|Crucial m4 Solid State Drive Tests|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 20 April 2011|
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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.
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 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.
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...