Model: Crucial MX300 1TB Solid State Drive
Provided By: Crucial
Crucial is a global brand of Micron Technology, Inc., one of the largest memory and flash storage manufacturers in the world. The company's product lineup includes award-winning solid state drives (SSDs) and computer memory upgrades (DRAM) for more than 50,000 systems. These products have been qualified and approved by major original equipment manufacturers and every single module has been rigorously tested at the component and module level. Each SSD also undergoes over a thousand hours of prerelease validation testing and hundreds of qualification tests to ensure optimal reliability and performance.
The latest additions to Crucial's line of solid state drives is the MX300. Powered by Marvell's 88SS1074B1 controller and available with up to 1050GB of Micron's 3D TLC NAND, this new mainstream SSD delivers 530MB/s read and 510MB/s write speeds for faster boot times, quicker application launches and better overall system performance. The MX300 also offers a long list of features including AES 256-bit encryption, thermal and power loss protection, TRIM support and active garbage collection. It also comes equipped with Crucial's Dyamic Write Acceleration technology, which uses an adaptable pool of high speed, single-level cell flash memory to enable faster saves and file transfers. Last, but not least, the MX300 uses technologies like Data Defense and Redundant Array of Independent NAND (RAIN) to increase security and protection of data to a level that’s not typically found in consumer-class SSDs.
The MX300 is available in 275GB, 525GB, 750GB and 1050GB capacities. For this review, Crucial sent us the 1050GB version of the drive which is capable of delivering up to 530 MB/s sequential read and 510 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 92,000 random read and 83,000 random write IOPS.
|Crucial MX300 1TB Solid State Drive|
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the MX300 has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at Crucial's new SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the MX300 have what it takes? Can it deliver the performance and features that we've come to expect from Crucial? Keep reading as we find out.
The MX300 comes in a small, grey and white box. While there aren't a lot of technical details, the packaging provides basic information like the drive's capacity and a list of the box's contents. Inside, you'll find the SSD, a mounting spacer for use with traditional 9.5mm drive bays, and a small piece of paper with a software activation key for Acronis True Image HD. If you're looking for an install guide or warranty information, you will need to visit Crucial's support website.
The MX300 looks very similar to Crucial's other 2.5-inch SSDs. The outer casing is made entirely out of metal and is covered by a grey, textured finish. The top of the drive also has a large, blue and gray sticker showing that it is part of Crucial's MX series.
As I mentioned earlier, the MX300 uses Marvell's 88SS1074B1 controller. Manufactured using an advanced 28nm CMOS process, the controller features support for 15nm TLC/MLC/SLC and 3D NAND. The 88SS1074B1 also offers low power support with integrated DEVSLP (Device Sleep) as well as Marvell’s third generation NANDEdge error-correcting, low-density parity check (LDPC) technology for superior endurance and reliability.
For the 1050GB version of the MX300, Crucial opted to use Micron's 384Gb 3D TLC NAND flash. Looking at the picture above, you can see that there are four NAND flash packages on either side of the PCB. The drive also has a 1GB Micron LPDDR3 memory chip that is used for caching.
The test system used in this review was an HP 8200 Elite. The computer came equipped with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250312AS 250GB SATA 6 Gb/s hard drive, NVIDIA Quadro FX580 512MB PCIe graphics card and an Intel 82579-LM gigabit network card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Enterprise.
To test the performance of Crucial's MX300 SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark, HD Tach RW, ATTO Disk Benchmark, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro, Anvil's Storage Utilities, Iometer and PCMark 8. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Plextor M7V, PNY CS1311, OCZ Trion 150, PNY CS2211, Plextor M6V, Crucial BX200, OCZ Trion 100, Kingston HyperX Savage, Crucial MX200, OCZ Vector 180, Kingston BX100, Samsung 850 EVO M.2, Samsung 850 EVO mSATA, AMD Radeon R7, Silicon Power Slim S80, Samsung SSD 850 EVO, OCZ ARC 100, SanDisk Ultra II, Kingston MX100, SanDisk Extreme Pro, Samsung SSD 850 PRO, Plextor PX-256M6S and Toshiba Q Series Pro.
As I mentioned earlier, the MX300 is based on Marvell's 88SS1074B1 controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to Crucial, the 1TB MX300 is capable of reading at 530 MB/s and writing at 510 MB/s when connected to a SATA 6 Gb/s port. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the drive had no problems reaching these speeds in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read and write tests.
The MX300 performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 534.9 MB/s and write at 515.8 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 220.127.116.11:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the MX300's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
Crucial MX300 1TB
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the MX300 had average read and write speeds of 420.6 MB/s and 369.1 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 423.0 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the MX300's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the MX300's read speeds topped out at about 536 MB/s and its write speeds at 515 MB/s.
