MacBooks are not, for most users, the first thing that comes to mind in terms of upgradability. Apple’s quest to build thinner, more svelte devices results in custom form factors and more components integrated onto the mainboard, preventing aftermarket upgrades.
Users of MacBook Air models from 2010-2017, and MacBook Pro with Retina models from 2012 to 2015 have felt this issue firsthand, as the proprietary not-quite M.2 SSD used in those models are not possible to replace with off-the-shelf industry standard parts. OWC, a company that specializes in producing Mac-compatible devices, has previously offered aftermarket SSDs that were partial compromises–due in part to limited support for NVMe in earlier versions of Mac OS.
OWC’s new Aura Pro X2 SSD, announced this week, is the first from the company that can compete in both storage density and performance with Apple’s stock SSDs, and is the first SSD available in a 2TB capacity for Apple’s proprietary form factor.
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The drives, which are also compatible with the current (trashcan) Mac Pro and last-generation (late 2014) Mac Mini, are available in four capacities:
- 240 GB – $119.99
- 480 GB – $179.99
- 1 TB – $299.99
- 2 TB – $699.99
The drives are touted as having speeds up to 3200 MB/s and 2400 MB/s read/write speeds. The drives are available directly from OWC, and the company offers a trade-in rebate for previous OWC or Apple drives, which does absorb some of the price premium these parts demand. (OWC does point out that these are substantially less expensive than Apple’s asking prices, though OWC’s drives are still more expensive than industry-standard drives.)
Use of Mac OS 10.13 (High Sierra) or higher is a requirement, as that version adds support for NVMe, which these drives rely on to work. The drives come with a five-year warranty from OWC, and–fortunately–the drives are touted as running cooler than previous generation OWC drives, which were noted for heat dissipation issues, impacting performance.
The drives are likely to be a welcome announcement for Apple users holding on to their previous-gen MacBook models, as certain users are delaying upgrades to newer units amid concerns around the reliability of the butterfly keyboard.