OWC Launches New Aura Pro X2 SSDs for Older MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Models

OWC Larry

macrumors member
Apr 7, 2005
93
59
Woodstock, IL
Thank you for asking!

We resolved this some time ago - a long time ago - no issue today with hibernation in any model - including the late 2013 Retina models that were the first Apple MacBook Pro models to utilize PCIe SSD.

Thanks for the info. Any word on the hibernation issues Late 2013 rMBPs have when upgraded with NVMe drives? I've heard that this affects more drives than just OWC (I think it's an Apple bottom issue). Just wondering if OWC found a workaround?
 

Zdigital2015

macrumors 68030
Jul 14, 2015
2,641
3,172
East Coast, United States
Care to explain. I’m curious. I have an Early 2015 MBA.
There is an adapter (Sintech) that allows you to use certain select m.2 AHCI AND NVMe SSD blades in your 2015 MacBook Air. Frankly, it’s a hack at best and you can search the forums for others who use the Sintech and there is a big thread with all the various successes and failures. Depending on the size you need, and how well this OWC product is designed, you may be better off with it or a genuine SSPOLARIS SSD (Apple OEM) as the 2015 MacBook Air can benefit from the Polaris being an NVMe drive and your MBA having a PCIe 3.0 x4 connector. See this article - https://beetstech.com/blog/apple-proprietary-ssd-ultimate-guide-to-specs-and-upgrades - Good Luck!!!
 
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spyguy10709

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Apr 5, 2010
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One Infinite Loop, Cupertino CA
Care to explain. I’m curious. I have an Early 2015 MBA.
I've got one in my 2013 15" retina macbook pros, because I got tired of waiting. Lets you hook up any NVME SSD on any classic retina macbook pro/macbook air after late-2013. Sleep issues may be present on certain models, but 2015's are in the clear (and it's not hard to fix sleep on broken machines anyway)

This is the one I've got paired with a 1TB Intel 660P drive. Total was $129. https://www.amazon.com/Sintech-Adap...&qid=1555542045&s=electronics&sr=1-2-fkmrnull

Really makes me doubt the value of Apple's $600 1TB SSD upgrade, or even this $300 (1TB) OWC kit. And @OWC Larry , isn't it a bit disingenuous to suggest your drives would be immune to apple updates, considering your previous Aura drives faced difficulties with just that?

And regarding burst speeds - this may be true of cheap NVME SSDs like the 660P, where the cache hits 1500MB/s+ but the rest of the drive only hits 700ish, but is certainly NOT true of high end drives like the Samsung 970 evo which outpace your drives in both read performance, but most tellingly in write performance, by up to 45%.
 

OWC Larry

macrumors member
Apr 7, 2005
93
59
Woodstock, IL
Fair questions and comments - and happy to respond.

With respect to platform limitations and even assuming there would be zero issues with adapted, the Aura Pro X2 is first and foremost limited by system constraints and capabilities. And we support the platform directly and with specific firmware designed for it as well.

Concerning apple update immunity - I'd never suggest we are immune, but unlike other hacks - we do control the firmware on our drives, are able to provide Mac specific upgrades to that firmware, and have a decade of experience with the evolution of the Mac OS and Mac hardware with respect to to such challenges over those years. We can't promise or always predict what Apple will or won't do - and while we do believe that area is now mature and stable - should there be a change we already haven't accommodated by design, we are in the unique position of being able to support our customers in such a situation.

Thanks!

- OWC Larry

I've got one in my 2013 15" retina macbook pros, because I got tired of waiting. Lets you hook up any NVME SSD on any classic retina macbook pro/macbook air after late-2013. Sleep issues may be present on certain models, but 2015's are in the clear (and it's not hard to fix sleep on broken machines anyway)

This is the one I've got paired with a 1TB Intel 660P drive. Total was $129. https://www.amazon.com/Sintech-Adap...&qid=1555542045&s=electronics&sr=1-2-fkmrnull

Really makes me doubt the value of Apple's $600 1TB SSD upgrade, or even this $300 (1TB) OWC kit. And @OWC Larry , isn't it a bit disingenuous to suggest your drives would be immune to apple updates, considering your previous Aura drives faced difficulties with just that?