AS SSD is a relatively new benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.
HD Tune Pro 5.00:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the MX300's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The MX300 performed relatively well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 476.1 MB/s and 397.2 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 152.8 MB/s when reading.
When reading 4KB blocks, the MX300 reached 16,749 IOPS and had an average speed of 65.427 MB/s. The drive was even faster when writing, reaching 18,735 IOPS with an average speed of 73.185 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another new benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.
Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the MX300's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The MX300's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 502.82 MB/s and write at 493.69 MB/s.
The MX300 also performed surprisingly well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 140.83 MB/s and write at a blazing 313.31 MB/s.
According to Crucial, the MX300 is capable of 93,000 IOPS when reading and 83,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 36,053 random read IOPS and 80,207 random write IOPS. Increasing the queue depth had little impact on the MX300's random write performance. However, with the queue depth set to 32, the drive was able to reach 93,880 random read IOPS.
Vantage PCMark 8 - Storage Test:
PCMark 8 is a complete benchmark for Windows. It includes five benchmark tests, each designed around a specific scenario. The storage benchmark measures drive performance using real-world traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.
PCMark 8 also includes a consistency test which measures the performance consistency and degradation tendency of a storage system. The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state and the recovered state as well as the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state and the recovered state. For this test, we are focusing on the Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace and will look at both the bandwidth and latency of the drive
The MX300 didn't do as well as some of the other drives in this test. Its bandwidth dropped below 45 MB/s during the degradation and steady phases, pushing its latency well above the 800ms mark. The MX300's performance increased somewhat during the recovery phase. It topped out at about 260 MB/s, putting it in the middle of the pack.
While SSD's offer many benefits, there are some downsides to using flash memory. One of the biggest issues people run into is performance degradation. Over time, an SSD will run out of fresh blocks and will have to write over data the file system has marked as deleted. This procedure is very complicated and can slow an SSD's write speeds considerably.
To fix this problem, most manufacturers have added TRIM support to their SSDs. The TRIM command allows an operating system, such as Windows 7, to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. Using this information, the drive pro-actively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
To test the MX300's TRIM and garbage collection functions, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill the entire drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. This had little impact on the MX300's read speed. However, its average writing speed dropped to 48.3 MB/s.
Crucial MX300 - Dirty
To see how well the MX300 could recover, I let the computer sit for about 45 minutes and then reran the test. The drive wasn't able to reach the factory fresh performance shown in our earlier tests. However, its average write speed climbed up to 367.3 MB/s.
Crucial MX300 - After TRIM
Lastly, I used Crucial's Storage Executive software to perform a secure erase (aka sanitize) on the MX300. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 379.9 MB/s and 376.6 MB/s, respectively.
Crucial MX300 - Secure Erased
Like Crucial's previous MX series SSDs, the MX300 is an great choice for anyone looking to improve the performance of their existing desktop or notebook computer. The drive combines Marvell's 88SS1074B1 controller with Micron's new 3D TLC NAND to deliver good performance, enhanced features and a high level of endurance at a price that won't break the bank. In our sequential read and write tests, the 1TB version of the MX300 was able to read at speeds as high as 536 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 514 MB/s. It also did surprisingly well in our random write tests, producing more than 80,000 IOPS at low queue depths.
Fast read and write speeds aren't the only things the MX300 has to offer. Along with thermal and power loss protection, TRIM support and active garbage collection, the drive features AES 256-bit full disk encryption and is compatible with both the TCG Opal and IEEE 1667 specifications. The MX300 also uses Dynamic Write Acceleration to enable faster saves and file transfers, and technologies like Data Defense and Redundant Array of Independent NAND (RAIN) to guard against corruption and protect your data. Last, but not least, the MX300 supports the SATA Device Sleep (DEVSLP) standard which extends the battery life of a device by reducing the drive's power consumption when it's not in use.
The MX300 is available now in 275GB, 525GB, 750GB and 1050GB capacities. Prices on Amazon.com currently range from $70 up to $260 for the 1TB (1050GB) version reviewed here. If you need more storage, a 2TB (2100GB) version of the MX300 is scheduled to ship later this year and is expected to cost about $550.
- Available in 275GB, 525GB, 750GB and 1050GB capacities
- Good sequential and random read and write performance
- Performs equally well with compressible and incompressible data
- Large DRAM cache
- Dynamic Write Acceleration, Data Defense and RAIN technologies
- AES 256-bit full disk encryption
- TCG Opal and IEEE 1667 compliant
- DEVSLP power mode
- Supports TRIM, SMART and active garbage collection
- Thermal and power loss protection
- Ultra-slim form factor
- Includes mounting spacer for 9.5mm applications
- 3 year warranty
- Reasonably priced
- Write speed drops when SLC cache is full