Crucial MX500 1TB 2.5" 3D NAND SSD Review @ ModSynergy.com
Last year, ModSynergy had the privilege of conducting a comprehensive review of the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD, featuring Micron's 3D NAND technology. The MX300 demonstrated its superiority by offering a competitive price point that appealed to the average consumer, delivering exceptional performance across various metrics, including read and write speeds, as well as handling both compressible and incompressible data with impressive efficiency. Notably, the MX300 exhibited speeds comparable to SLC NAND, which was a remarkable achievement. After six months of continuous usage, the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD that was thoroughly tested has proven to be reliable without any reported issues.
Considering the outstanding performance of the MX300, it begs the question: what more can one expect from an SSD? In response, Crucial has diligently developed the successor to the MX300, aptly named the MX500. Unlike its predecessor, which featured Micron's 32-layer 3D NAND flash memory, the MX500 showcases the latest 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory, enabling Crucial to extend the warranty period to an impressive 5 years, surpassing the previous 3-year warranty offered on the MX300.
Crucial assures us that they have enhanced the successful MX300 formula with the MX500, promising greater overall speed across the entire spectrum. Additionally, the MX500 incorporates quality hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption to ensure robust data security. It also introduces integrated power loss immunity, a valuable feature that safeguards the MX500 SSD against data loss during unexpected power outages, effectively preserving your data. Furthermore, Crucial now offers a wider range of capacity options, including an impressive 2TB storage capacity.
It is widely acknowledged that upgrading to an SSD is arguably the most significant improvement one can make to their computer, whether it is an aging system or a modern one. With that in mind, we turn our attention to the Crucial MX500 1TB SSD, eager to discover the enhancements and advancements achieved by Crucial in this latest iteration.
The specific model number of the MX500 being tested today is CT1000MX500SSD1.
About Crucial & Micron
Crucial celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016.
Crucial is a global brand of Micron Technology, Inc. Crucial solid state drives (SSDs) and memory (DRAM) upgrades are compatible with over 100,000 new and old desktops, laptops, workstations, and servers. Available worldwide at leading retail and e-tail stores, commercial resellers, and system integrators, Crucial products enhance system performance and user productivity. Learn more at crucial.com.
Crucial MX500 1TB SSD Product Overview & Features
As a brand of Micron, one of the largest flash storage manufacturers in the world, the Crucial MX500 is backed by the same quality and innovation that has produced some of the world’s most advanced memory and storage technologies. With over a thousand hours of prerelease validation testing and hundreds of SSD qualification tests, the Crucial MX500 has been thoroughly tried, tested, and proven. You’ll notice the difference.
The Crucial MX500 1TB 2.5" SSD is packaged in a simple and environmentally friendly design. The front of the box prominently features an image of the SSD, while additional information and contents are provided on the back. However, it is worth noting that the box lacks technical performance numbers for the SSD, which can be somewhat disappointing.
The packaging itself is compact and consists of an outer paper core and an internal plastic shell that effectively protects the SSD from any potential damage during transit. Inside the box, you will find the SSD and a convenient 7mm to 9.5mm spacer, allowing for compatibility with both Ultrabooks and standard-sized notebooks. It is important to mention that no SATA cable is included, so you will need to use your existing one. While it would have been nice to see PC case or laptop stickers included with the MX500, the bundle strictly includes only the essential components.
The box indicates that data transfer software is included in the bundle, but upon inspection, I did not find any such software inside the MX500 box. In the previous MX300 model, a paper card with the software's serial number was included. Interestingly, the Crucial website specifies that the MX500 package should include Acronis True Image for Crucial cloning software, although it is not physically present in the box. Crucial has made this aspect a bit unclear and more complicated than necessary. To obtain a copy of Acronis True Image for Crucial, you can visit http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/ssd-install, which will redirect you to https://www.crucial.com/clone, where you can download the software. Notably, no serial key is required this time, as the software will automatically detect the presence of the appropriate Crucial SSD for installation.
