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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 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.

Our performance rating considers how effective the Crucial m4 solid state drive performs in operations against direct competitor storage solutions. For reference, specifications for the Micron RealSSD C400 suggest 415 MB/s maximum reads and 260 MB/s writes, as well as 40K read and 50K write IOPS. In our SSD benchmark tests, the Crucial m4 SSD performed at or above these ratings. Our test results proved the Crucial m4 was good for delivering 446/281 MBps peak read and writes speeds using ATTO Disk Benchmark SSD speed tests. Transfer speeds were generally very high, but were overshadowed by some of the latest competitor SSDs such as those from SandForce.

Using Micron's own Iometer configuration files, we proved the m4 was capable of producing more than 90K combined IOPS. The 256GB retail Crucial m4 SSD CT256M4SSD2 kit that Micron sent us for testing uses firmware capable of 41K read and 62K write IOPS performance. In our own Iometer operational performance tests using a queue depth of 32 outstanding I/O's per target for a 120-second test, the combined IOPS performance measured closer to 29K. In this particular test, the formatted Crucial m4 SSD trailed behind other SATA 6Gb/s based storage devices. With the results we've received in our tests, hardware enthusiasts can expect very high operational performance and storage functionality for demanding applications and extreme I/O environments.

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 uses a bead-blasted textured metal finish on the Crucial m4 SSD, with branding labels on the top and bottom for identification. 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. This isn't the case yet, and a smooth metal chassis suits modern SSDs nicely.

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 to this a hard metal shell and you have to wonder what it would take to make this drive fail. If a Crucial m4/Micron RealSSD C400-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.

Micron officially launched the Crucial m4 SSD on 26 April 2011, roughly one week after this article was published. The current product pricing is as follows: 64GB Model $150, 128GB Model $260, 256GB Model $520, 512GB Model $1000.

Having just reviewed a SandForce SF-2281 solid state drive, it's difficult to see where Marvell has dramatically improved the 88SS9174 controller with this BLD2 revision. Based on our tests, it seems that performance emphasis has switched read and write priority when compared to the previous RealSSD C300 series. The new Crucial m4 SSD stands strong all on its own, but it's too soon to tell how well these minor tweaks appeal to consumers. Compared head-to-head, SandForce 2200 SSDs appear to offer better performance than Marvell 88SS9174 revisions, which could make it difficult for the Crucial m4/Micron RealSSD C400, as well as Strontium SSD Matrix, Intel SSD 510, Corsair Performance 3, and others to thrive. For the Crucial m4 SSD to succeed it must be aggressively priced against the competition, but the five-year warranty certainly sweetens the deal.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award for Quality Recognition

+ Impressive 446/281 MBps read/write speed with ATTO
+ Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 supports SATA 6Gb/s interface
+ Native TRIM Garbage Collection, Sanitary Erase, and SMART
+ High-level enthusiast operational I/O performance
+ 3-Year Micron product warranty support
+ Lightweight compact storage solution
+ Resistant to extreme shock impact
+ Low power consumption may extend battery life
+ Upgrade kit makes transitions easier for builders

Cons:

- Expensive enthusiast-level product
- Unimpressive gains over RealSSD C300

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.25
  • Appearance: 9.00
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.00
  • Value: 7.00

Final Score: 8.75 out of 10.

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.

Benchmark Reviews invites you to leave constructive feedback below, or ask questions in our Discussion Forum.


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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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