Why filmmakers should consider OWC’s new Mercury Pro 6G SSD

OWC’s flagship SATA-based SSD, the Mercury Pro 6G range, has been updated to new technology inside and a new stylish black enclosure. Although SATA has a hard-wired theoretical speed limit that hovers around 700MB/sec, OWC has succeeded to make the Mercury Pro 6G even more appealing than it used to be by optimising the throughput itself.

The new Mercury Pro 6G SSDs are 2.5in SATA “disks”. They have been given a new paint coating of stylish black but given the fact that, once installed in an external unit, you’ll never see the disk again, it could as well have been bright pink. Nevertheless, we identify black as a colour with a mixture of stylish wickedness — as in the Bad Boys movie where Will Smith’s comrade in arms manages to smash a Porsche to smithereens — and in this case wicked is the speed an SSD module can process your data with. In this case, however, it’s a SATA based SSD and that will never blow your mind as what is possible with, for example, NVMe modules.

And so it was that I tested the new Mercury Pro 6G with the traditional Blackmagic Design Speed Test and obviously stranded at some respectable 500MB/sec — not bad, but not exceptional either when compared to NVMe modules.

But as many tech nerds know, Blackmagic Design’s Speed Test tells only half the story. It pays to also run an AJA System Test if you want to see how a disk or SSD performs over the entire test run. In addition, the AJA app enables you to run a test continuously — if need be, a few hours even or until the SSD is fried.

It’s here that you can see the claim of OWC Digital about their new Mercury 6G Pro to be true. You see, OWC claims their Mercury 6G Pro SSDs are trusted by filmmakers to record footage with Blackmagic Design and other brands of equipment because the Mercury range is capable of sustaining a high throughput over the entire recording session, even if every take takes a while.

The AJA test showed that the Mercury Pro 6G can indeed sustain long periods of read/write operations without dropping as little as even a few Megabytes per frame. That’s amazing considering the fact that every other SSD or harddisk that I’ve tested so far — and I’ve had a few — at the very least performs with troughs and peaks throughout tests after only a few runs of the AJA stress test.

Does it matter, you might ask. Well, yes, it does and a lot, actually. When disks drop transferred data in a single run, chances are that they’ll be dropping far more data as the number of runs increases. I’ve seen that with that simple AJA test time and again. It doesn’t mean the disk is faulty and it doesn’t mean it’s a bad disk. It only means your OS needs to manage those errors by repeating the same copy operation for those megabytes again or work harder to ensure all data at then end of the operation can be read properly.

This is obviously something that doesn’t work when you’re shooting a movie. Take the shot and once it’s been taken, the moment has gone with most projects. With the new Mercury Pro 6G, that risk is significantly lower. It’s almost zero if the half hour AJA runs I executed are anything to judge this SSD’s performance by.

In short, if you have what we call ‘mission-critical’ work to save to a SATA SSD, OWC’s Mercury Pro 6G is not going to disappoint and is your best bet your mood and heartbeat stay at healthy levels.

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