Crucial MX200 SSD review

Crucial MX200 review: price and availability

You can pick up the Crucial MX200 for just £279 at eBuyer and for £299 from Dabs.com.

Crucial MX200 review: what it is, why it matters

Crucial Technology is one of the leaders in SSD storage, especially in the popular after-market upgrade category where its drives' high performance is tempered by competitive prices. (See all storage reviews.)

Crucial has become one of the go-to brands for SSD upgrades since the technology became relatively affordable around five years ago. Over that time we've seen the C300 launch in 2010, the M4 the following year, then the M500 in 2013 and M550 in 2014.

More recently the MX100 was quickly followed by this year's MX200 and BX100 together – neatly splitting the single line into two products. The BX100 'isn't the fastest drive on the market' – Crucial's honest evaluation – but is aimed at the budget end of the market; the MX200 meanwhile now stands as the brand's best solid-state drive at this time.

A winning formula was devised early on in all the above drives, using NAND flash chips from the brand's parent Micron Technology, run by a Marvell controller, and with Crucial's own firmware on the controller.

In the case of the Crucial MX200 we have the same Marvell 88SS9189 controller that powered both the MX100 and the M550, now allied to 16 nm Micron multi-layer cell (MLC) NAND flash.

As with the previous generation there is Adaptive Thermal Protection which will reduce performance when internal sensors detect high temperatures, while Power Loss Protection is designed to reduce the chance of data loss in the event of a sudden switch-off, using small on-board capacitors to maintain power long enough to write data from DRAM cache to NAND.

Redundant Array of Independent NAND (RAIN) is said to protect your data at the component level, similar to how RAID is used with multiple hard drives. The need for this may be greater than ever with the tiny 16 nm-process NAND, since the downsizing process also leads to lower reliability.

New to the MX200 series is Dynamic Write Acceleration, a way to include a faster write cache using single-layer cell (SLC) flash. This is available on the smaller 128 and 256 GB capacity drives only though, and not included on 512 GB nor the largest 1 TB sample we tested; presumably because additional parallelism and over-provisioning make it unnecessary here.

To maintain and update the drive, Crucial provides its Storage Executive for Windows software. For other platforms there are boot ISO images available to update firmware. See our group test: What's the best SSD?

Crucial MX200 review: Performance

In  basic sequential data transfers the Crucial MX200 comfortably exceeded the 500 MB/s mark, reaching 548 MB/s for reads and 514 MB/s writes using the simple ATTO disk benchmark test.

A run with CrystalDiskMark confirmed what has long been apparent with Crucial's choice of Marvell controller, that there is no slowdown in performance when faced with incompressible data like MPEG and JPEG files: when writing randomised data, the Crucial could read and write at around 438 and 480 MB/s respectively.

Tested with 4 kB random data the Crucial showed reads at the typical 29 MB/s level, while 4 kB random writes were the highest in our tests at 131 MB/s. When stacked up to 32 queue depth the drive didn't scale as well as others, turning in just 102 MB/s reads where other models could reach 300 or 400 MB/s. This translated into weak read IOPS results of around 26,100, although the 90,100 write IOPS result was closer to the other SSDs on the market right now.

Turning to AS SSD, which uses 64 threads of incompressible data, the Crucial reported slightly better results of around 68 k read IOPS and 79 k write IOPS. The benchmark's final nominal score of 954 points is good but here in the lower half of results of the six SSDs we have tested recently. See our group test: What's the best SSD?

Crucial MX200 benchmarks

Crucial MX200: Specs

  • 1 TB
  • 250, 500 GB
  • mSATA, M.2
  • CT1000MX200SSD1
  • 1 GB DDR3
  • Marvell 88SS9189
  • 16 nm Micron MLC
  • AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0, IEEE-1667
  • Crucial Storage Executive
  • bootable ISO for Linux & OS X
  • 3 years warranty
  • 30.1p per GB
  • 53 g
  • 1 TB
  • 250, 500 GB
  • mSATA, M.2
  • CT1000MX200SSD1
  • 1 GB DDR3
  • Marvell 88SS9189
  • 16 nm Micron MLC
  • AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0, IEEE-1667
  • Crucial Storage Executive
  • bootable ISO for Linux & OS X
  • 3 years warranty
  • 30.1p per GB
  • 53 g

OUR VERDICT

When we tested the Crucial M550 last year it had a price/storage quotient of 37 pence per gigabyte. The latest MX200 is today available for around 30p/GB but other than that little has changed, except the newer drive has smaller process 16 nm flash and it measured slightly poorer in some tests. It's still a good drive but it's lost a little headway against higher performing or better value competitors like Samsung, SanDisk and OCZ.

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