And regarding burst speeds - this may be true of cheap NVME SSDs like the 660P, where the cache hits 1500MB/s+ but the rest of the drive only hits 700ish, but is certainly NOT true of high end drives like the Samsung 970 evo which outpace your drives in both read performance, but most tellingly in write performance, by up to 45%.
 
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imacomputah

macrumors newbie
Apr 4, 2019
9
5
Fair questions and comments - and happy to respond.

With respect to platform limitations and even assuming there would be zero issues with adapted, the Aura Pro X2 is first and foremost limited by system constraints and capabilities. And we support the platform directly and with specific firmware designed for it as well.

Concerning apple update immunity - I'd never suggest we are immune, but unlike other hacks - we do control the firmware on our drives, are able to provide Mac specific upgrades to that firmware, and have a decade of experience with the evolution of the Mac OS and Mac hardware with respect to to such challenges over those years. We can't promise or always predict what Apple will or won't do - and while we do believe that area is now mature and stable - should there be a change we already haven't accommodated by design, we are in the unique position of being able to support our customers in such a situation.

Thanks!

- OWC Larry
Hi Larry, thanks for being available for questions. So when using one of these drives in a 2013 MacBook Air, is it recognized as an internal drive (silver rather than orange icon on option+boot) and does it hibernate properly on pre 2015 machines?
 

OWC Larry

macrumors member
Apr 7, 2005
93
59
Woodstock, IL
Yes and yes.

Only our original 2016 Aura PCIe didn’t present as an internal drive. Our new Aura and all Aura Pro NVME PCIe models have always been recognized natively as internal. No orange icon default, external tag, etc.

Hi Larry, thanks for being available for questions. So when using one of these drives in a 2013 MacBook Air, is it recognized as an internal drive (silver rather than orange icon on option+boot) and does it hibernate properly on pre 2015 machines?
 
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DogHouseDub

macrumors 6502
Sep 19, 2007
360
752
SF
The pre-touchbar MacBook Pro (when it still had an HDMI port?) was the pinnacle of laptop computers. Powerful, functional, reliable, portable, and...<gasp>...upgradable!!! Great to see OWC thinks the same.
 

macgeek01

macrumors 6502a
Apr 2, 2013
841
79
Thank you for asking!

We resolved this some time ago - a long time ago - no issue today with hibernation in any model - including the late 2013 Retina models that were the first Apple MacBook Pro models to utilize PCIe SSD.
MacBook models before 2015 don’t include the NVME DXE drivers so don’t support standby and hibernation with NVME unless flashing the EFI with modified firmware. How did you get around that? Thanks!
 

mbosse

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2015
468
115
Vienna, Austria
Dear Larry:

while you are participating in this thread, I would have four questions:

  1. You state the new Aura Pro X2 consumes less energy and produces less heat compared to previous Aura Pros - but how would it compare to an Apple SSUBX SSD of similar capacity?
  2. Some (maybe most) third party NVME SSDs do not support firmware or bottom updates on Macs - did you test this with the new Aura Pro X2
  3. What is the endurance rating?
  4. When will it be available in Europe?

Thanks a lot for taking your time to answer our questions. Like a number of members here, I am very cautious when it comes to OWC SSDs - have had bad experiences in the past myself and reports of underperforming previous generations of OWC PCIe SSDS.

But this new one really seems like a bona fide superior Mac-centric solution. Congrats.

Thanks,
Magnus
 

DCIFRTHS

macrumors 65816
Jan 25, 2008
1,046
491
"Older", 2013-2017--somewhere, a 17" 2008 MacBook Pro is wheeze-laughing, and its SATA-I-limited SSD laughs back.
I have a 2008 MacBook Pro, and I upgraded it with a SATA SSD. An older generation Crucial model. It truly breathed new life into an exasperatingly slow machine. The Intel C2D CPU is still chugging along too...
 

OWC Larry

macrumors member
Apr 7, 2005
93
59
Woodstock, IL
Thank you for the questions -

#1 - With comparison to comparable Apple SSDs our power draw levels are lower and we are working on quantifications of this. Note that under peak performance we may have higher draw, but this is for shorter durations with respect to how much faster the X2 reads and writes data. Power efficiency is higher per MB transferred. Idle power is comparable or better as well.

