Crucial BX200 SSD - Affordable Entry Level TLC NAND Flash Drives

It's hard for enthusiasts to grasp that as we near the end of 2015 that a large portion of PC users around the world have yet to experience the performance benefits that an SSD has to offer. The overall cost of SSDs has come down greatly over the past several years and the entry-level SSD market is faster and more affordable than ever. Crucial hopes to entice those users that haven't made the move over to an SSD yet with the release of the new BX200 SSD series. The Crucial BX200 is available in three capacities 240GB, 480GB and 960GB. Crucial BX200 SSD The Crucial BX200 series of 2.5-inch SATA III SSDs boasts sequential read and write speeds of up to 540 MB/s and 490 MB/s and the pricing starts at just $85 for a 240GB SSD! Crucial was able to get very respectable performance numbers with less than $0.35 per GB pricing thanks to the use of the Silicon Motion SM2256 controller along with using Micron's first ever 16nm TLC NAND Flash memory. Crucial BX200 Pricing The Crucial BX200 is available today in three capacities 240GB, 480GB and 960GB with MSRPs of $84.99, $149.99 and $299.99, respectively. This puts the price per GB for the BX 200 SSD series at around $0.31 for the 960GB and 480GB drives and $0.35 for the 240GB drive.
Crucial BX200 2.5-Inch SSD Series Specifications
Usage Application Client PCs
Capacity 240GB, 480GB, 960GB
Interface SATA III (6Gbps)
Form Factor 2.5-inch x 7mm
Controller Silicon Motion SM2256 w/ Custom Firmware
NAND Flash Memory Micron 16nm TLC NAND Flash
Performance 240GB - CT240BX200SSD1 480GB - CT480BX200SSD1 960GB - CT960BX200SSD1
DRAM/Cache 256MB 512MB 1024MB
SLC Buffer 3GB 6GB 12GB
Sequential Read: Up to 540 MB/s Up to 540  MB/s Up to 540 MB/s
Sequential Write: Up to 490 MB/s Up to 490 MB/s Up to 490 MB/s
4KB Random Read(QD32Thread4): Up to 66K IOPS Up to 66K IOPS Up to 66K IOPS
4KB Random Write(QD32Thread4): Up to 78K IOPS Up to 78K IOPS Up to 78K IOPS
PCMark Vantage Score: 86,000 86,000 86,000
ATA modes supported PIO mode 3, 4 Multiword DMA mode 0, 1, 2 Ultra DMA mode 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Reliability MTBF: 1.5 million hours
Power Consumption Active maximum: 4200mW Active average: 150mW Idle: 65mW DEVSLP: 10mW
Supporting features Multistep Data Integrity Algorithm Thermal Monitoring SLC Write Acceleration Active Garbage Collection TRIM Support (Required OS support) Self-Monitoring and Reporting Technology (SMART) Error Correction Code (ECC) Device Sleep extreme low power mode (DEVSLP)
Temperature OperatingTemp : 0°C to 70°C Non-operating Temp : -40°C to 85°C
Humidity 5% to 85%, non-condensing
Vibration Non-Operating: 5-800Hz @ 3.1G
Shock Non-Operating: 1500G , duration 0.5ms, 3 axis
Warranty 3 years limited
TBW 72TB (Equal to 40GB per day for 5 years)
When it comes to performance, Crucial claims that all three capacities in the BX200 series perform pretty much the same with sequential read and write speeds of up to 540 MB/s and 490 MB/s. With regards to 4K random read and write speeds you are looking at 66,000 IOPS and 78,000 IOPS, respectively. If you aren't familiar with SSD performance numbers as this is your first time looking at purchasing one the folks over at Crucial claim this drive is 13 times faster than a typical hard drive and 40 times more energy-efficient. The Crucial BX200 series is backed by a 3-year warranty or the Total Bytes Written (TBW), which would be 72TB for all three drive capacities. This is equal to 40GB of writes per day over a 5-year period, which is a figure that Crucial is comfortable with for an entry-level SSD that shouldn't be abused like a higher-end drive in a power users system. No hardware encryption is available for this SSD. Crucial BX200 480GB SSD The drive that we'll be looking at today is retail boxed Crucial BX200 480GB 2.5-inch SATA SSD.  This particular drive is sold under part number CT480BX200SSD1 and has an an MSRP of $149.99 ($0.31 per GB). This should be the most popular capacity for this series as it's really the sweet spot for pricing and capacity. Crucial BX200 480GB SSD Bundle The Crucial BX200 480GB SSD comes with Acronis True Image HD data migration software to help migrate your existing data onto this new storage drive as well as a 7mm to 9.5mm spacer should one be required. Crucial BX200 SSD Crucial Storage Executive 3.24 also became available today and it works with the new Crucial BX200 series just fine. The software easily allows you to check on the drives details, S.M.A.R.T. values, update the firmware, sanitize the drive (Secure Erase), enable Momentum Cache and even change the over-provisioning of the drive. This is an amazing assortment of knobs to turn on an entry-level drive, which is great as not too many SSDs in this category give you the ability to do all this. [gallery ids="174909,174908,174907,174906,174905,174904"] Here is the official Crucial BX200 SSD overview video that was released today if you'd like to watch a quick overview of the new drive by Crucial. https://youtu.be/9VlmRL_5cDE Let's take a look at the test system and then look at our performance test results!

