Mini's stock 256 SSD vs. OWC Mercury 6G SSDs?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Richie3000, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. Richie3000 macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Looking at getting the mini setup with an SSD and figured I'd have to go aftermarket with Apple's BTO pricing usually bordering on the absurd––However, I noticed that for similarly-sized after market SSDs, namely the OWC Mercury 6G SSDs @ Apple's option is actually considerably cheaper and larger (256GB SSD for $360 vs 240GB OWC @ $479)

    So I'm wondering, is the Apple SSD a piece of junk? Or is simply operating at the lower SATA II "3G" throughput, as opposed to the higher 6G of the Mercury SSD?

    Anybody know exactly what the Apple SSD drive is that they offer?

  2. Mr.C macrumors 601

    Apr 3, 2011
    London, UK.
    I would be interested in the answer to this too as I'm leaning more and more to getting an SSD if I get one of the new Mini's
  3. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2010
    It may be possible to add an SSD and leave the stock HDD in. That way you could add a low capacity SSD as a boot/apps disk and use the stock HDD for storage. It'll be interesting to see if a company comes up with a solution to add a second drive.
  4. 2manycores, Jul 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011

    2manycores macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2011
    Reply to Mini's stock 256 SSD vs. OWC Mercury 6G SSDs?

    I too was curious about Apple's 256GB SSD offering and did some research. I looked all the parts up for the Mid 2011 Mac Mini and found this:

    Par number 661-6046 Solid State Drive, Lower Bay, 256GB, w/alignment screws, and flex cable DQ4Y Module LAB3 Stock Price USD 799.00 Exchange price USD 599.00. These are direct from Apple, unfortunately it doesn't state who the manufacturer is.

    I did find this searching for Apple 256GB SSD, it's made by Toshiba but the part number is different and is for a Mac Book Pro.

    I checked after market SSD's on New Egg and quality 256GB SSD's are not cheap and even though Apples upgrade price of $600 for the regular Mini is a little expensive it may be worth it? Also, Apple is known to "usually" spec high end and more reliable drives in their systems. Another thing to consider is that if one is looking to purchase a Mini and upgrade it on their own as-far-as drives go the server model is the best buy in my opinion, for only $200 more. The SSD option in the server model is $400 vs $600 in the non-server model.

    You do give up the discreet graphics on the server if your heart was set on the Mid $799 model but you get the Quad Core i7 in the server, which will definitely smoke the other models since they are only dual cores. I'm all for modding and tweaking but usually don't like to update computers that are in warranty don't know how Apple would handle an issue with the 2011 Mini since the hard drive is technically seen as a non-customer serviceable item.

    Here are the Mid-2011 Mac Mini Geekbench results

    Just my 2 cents worth.
  5. EasyRider macrumors regular


    Mar 28, 2008
    Well it's only $360 because you are replacing 2 500GB 7200 drives for one 256GB SSD on the mini w/ lion server. (with educational discount pricing) Still a decent value.

    If you try to configure the other mini with the 256GB it wil be an extra $540 ($600 without education pricing).
  6. AVonGauss macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2006
    Boynton Beach, FL
    You're paying a lot for a SATA II SSD in a machine that supports SATA III - fwiw.
  7. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    Assuming the mini's ssd is the same as ones in the MacBooks, it's based off of a Toshiba controller. A functionally identical equivalent in the marketplace is the Kingston V+100 series.

    The Toshiba chip has aggressive garbage collection, so you likely won't have to worry about slowdowns over time. However, this benefit comes at the expense of higher write amplification, so the nominal life of the drive will be shorter than the OWC.

    Spec-wise, the OWC will be much faster than the Apple drive, especially for random reads of small files. Whether this makes a practical difference in everyday use is less clear. Certainly, the Apple SSDs in the MacBooks seem zippy enough at the Apple Store, and the Vertex 2 running in my (SATA I) MacBook seems zippy enough. The big step is moving from mechanical to SSD; the differences between SSD models are probably noticeable but much more subtle.
  8. Richie3000 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2009
    That's what I was wondering! I know the OWC drives are very explicit about being SATA III, 6G drives. What I couldn't figure out was if the Apple factory SSD was SATA I, II, or III.

    So I guess it's confirmed, Apple is still using a slower 3G, SATA II device?

    Guess it makes sense to heavily consider replacing my own SSD with the aftermarket 6G then, especially since the iFixit teardown reveals a MUCH easier HDD replacement procedure in the 2011 Mini:

    Am I off track here?
  9. kerplunknet macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2006
    Can't answer your question about SATA3, but I think you should go with an (arguably) more reliable Intel 320 series SSD. Any other type of SSD worries me. Intel has some great technology behind their drives. Do some research!
  10. AVonGauss macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2006
    Boynton Beach, FL
    Confirmed? I don't think yet, but judging from the iMac SSD I would say its a good bet they're still using the Toshiba SATA II drives.
  11. Westyfield2 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    Bath, UK.
    Or the faster Intel 510 :cool:.
  12. kerplunknet, Jul 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011

    kerplunknet macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2006
    They are quite fast. :) I read somewhere that the 320 series is an Intel controller whereas the 510 is a Marvell controller, and therefore (somehow) making the 510s less reliable. Also, the 320s have a 5 year warranty and the 510s have a 3 year warranty. Just stuff to think about!
  13. Westyfield2 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    Bath, UK.
    Hmm... I read that the 320 is indeed an Intel controller but is the old one from last year. TBH I trust Intel, so if they're using a Marvell controller in the 510 then they must be okay.
  14. Baby Mac macrumors regular

    Baby Mac

    Jul 28, 2010
    When you get a 256GB drive, you are not going to get to get 256GB of storage. OWC's sizes are more honest. OWC does not count the space set aside for "over-provisioning."

    Many SSDs (at least as of last year when I was shopping) have a problem with slowing down quickly and substantially. OWC drives do not.
  15. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502


    Oct 7, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Here's my C300 Crucial in the new mini.

    Attached Files:

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