When we peeked in the drive, we saw that there are 512GB (1GB byte = 1,000,000,000 bytes) of NAND present and after the units conversion, over-provisioning and Windows have their share, we are left with 476GiB logically (1GiB = 1,073,741,824 bytes). Compared to the Crucial M500, you pick up an additional 29GB of usable space due to reduced spare area. If this isn’t enough for you then you can step up to the 1TB M550.
Crucial has done a super job with the M550. It’s a marked improvement on the M500 and it now competes with the best SATA III drives on the market in overall performance. We measured the reads and writes maxed out at 561MB/s and 512MB/s respectively and most impressively the IOPS nearly doubled up on the M500 performance with reads reaching 99k IOPS and writes at 83k IOPS. Best of all, it didn’t balk at incompressible data so we observed a very even and consistent performance against our suite of tests. The Marvell 88SS9187 controller with Crucial’s custom firmware gets the job done. The RAIN (Redundant Array of Independent NAND) technology employed is an innovative way to boost performance without doing a lot of caching which can be a risky proposition.
The M550 will also be sold under the Micron moniker which is the OEM channel brand whereas Crucial is the consumer arm. The pricing of the consumer M550 is slated to roll out as outlined below. For the 512GB drive we tested, it comes out to be about $0.71 per usable GB which is a very good price point, especially for a large capacity drive.
It’s important to also point out that in addition to the 2.5″ drives, Crucial will be releasing the M550 in the mSATA and M.2 form factors as well, although we don’t have pricing for those off-hand. Also, the M500 is still going to be available alongside the M550 with each being targeted to a slightly different demographic. All in all, we were impressed with the performance of the M550 and happy to see Marvell matching up to the other high-end controllers. For those looking for a high performance drive, Crucial has given you one more option from which to choose.
Legit Bottom Line: The M550 is very impressive in performance and features and gives Crucial a flagship drive that they can can feel confident about competing with just about any consumer drive in the industry.