Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2


How much storage is really necessary? That’s a question that you might hear quite a bit, but for photographers and graphics professionals, there may never be enough. The question then turns to the reliability and performance of the storage, and Other World Computing (OWC) offers one of the fastest, most consistent RAID storage solutions at a more affordable price.

The Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2 has a fairly large footprint, but not relative to its capacity, with four storage bays and an overall size measuring 9.65×5.31×6.96″. It’s a quieter unit with less fan noise than most similar storage solutions of this size. The enclosure is an Apple-esque aluminum with simple indicator lights on the face.

It allows connectivity via two FireWire 800, one FireWire 400, one USB 2/1.1, or one eSATA port, which provides the fastest throughput. The eSATA connection is worth using, as it allows for incredibly fast performance of up to 200–300 MB/second transfer speeds. The addition of a $20 third-party eSATA card with a laptop that has an ExpressCard/34 slot, such as some earlier MacBook Pro models, is well worth it.

Many users will connect via FireWire, and those performance test results were impressive in that transfer speeds are more than 5x faster than a comparably outfitted Drobo system. I tested the FireWire 800 transfer speeds using Disk Speed Bench:

ProQx2—Elapsed time 7.988603 secs; transfer speed 67.204606 MB/sec
Drobo—Elapsed time 39.992477 secs; transfer speed 13.424298 MB/sec

When you compare the 2-TB model tested to other similarly priced items, there’s nothing available in this class. The closest is the NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ 4-Bay at more than $1,000, with ethernet connectivity being the primary difference—something that’s not available on the Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2 at this point. For the performance, capacity, and connectivity, the Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2 is the one to beat.—Daniel M. East

Company: Other World Computing
Price: $529.99 as tested
Rating: 5

Hot: Easy setup; super speed; connectivity; quiet