OWC SSD "Upgrade" 2012 Macbook Air - Buyer Beware

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mediacomposer, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie


    Jun 21, 2010
    Boston, MA
    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. :mad:

    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.

    Attached Files:

  2. macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2009

    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?
  3. macrumors 68000

    Jun 2, 2006
    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.
  4. macrumors member

    Nov 16, 2011
    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.
  5. macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2012
    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.
  6. macrumors 68000

    Jun 2, 2006
    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.
  7. macrumors 68000

    Mar 29, 2009
    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.

  8. macrumors 68040

    Jul 18, 2011
    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?
  9. macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2008
    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.
  10. macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2012
    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.

  11. macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
  12. macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2008
    Northern VA
    Why didn't they give you a full refund? Is there a restocking fee if the item is returned?
  13. macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2011
    Wow, it sure looks like a dodgy company that suppresses negative reviews and promote the good ones.
  14. macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2006
    Sorry; anyone who deliberately hacks (literally) the hardware in order to make it fit and then returns the unit to the vendor expecting a 100% refund is just not playing with a full deck. Frankly, I applaud OWC for refunding any of the purchase price.

    I've been buying from OWC since I bought my first Mac (1986) and have never had any sort of issue that could not be immediately resolved with a phone call (and to my satisfaction). Bad RAM? They overnighted replacement modules and paid for the return of the bad ones. Bad hard drive? Likewise.

    As for the "overblown" performance claims of their SSDs: I put some in older MacBooks and MB Pros (replacing spinning HDs) and was blown away by the improvement. I never seriously considered a replacement SSD for my MB Air, however as it was designed to be a minimalist portable solution, not a replacement for a "Pro" level machine. Besides, the SSD performance in my 2011 MBA is radically better than any spinning HD so why would I want to possibly void a warranty in order to attain what would be, at best, a marginal increase in speed?

    I guess I'm just more realistic in my expectations of technology.
  15. macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2010
    Did you read the OP's post? They hacked at the MBA, not the SSD from OWC.

    Why shouldn't they get a full refund? If the item is being sold as a replacement for 2012 SSDs it should fit!

  16. macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2011
    I've bought from them for years with no problems. I hope this gets straightened out if it hasn't already.
  17. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2010
    51 degrees North
    This isn't good service at all, if the product doesn't perform as its advertised then a full refund should be given, restocking should only apply where the product is not at fault.

    I won't be using OWC.
  18. macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2008
    Just to add to this. I bought a 240GB Aura Drive for my 2012 Macbook Air. Drive showed up DOA yesterday. No matter what I would do it would not be seen by the computer. Looking at the drive and there seems to be an extra bit of PCB on the end of the pins that where keeping the drive from going all the way into the slot. Not 100% sure thats the issue but I could see the difference between the stock one and the OWC drive. I called OWC and they RMAed it. But they don't have any in stock and don't know when they will so I am waiting. I am going to give the new one whenever it shows up a shot. If it does not work I am done. In the future I will not buy anything else from them as the quality seems to be an issue. Just thought I would share.

  19. rpg51, Nov 3, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2012

    macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2012
    Well, this is not a particularly pleasant read. My refurb base iMac is in OWC possession as we speak for an SSD install on their turnkey program. Keeping my fingers crossed.

    EDIT -

    I just pulled this off the OWC web site - What gives?

    "30-Day Money Back Guarantee for SSDs

    If you are not completely satisfied with your OWC Pro 3G or 6G SSD for any reason, simply contact OWC Customer Service within 21 days of your invoice date to request a full refund. No hassle, no restocking fees - that's the OWC Difference."

    Are we getting the whole story?
  20. macrumors regular

    May 11, 2012
    LOL. Is it 21 days or 30? :confused:
  21. macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2012
    Probably depends on the mood they are in when you call the tone you strike when you call!

    They might want to fire the law firm that drafted that gem.

    I bet they interpret it to mean you have to call in 21 days AND you have to deliver it to them in 30 days. Otherwise you are sol.
  22. macrumors newbie

    Aug 19, 2010
    Woodstock, IL
    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.
  23. macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2010
    By chance do you have filevault turned on? I'm no SSD expert but some write performance of some SSDs is based on compression. None compressible data can cut the write performance in half.
  24. macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2011
    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?
  25. macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2012

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