Note: Click Images for 1920x HQ Photos
The Crucial MX500 1TB SSD is housed in a standard 2.5" enclosure, similar to other SSDs available in the market. It features a height of 7mm, allowing it to seamlessly fit into ultrathin notebooks without the need for additional modifications. However, Crucial has also included a plastic spacer measuring 7mm to 9.5mm, which serves as a thoughtful addition. This spacer enables the MX500 to be easily used in regular-sized notebooks that require a slightly thicker drive. Crucial's inclusion of the spacer demonstrates their consideration for ensuring compatibility across various notebook models, making it a convenient and user-friendly feature.
The Crucial MX500 features a sleek brushed aluminum enclosure, showcasing a no-frills design that prioritizes functionality over flashy aesthetics. The SATA connector pins are thoughtfully gold plated, ensuring improved resistance to corrosion and enhanced conductivity for reliable performance. The top of the SSD is adorned with Crucial's distinctive blue color scheme, complemented by the overlaid MX logo, representing its brand identity.
On the backside of the MX500, you'll find a plain white sticker displaying essential information such as the model name, part number, serial number, power specifications (5V 1.7A), as well as regulatory confirmations. It also highlights that the drive is assembled in Mexico and features halogen-free components. While informative, it would have been beneficial if the sticker provided concise technical performance details.
The bottom and sides of the MX500 feature screw holes, allowing for easy mounting with a compatible 2.5" to 3.5" metal bracket if required in alternative scenarios. This flexibility in installation options ensures that the MX500 can be seamlessly integrated into various setups, catering to different user preferences and system configurations.
Tearing it Down -- I mean opening it up :)
Please be aware that opening the Crucial MX500 SSD will void the 5-year warranty provided by Crucial. However, for the purpose of this review, I will provide you with an overview of the components that comprise the MX500 without voiding the warranty on your behalf.
The Crucial MX500, like its predecessor, features a brushed aluminum enclosure that can be separated into two pieces. Similar to the MX300, the MX500 employs a thermal pad on its drive controller, utilizing the enclosure as a heatsink to effectively transfer and dissipate heat generated by the controller. In addition to the drive controller, the MX500 now includes a thermal pad on the other end of the NAND chip, further utilizing the enclosure as a heatsink. This thoughtful design allows for efficient heat dissipation and helps maintain optimal operating temperatures for the SSD. The use of thermal pads is not commonly seen in many SSDs, making Crucial's implementation in the MX500 a notable feature that contributes to its longevity and reliability.
Upon examining the internal PCB of the Crucial MX500 SSD, we can observe the presence of a dark blue PCB that houses various components. On each side of the PCB, there are a total of eight Micron floating gate 64-layer, 256-gigabit NAND flash memory chips, resulting in a total of 16 NAND flash memory chips. Positioned adjacent to the drive controller are the Micron SLC cache memory chips, with one chip located on each side of the PCB. The components are arranged in an organized manner, and the placement of the SSD controller in close proximity to the gold-plated SATA contact pins ensures minimal latencies and optimal operational speeds. This meticulous design allows for efficient data transfer and overall performance enhancement.
One significant change that Crucial implemented in the MX500 SSD is the transition from using a Marvell drive controller in the MX300 to a Silicon Motion drive controller. It is worth noting that some perceive Silicon Motion controllers to be less "premium" than their Marvell counterparts. However, Silicon Motion has made strides in improving their controllers, and the MX500 retains all the essential features found in the MX300. These features include Dynamic Write Acceleration, Redundant Array of Independent NAND (RAIN), Multistep Data Integrity Algorithm, Adaptive Thermal Protection, Integrated Power Loss Immunity, Active Garbage Collection, TRIM Support, Self-Monitoring and Reporting Technology (SMART), Error Correction Code (ECC), and Device Sleep Support.
Ultimately, the performance and reliability of the MX500 speak for themselves. The new Crucial MX500 1TB SSD boasts a drive endurance rating of 360TB Total Bytes Written (TBW), which is equivalent to 197GB per day for 5 years. In all capacity sizes except for the 1TB variant, the MX500 offers higher TBW ratings compared to the MX300. Additionally, the MX500 demonstrates an increased Life Expectancy (MTTF) value of 1.8 million hours, surpassing the MX300's Life Expectancy (MTTF) value of 1.5 million hours. These enhanced specifications signify improved durability and longevity for the MX500 SSD.
