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Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 09 April 2013
Table of Contents: Page Index
480GB Crucial M500 Solid State Drive
Overview: Crucial M500 SSD
Features and Specifications
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
PCMark Vantage HDD Tests
Crucial M500 SSD Conclusion

Crucial M500 SSD Conclusion

IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.

After revealing the first consumer SATA-6Gb/s solid state drive in 2010, Micron since set a reserved pace for follow-up offerings. The original Crucial RealSSD-C300 was an excellent product for its time, delivering 383/227 MB/s read and write transfers with nearly 21K IOPS. A year later the Crucial m4 SSD arrived to provide 446/281 MB/s read and write transfers with almost 29K IOPS. Three years after the RealSSD-C300 debuted, and two years since the Crucial m4 arrived on scene, Micron finally launches a successor: the Crucial M500 SSD. More than just a faster storage product, the Crucial C500 SSD brings several key features such as: 20nm NAND Flash, hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption, TCG Opal 2.0-compliant firmware, 'Hold-Up' capacitors to ensure data integrity, and on-board thermistor and microcontroller to assist with temperature control.

Beginning with the performance rating, I consider how effective the Crucial M500 SSD performs in file transfer operations against competing solid-state storage solutions. For reference, the 480B model is specified by Micron to produce up to 500 MB/s read speeds and 400 MB/s writes. In our storage benchmark tests the Crucial M500 SSD performed slightly above these speeds. Benchmark test results demonstrated that Micron's Crucial M500 SSD was good for delivering 539/445 MB/s peak read and write speeds using ATTO Disk Benchmark SSD speed tests; easily surpassing all previous Crucial SSD products. Linear file transfers with Everest Disk Benchmark produced 458/425 MB/s, which exceeds performance for both the OCZ Vector and Vertex 4 SSDs. Transfer speeds were very fast overall, and while not the fastest we've recorded they still tested near the top.

The 480GB Crucial M500 SSD sent to us for testing is advertised to deliver up to 80,000 random 4KB read or write IOPS. Using Iometer operational performance tests configured to a queue depth of 32 outstanding I/O's per target across 100% of the drive, our benchmarks produced 62,873 combined IOPS performance to exceed all previously-released Crucial SSDs as well as the recently launched OCZ Vector SSD. In 4K 32QD tests using AS-SSD and CrystalDiskMark, the Crucial M500 SSD excelled well past the competition by a very sizable margin and achieved the second highest score for each.

Crucial-M500-Solid-State-Drive-Kit.jpg

Solid State Drives are low-visibility products: you see them just long enough to install and then they're forgotten. Like their Hard Disk Drive counterparts, Solid State Drives are meant to place function before fashion. Anything above and beyond a simple metal shell is already more than what's expected in terms of the appearance. Micron Technology has created a sleek 7mm profile with appealing textured aluminum finish on the Crucial M500-series SSDs. As solid state storage controllers become faster and more advanced, heat dissipation through the enclosure walls may demand that chassis designs become more beneficial than they previously needed to be. For now, the adaptive thermal monitoring system on the M500 suits it well in managing heat in ultrathin and embedded designs.

Construction is probably the strongest feature credited to the entire SSD product segment, and Crucial products have never offered any exception. Solid State Drives are by nature immune to most abuses, but add a hard metal shell and the chance of failure is reduced to internal component defects. If any Crucial M500-series SSD product fails during the limited 3-year warranty period, end-users can contact Lexar/Crucial via the company website or SSD support forum. There's also a toll-free telephone number for support or customer service questions available at 800-336-8915.

As of April 2013, the Crucial M500 SSD launches in the following capacities and prices:

