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Crucial M500 480GB SSD - A Fast Enough SSD With A Big Capacity At A Competitive Price

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Have inexpensive large capacity SSD drives arrived yet?

Crucial doesn't normally make the quickest SSD drives. That crown wanders between Samsung, IBM and OCZ, and occasionally others. But what it generally does do is make drives that are fast enough, but also priced for a wider audience. That's what made the C400 very popular, and the M500 looks on first inspection to be a worthy replacement.

Crucial M500 480GB SSD

Crucial M500 480GB SSD

The review drive had an impressive-for-SSD capacity of 480GB, though for those working to a budget Crucial also makes 120GB and 240GB models, and a big daddy 960GB version. They all use the Marvell 88SS9187 controller and flash modules (IMFT’s 20nm MLC NAND on a 128Gbit die) with Crucial's own special sauce firmware. MLC NAND isn't the quickest type of flash memory, but it's used in the Samsung SSD 840, and that's an excellent performer.

Speed isn't everything, though, and Crucial is also promoting this drive as both cost effective, a good performer and, critically for laptop users, a battery conserver. On the price, the cost of 1GB is just over 65p, which doesn't look so hot when you consider a typical 2TB drive can be had for about $113.35, which equates to 4p a GB. I've reviewed SSD drives that were 40 times or even 50 times the cost of hard drive space, so on that basis just 15 times more expensive seems a step in the right direction.

 
The review drive had an impressive-for-SSD capacity of 480GB, though for those working to a budget Crucial also makes 120GB and 240GB models, and a big daddy 960GB version.

The review drive had an impressive-for-SSD capacity of 480GB, though for those working to a budget Crucial also makes 120GB and 240GB models, and a big daddy 960GB version.

Knowing the vagaries of SSD performance with size, I can only speak for the 480GB model, which is the one I've fully tested. The quoted speed for this drive is 500MB/s reading and 400MB/s writing. That's not too shabby, but it was the IOPS numbers that really caught my attention. Random read (4K transfer) and write is offered at 80,000 IOPS, which is bordering on the 100,000 IOPS that some professional SSD mechanisms deliver.

My testing supported Crucial's quoted read speed values better than it did the writing, with two benchmarks pegging the latter at 320GB/s. Perhaps on a different system with a following wind, 400GB/s is possible, but not on my Intel test rig.

Random read (4K transfer) and write is offered at 80,000 IOPS, which is bordering on the 100,000 IOPS that some professional SSD mechanisms deliver

Random read (4K transfer) and write is offered at 80,000 IOPS, which is bordering on the 100,000 IOPS that some professional SSD mechanisms deliver

However, the tests did reveal some positive aspects I hadn't anticipated. Specifically, that the M500 performed consistently even when the whole drive was nearly full use. Some SSD drives hate more than 80% of the capacity used, but the M500 is good all the way to the back wall.

Having got enough right with the exploitation of MLC, the M500 is also well specified with the sorts of features that business users especially like. I mentioned low power consumption previously, and the numbers for operational power use of 4W or less is fine. Unfortunately, the drive draws more than 1W when idle; strongly hinting that Crucial needs to revisit the custom firmware to tweak those settings at little. By comparison the Samsung 840 series all pull about 0.3W when unoccupied.

Better news comes for those wanting to encrypt their drive with BitLocker, which is supported on this unit. You can also tick the boxes for both Windows 8 eDrive operation and DevSleep mode, neither of which is commonly supported.

For those who want a hard drive scaled capacity with performance a physical drive just can't match, this the practical end of what's on offer.

For those who want a hard drive scaled capacity with performance a physical drive just can't match, this the practical end of what's on offer.

There are faster drives than the M500 available, but the combination of capacity and a fine selection of features is an alluring one. Those waiting for the SSD to become truly affordable might be marginally disappointed, but for those who want a hard drive scaled capacity with performance a physical drive just can't match, this the practical end of what's on offer.

Details:

·         Price: $472.92

·         Manufacturer: Micron (Crucial)

·         Website: www.crucial.com/uk

·         Required spec: SATA port, ideally SATA-3 and SATA power

Scores:

·         Quality: 7/10

·         Value: 7/10

·         Overall: 7/10

Key features

·         Interface: SATA 6Gbps

·         Sustained sequential read: 500MB/s

·         Sustained sequential write: 400MB/s

·         Radom read (4k transfer): 80,000 IOPS

·         Random Write (4k transfer): 80,000 IOPS

·         Form Factor: 2.5”

·         NAND: 20nm Micron MLC

·         Warranty: three-year

·         Controller: Marvell 88SS9187

 

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