Review MCE OptiBay expansion module for Mac
Au revoir SuperDrive! Due to their architecture, the storage space in Apple's mobile systems is limited. MCE Technologies offers OptiBay, a clever high-quality solution, which allows to built-in a second 2.5 inch drive.
The trend to more and more storage capacity continues. However, the small and mobile systems from Apple only offer a single 2.5 inch slot. So, the maximum storage capacity is limited to 1 Terra Bytes today. MCE Technologies offers the OptiBay, an expansion for the MacBook, MacBook Pro (MBP 13, MBP 15, and MBP 17 inch), the older PowerBook G4 and the Mac Mini (Late 2009). Its concept is simple. The built-in DVD-drive (SuperDrive) is replaced by the OptiBay. It has the same shape, but an opening for a 2.5-inch drive at its bottom side. It doesn't mind whether a HDD with a maximum of 1 TByte or a fast Solid State Drive (SSD) is inserted.
We tested the MCE OptiBay in the MacBook Pro (Late 2009) with 13-inch-screen. Even layman should be able to built it in, as a comprehensive tutorial can be found on the provided DVD. Another guide with many pictures is available at www.iFixIt.com. There you'll also find many guides for modifying a Mac. After just ten minutes the assembly is done and the system can be booted again.
The new drive, in our case a Kingston SSDNow V with 128 GByte, is recognized by the hard drive service as new media and has to be formatted. The system profiler recognized the drive too. Thereby we notice that both SATA ports are attached to single controller, which is driven by 3 Gigabit. So, it does not mind, whether an SSD is built into the OptiBay or the designated slot for 2.5 inch drives. If you want to use both an SSD and a hard drive, it's better to put the SSD into the OptiBay, because hard drives are well protected against vibrations in their designated location.
We installed Windows 7 via Boot Camp for this test and it also recognizes the Kingston-SSD inside the OptiBay and is able to use it as storage medium. It is trouble-free to install an operating system on the drive in the OptiBay and the system can be booted from it without problems.
The module from MCE also allows to configure a RAID array of two drives. It supports RAID 0 (distribution of data on two drives) and RAID 1 (mirroring of data on two drives). So, the RAID array can either improve the performance or the data security of a system.
The scope of delivery is rather generous and you'll get a nice accessory. Beside the OptiBay for the MacBook Pro, you'll get two screw drives in biro shape, a DVD with some guides, and mounting parts. If you order an OptiBay from MCE Technologies today, you'll get a free external case with cables for the removed Superdrive. So, you do not need to do without a DVD-drive, but, can connect it via USB on demand. Unfortunately, it needs two USB-ports. As todays MacBook only house two USB ports, we would have preferred a solution that only requires a single USB-cable.
The price for the OptiBay from MCE Technologies starts at 99 US-dollar, whereby MCE also offers the OptiBay with pre-installed 2.5-inch-drive (HDD or SSD). Shipment to Germany is done by FedEx and takes about three work days. If the value of goods is below 150 Euro, no customs charges are due. However, a credit card is required to buy from MCE.
The MCE OptiBay left a very good impression. The idea is simple, but, the advantage big. Regardless of whether an SSD for the operating system is combined with a big hard drive for the data, or two SSDs or HDDs are used, it offers a lot of possibilities. Furthermore, workmanship and quality of the electronic parts convince.
Due to the 3-Gigabit connection using an SSD is no problem and also laymen can built it in. The scope of delivery is generous and the external case for the SuperDrive a nice accessory.
However, the OptiBay from MCE Technologies is, at a start price of 99 US-dollar, not a bargain. But, it works without troubles and we appreciate its warranty of 3 years. Because of its benefit and the simple assembly the MCE OptiBay gets a "very recommendable".
Update: If your MacBook is still in the warranty period, you have to replace the optical drive by an authorized Apple partner or a retail store.