As noted - we will be publishing multiple data points along the lines of battery performance and operational performance. Working on a Photoshop test (battery and performance), Video Playback test (light load / battery life test), AJA Test (constant load test on battery + Performance... we might be higher draw, but higher performance as well depending on laptop limitations (air only 2 lane, so limited... will be good test example for multiple reasons), Idle test (battery life while no use) - and some raw electrical data. Working on all of this.

#2 - we already have firmware update capability for our drives. Most don't because they don't support Macs in the first place or Mac is secondary. OWC was the very first 3rd party SSD manufacturer to provide true firmware update support for Apple users.

#3 - Flash technology is changing - and especially with QLC and lightly over provisioned TLC - wear can be a real issue. The designs we have maintained to date in all of our SSDs, the type of flash utilized, the advanced wear-leveling, the large over provisioning allocation, and the platform applications designed for have enabled us to comfortably provide 5 year warranties without the need to specify a warranty cutoff at a fixed amount of data written. From a marketing benefit point of view, we should publish this and will see that we do.

#4 - we direct ship to Europe from MacSales.com in the USA. It is available from multiple resellers right now in Europe including OWCShop.EU (which is now closely affiliated with OWC USA).
https://www.owcshop.eu/catalog/adva...+X2&osCsid=ilso869c2gna1og2p5niuj6bq2&x=0&y=0

With respect to Europe - we are greatly expanding or presence on the continent for substantially improved availability, better local pricing, and localized support including warranty processing.

thanks.

Dear Larry:

while you are participating in this thread, I would have four questions:

  1. You state the new Aura Pro X2 consumes less energy and produces less heat compared to previous Aura Pros - but how would it compare to an Apple SSUBX SSD of similar capacity?
  2. Some (maybe most) third party NVME SSDs do not support firmware or bottom updates on Macs - did you test this with the new Aura Pro X2
  3. What is the endurance rating?
  4. When will it be available in Europe?

Thanks a lot for taking your time to answer our questions. Like a number of members here, I am very cautious when it comes to OWC SSDs - have had bad experiences in the past myself and reports of underperforming previous generations of OWC PCIe SSDS.

But this new one really seems like a bona fide superior Mac-centric solution. Congrats.

Thanks,
Magnus
 

mbosse

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2015
468
115
Vienna, Austria
Thank you for the questions -

#1 - With comparison to comparable Apple SSDs our power draw levels are lower and we are working on quantifications of this. Note that under peak performance we may have higher draw, but this is for shorter durations with respect to how much faster the X2 reads and writes data. Power efficiency is higher per MB transferred. Idle power is comparable or better as well.

As noted - we will be publishing multiple data points along the lines of battery performance and operational performance. Working on a Photoshop test (battery and performance), Video Playback test (light load / battery life test), AJA Test (constant load test on battery + Performance... we might be higher draw, but higher performance as well depending on laptop limitations (air only 2 lane, so limited... will be good test example for multiple reasons), Idle test (battery life while no use) - and some raw electrical data. Working on all of this.

#2 - we already have firmware update capability for our drives. Most don't because they don't support Macs in the first place or Mac is secondary. OWC was the very first 3rd party SSD manufacturer to provide true firmware update support for Apple users.

#3 - Flash technology is changing - and especially with QLC and lightly over provisioned TLC - wear can be a real issue. The designs we have maintained to date in all of our SSDs, the type of flash utilized, the advanced wear-leveling, the large over provisioning allocation, and the platform applications designed for have enabled us to comfortably provide 5 year warranties without the need to specify a warranty cutoff at a fixed amount of data written. From a marketing benefit point of view, we should publish this and will see that we do.

#4 - we direct ship to Europe from MacSales.com in the USA. It is available from multiple resellers right now in Europe including OWCShop.EU (which is now closely affiliated with OWC USA).
https://www.owcshop.eu/catalog/adva...+X2&osCsid=ilso869c2gna1og2p5niuj6bq2&x=0&y=0

With respect to Europe - we are greatly expanding or presence on the continent for substantially improved availability, better local pricing, and localized support including warranty processing.

thanks.
Dear Larry:

Thanks again.

To #2: I was referring to Apple Firmware and bootrom updates, not SSD firmware ones (there are problems usually as well for Apple users).

