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OWC Mercury Elite–AL Pro 800 RAID Stripe FireWire 800/400 Review
June 15, 2006

If you need incredible amounts of data storage space, you are living in a great age and it’s pretty darn cheap to boot. We all marveled 10 – 12 years ago at the price per MB of HDD storage and that drives had gotten to 100, 120 200 Gigabytes! OEM External drives in USB 2.0 and Firewire 400 were a miracle too.

We’ve been luckier on the Mac side than our Win PC cousins at having Firewire 400 external drives before USB 2.0 finally became common place. Now we have Firewire 800 from a few manufacturers, despite Apple’s obvious lack of aggressive marketing of the blazingly fast port format.

One long time major staple retailer in the Mac market found both online and at their mega store in beautiful Woodstock Illinois, is Other World Computing, or as most of us Mac heads know them, OWC (macsales.com). OWC has just about anything you could possibly need from new Macs and G3/G4 Upgrade Kits to nearly any Mac accessory made.

OWC also has their own line of external Hard Disk Drives called Mercury Elite Pro and Elite Aluminum Pro, along with others made by well-known brands. OWC has thoughtfully designed their Mercury Elite series to compliment various models of G4 and G5 Power Macs.

The One (1) Terabyte Mercury Elite–AL Pro 800 RAID Stripe FireWire 800/400 which is the subject of this review, is particularly designed to be parked right next to the all Aluminum G5 Power Mac.

It comes complete and ready to use with AC Power brick, both FireWire 400 and 800 cables, and backup software CD. If you have a pre G5 Power Mac without a FireWire 800 port, OWC carries their own branded PCI three port 800/400 card (OWCFW800PCI) that is an incredible bargain at $49.99. We tried it with the Mercury Elite–AL Pro 800 RAID, installed in just a minute and it worked flawlessly.

Judge a book by it's cover -
The Mercury Elite–AL Pro 800 RAID made completely of machined thick walled Aluminum stock and the quality of the highest quality equivalent to the G5 enclosure. Etched into the side of the unit is OWC logo and system designation. It’s very a very professional look.

Click on most images to enlarge

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The front has the same type of porous grill found on the G5 PPC and on the rear are one FW400 and two FW800 ports with a rocker power switch. Behind the front grill is a subdued blue LED that lets you know the unit is powered up. The power switch is important, making powering off the unit simple when unused for any extended amount of time. We don’t recommend any external drive, which does not offer a power switch and forces you to unplug it to turn it off.
 

The 1TB Mercury Elite-AL Pro is twice as wide because of the 2 matched Seagate 7200 RPM 500GB drivesbar
"Our review review panel technicians were enthusiastic to find two matched Seagate Barracuda 500GB 16MB Cache 7200 RPM drives inside ...."
bar Also on the back panel is the exit port for the internal fan that pulls a cooling air stream from the front grill across the paired hard drives and out the back. While the Mercury Elite–AL Pro 800 RAID STRIPE FireWire 800/400 is not as quiet as the Maxtor OneTouch III essentially silent fan, the sound from the fan is completely acceptable and nothing compared to the noisy racket any G5 makes. Even next to a very quiet G4 Dual Processor 1.25Ghz we also have, you won’t notice the fan sound of the Mercury Elite–AL Pro 800 RAID unless you specifically listen for it.

As I mentioned earlier, this review unit is a One Terabyte (TB, or 1000 Gigabytes) RAID 0 unit and employs two paired HDD’s. OWC has also announced a 1.5 TB unit, which now tops out this Mercury Elite-AL PRO product line which runs from 80GB ($119.99) through 1.5TB Stripe + Mirror ($2,339.99). The 1TB Mercury Elite–AL Pro 800 RAID Stripe FireWire 800/400 lists for $589.99

I’m not happy unless we can take products apart to see what makes things tick and see what’s inside. Simply removing the four screws on the bottom allows you to slide out the internal framework holding the dual HDD’s.

Thoughtfully designed for air-flow and very clean inside

Our review review panel technicians were enthusiastic to find two matched Seagate Barracuda 500GB 16MB Cache 7200 RPM drives inside, our absolute favorite rugged endurance data keepers. Seagate and Maxtor drives top our choices for long term reliability and speed, and are favorites of IT (Seagate) and Gamers (Maxtor) in most rating poles.

Also inside the chassis is a very clean and well-designed controller PCB (printed circuit board) employing the Oxford 912 FireWire Bridge tucked against the back wall and the cooling fan in the rear panel, which pulls air past and between both HDD and the PCB.


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