did issue a credit for the remaining balance and thus you have received back 100% of your purchase and shipping expenditure.

We didn't post the review as we often find that once we begin direct dialogue with a customer, things are resolved and that then adds more factual information to the entire review/reply thread. Another aspect is that we were concerned posting the review might encourage another reader to modify the inside of their MBA such as you did.

The non-fit aspect of the Aura Pro in your 2012 MBA was an isolated experience...we honestly have not had other reports of such.

Lastly, on the performance aspect, we can only point to what others like The SSD Review have found in that the Aura Pro is the fastest SSD available for this machine. As much as we can claim such, we suggest the independent reviewers' unbiased take on our products have the most weight.

Hope this reply restores everyone's faith and trust in OWC. We've been serving your needs since 1988 and plan on doing so for many more years to come.
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Old Nov 5, 2012, 03:46 PM   #13
ScottJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OWC Grant View Post
We're sorry for the experience you had, mediacomposer. We did try reaching out to you directly via phone and email, but our contacts went unanswered.

On 10/10, we did issue a credit for the remaining balance and thus you have received back 100% of your purchase and shipping expenditure.

We didn't post the review as we often find that once we begin direct dialogue with a customer, things are resolved and that then adds more factual information to the entire review/reply thread. Another aspect is that we were concerned posting the review might encourage another reader to modify the inside of their MBA such as you did.

The non-fit aspect of the Aura Pro in your 2012 MBA was an isolated experience...we honestly have not had other reports of such.

Lastly, on the performance aspect, we can only point to what others like The SSD Review have found in that the Aura Pro is the fastest SSD available for this machine. As much as we can claim such, we suggest the independent reviewers' unbiased take on our products have the most weight.

Hope this reply restores everyone's faith and trust in OWC. We've been serving your needs since 1988 and plan on doing so for many more years to come.
I don't know about others, but this thread has certainly put me on notice with respect to OWC's SSD upgrade solutions. I was originally planning to purchase a 11" MBA with a minimum sized SSD, and upgrade to an OWC SSD later. After seeing the original post, I cancelled my order and re-ordered with a larger SSD.

I certainly appreciate vendor participation on these forums (fora?), and OWC's participation demonstrates a commitment to the user community. However, the original poster should never have had to wait almost a month for a refund of 100% of the purchase price (based on the timeline in the original message and the date of the refund that you referenced). (In fact, he should have also been provided a return shipping label or alternatively been refunded return shipping.)

I'm also concerned that even today, after your posting, your web site is showing a 5/5, 100% rating for the Aura Pro 6G SSD. Clearly, that ranking is misleading - particularly when 1/3 of the feedback is negative, not positive. (Unless there are additional reviews that have been screened out.)

Regarding the fitment issue - have you verified that the Aura Pro 6G SSD fits into a 11" MBA without modification? If so, what was the problem with the SSD board that the OP sent back to OWC under RMA?
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 05:48 AM   #14
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Silence speaks volumes.
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 08:24 PM   #15
newdeal
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...

Sandforce ssds are crap. Ihad a terrible experiance with owc ssds when they first came out. One after a week the computer froze and on reboot all i got was a folder with a question mark in it and a disk that couldnt be found with disk utility. they sent me a new one and the same thing happened after 3 weeks of use. At this point i demanded my money back and got it. My macbook pro now has a trusty x25-m and it is reliable plus the boot speed is much faster than even the macbook air with samsung ssd I used to have in spite of being limited to sata2
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 10:16 PM   #16
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Fwiw, my old (late '06) MacBook is still screaming with the OWC SSD I put in last year. No problems at all. And looking back, everything I've gotten has been solid. Even have an ancient external SCSI drive from OWC that continues to chug along when needed.

I wouldn't even consider upgrading my 2012 MBA at this point... don't quite see the point if the performance improvement is marginal. But to each his own, I guess.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 08:24 AM   #17
Johnny Alien
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newdeal View Post
Sandforce ssds are crap. Ihad a terrible experiance with owc ssds when they first came out. One after a week the computer froze and on reboot all i got was a folder with a question mark in it and a disk that couldnt be found with disk utility. they sent me a new one and the same thing happened after 3 weeks of use. At this point i demanded my money back and got it. My macbook pro now has a trusty x25-m and it is reliable plus the boot speed is much faster than even the macbook air with samsung ssd I used to have in spite of being limited to sata2
I fail to see what that has to do with an ssd using sandforce.
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Old Jun 7, 2013, 12:41 PM   #18
msavage1961
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Owc - crap

I can attest that I would not buy another OWC SSD! I bought a Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G - 240GB about 16 months ago and then it died about 6 months after it was installed. OWC replaced it and now the second SSD has also died on me. So I am pretty sure I am going to go back to the OEM drive from Apple. I don't want to restore every six months!! I would never buy a OWC drive again. Junk.
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Old May 6, 2014, 03:48 AM   #19
JackIsBack
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As a posted here http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1731143

I have had two OWC drives FAIL, one just over a week old and the other (a replacement for the first) just under one week.

They are crappy products... I'm just so glad that another company (Transcend Drives) is giving us Macbook Air owners another option now.

Thanks for the warning ... I just wish I would have seen it before my purchase and before my over $500 loss.

