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OWC releases first Retina SSD upgrade

Apple's new MacBook Pro has a proprietary SSD form factor, but new upgrade options for it are appearing.

Mac-centric peripheral and upgrade supplier Other World Computing has released new solid-state drive upgrade options for Apple's latest MacBook models. These upgrades allow you more flexibility in the configuration options for your MacBook system over the CTO options that Apple has supplied through its online store, especially for early adopters of the systems.

Apple's latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display systems have all been crammed with more features in smaller chassis designs, which has resulted in Apple shying away from industry-standard form factors for components to more proprietary designs that it can morph around the constraints of its systems. While there is plenty of room in desktop systems like iMacs and Mac Pros to accommodate the connectors and modules for industry-standard components, in the latest MacBook systems Apple is awarding itself extra millimeters for other components by soldering RAM to the motherboard and providing its own slim SSD cards for hard drives.

Other World Computing Aura Pro upgrade
The Aura Pro comes with an enclosure to house your previous SSD as an external USB drive. OWC

While these changes make more sense in Apple's ultracompact MacBook Air systems, some have been disappointed to see the same thing happening with the MacBook Pro, where many prefer having the option to upgrade RAM and hard drives.

Unfortunately, for these systems there is no option for upgrading RAM (though Apple has offered a fairly large 16GB CTO option), but luckily being separate cards that use the same SATA protocols means the SSD cards in these systems are upgradable. However, the nonstandard form factor means that so far there have been no options available. The plethora of SSDs from companies like Crucial, OCZ, and Intel are all standard 2.5-inch drives that will not fit in the new MacBook Pro.

OWC has just released a new SandForce-based SSD upgrade called Mercury Aura Pro in Apple's new form factor, which should be fully compatible with the new MacBook Pro and allow users to upgrade a system that was purchased with a 256GB SSD (the only option that was available for the base-model Retina MacBook Pro when it was initially released) to a 480GB SSD. The current price of the upgrade is $579.99, which is not cheap; however, along with it OWC is offering a USB 3.0 enclosure to house your older SSD and turn it into a handy external hard drive.

Along with the drive, OWC offers all the tools and instructions necessary for opening your system and swapping out the drive.

While it has been disappointing to see Apple shying away from upgradability and industry-standard components, it is great to see options like this drive from OWC arrive to fill the gaps left from Apple's decisions.

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