In this review, several benchmarks were used to assess the performance of the Crucial MX500 SSD. The benchmarks included:
1. ATTO Disk Benchmark: This benchmark is widely recognized and provides consistent results by testing raw data in compressible form. It serves as a baseline for measuring maximum throughput performance. Many SSD manufacturers use ATTO Disk Benchmark to showcase their SSDs' maximum sequential read/write speeds. The numbers obtained from this benchmark represent the best-case scenario, and actual results may vary depending on the specific system configuration. The default transfer sizes were used for the tests.
2. AS SSD Benchmark: AS SSD is a benchmarking tool that tests SSDs using incompressible data, unless otherwise specified by the benchmark application itself. Some SSD drive controllers may struggle with incompressible data, which can result in different numbers compared to ATTO Disk Benchmark. Significant variations between the numbers obtained from different benchmarks indicate the drive controller's strength or weakness in handling compressible or incompressible data, respectively.
3. Anvil's Storage Utilities: This benchmark also utilizes incompressible data for testing SSD performance. It provides additional insights into the SSD's capabilities and performance characteristics.
4. CrystalDiskMark: CrystalDiskMark is another benchmarking tool that tests SSDs using incompressible data. It measures the sequential and random read/write speeds of the drive, giving an indication of its performance in real-world scenarios.
By employing these benchmarks, the review aims to evaluate the Crucial MX500 SSD's performance under various conditions and provide a comprehensive assessment of its strengths and weaknesses.
Performance Benchmarks - The Results
In this review, the performance of the Crucial MX500 SSD will be analyzed and compared under three different scenarios: with no data on the drive, with 50% of the drive loaded with data, and with 95% of the drive loaded with data. This approach allows for a comprehensive evaluation of the drive's performance across different usage scenarios.
Furthermore, to provide a point of reference and facilitate comparison, the review will also include the corresponding results from the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD. By examining the differences and potential improvements between the two models, readers will gain valuable insights into the advancements offered by the MX500.
The aim of this segmented analysis is to provide a thorough assessment of the MX500's performance in different data load conditions and enable readers to make informed decisions based on their specific requirements and usage patterns.
Crucial MX500 1TB SSD – NO DATA
Crucial MX500 1TB SSD – 50% FILLED WITH DATA
Crucial MX500 1TB SSD – 95% FILLED WITH DATA
Crucial MX300 750GB SSD – FOR COMPARISON
The Crucial MX500 1TB SSD, equipped with Micron's 3D NAND flash memory, sets a new benchmark for SATA SSD performance. In our tests, it consistently outperformed its predecessor, the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD, across various performance metrics. Whether it's sequential read and write speeds, 4K performance, IOPS performance, or access times, the MX500 demonstrated significant improvements.
One noteworthy aspect of the MX500's performance is its consistency with both compressible and incompressible data. Unlike some SSDs that may exhibit variations in performance based on data type, the MX500 delivered consistent performance levels regardless of data compressibility. This reliability and uniformity in performance are impressive.
Surprisingly, the MX500 even exhibited improved performance when the drive was 50% filled with data, and it only experienced marginal slowdown when filled up to 95%. This exceptional performance throughout various data load conditions is truly remarkable.
In addition to its exceptional performance, the MX500 also supports Micron's Momentum Cache software, known as the Crucial Storage Executive Software. This software, which we previously discussed in our MX300 review, offers enhanced caching capabilities. For detailed information and visuals regarding Momentum Cache, please refer to the MX300 review.
Overall, the Crucial MX500 1TB SSD stands out as a top performer in the SATA SSD category, offering unparalleled speed, reliability, and consistent performance across different data load scenarios.