You can confirm no sleep and hibernation issues with pre-2015 Apple MacBooks and iMacs?

Your answers are very much appreciated.
Magnus
 

OWC Larry

macrumors member
Apr 7, 2005
93
59
Woodstock, IL
This is my bad and I have to walk back my hibernation comments. All the various sleep and other power mode challenges have been supported and eliminated for all systems + we have the ability to update should a future OS version make additional changes there to.

Hibernation is not presently supported on pre-2015 systems and doesn't enable. If a system that is sleeping is allowed to fully run out of power, it will be a restart event vs. resume. Short of the noted hack to the Apple EFI, this is the state of things today. This has been a discussion point with Apple for over a year and something that may be addressed by Apple in the future, but they really do not have any true motivation to do so.

That being said - we have over two years now into development of our own NVME driver solution which can solve this without the EFI change for pre-2015 models. It is a lot further reaching than just that as well. I hope to see us release this driver by late summer in beta, but there is substantial testing and qualification before we release this kind of solution. The driver also goes way beyond just the internal SSD upgrades.

I apologize for the previous incorrect information on hibernation.

MacBook models before 2015 don’t include the NVME DXE drivers so don’t support standby and hibernation with NVME unless flashing the EFI with modified firmware. How did you get around that? Thanks!
[doublepost=1555600179][/doublepost]Between posts think answered the hibernation. There are no sleep issues once so ever with the Aura Pro X or X2.

With respect to the Apple EFI / firmware / bootrom updates - We require that Apple OS 10.13 or Later has been previously installed on Mac for use of the Aura Pro X2 (and was same for Aura Pro X). There have been zero issues with Apple firmware updates pushed out post 10.13 with our NVME drive models.

Dear Larry:

Thanks again.

To #2: I was referring to Apple Firmware and bootrom updates, not SSD firmware ones (there are problems usually as well for Apple users).

You can confirm no sleep and hibernation issues with pre-2015 Apple MacBooks and iMacs?

Your answers are very much appreciated.
Magnus
 

macgeek01

macrumors 6502a
Apr 2, 2013
841
79
This is my bad and I have to walk back my hibernation comments. All the various sleep and other power mode challenges have been supported and eliminated for all systems + we have the ability to update should a future OS version make additional changes there to.

Hibernation is not presently supported on pre-2015 systems and doesn't enable. If a system that is sleeping is allowed to fully run out of power, it will be a restart event vs. resume. Short of the noted hack to the Apple EFI, this is the state of things today. This has been a discussion point with Apple for over a year and something that may be addressed by Apple in the future, but they really do not have any true motivation to do so.

That being said - we have over two years now into development of our own NVME driver solution which can solve this without the EFI change for pre-2015 models. It is a lot further reaching than just that as well. I hope to see us release this driver by late summer in beta, but there is substantial testing and qualification before we release this kind of solution. The driver also goes way beyond just the internal SSD upgrades.

I apologize for the previous incorrect information on hibernation.


[doublepost=1555600179][/doublepost]Between posts think answered the hibernation. There are no sleep issues once so ever with the Aura Pro X or X2.

With respect to the Apple EFI / firmware / bootrom updates - We require that Apple OS 10.13 or Later has been previously installed on Mac for use of the Aura Pro X2 (and was same for Aura Pro X). There have been zero issues with Apple firmware updates pushed out post 10.13 with our NVME drive models.
Thanks for the info Larry. I assume then that “standby” mode is also an issue after the standbydelay has lapsed via pmset?
 

imacomputah

macrumors newbie
Apr 4, 2019
9
5
I think it’s pretty disappointing that it took several pages of vague and misleading answers about hibernate issues on pre-2015 models to find out that:
1- OWC didn’t seem to even have an understanding or awareness of this issue before reading this thread
2: their product does not resolve this issue.

Looks like we are still better off with the cheaper sintech adapter+nvme solution.
 
Last edited:

OWC Larry

macrumors member
Apr 7, 2005
93
59
Woodstock, IL
When a hibernate call is made, it resets sleep vs. causing a crash state. I will seek a more complete technical answer on Standby mode... but in all sleep circumstances, the system is maintained in a state for immediate wait. You will be in a reboot situation with improper shutdown if your battery goes dead while sleeping due to lack of hibernation capability, but other than that - no sleep related issue.

