Crucial MX500 1TB 2.5" 3D NAND SSD Review @ ModSynergy.com
Last year ModSynergy had the opportunity to review the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD with Micron's 3D NAND technology. The MX300 proved to be a winner in my book with its competitive pricing placing it within reach for the average consumer, excellent performance for the price throughout the board no matter read or write, or compressible or incompressible data, and that the MX300 performed at SLC NAND level speeds was impressive. Fast forward six months and the same Crucial MX300 750GB SSD that I tested and have had running 24x7 has had no problems to report of.
What more can one expect from an SSD such as the MX300?
Well, Crucial was hard at work in creating the successor to the MX300 SSD, aptly named the MX500. Whereas the MX300 showcased Micron’s 32-layer 3D NAND flash memory, the MX500 showcases Micron’s latest 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory, and this has enabled Crucial to increase the warranty length on the new MX500 to 5-years, instead of the 3-years offered on the MX300.
Crucial promises they’ve improved on the successful MX300 formula, and this new generation MX500 promises more overall speed across the entire range, quality in the MX500’s hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption for better security, integrated power loss immunity which protects the MX500 SSD from unintended data loss when the power unexpectedly goes out, saving your data in the process, and more capacity ranges to choose from up to 2TB of storage.
I always tell people that a SSD is arguably the best single upgrade one can make for their computers, aging or modern. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the Crucial MX500 1TB SSD and see what improvements Crucial have managed to achieve.
The model number of the MX500 I am testing today is CT1000MX500SSD1.
About Crucial & Micron
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 comes in a very simple and eco-friendly packaging design. A large image of the SSD dominates the front of the box, while contents and minor information are stated in the back. Surprisingly there's no technical performance numbers of the SSD anywhere on the box which I find a little disappointing.
The packaging is compact and consists of an outer paper core and internal plastic shell enclosing and protecting the SSD from any damage.
The box makes known that you get data transfer software as part of the bundle, but I did not notice anything in the box of the MX500. In the outgoing MX300 a paper card was included with the serial number for this software. The Crucial website makes known specifically that the MX500 box contents should include Acronis True Image for Crucial cloning software, though it’s actually not in the box. It turns Crucial made it a little harder than it needed to be and unclear. The website mentions that you can download a copy of Acronis True Image for Crucial through http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/ssd-install which then redirects you to https://www.crucial.com/clone to download the software. This time no serial key is required as the software will detect that you have the appropriate Crucial SSD to install.
Note: Click Images for 1920x HQ Photos
The Crucial MX500 1TB SSD comes in a conventional 2.5" enclosure as you see with any other SSD on the market. This one is 7mm in height meaning it can fit inside ultrathin notebooks as is, but also comes with a neat and useful plastic 7mm to 9.5mm spacer so the MX500 can be used in regular size notebooks, which I find is a very thoughtful addition by Crucial.
The MX500 comes in a brushed aluminum enclosure. It has no fancy paint job; instead it has this get down to business type of styling. The SATA connector pins are gold plated for better corrosion-resistance and conductivity. The top of the SSD contains the signature blue Crucial color scheme design with a superimposed MX logo. The backside has a plain white sticker advising the model name, part number, serial number, power specification of 5V 1.7A, and other pertinent information such as regulatory confirmations, that it is assembled in Mexico, and that it contains halogen free components. I wished the sticker would have provided some brief technical performance related information on it.
The bottom and sides of the MX500 contains screw holes that you'll use with your own 2.5" to 3.5" metal bracket if you desire to mount in other scenarios.
Tearing it Down -- I mean opening it up :)
Please note that by opening the Crucial MX500, you forfeit the 5-year warranty that comes along with the drive. Today I will take that burden away from you so that we can see the components that make up the MX500.
The brushed aluminum enclosure comes apart in two pieces and just as how the MX300 had a thermal pad on its drive controller to transfer heat away using the enclosure as a heatsink, the MX500 follows suit having one thermal pad on the drive controller and now one more on the other end of the NAND chip. You can see the residue on the NAND chip and its thermal pad on the enclosure. Now both drive controller and a part of the NAND are using the enclosure effectively as a heatsink to allow the heat generated to be transferred and dissipated across the surface of the aluminum enclosure, ensuring the SSD runs as cool as possible. Very little SSDs on the market use thermal pads as Crucial has done to their MX500. This ensures that extra bit of longevity.
Have a look at the internal PCB of the Crucial MX500 SSD. The dark blue PCB houses all the components small and large. There are eight Micron floating gate 64-layers, 256-gigabit NAND flash memory on each side of the PCB for a total of 16. Right beside the drive controller is the Micron SLC cache memory chip which rests one on each side of the PCB. Everything is placed in an orderly fashion and the SSD controller is positioned very close to the gold plated SATA contact pins to ensure the least amount of latencies and fastest operational speeds.
One major change Crucial made is moving away from the Marvell drive controller in the MX300 towards a drive controller now made by Silicon Motion. It should be noted that Silicon Motion to some are perceived to be less “premium” than their Marvell counterparts, however, Silicon Motion has been improving their controllers and the MX500 contains all the same features the outgoing MX300 had, which includes 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.
