If you bought a MacBook Pro with Retina display in 2013 or later, there's a good chance you wound up with less on-board flash storage than you really wanted. When those models were first introduced back in 2013, you could get the 13-inch version with as little as 128 GB of PCIe-based flash storage on board. (Even today, the 15-inch model starts at just 256 GB, and it costs an extra $800 to bring that up to 1 TB.)
It didn't seem like a bad deal at the time. If you were carrying an external drive for data storage, the increased speed of booting from the SSD (and installing your programs there) made up for any inconvenience. But if you're constantly pushing against the upper limits of your MacBook Pro's storage capacity, you now have the chance to upgrade it yourself with OWC's new PCIe Aura SSD, finally available for mid-2013 and later MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops.
The drives come in 480 GB and 1 TB capacities, dramatically expanding the capacity of a 128 or 256 GB Mac. The downside, of course, is that you have to perform the hardware upgrade yourself. And, yes, that means you are likely voiding warranty coverage on that computer. Yes, OWC has said this isn't true, but enough users have shared anecdotes about Apple's refusal to honor warranties when aftermarket modifications have been made that you should probably open up your Mac only if you're willing to take that risk.
The installation process seems fairly simple — OWC has instructional videos available on its site — involving the removal of a handful of screws securing the MacBook's bottom plate, snapping the plate off the body of the compueter, disconnecting a battery cable, and unscrewing and unseating the stock drive to replace it with the OWC model.
The Aura SSD is a tier 1 flash device with 7% overprovisioning, OWC said. It features three-level error correction, cell-level data refresh, and a global wear-leveling algorithm for extending the drive's life. The data transfer rate is clocked by OWC at 764 MB/sec read and 447 MB/sec write.
The Upgrade Kit versions of the Aura SSD include the required tools for getting into your computer (Torx T5 and Pentalobe P5 screwdrivers) plus an Envoy Pro USB 3.0 enclosure that you can use for data migration after you finish the job. The 480 GB version has a $450 MSRP (with a $399 introductory price) and the 1 TB drive has a $720 MSRP ($640 introductory price). A drive-only version with no tools or USB enclosure can be had for $380 for the 480 GB version ($348 introductory price) or $649 for the 1 TB drive ($598 introductory price).
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