Help Desk: PCIe Flash Benchmarks

Apple OEM PCIe Flash vs. Third Party PCIe Flash Benchmarks


Here at iPower Resale we are always on the lookout for new and interesting components with which we can upgrade the Macs we offer in an effort to provide a wide range of cost effective solutions to meet the demands of our amazing customers.

With the sheer amount of data being created, processed, stored, and shared today, we realize the need for cost effective, high performance, large capacity storage is at an all-time high.

Until recently, these options were limited in the Mac due to the proprietary nature of the Mac hardware and the lack of NVMe support in the Mac operating system, however with the introduction of macOS 10.13 High Sierra, the Mac now supports a wide variety of NVMe drives.

Our team wanted to know how some of these new options compare to the Apple OEM drives to get an idea of the performance one might expect with the third party drives.  We decided to run some benchmark tests to compare the following drives and the results are clear!


Average boot time – 20.25 seconds*
Read/Write Speeds – 946 MB/s and 859.2 MB/s respectively**


Average boot time – 21.63 seconds*
Read/Write Speeds – 1361.4 MB/s and 1429.1 MB/s respectively**

OWC 1 TB Aura Pro X

Average boot time – 22.84 seconds*
Read/Write Speeds – 853.2 MB/s and 973.6 MB/s respectively**

OWC 2 TB Aura Pro X

Average boot time – 24.14 seconds*
Read/Write Speeds – 818.9 MB/s and 959.7 MB/s respectively**

Intel 660p 2TB NVMe M.2

Average boot time – 39.56 seconds*
Read/Write Speeds – 1174.2 MB/s and 1361.9 MB/s respectively**

HP EX950 2TB NVMe M.2

Average boot time – 42.09 seconds*
Read/Write Speeds – 1239.9 MB/s and 1401.6 MB/s respectively**

Summary of Results


Read Speeds (from highest to lowest)

1TB Apple OEM SSUBX – 1429.1 MB/s
2TB HP EX 950 M.2 NVMe – 1401.6 MB/s
2TB Intel 660p M.2 NVMe – 1361.9 MB/s
1TB Aura Pro X = 973.6 MB/s
2TB Aura Pro X – 959.7 MB/s
1TB Apple OEM SSUAX – 859.2 MB/s


Write Speeds (from highest to lowest)

1TB Apple OEM SSUBX – 1361.4 MB/s
2TB HP EX 950 M.2 NVMe – 1239.9 MB/s
2TB Intel 660p M.2 NVMe – 1174.2 MB/s
1TB Apple OEM SSUAX – 946 MB/s
1TB Aura Pro X – 853.2 MB/s
2TB Aura Pro X – 818.9 MB/s


Boot Times (from fastest to slowest)

1TB Apple OEM SSUAX – 20.25 seconds
1TB Apple OEM SSUBX – 21.63 seconds
1TB Aura Pro X – 22.84 seconds
2TB Aura Pro X – 24.14 seconds
2TB Intel 660p M.2 NVMe – 39.56 seconds
2TB HP EX 950 M.2 NVMe – 42.09 seconds




As we can see from the test results, the Apple OEM 1TB SSUBX comes out on top in terms of read and write speeds, followed closely by the 2TB HP EX950 and the 2TB Intel 660p.  If your workflow demands the fastest read and write speeds (such as high resolution video ingest/playback and/or editing workflows) we recommend aiming for the 1TB SSUBX (subject to availability) or either the 2TB HP EX950 or 2TB Intel 660p for a perfect combination of larger capacity and speed.

If your workflow does not demand the absolute fastest read and write speeds (more common workflows such as web browsing, sending and receiving emails, word processing, photo editing, etc.) you may find that the faster startup times offered by the 1TB SSUAX or the Aura Pro X series are more desirable and will provide a stronger overall sense of snappiness.

If you store a lot of data (1 TB or more), the marginal difference in speed between the 2TB Intel 660p and the 2TB HP EX950 would make either of these a very cost effective, high performance option – while the startup times of these two options are notably higher than the other drives, the increase in read and write speeds over the OWC alternatives make them an overall better choice for optimal performance and user experience.

The 2TB Intel 660p and the 2TB HP EX950 are both fully compatible in any Mac with modular PCIe based storage, including the Mac Pro, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro making them extremely versatile and cost effective options to upgrade your Mac to beyond Apple’s original specs!

In conclusion, aim for the 1TB SSUBX if you don’t need more than 1TB of storage and your workflow demands the very fastest read and write speeds.  The 1TB SSUAX is best for those seeking a nice snappy user experience for normal tasks.  If you need more than 1TB of storage, go for the 2TB Intel 660p or the 2TB HP EX950 and you’ll be setting yourself up for success!

If you’ve found this information helpful please leave us a comment!  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 805-745-8587 or email us at and any member of our knowledgeable team of Apple professionals and enthusiasts will be happy to assist you!



* Average of ten startup tests, calculated as the average time it takes from pressing the power button to being prompted to enter the admin/login password.

**All tests were performed using the same Apple Certified Refurbished 2013 Mac Pro 2.7GHz 12-core with 64GB 1866MHz ECC RAM, and the Dual AMD FirePro D700 Graphics.  All drives were formatted as APFS and were cloned from the same original source with macOS 10.14.3 (build 18D109).  All tests were performed with no additional software running (only Blackmagic Disk Speed Test + default macOS background processes running) and no internet connectivity in an effort to eliminate as many variables as possible and reduce any superfluous processing.  Read and write speeds were calculated using Black Magic Disk Speed Test w/ 5GB stress setting.  



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