In the end as a user, the proof is in the pudding.
The new Crucial MX500 1TB SSD has a drive endurance rating of 360TB Total Bytes Written (TBW), equal to 197GB per day for 5 years. In every capacity size other than this 1TB, the MX500 has a higher rated TBW compared to the MX300. Life Expectancy (MTTF) values have increased to 1.8 million hours compared to the MX300’s Life Expectancy (MTTF) value of 1.5 million hours.
Here's a list of benchmarks in this review...
ATTO Disk Benchmark is a trusted and established application that tests raw data in compressible form within the drive being tested. It's demonstrated over the years to supply steady and consistent results and is one of the reasons why ATTO Disk Benchmark is the preferred benchmark in order to give a baseline score of maximum throughput performance.
Some SSD manufacturers' maximum sequential read/write speed claims are completed with ATTO Disk Benchmark for this very reason. The numbers you see here are best case scenario numbers you can expect from this SSD in the specific system, therefore your own results may vary. The default transfer sizes both versions of ATTO Disk Benchmark were used.
Benchmarks used here such as Anvil's Storage Utilities, AS SSD, CrystalDiskMark are testing with Incompressible data, unless explicitly stated by the benchmark application itself, which some SSD drive controllers may or may not struggle with. That is why on occasion you sometimes see disparity between numbers that are in ATTO Disk Benchmark to ones from other benchmarks. If the numbers are drastically different, you can draw the simple conclusion that the particular SSD drive controller suffers when reading/writing incompressible data and or suffers when reading/writing compressible data. This indicates a strength or weakness of a particular SSD should that become apparent.
Performance Benchmarks - The Results
In this review I’ll separate the MX500 results in three.
The first being the benchmarks run on a bare MX500 1TB SSD with no data, the second with the drive being 50% loaded with data, and lastly with the drive being 95% loaded with data.
To end off the review, and for comparison purposes, I’ll include the same results from the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD so you can see the differences and or improvements.
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 with Micron's 3D NAND flash memory is the fastest SATA SSD we've ever tested, reaching performance levels above the outgoing Crucial MX300 750GB SSD in virtually every category. The results are clear. Sequential read and write performance improved, 4K performance improved, IOPS performance improved, access times improved, virtually every category improved. MX500 also has no issues with compressible and incompressible data treating them at the same performance levels. Frankly what I’m more astonished about is that the MX500 performance arguably got better with it being 50% filled with data when compared to it being empty, and more amazing is that the MX500 only got marginally slower with it being 95% filled with data. That is some crazy stuff!
Before I wrap up this review, the MX500 also supports Micron’s Momentum Cache software called Crucial Storage Executive Software, which we already touched on in the MX300 review, and since it is pretty much the same thing, I have copied and pasted information and photos below regarding Momentum Cache from the MX300 review…
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, 1 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 created an SSD management software suite called Storage Executive. It's a good little software that allows you to see relevant system information, SSD drive information including its health/temperature and S.M.A.R.T status, check and updates to SSD firmware, set Over Provisioning limit, sanitize and wipe out the SSD, reset the drives encryption password, and enabling or disabling Momentum Cache feature.
I was able to update and flash the firmware on the MX500 through the Crucial Storage Executive software with ease. The program downloaded the firmware, rebooted the machine into its own OS environment and then updated the firmware successfully all in a few minutes.
Additionally when I completed all my testing, I used Crucial Storage Executive software to sanitize the SSD erasing everything on the drive back to factory state. The Sanitize function in Storage Executive is the equivalent of a 'Secure Erase'.
If there's one thing I didn't like about Crucial Storage Executive Software, it would be that you'd be waiting sometimes a little too long looking at the loading icon while it was processing or scanning entering specific menus such as for example the Over Provisioning page. Hopefully Crucial can speed up the processing in future iterations of Storage Executive.
Where Can I Buy One? And For How Much?
The Crucial MX500 1TB 3D NAND SSD can be purchased on Amazon USA for $229.99 with free shipping. This is a sale price. The regular price is $249.99.
If you prefer to shop on Amazon like I do, then the order is going to be fulfilled and shipped directly from the Amazon warehouse and not through a third party. This makes the purchase safer in terms of getting what you paid for, and this way you can have Amazon's own protection and peace of mind.
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!
If you're thinking of purchasing the Crucial MX500 1TB 3D NAND SSD, or anything else for that matter, please use our Amazon links above, it will help us out greatly, and go towards supporting this website and any future contests we hold through Facebook.
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The Crucial MX500 1TB SSD with Micron's 3D NAND flash memory is the fastest SATA SSD we've ever tested, reaching performance levels above the outgoing Crucial MX300 750GB SSD in virtually every category. The results are clear. And with a 5-year warranty and extremely competitive pricing, you’d be hard pressed to find a better top-tier SSD on the market today. The Crucial MX500 1TB SSD earns our top Editor's Choice Award rating!