The Crucial M500 solid state drive is fast - but not the fastest, and powerful - but not the most powerful. That doesn't mean it doesn't hold up well to the competition, most of which lacking the hardware features and value. A smaller 20nm NAND Flash component frees up PCB real-estate and enable higher density (128MB) ICs to fit, reducing manufacturing material costs and thereby reducing product prices. An advanced 256-bit hardware-based AES encryption engine secures data, while 'Hold-Up' capacitors ensure that data's integrity in the event of power loss. An adaptive thermal monitoring system with on-board thermistor and microcontroller is certainly a useful feature for ultrathin and embedded designs, but the device sleep (DEVSLP) function that draws less than 5-milliwatts of power while in sleep mode is a 93% power improvement over previous-generation SSDs. Collectively these features and functions add to the already noteworthy performance, and earn the Crucial M500 SSD our Golden Tachometer Award for excellence.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Very fast 539/445 MBps read/write speed with ATTO
+ TCG Opal 2.0 security with 256-bit AES hardware encryption
+ Marvell 88SS9187 controller supports TRIM, NCQ, and Windows 8 drive telemetry
+ 3-Year Micron Technology product warranty support
+ 120/240/480/960GB high-speed SSD storage capacities
+ Device sleep (DEVSLP) function extends battery life
+ Delivers nearly 63K IOMeter IOPS performance
+ Lightweight compact storage solution
+ Resistant to extreme shock impact

Cons:

- Some manufacturers offer five-year warranty
- High-end performance only available from 480/960GB versions
- Expensive enthusiast-level product

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.25
  • Appearance: 9.00
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.50
  • Value: 8.75

Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

COMMENT QUESTION: Is speed and IOPS performance more important to you than features and functionality?


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Comments 

 
# The Next StepMugsy 2013-04-09 07:54
A bit of a disappointment that shows the limitations of the currently available technology.

Currently, the best way to improve the speed of SSD'a is to RAID-0 two of them together. But not a lot of people are competent enough to do this themselves. Think of the advantage this drive would have over the competition at (near) double the speed.

Until someone creates the next generation interface (SATA-4?), the next logical step in improving SSD speed is a single drive with TWO sata ports on it, doubling the bandwidth. The drive itself: essentially two physical drives "RAID'ed" together inside the same box. Basically, "plug & play RAID".

No need for the user to "create a RAID array" by hand. Firmware could be created so the computer sees only "one" drive despite having to SATA ports. This might be pricey at first, but just as with any new technology, the cost will come down in time.
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# RE: The Next StepDavid Ramsey 2013-04-09 08:31
Your idea of an "internal RAID" is widely used in the various PCI-E SSD systems available. We've even reviewed some of them.

However, putting two SATA ports on an existing SSD wouldn't make configuring a RAID any simpler, since it's exactly equivalent to having two separate SSDs: you'd still need to configure RAID on your motherboard to tell it to treat the two SATA connections as a single device.
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# RE: 480GB Crucial M500 Solid State DrivePete 2013-04-10 16:45
Why are you not comparing Samsung SSD anymore?
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# RE: RE: 480GB Crucial M500 Solid State DriveOlin Coles 2013-04-10 16:50
The quick answer is because they do not respond to our sample requests, and therefore do not ship any for us to test and review.
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# RE: 480GB Crucial M500 Solid State DrivePete 2013-04-10 17:02
Dang, because I remember the earlier tests where they scored right up with the intel's.!
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# RE: RE: 480GB Crucial M500 Solid State DriveOlin Coles 2013-04-10 20:33
Unfortunately the sour economy combined with lagging SSD sales have made it difficult for some companies to allocate many units towards marketing. I'll be making another attempt to gain their favor very soon.
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# Considered expanding?feralshad0w 2013-04-10 21:47
I started reading this site about 5 years ago and really liked the attention to detail and analysis. You guys were doing some thermal and sound tests before others had caught on. I think a lot of reviewers and company attention is moving to youtube reviewers because of its popularity. Have you guys considered making a youtube channel to accompany the benchmarkreviews website? No one does the line-ups and detailed reviews like you guys have done in the past with coolers and thermal pastes.

I think it could probably bring you a lot more views, it would be an additional revenue stream, and it would probably encourage companies like samsung to send you more products.

And I would love to see your reviews with videos of the products...
It's really a win-win for everyone lol
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# good pointresere 2013-04-11 14:47
agree. do it. need help?

In other words, stay profi as much as u can but use all channels u can.
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# RE: RE: RE: 480GB Crucial M500 Solid State DriveChris 2013-04-11 22:24
Olin, do you think that the declining PC market as a whole may be affecting SSD sales?