What is Momentum Cache? (Explained by Micron)
Micron's Momentum Cache is an intelligent software driver that dynamically leverages unused system resources to enhance burst performance on supported Micron and Crucial solid state drives (SSDs) in Windows operating systems. Momentum Cache is not restricted by SATA bus throughput limitations; instead, it uses additional DRAM bandwidth to achieve increased burst performance.
How Does Momentum Cache Work?
As a software driver installed on Windows operating systems, Momentum Cache manages all writes and reads between a supported SSD and the system. It optimizes input/ output (I/O) data by caching the data in system memory and then committing it to the SSD at a consistent rate when additional bandwidth is available. SSDs typically have higher read performance than write performance. This is especially apparent in lower-density drives containing smaller amounts of NAND die accessed in parallel. Momentum Cache addresses this inefficiency by caching nearly all writes being transferred to the SSD. The writes are transferred from the cache to the SSD during periods of lower drive activity, providing a buffer to spread intense workloads over time and enabling improved burst performance. Momentum Cache addresses other limitations in SSD design. When system memory is available, Momentum Cache coalesces smaller write transfers into larger transfers to reduce the impact of small random writes on the NAND. Small transfer random writes have the greatest impact on the endurance of NAND in an SSD. Additionally, Momentum Cache reduces wear on an SSD by filtering repetitive data written to the drive.
Crucial Storage Executive Software
Crucial has developed a comprehensive SSD management software suite called Storage Executive. This software provides users with valuable system information, as well as detailed information about the SSD, including health, temperature, and S.M.A.R.T status. With Storage Executive, users can easily check for firmware updates and perform firmware flashing. It also offers features such as setting Over Provisioning limits, sanitizing and wiping the SSD, resetting the encryption password, and enabling or disabling the Momentum Cache feature.
I found the firmware update process to be straightforward using the Crucial Storage Executive software. The program seamlessly downloaded the firmware, initiated a reboot into its own operating system environment, and successfully updated the firmware within a matter of minutes.
Furthermore, after completing all the testing, I utilized the Crucial Storage Executive software to sanitize the SSD, effectively erasing all data on the drive and restoring it to its factory state. The Sanitize function in Storage Executive serves as a secure erase feature.
One minor drawback of the Crucial Storage Executive software is the occasional delay when navigating specific menus, such as the Over Provisioning page. Users may experience some waiting time with the loading icon during these processes. It is hoped that Crucial can enhance the processing speed in future iterations of Storage Executive to improve user experience.
Where Can I Buy One? And For How Much?
The Crucial MX500 1TB 3D NAND SSD is currently available for purchase on Amazon USA at a discounted price of $229.99, with free shipping. The regular price for this SSD is $249.99.
When purchasing from Amazon, you can be assured that your order will be fulfilled and shipped directly from an Amazon warehouse, eliminating the involvement of third-party sellers. This provides a higher level of security and ensures that you receive the product as described. Additionally, shopping on Amazon grants you the added benefit of Amazon's customer protection and peace of mind.
Alternatively, you can also purchase the Crucial MX500 SSD directly from the Crucial website.
If you have a preference for shopping on Amazon, it's worth noting that when you purchase the Crucial MX500 1TB 3D NAND SSD from Amazon, the order will be fulfilled and shipped directly from an Amazon warehouse. This means that the product will be handled and shipped by Amazon themselves, rather than a third-party seller. This can provide added assurance in terms of receiving the item you paid for, as well as access to Amazon's own buyer protection policies and customer support. Choosing to purchase from Amazon can offer a sense of security and peace of mind for your transaction.
Why do I like Amazon? They are fast, honest, reliable, and their return policy is great. I actually got money refunded back to my account after Amazon overcharged me on duty costs; talk about being an honest company, most others would keep the money and not say anything!
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The Crucial MX500 1TB SSD with Micron's 3D NAND flash memory has proven to be a remarkable performer, surpassing the performance of its predecessor, the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD, in almost every aspect. Its exceptional speed and reliability make it the fastest SATA SSD we have tested to date. Combined with its generous 5-year warranty and competitive pricing, the Crucial MX500 1TB SSD stands out as a top-tier option in the market. Therefore, we proudly award it our Editor's Choice Award for its outstanding performance and value.