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Written by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Crucial m4 Solid State Drive Tests
Crucial m4 Solid State Drive
Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 SSD Processor
Features and Specifications
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
Proving Manufacturer Tests
HDD vs Hybrid Drive vs SSD
Crucial m4 SSD Conclusion

Crucial m4 Solid State Drive

The solid state drive (SSD) industry is quickly gaining popularity because the technology works equally well in PC, Linux, and Apple Macintosh computers. Likewise, these storage devices are installed into desktop and notebook platforms without modification. For this article Benchmark Reviews is testing the 256GB Crucial m5 SSD, which is advertised to reach speeds of 415 MB/s for sequential reads and 260 MB/s sequential writes. Crucial's performance specification suggest Iometer random 4K reads at up to 40,000 IOPS and 50,000 write IOPS, for a total combined performance of 90,000 IOPS. The CT256M4SSD2 model we've received for testing is built using the Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 SSD controller, very similar to the previous generation.

As mentioned in the introduction, Micron offers two versions of the same product depending on the market, and each brand comes in four solid state drives capacities: 64, 128, 256, and 512GB. Like most SSD products, expect for the mainstream capacities to reach the retail market first, such as 64/128/256GB varieties, with the 512GB version coming later. Once supplies have been stocked, the 480GB version will be soon to follow. With respect to Crucial's m4 SSD series, the 256GB version is expected to be the most popular of their offered capacities because of performance levels specific to this model.

Micron-RealSSD-C400-M4-Package.jpg

The Crucial m4 SSD is best suited for performance-orientated personal computers, but also works extremely well for SOHO computer systems. If required, the Crucial m4 SSD could also be utilized for mission-critical backup systems. Marvell SATA 6Gb/s SSDs have generally been designed with a focus on high-performance operational and data transfer speeds, so they also make the ideal storage solution for performance-orientated computers. Although Crucial m4 SSDs do not offer an integrated USB Mini-B port, which appeared on some early-generation SSDs, the retail market offers several different 2.5" SATA enclosures that utilize the SuperSpeed USB-3.0 standard for high-performance portable file transfers.

Crucial-RealSSD-C400-Micron-m4-SSD-Top.jpg

Crucial understands that once installed, the SSD will be hidden away from view inside your notebook computer or desktop workstation, so they've remained conservative towards the appearance of their solid state drive. Both halves of the enclosure are given a gun-metal textured finish, which does not show fingerprints or smudges like a gloss surface would. A glossy label is attached to the top of the enclosure, denoting model and capacity.

Standard 2.5" drive bay mounting points are pre-drilled and threaded into the Crucial m4 chassis, which allows for quick upgrade or addition into any existing notebook and other compact computer system. Fortunately, Crucial also includes a 3.5" to 2.5" tray adapter with their retail m4 SSD kit, so the drive will easily install into desktop computers. The mounting positions matched up to the drive bracket on my notebook computer, and after only a few minutes I was booting from a restored Windows 7 System Image without a hitch.

Crucial-RealSSD-C400-Micron-m4-SSD-Bottom.jpg

Unlike most Hard Disk Drive (HDD) storage products, SSDs are nearly impervious to impact damage and do not require (or benefit from) any kind of special vibration dampening or shock-proof enclosures. Crucial utilizes a standard two-piece metal enclosure for their m4 series SSDs, which reveals the internal components after removing four small screws located at each corner of this solid state drive. The seam along the side is covered with a 'Warranty Void' label, which Crucial attaches to warn consumers against taking apart their product. By removing the SSD cover it will also remove your consumer protection with it, but Benchmark Reviews takes the risk for you and reveals the internal components in our next section.

If you're already familiar with previous generation Crucial RealSSD C300 storage product, you'll notice that the new m4/C400 hasn't changed its look beyond the product decal. While its outward appearance is similar to many other solid state drives, the functionality and value packaged inside are considerably unique. Now that you're acquainted with the basic exterior features of this SSD, it's time to peek inside the metal enclosure and inspect the internal components...



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Crucial m4 Solid State Drive TestsRobert17 2011-04-20 18:03
Good review, Olin; thanks for your efforts.

I saw no mention of any built-in encryption tools. Not on-board?

But did note that the pricing as listed seems relatively consistent with SATA 3Gb SSD offerings, so it looks like the 25nm design is showing it's production benefits if nothing else.
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# Price still an IssueEnigma8750 CMSSC Supreme Commander 2011-04-22 10:49
Unimpressive for me is all about the astronomical Price, as you mentioned in your Cons. Its really good that the Pharmacutical industry is not Manufacturing these things or we would be paying 20,000 dollar for ever hundred Gig.

Your Quote still gives me Sticker Shock, even though I can remember when VCRs were 1200.00 and a really good CD Player Was in Audiophile Magazine was $10,000.00 and my North Dakota, Gateway PIII 500 mhz was almost 2000.00, for the entire system.

"Micron will officially launch the Crucial m4 SSD on 26 April 2011, roughly one week from now. They current product pricing is as follows: 64GB Model $130, 128GB Model $250, 256GB Model $500, 512GB Model $1000. As soon as these SSDs reach retail shelves, we'll update this article with links to their online prices"

I personally would love the 256GB Model but "$500 dollars"? That is 70 to 80 percent of todays total build cost, without Mouse, Keyboard, Sound System and Monitor which I usually buy as I go, since I have most of those already.

Since the Speed of a System is also always equal to Weakest Link in the Chain having one of these Ferrari's in your system is a real boost to the system, but then you have to contend with the RAM only being able to deal with so much bandwidth or the processor is bottle necked because of a 1000 processes in the background or even worse the time it takes for the software to do its job can still bog a system down. I have a feeling that MS Windows 7 64 bit SP 1 would still take its time loading since it is loading so many files that the CIA could not handle it all.

Suffice to say, I want one of these Crucial or OCZ Drive, but when they get down in the Mid 2 hundred dollar level for 256 Gb if I have not died from old age by then.

Enigma8750
CMSSC COMMANDER AND CHIEF
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# RE: Crucial m4 Solid State Drive Testsdave 2011-04-25 02:11
qd 32...seriously, that's the best you could do
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# RE: RE: Crucial m4 Solid State Drive TestsOlin Coles 2011-04-25 07:38
Yes, , QD 32 is the 'best we could do', because that's as high as the settings on these benchmarks will allow.

What's with the trolls these days? They can't piece together a proper sentence, but they can complain about the color of money.
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# RE: Crucial m4 Solid State Drive TestsPaul 2011-05-05 18:51
Awesome review, Olin. It was very informative because I was looking to compare my C300 64Gb that I recently purchased to the newer gen Crucials. Smooth move with Dave's email address; #s will always be #s. People these days aren't appreciative of the hard work and effort it takes to do something like this. Ingrates.
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