Reviews |OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini

OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini Review

Large capacity external drive designed for heavy use

OWC MERCURY ELITE PRO MINI review
Review

Price when reviewed

£102

$139
Check current price

Our Verdict

Plenty of external hard drives offer top-flight transfer speeds ideal for video and stills editing. The 1.0 TB OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini is a prime example, and while the robustness of the drive is good, there isn’t the usual quality of finish that we’ve come to expect from OWC.

For

  • Compact
  • Fast
  • Noiseless

Against

  • Expensive
  • Build quality could be better

What is the Mercury Elite Pro Mini?

The OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini is a bus-powered external SSD hard drive. The bus essentially means that the USB port supplies the power to the drive rather than it requiring an external power source.

The drive itself is a nice design reminiscent of the all-metal G-Technology drives. In this case, the enclosure acts as cooling for the internal drive, and there are no fans, which makes this a good quiet drive choice for video editing.

In this review, I’m looking at the 1TB SSD version, but check out the OWC site, as there’s a range of options from the bare case for just over $40 to a 4TB version for $899.

OWC MERCURY ELITE PRO MINI review

The enclosure is solid enough and offers a full metal build. The case is designed to draw heat away from the enclosed hard drive, which helps to keep the drive cool and ensures consistent performance when the drive is put under stress.

The only port on the drive is the USB Type-C on the back, and a blue LED light on the front shows the main status of the drive. It’s simple, but really, that’s all it needs to be.

When it comes to the overall build quality of the drive, the all-metal design should promote high quality, but there is something a little bit cheap about the case, and when you squeeze the drive, you can see the case flex.

This doesn’t in any way detract from the performance or the build quality; it’s just not what I would usually expect from OWC. However, inside is one of OWC’s 1TB SSD drives, and as ever, this is about as high quality a storage option as you can get. While I might not be 100% sold on the case, quality plugging the drive-in shows the full potential.

Performance

The drive connects to your computer using the supplied USB Type-C cable. Once connected and the drive opened, you get the option to go manual and set up the drive in the usual way, or OWC has supplied a direct set-up tool.

On the Mac, you click the start file, and then you’re given a series of options for setting up the drive; this set-up includes choosing the format for that you will use.

As I’m using a Mac, I opted for APFS. Once the option is selected, the drive automatically reformats, which takes a few seconds, after which you get the option to install Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office; this is a comprehensive backup application with plenty of options that make it worthwhile consideration over TimeMachine.

OWC MERCURY ELITE PRO MINI review

Once plugged in, the drive appears solid in the connection and real-world read and write times seem good. The read and write speeds show impressive results and test the drive to its full potential.

Read: 514MB/s
Write: 495MB/s

These transfer speeds are more than enough to deal with most HD and 4K video editing from Mirrorless and DSLR cameras without too much issue.

After running the transfer test, I then subjected the drive to a months of actual use in the field, firstly as a backup drive to my main working drive before letting it loose as one of my main working drives for a couple of projects.

When it came to editing 1080P and 4K video, the drive had no issues with the transfer speeds required by Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro. Using the drive for a day solid editing, and while the drive’s capacity did start to run a little short, the performance couldn’t be faulted.

Considering the cost of the 1TB Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD drive is $219, and the enclosure is $49, you make a saving of $31 buying the two together as this single unit.

Verdict

Overall I’m impressed with the speed and reliability of the drive. I left it running the Blackmagic Design Disk Speed test for 12 hours, and during that time, the drive remained consistent on the transfer speeds.

While the drive was hottish to the touch, it was as hot as I would have expected, showing that while I might not be 100% on the build quality of the enclosure, it more than does the job.

While the test unit was complete, pre-assembled drive and case, I couldn’t help but look inside to check on the internal SSD and quality of the electronics. Here, as ever, OWC doesn’t fail to impress; the internals are neat, solid and robust.

OWC MERCURY ELITE PRO MINI review

While I’m impressed by the drive’s performance, I’m a little more reserved about the build quality of the enclosure. For the lower capacity drives, I would be fine with the price. However, if I were to spend $899 on the 4TB version, while I can’t fault with the performance, I think I would want something that felt a little more premium from the enclosure.

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