And with respect to the comment after - I would disagree that answers have been vague. I also apologize for my incorrect answers concerning Hibernation with pre-2015 systems which is not reflective of what 'OWC understands'. Further, how hibernation is handled is an Apple driver side issue at present and solvable by an update by Apple or with a new driver which we expect to release. Our team has an exceptional understanding of these aspects to say the least.

thank you.

Thanks for the info Larry. I assume then that “standby” mode is also an issue after the standbydelay has lapsed via pmset?
[doublepost=1555609158][/doublepost]
The pre-touchbar MacBook Pro (when it still had an HDMI port?) was the pinnacle of laptop computers. Powerful, functional, reliable, portable, and...<gasp>...upgradable!!! Great to see OWC thinks the same.
and not only that - has a keyboard that is very much liked vs. what the new laptops have. I don't like the Touch Bar or the new keyboard and will be using my Retinas for years to come. :)
 

macgeek01

macrumors 6502a
Apr 2, 2013
841
79
When a hibernate call is made, it resets sleep vs. causing a crash state. I will seek a more complete technical answer on Standby mode... but in all sleep circumstances, the system is maintained in a state for immediate wait. You will be in a reboot situation with improper shutdown if your battery goes dead while sleeping due to lack of hibernation capability, but other than that - no sleep related issue.

And with respect to the comment after - I would disagree that answers have been vague. I also apologize for my incorrect answers concerning Hibernation with pre-2015 systems which is not reflective of what 'OWC understands'. Further, how hibernation is handled is an Apple driver side issue at present and solvable by an update by Apple or with a new driver which we expect to release. Our team has an exceptional understanding of these aspects to say the least.

thank you.


[doublepost=1555609158][/doublepost]

and not only that - has a keyboard that is very much liked vs. what the new laptops have. I don't like the Touch Bar or the new keyboard and will be using my Retinas for years to come. :)
Please let us know what you find out about standby. To test you can lower the standbydelay via terminal with pmset command.

Many believe that once the standbydelay lapses that it defaults to the hibernate mode but this isn’t the case. It may write the contents to the SSD like hibernate but it wakes faster and you don’t see the loading bars. If you disable standby all together then it defaults to the hibernate mode.

Thanks for taking your time to respond to questions.
 

guzhogi

macrumors 68040
Aug 31, 2003
3,108
977
Wherever my feet take me…
When a hibernate call is made, it resets sleep vs. causing a crash state. I will seek a more complete technical answer on Standby mode... but in all sleep circumstances, the system is maintained in a state for immediate wait. You will be in a reboot situation with improper shutdown if your battery goes dead while sleeping due to lack of hibernation capability, but other than that - no sleep related issue.

And with respect to the comment after - I would disagree that answers have been vague. I also apologize for my incorrect answers concerning Hibernation with pre-2015 systems which is not reflective of what 'OWC understands'. Further, how hibernation is handled is an Apple driver side issue at present and solvable by an update by Apple or with a new driver which we expect to release. Our team has an exceptional understanding of these aspects to say the least.

thank you.


[doublepost=1555609158][/doublepost]

and not only that - has a keyboard that is very much liked vs. what the new laptops have. I don't like the Touch Bar or the new keyboard and will be using my Retinas for years to come. :)
Glad you're on here!
 

Attachments

mbosse

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2015
468
115
Vienna, Austria
This is my bad and I have to walk back my hibernation comments. All the various sleep and other power mode challenges have been supported and eliminated for all systems + we have the ability to update should a future OS version make additional changes there to.

Hibernation is not presently supported on pre-2015 systems and doesn't enable. If a system that is sleeping is allowed to fully run out of power, it will be a restart event vs. resume. Short of the noted hack to the Apple EFI, this is the state of things today. This has been a discussion point with Apple for over a year and something that may be addressed by Apple in the future, but they really do not have any true motivation to do so.

That being said - we have over two years now into development of our own NVME driver solution which can solve this without the EFI change for pre-2015 models. It is a lot further reaching than just that as well. I hope to see us release this driver by late summer in beta, but there is substantial testing and qualification before we release this kind of solution. The driver also goes way beyond just the internal SSD upgrades.

