Behind Crucial stands Micron Technology, one of the world’s largest semiconductor makers, which may go some way to explain the great value that Crucial SSDs have offered to date. See all Storage reviews.
The M500 is the replacement for our award-winning m4 SSD, now available in capacities from 120, 240, 480 and even 960 GB. The capacity is down on previous generations which relied on less over-provisioning than the M500 – hence the SandForce-like reduced drive sizes here – although the 480 GB model we tested still managed to offer the best price/capacity figure of the group, at just 67p/GB. See Group test: what's the best SSD (solid-state drive)?
Spare capacity may be of more importance here as NAND flash manufacture uses smaller dies – here Micron employs 20nm MLC NAND which is likely to have slighly reduced lifespan compared to earlier technology. Shelving off nearly 20% gives the controller more opportunity to assign fresh flash if blocks die. Take a look at the Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD review too.
Crucial specifies the M500 with 72 TB data writing endurance. That converts to 65 GB of writes every day for the 3-year warranty period, so providing the drive is smart enough to not write over the same cells every time, longevity should be satisfactory. And all SSDs will include wear-levelling algorithms, to do just that.
Other features include AES-256 and TVG Opal 2.0 drive encryption – although this may only be available to Windows 8 at present – and adaptive thermal monitoring to throttle back speed when the drive is pushed beyond its heated happy place.
In the controller’s chair this time is a Marvell chip again, the Marvell 88SS9187, which still gives high performance with all types of data. This is followed with 512 MB of fast DDR3 memory on the 480 GB models.
Crucial specifies up to 80,000 IOPS, for both read and write. On our bench with the AS SSD tool we saw a trade that favoured reads (85k) slightly over writes (75.8k), but both good figures.
CDM reported even faster read capability with nearly 90k peak read IOPS. That benchmark gave less outstanding sequential read/writes, with the 470/427 MB/s results nearly the reverse of the Corsair’s write-centric result.
Even ATTO couldn’t drag more write speed, settling on a relatively humdrum – by the high standards of these over-achieving drives – result of 539 MB/s reads and 433 MB/s writes.