Model: Crucial MX500 500GB 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.
Earlier this year, Crucial launched its latest MX-series SSD, the MX500. Powered by Silicon Motion's SM2258 controller and available with up to 2TB of Micron's second generation 3D TLC NAND, the drive delivers 560 MB/s read and 510 MB/s write speeds for faster boot times, quicker application launches and better overall system performance. The MX500 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 Dynamic 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 MX500 uses technologies like Data Defense and Redundant Array of Independent NAND (RAIN) to maintain the integrity of your data and prevent it from becoming corrupted.
The MX500 is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. For this review, Crucial sent us the 500GB version of the drive which is capable of delivering up to 560 MB/s sequential read and 510 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 95,000 random read and 90,000 random write IOPS.
|Crucial MX500 500GB Solid State Drive|
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the MX500 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 MX500 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 MX500 comes in a small, blue 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 guide with information on where you can get additional help and download the migration and cloning software.
The MX500 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.
Like the BX300, the MX500 uses Silicon Motion's SM2258 controller. Designed specifically to meet the unique demands of managing 3D TLC NAND, this customizable turnkey controller solution employs SMI's proprietary NANDXtend error-correcting and data protection technology to triple the P/E cycles of 3D TLC NAND. The SM2258 also features advanced Direct-to-TLC and SLC caching algorithms for optimal sustained read and write performance.
For the 500GB version of the MX500, Crucial opted to use Micron's 64-layer, 256-gigabit 3D TLC NAND flash. Looking at the picture above, you can see that there are eight NAND flash packages on top of the PCB. The drive also has a 512MB Micron DDR3L memory chip that is used for caching.
The test system used in this review is equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU, GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-UD3 motherboard, 32GB (16GB x 2) of Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 memory, Samsung 960 PRO 512GB SSD and a GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 WINDFORCE OC 6G graphics card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 10 Enterprise.
To test the performance of Crucial's MX500 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 M8V, Crucial BX300, ADATA Ultimate SU900, Plextor S3C, Toshiba OCZ VX500, ADATA Ultimate SU800, Plextor S2C, Crucial M300, 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, Crucial MX100, SanDisk Extreme Pro and Samsung SSD 850 PRO.
As I mentioned earlier, the Crucial MX500 is based on SMI's SM2258 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 500GB version of the MX500 is capable of reading at 560 MB/s and writing at 510 MB/s when tested with CrystalDiskMark. While the drive had no problems reaching its rated read speed, it came up a bit short in CrystalDiskMark's sequential write speed test.
The MX500 performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 561.7 MB/s and write at 502.7 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 220.127.116.11:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the MX500's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the MX500 had average read and write speeds of 464.9 MB/s and 287.2 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 438.5 MB/s. The screenshot also shows that, like most other TLC-based SSDs, the MX500 uses some sort of SLC caching. The drive starts writing at about 420 MB/s and then drops to about 280 MB/s when the write operation exceeds the size of the cache.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the MX500'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 MX500's read speeds topped out at about 561 MB/s and its write speeds at 506 MB/s.
AS SSD is a benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests which are 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 Ultimate SU900's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The MX500 performed fairly well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 512.8 MB/s and 409.5 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 157.9 MB/s when reading.
When reading 4KB blocks, the MX500 reached 28,312 IOPS and had an average speed of 110.596 MB/s. The drive was faster when writing, reaching 320,956 IOPS with an average speed of 120.925 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 MX500'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 MX500's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 535.05 MB/s and write at 465.24 MB/s.
The MX500 also performed very well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 194.93 MB/s and write at an impressive 300.81 MB/s.
According to Crucial, the 500GB MX500 is capable of 95,000 IOPS when reading and 90,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 49,901 random read IOPS and 77,006 random write IOPS. As with most drives, the MX500 performed better at higher queue depths. With the queue depth set to 32, it reached 98,909 random read IOPS and 88,060 random write 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 them. 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 MX500 did surprisingly well throughout PCMark's consistency test. Its performance throughout the degradation and steady state phases was, for the most part, better than both the Plextor M8V and Crucial BX300. The MX500's performance also increased during the recovery phase, topping out at about 247 MB/s.
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 MX500's TRIM and garbage collection functions, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill 80% of the drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. This had little impact on the MX500's read speed. However, its average writing speed dropped to 81.36 MB/s.
Crucial MX500 - Dirty
To see how well the MX500 could recover, I let the computer sit for about 30 minutes and then reran the test. The drive wasn't able to reach the factory fresh performance shown in our earlier tests. However, its sequential write speed jumped up to 299.59 MB/s.
Crucial MX500 - After TRIM
Lastly, I used Parted Magic to perform a secure erase on the MX500. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 526.30 MB/s and 459.96 MB/s, respectively.
Crucial MX500 - Secure Erased
If you read our review of Crucial's 1TB MX500 SSD, you already knew that it's one of the better mainstream drives on the market today. The MX500 combines Silicon Motion's SM2258 controller with Micron's new 64-layer 3D TLC NAND to deliver good performance, enhanced features and a high level of endurance at a competitive price. Despite it having half the NAND flash and cache as the 1TB version, the 500GB MX500 performed very well in our tests. The drive was able to read at speeds as high as 561 MB/s and write in excess of 501 MB/s. It also did very well in our random write tests, producing more than 77,000 IOPS at low queue depths.
Fast read and write speeds aren't the only things the MX500 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 MX500 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 protect data at the component level and prevent it from becoming corrupted. Last, but not least, the MX500 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.
- Available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities
- Silicon Motion SM2258 controller
- Micron 64-layer 3D TLC NAND
- Good sequential and random read and write performance
- 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
- Works with Crucial's Storage Executive software
- Includes 9.5mm spacer and data migration software
- 5 year warranty
- Reasonably priced
- Write speed drops when SLC cache is full