OWC 320GB Mercury Elite Pro-AL Quad Interface

Flexibility and versatility are great things to have in your data storage devices, and Other World Computingis Mercury Elite Pro-AL Quad Interface hard drives deliver. These drives feature USB 2.0, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, and eSATA connectors, Seagateis 7200.10 Barracuda drive mechanism, and an aluminum case that matches Appleis Pro-level Macs.

I tested the 320GB model, but the unit is also available in capacities ranging from 250GB up to 750GB. All of my benchmarking, except for eSATA testing, was conducted on my 1.67GHz PowerBook G4.

The Mercury Elite Pro-ALis drive ports.

Everything you need to get started is included in the box: Power supply, USB, FireWire and eSATA cables, rubber feet if you want to place the drive horizontally, a stand to hold it vertically, and Retrospect Express data backup software.

Cables, power supply and stand are all included.

The drive is super-quiet. In a normal work environment, you wouldnit even notice any sound. My desk tends to be really quiet in the early morning hours, so I could hear a faint hum. Once the usual hustle and bustle of the day began, however, the driveis hum faded away into the ambient sound.

To keep everything fair and standardized, I use ProSoftis Drive Genius to benchmark a driveis read and write speeds. USB 2.0 data transfer speeds were no better than I would expect from any other USB drive. FireWire 400 fared much better, and FireWire 800 performed even better still - no surprise there. Unfortunately, I lost my eSATA test system before I could complete my benchmarking. Based on my preliminary results, and cross-referencing other benchmark tests on the same drive, eSATA performance was in line with FireWire 800, if not a little better.

Speed in MB/s
USB 2.0 FireWire 400 FireWire 800
Sustained Read 46.76 64.25 89.23
Sustained Write 47.26 62.57 82.59
Random Read 32.42 42.73 55.11
Random Write 37.13 49.2 64.87

Even though you donit need to install any software to use the drive, I checked the included CD to see what was there. In addition to Retrospect Express, I found Intechis Hard Disk SpeedTools - A set of utilities to benchmark your driveis performance and defragment files.

I also found drivers that let you use the FireWire 400 interface on Macs running OS versions as old as 8.6. Although most users have migrated to Mac OS X, itis nice to know that graphics pros and anyone else that needs to keep a legacy machine around can take advantage of these drives, too.

If you look on the hard drive, youill also find a folder full of shareware, Apple updaters, icons, QuickTime movies of Apple commercials, and more.

The Bottom Line
OWCis Mercury Elite Pro-AL Quad Interface hard drive is a great all-in-one package with everything you need to connect to any computer. Once you move away from the USB interface, performance improves dramatically; but thatis to be expected. The fact that these drives come with all of the cables and Retrospect Express make them a great deal for the price.

Product: 320GB Mercury Elite Pro-AL Quad

Company: Other World Computing

List Price: $229.99 (as tes


Pros: Quiet, great performance, includes all cables, matches Pro Macs.
Cons: USB 2.0 performance isn\'t any better than other drives.