Thanks
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Old May 6, 2014, 04:13 AM   #20
JackIsBack
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Follow up:

Just for fun - I wrote the Transcend Sales Department asking if I could return my OWC drive to them instead for a discount... I will see what they say.

Thanks
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 11:54 AM   #21
Medic
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Originally Posted by ScottJ View Post
I

However, the original poster should never have had to wait almost a month for a refund of 100% of the purchase price (based on the timeline in the original message and the date of the refund that you referenced).
What do you think Apple's return policy is like? From my experience OWC are more speedy and fair in refunding than Apple itself!
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Old Dec 28, 2012, 11:23 AM   #22
ScottJ
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Originally Posted by Medic View Post
What do you think Apple's return policy is like? From my experience OWC are more speedy and fair in refunding than Apple itself!
I've had nothing but exceptional service from Apple, before and after purchases. Apple has never questioned a return that I've requested and has always processed the credit within a couple of days.

I've never purchased anything from OWC (may never after following this thread), but the OP reported excessive delays, denials, and resistance from OWC before he was able to return his SSD. I think that even OWC-Grant would acknowledge that is unacceptable customer service.
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Old Dec 28, 2012, 01:55 PM   #23
OWC Nick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottJ View Post
I've had nothing but exceptional service from Apple, before and after purchases. Apple has never questioned a return that I've requested and has always processed the credit within a couple of days.

I've never purchased anything from OWC (may never after following this thread), but the OP reported excessive delays, denials, and resistance from OWC before he was able to return his SSD. I think that even OWC-Grant would acknowledge that is unacceptable customer service.
Hi ScottJ:

If you read my original and first post on this thread, not sure where there was any "delay, denial, resistance from OWC":

"We're sorry for the experience you had, mediacomposer. We did try reaching out to you directly via phone and email, but our contacts went unanswered.

On 10/10, we did issue a credit for the remaining balance and thus you have received back 100% of your purchase and shipping expenditure."

Not sure how any better resolution could have been achieved. Sometimes there is just going to be a delay for unforeseen circumstances on either party's behalf that prevents an immediate conclusion. We do try to certainly provide and are sensitive to the need for immediacy, but sometimes there is some investigation on the matter that needs to occur. To be sure though, we'll communicate nearly immediately if contacted directly via email, live chat or our 800#. Trouble with social media, forums, and the like are that those forms of communication are not direct and while we'd like to monitor all sources for any OWC mention, that truly wouldn't serve our customers as promptly as a direct contact does.

I do invite you, ScottJ, to try us out. We're just entering into our 25th year of operation and have earned the trust and loyalty of customers around the world that are still with us from those earliest days.

Take care!

OWC Grant
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Old Nov 9, 2012, 09:02 AM   #24
brentsg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OWC Grant View Post
The non-fit aspect of the Aura Pro in your 2012 MBA was an isolated experience...we honestly have not had other reports of such.

Lastly, on the performance aspect, we can only point to what others like The SSD Review have found in that the Aura Pro is the fastest SSD available for this machine. As much as we can claim such, we suggest the independent reviewers' unbiased take on our products have the most weight.
Except you now have other reports that your blade doesn't fit, right here in this thread.

The performance looks good on your products with compressible data only. I can't imagine ever considering one of your upgrades until you ditch the Sandforce controller.
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 08:48 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OWC Grant View Post
We're sorry for the experience you had, mediacomposer. We did try reaching out to you directly via phone and email, but our contacts went unanswered.

On 10/10, we did issue a credit for the remaining balance and thus you have received back 100% of your purchase and shipping expenditure.

We didn't post the review as we often find that once we begin direct dialogue with a customer, things are resolved and that then adds more factual information to the entire review/reply thread. Another aspect is that we were concerned posting the review might encourage another reader to modify the inside of their MBA such as you did.

The non-fit aspect of the Aura Pro in your 2012 MBA was an isolated experience...we honestly have not had other reports of such.

Lastly, on the performance aspect, we can only point to what others like The SSD Review have found in that the Aura Pro is the fastest SSD available for this machine. As much as we can claim such, we suggest the independent reviewers' unbiased take on our products have the most weight.

Hope this reply restores everyone's faith and trust in OWC. We've been serving your needs since 1988 and plan on doing so for many more years to come.
OWC is incorrect, I reported the exact same problem to OWC with a 180GB Aura on October 23, 2012.

This is the RMA issued by Kevin at OWC for the same problem:

ERA-97176-763


I love OWC and have had excellent service from them. I sent them pictures of the problem and they said it was an isolated case, probably caused by the close tolerances required by manufacturing.

I was eventually able to force the SSD into the machine (which I would not recommend - it was probably not very smart on my part, I hate returning things), but it worked. Also, a PRAM refresh was necessary because of initial very slow boot up. It now works fine, but I will probably never remove it - my bad.

I give OWC credit for fast response to the problem and offering an immediate RMA. But I did report this problem, including sending them pictures showing that their Aura SSD was slightly longer than the Toshiba stock SSD, and that it did not fit.

So please OWC, just admit that there was/is a problem with some of your Auras for 2012 Airs - don't post here that you are unaware of this problem with at least some of your products. Your service is fantastic, but don't try hiding problems.

Last edited by Mordichka; Dec 9, 2012 at 08:55 AM.
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