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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

SSD Testing Methodology

Solid State Drives have traveled a long winding course to finally get where they are today. Up to this point in technology, there have been several key differences separating Solid State Drives from magnetic rotational Hard Disk Drives. While the DRAM-based buffer size on desktop HDDs has recently reached 64 MB and is ever-increasing, there is still a hefty delay in the initial response time. This is one key area in which flash-based Solid State Drives continually dominates because they lack moving parts to "get up to speed".

However the benefits inherent to SSDs have traditionally fallen off once the throughput begins, even though data reads or writes are executed at a high constant rate whereas the HDD tapers off in performance. This makes the average transaction speed of a SSD comparable to the data burst rate mentioned in HDD tests, albeit usually lower than the HDD's speed.

Comparing a Solid State Disk to a standard Hard Disk Drives is always relative; even if you're comparing the fastest rotational spindle speeds. One is going to be many times faster in response (SSDs), while the other is usually going to have higher throughput bandwidth (HDDs). Additionally, there are certain factors which can affect the results of a test which we do our best to avoid.

SSD Testing Disclaimer

Early on in our SSD coverage, Benchmark Reviews published an article which detailed Solid State Drive Benchmark Performance Testing. The research and discussion that went into producing that article changed the way we now test SSD products. Our previous perceptions of this technology were lost on one particular difference: the wear leveling algorithm that makes data a moving target. Without conclusive linear bandwidth testing or some other method of total-capacity testing, our previous performance results were rough estimates at best.

Our test results were obtained after each SSD had been prepared using DISKPART or Sanitary Erase tools. As a word of caution, applications such as these offer immediate but temporary restoration of original 'pristine' performance levels. In our tests, we discovered that the maximum performance results (charted) would decay as subsequent tests were performed. SSDs attached to TRIM enabled Operating Systems will benefit from continuously refreshed performance, whereas older O/S's will require a garbage collection (GC) tool to avoid 'dirty NAND' performance degradation.

It's critically important to understand that no software for the Microsoft Windows platform can accurately measure SSD performance in a comparable fashion. Synthetic benchmark tools such as ATTO Disk Benchmark and Iometer are helpful indicators, but should not be considered the ultimate determining factor. That factor should be measured in actual user experience of real-world applications. Benchmark Reviews includes both bandwidth benchmarks and application speed tests to present a conclusive measurement of product performance.

Test System

  • Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 EVO (Intel P67 Sandy Bridge Platform, B3 Stepping)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4 GHz Quad-Core CPU
  • System Memory: 4GB Dual-Channel DDR3 1600MHz CL6-6-6-18
  • SATA 6Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel P67 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver 11.7.0.1013
  • SATA 3Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel P67 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver 11.7.0.1013
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64-Bit with Service Pack 1

Storage Hardware Tested

The following storage hardware has been used in our benchmark performance testing, and may be included in portions of this article:

Test Tools

  • AS SSD Benchmark 1.6.4067.34354: Multi-purpose speed and operational performance test
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46: Spot-tests static file size chunks for basic I/O bandwidth
  • CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1a by Crystal Dew World: Sequential speed benchmark spot-tests various file size chunks
  • Iometer 1.1.0 (built 08-Nov-2010) by Intel Corporation: Tests IOPS performance and I/O response time
  • Lavalys EVEREST Ultimate Edition 5.50: Disk Benchmark component tests linear read and write bandwidth speeds
  • Futuremark PCMark Vantage: HDD Benchmark Suite tests real-world drive performance

Test Results Disclaimer

This article utilizes benchmark software tools to produce operational IOPS performance and bandwidth speed results. Each test was conducted in a specific fashion, and repeated for all products. These test results are not comparable to any other benchmark application, neither on this website or another, regardless of similar IOPS or MB/s terminology in the scores. The test results in this project are only intended to be compared to the other test results conducted in identical fashion for this article.



 

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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