Model: Crucial MX100 256GB 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.
One of the latest additions to Crucial's line of solid state drives is the MX100. Available in capacities ranging from 128GB to 512GB, this consumer-oriented drive offers powerful speeds and advanced features at a low cost per gigabyte. The MX100 combines Marvell's 88SS9189 controller with a custom firmware and Micron's new 16nm 128gb NAND to deliver up to 550MB/s read and 500MB/s write speeds. The MX100 also offers a long list of features including AES 256-bit encryption, thermal and power loss protection, TRIM support and active garbage collection. Additionally, it uses Native Write Acceleration to deliver consistent throughput by spreading the drive’s workload across several elements. It also employs technologies like Data Defense and Redundant Array of Independent NAND (RAIN) to increase security and protection of data to a level that’s rarely found in consumer-class SSDs.
For this review, Crucial sent us the 256GB version of the MX100. This SSD is capable of delivering up to 550MB/s sequential read and 330MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 85,000 random read and 70,000 random write IOPS.
|Crucial MX100 256GB Solid State Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the MX100 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 MX100 have what it takes? Is it the best bang for your buck? Keep reading as we find out.
The MX100 comes in a small, blue box. While there aren't a lot of technical details, the front and back of the box show the drive from a few different angles and provide information like the 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 MX100 looks very similar to Crucial's other 2.5-inch SSDs. The outer casing is made entirely out of aluminum 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 Crucial's M550 SSD, the MX100 uses Marvell's 88SS9189 controller. This successor to the popular 88SS9187 offers a handful of improvements including LPDDR memory support and enhanced power management during sleep mode (DevSleep).
For the 256GB version of the MX100, Crucial opted to use Micron's 16nm MLC NAND flash. Looking at the picture above, you can see that there are eight 128Gb NAND flash packages on either side of the PCB. The drive also has a 512MB Micron DDR3 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 256GB MX100 SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1, HD Tach RW 184.108.40.206, ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46, AS SSD, HD Tune PRO 4.61, Anvil's Storage Utilities and Iometer. For comparison, I've also included test results from the SanDisk Extreme Pro, Samsung SSD 850 PRO, Plextor PX-256M6S, Toshiba Q Series PRO, Plextor PX-256M6M, Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA, OCZ Vector 150, OCZ Vertex 450, Silicon Power Slim S55, Samsung SSD 840 EVO, Seagate 600 SSD, SanDisk Extreme II, Plextor PX-256M5M, OCZ Vector, Plextor PX-256M5PRO Xtreme, Samsung SSD 840 PRO and Samsung SSD 840.
As I mentioned earlier, the MX100 is based on Marvel's 88SS9189 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 256GB MX100 is capable of reading at 550 MB/s and writing at 330 MB/s when connected to a SATA 6 Gb/s port. While the drive performed better than expected when writing, it came up a bit short in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read speed test.
The MX100 performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 491.7 MB/s and write at 345.6 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 220.127.116.11:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the MX100'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 MX100 had average read and write speeds of 428.6 MB/s and 345.4 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 402.8 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the MX100'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 MX100's read speeds topped out at about 555 MB/s and its write speeds at 344 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 4.61:
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 MX100's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The MX100 performed fairly well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 506.9 MB/s and 295.4 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 295.9 MB/s when writing.
The MX100 didn't disappoint when doing random reads and writes. When writing 4KB blocks, the drive reached 23,257 IOPS and had an average speed of 90.851 MB/s. The MX100 was slightly faster when reading, reaching 23,269 IOPS with an average speed of 90.898 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 MX100'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 MX100's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 535.76 MB/s and write at 328.99 MB/s.
The MX100 also performed surprisingly well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 147.03 MB/s and write at 307.13 MB/s.
According to Crucial, the 256GB MX100 is capable of 85,000 IOPS when reading and 75,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 37,639 random read IOPS and 78,625 random write IOPS. Increasing the queue depth had little impact on the MX100's random write performance. However, with the queue depth set to 32, the drive was able to reach 96,896 random read IOPS.
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 MX100'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. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that the MX100's average read and write speeds dropped to 197.5 MB/s and 103.9 MB/s, respectively.
Crucial MX100 - Dirty
To see how well the MX100 could recover, I let the computer sit for a few hours 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 154.1 MB/s.
Crucial MX100 - After TRIM
Lastly, I used Parted Magic to perform a secure erase on the MX100. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 427.7 MB/s and 346.2 MB/s, respectively.
Crucial MX100 - Secure Erased
While not the fastest SSD to come through the 'Labs, Crucial's MX100 delivers a lot of bang for your buck. The drive combines Marvell's 88SS9189 controller with Micron's new 16nm 128gb NAND to deliver a fast, responsive computing experience at a price that cost-conscious consumers will appreciate. In our sequential read and write tests, the MX100 was able to read at speeds as high as 555 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 344 MB/s. It also did surprisingly well in our random write tests, producing more than 78,000 IOPS at low queue depths. Given, these numbers aren't nearly as high as what we saw with Samsung's 840 EVO series SSDs. However, the MX100 is still a huge step up over traditional hard drives.
Despite being budget friendly, the MX100 doesn't sacrifice much, if anything, in regards to features. 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 MX100 also uses Native Write Acceleration to spread the drive’s workload across several elements, 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 MX100 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 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities
- Excellent sequential read speeds
- Good random read and write performance
- Performs equally well with compressible and incompressible data
- SATA 6Gb/s interface
- Large DRAM cache
- Native 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
- Affordably priced
- Lower capacity drives have slower sequential write speeds than other SSDs in their class