There seem to be many factors at work here
- Widespread belief that phones and tablets are replacing laptops and desktops
- Windows 8 was not well received and may be hurting new PC sales
- The state of the economy
- Average customer might not see the benefit (or even know what an SSD is)

Also, some of the SSD makers themselves (ex: OCZ) have not been doing so well either.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: 480GB Crucial M500 Solid State DriveOlin Coles 2013-04-12 08:04
Yes, I absolutely do think the PC market is impacting SSD sales. By the end of 2013, you will see fewer brands offering SSD products. Some of the brands we've known for years will disappear or exit the market.
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# State of solid StateFeralshad0w 2013-04-14 22:39
It's just my opinion, but I think it still comes down to cost. My techy friends and I have solid states, but when I try to explain the benefit and speed to my other friends and family they just say they don't mind waiting or they want to save the money.

The thing I haven't seen is the cheap production of older technology SSD's to make them more accessible. I think it is silly on the manufactures part to have not released these, but I can see some obstacles:

1) The production costs are similar to newer technology drives, which makes it not worth producing them and offering at a lower price point.

2) They want to keep a premium enthusiast price to make. Particularly the larger drives that mainstream users would buy such as 256-500 gb.
(I am thinking this is like the large LCD price fixing conspiracy)

I think a lot of mainstream would only use HDD as backup if there were 256+ gb for $100-150. I feel the mainstream market would jump on board quickly at that point.

What do you think?
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# RE: State of solid StateChris 2013-04-19 13:58
The reason why older drives prices are not going down is because well, they cannot make any money if they did. Margins for these products are pretty slim as is, from what I've been told (by industry insiders).

It's not like other products where you can sell the last generation for less. It's not really a conspiracy I'm afraid - SSD prices are driven by the prices of NAND Flash more so than anything else.

And it's not mainstream that matters. It's whether OEMs begin to replace HDDs with SSDs en masse - that is where truly widespread adoption will occur.
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# RE: RE: State of solid StateFeralshad0w 2013-04-19 14:19
Very good point. It's a shame there isn't the wiggle room in price then. I think that IF they could make a larger dent in the lower end gaming/mainstream market that they could see a demand raise in the OEM market to really make things take off.

But by your account, that is a big "if".

Eventually the industry will shift.. but its not going to be as fast as I would like. I guess I will wait a couple more years to replace my media and game drives. I already got an SSD for my OS.

Thanks for the response.
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# RE: RE: RE: State of solid StateChris 2013-04-19 22:28
An example of a company not making money would be OCZ - a pretty big player in the field. They were selling while Ryan Peterson was CEO near the end, their SSDs at a huge net loss.

But even the bigger players like Micron are having some issues from what I've been led to believe in making money.

Here take a look:
#investors.micron.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=723125-12-156

They lost money in 2012 as a whole, but lets look at segments.
- In terms of NAND, they made $198 million in profits on $2.853 billion in sales. So for every $1 of NAND, they make about $0.07 of profit.

- For DRAM, they lost $500 million on $2.691 billion in sales. For them to break even, DRAM prices would have to go up by about 17.5%.

There isn't too much room to decrease prices. I imagine maybe Intel or Samsung would make more money, but it's not a high margin market by any means. That puts even more pressure on the smaller players too, because companies like Micron can leverage their vertical integration and the sheer volume of NAND that they produce.

It's not like GPUs where I think the higher end margins are like 30% right now for Nvidia.
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# RE: 480GB Crucial M500 Solid State DriveChris 2013-04-11 22:21
It's not the fastest SSD out there, but it does come very close to the top. Still, for the money, it's a good value in terms of price per gb, especially for the big version.

Good review.
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# Software Editoralan1476 2013-05-24 13:34
SSDs are the future, everything is getting smaller, desktops are disappearing,laptops are getting thinner and smaller, netbooks, tablets, all using solid state, it will take time but these are mainstream products, they are not a techy toy anymore. The prices will be at a level of affordability for the mainstream family. They are now.
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# RE: 480GB Crucial M500 Solid State DriveChris 2013-06-12 04:54
A well written review of an interesting SSD, thank you. I have noted that Samsung does not publish all specifications but omits to mention specs that they their drives lack. Buyer needs to figure out that on his own. Micron/Crucial appear to provide a more complete disclosure of technical specifications.
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