I apologize for the previous incorrect information on hibernation.


[doublepost=1555600179][/doublepost]Between posts think answered the hibernation. There are no sleep issues once so ever with the Aura Pro X or X2.

With respect to the Apple EFI / firmware / bootrom updates - We require that Apple OS 10.13 or Later has been previously installed on Mac for use of the Aura Pro X2 (and was same for Aura Pro X). There have been zero issues with Apple firmware updates pushed out post 10.13 with our NVME drive models.
Thanks for clearing that. I am now really looking forward to your tests and the resulting numbers. Any idea when we can expect those? Also, it would be great if sample drive be provided to MacRumors.com for an independent testing.

Also, I assume the yet to be released non-Pro version will be QLC?

Kind regards,
Magnus
 
Last edited:

Zdigital2015

macrumors 68030
Jul 14, 2015
2,641
3,172
East Coast, United States
I think it’s pretty disappointing that it took several pages of vague and misleading answers about hibernate issues on pre-2015 models to find out that:
1- OWC didn’t seem to even have an understanding or awareness of this issue before reading this thread
2: their product does not resolve this issue.

Looks like we are still better off with the cheaper sintech adapter+nvme solution.
Several pages? There are two pages in this thread on my iPhone XR.

The issues are complex, to say the least, especially as Apple radically updated (overhauled) the firmware on all Macs capable of running High Sierra to accommodate APFS, NVMe, et al. as evidenced by some of the other threads on the subject.

While I am taking a wait and see attitude towards the performance, data integrity and compatibility of the Aura X2, if those items end up checked off to my satisfaction, I know I will be a much happier camper than the Sintech/m.2 SSD hack currently in vogue.

For the record, the Sintech + Samsung 970 1TB EVO solution is nearly the same cost as the OWC 1TB solution, ditto for the 500GB. I would expect OWC’s 1TB and 480GB models to be the most popular. What premium you pay is for the extra engineering put in to make this a viable Apple OEM substitute, as opposed to simply picking parts, hoping for the best and living with the limitations.

If the OWC solution disappoints, I am sure we will find out shortly. Here is hoping it doesn’t as an Apple OEM SSDPOLARIS 1TB is about $1000, when you can find one.
 

mbosse

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2015
468
115
Vienna, Austria
Several pages? There are two pages in this thread on my iPhone XR.

The issues are complex, to say the least, especially as Apple radically updated (overhauled) the firmware on all Macs capable of running High Sierra to accommodate APFS, NVMe, et al. as evidenced by some of the other threads on the subject.

While I am taking a wait and see attitude towards the performance, data integrity and compatibility of the Aura X2, if those items end up checked off to my satisfaction, I know I will be a much happier camper than the Sintech/m.2 SSD hack currently in vogue.

For the record, the Sintech + Samsung 970 1TB EVO solution is nearly the same cost as the OWC 1TB solution, ditto for the 500GB. I would expect OWC’s 1TB and 480GB models to be the most popular. What premium you pay is for the extra engineering put in to make this a viable Apple OEM substitute, as opposed to simply picking parts, hoping for the best and living with the limitations.

If the OWC solution disappoints, I am sure we will find out shortly. Here is hoping it doesn’t as an Apple OEM SSDPOLARIS 1TB is about $1000, when you can find one.
Thank you for your reasoning, much appreciated.
 

OWC Larry

macrumors member
Apr 7, 2005
93
59
Woodstock, IL
We are not using QLC on the Aura Gen 2 either and while not as fast as the Pro X2, higher performance than Aura gen 1 PCIE and lower power, etc. will be a really good choice for systems that are limited by bus to under 1000MB/s performance imho.

Hoping to have real world numbers to share by next week showing the battery benefits in laptops.

Lastly - on hibernation vs. sleep - I will get complete confirmation of how standby request is handled, but under no circumstances does any sleep mode request result in an improper shutdown so long as the laptop has battery charge - zero issue with any Mac connected to Wall power laptop, iMac, etc.

Thanks!

- owc Larry
Apologies for any typos from use of iPhone

Thanks for clearing that. I am now really looking forward to your tests and the resulting numbers. Any idea when we can expect those?

Also, I assume the yet to be released non-Pro version will be QLC?

Kind regards,
Magnus
 
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