OWC Mercury Elite Pro Quad review

USB 3.1 Gen 2 SoftRAID controlled RAID box with above average performance

Lately, OWC has been making devices that are blazingly fast at a price that is hard to compete with. Perhaps a bit naively, I expected the same from the Mercury Elite Pro Quad, but with hard disks at its core and SoftRAID 5.6.5 as the controller – which is nothing to sneeze at, but which can’t quite keep up with the fastest hardware RAID controllers out there – it’s only slightly better than an averagely performing RAID box.

The Mercury Elite Pro Quad is a typical OWC RAID drive with four Toshiba hard drives mounted on their side. In my case, these were four 1TB disks which had, according to Toshiba’s own site, won several awards in the past few years. The OWC enclosure is made of aluminum and has a front door that opens with a key and which hides the four drive mounts that you can easily unmount by hand. The back of the unit reveals one USB-C type interface, a Kensington lock slot and a huge ventilator.

It’s a bit of a pity there isn’t an extra USB-C interface so that you could use the unit as a one-port hub as well. The size of the ventilator made me expect the worst, but the drive is silent with the fan generating a gentle hum that becomes a little louder in cycles. The highest sound pressure I measured was 45dB at a 30cm distance with only 36dB at 60cm.

The 4TB model OWC sent me performed well with 600MB/sec write and 630MB/sec read speeds as reported by Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test app. I checked the performance ratings of the higher capacity Toshiba disks and they should deliver even better throughput with a theoretical maximum of around 700MB/sec. That’s not unimportant if you know that you can have up to 48TB of storage in a Quad.

Conclusion: the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Quad is a really good backup device, but it stops short of delivering the speed a 4K or 8K video editing solution would require.