The SSD Benchmark Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. This means windows defender, windows update, disk fragmentation and everything else that would interfere with testing was disabled. Windows 8.1 also had the power option set to high performance. We also disabled Turbo mode on the Intel Core i7-5960X to ensure our numbers are spot on and repeatable. ASUS X99 Sabertooth Motherboard The Intel X99 platform that we used to test the M.2 PCIe SSD was based around the ASUS X99 Sabertooth motherboard with BIOS 1801 that came out on 06/25/2015. We used Intel RST storage drivers, the exact version was 13.1.0.1058. The Crucial Ballistix DDR4 32GB 2400MHz memory kit was run at 2666MHz with 15-15-15-28 1T memory timings. The Corsair Neutron XT 240GB SSD was used as the primary drive.

Intel X99 Test Bench

Intel LGA 2011v3 Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Live Pricing

Processor

Core i7 5960X

Motherboard

ASUSX99 Sabertooth

Memory

Crucial Ballistix 2400MHz 32GB

OS Drive

Corsair Neutron XT 240GB

Power Supply

Corsair AX860i

Operating System

Windows 8.1 Pro 64-Bit
 
cdi
Here is a quick look at CrystalDiskInfo and the S.M.A.R.T. data for our brand new BX200 480GB SSD that we will be testing today. Notice that it is using Firmware Version MU01.4. bx200-capacity The overall capacity of the Crucial BX200 480GB drive shows up as 447 GB in Windows. Let's have a look at the performance!

ATTO & CrystalDiskMark

ATTO v3.05

ATTO is one of the oldest drive benchmarks still being used today and is still very relevant in the SSD world. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5KB through 64MB transfer sizes with the total length being 256MB.

ATTO - Overlapped I/O:

atto

Benchmark Results: ATTO showed Crucial BX200 480GB drive maxing out at 558 MB/s read and 498 MB/s write in the standard overlapped I/O benchmark. Crucial rates the BX200 480GB drive as having up to 540 MB/s read and 490 MB/s write with regards to sequential performance, so it looks like those ratings are ever so slightly conservative. The sequential write performance dropped unexpectedly at the 24MB and 48MB file sizes and we don't have an answer as to why that happened unless the cache filled up for some reason in those two instances. 

CrystalDiskMark 5.0.2 x64

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ. cdm-bx200 Benchmark Results: The Crucial BX200 480GB drive topped out at 538 MB/s read and 481 MB/s write on the sequential test when we ran the drive on the CrystalDiskMark storage test with the default settings. The 4K scores were 32 MB/s read and 132 MB/s for the write speed. The incompressible data test is representative for the performance you'll see when moving around movies, music and photographs. We also ran the 0Fill test and found that the sequential and random read/write performance of the drive essentially remained the same. Let's look at some other benchmarks!

AS SSD Benchmark

AS-SSD (1.8.5636.37293) Benchmark:

We have been running the AS-SSD Benchmark app for over some time now and found that it gives a broad result set. The programmer has worked very hard on this software and continues to make updates often so if you use it, show him some love and send him a donation. There are now three tests that are found within the tool and we'll show the results from all three of them. asssd Benchmark Results: AS SSD showed the Crucial BX200 480GB  SSD was able to reach 520 MB/s read and 461 MB/s write in the sequential benchmark with the overall score being 1,041 points. asssd-copy Benchmark Results: The copy benchmark test results were amazing with around 486 MB/s for the ISO test, 323 MB/s for the Program test and finally 407 MB/s for the Game test. asssd-compression Benchmark Results: For this benchmark chart you would ideally want to see a straight line as you don't want any compression performance loss as the test goes from 0% compressible to 100% compressible data during the benchmark test period. Performance on the Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512 GB drive was pretty flat on the read test at 2239 MB/s, but the write test jumped around between 1250 MB/s and 1521 MB/s. as you can see from the screen shot above.  

Anvil Storage Utilities

Anvil Storage Utilities 1.1.0

Along with the move to a new platform, we decided to make a change in one of the benchmarks. There's a relatively new benchmark called Anvil Storage Utilities that is in beta but close to production. It's a very powerful tool that measures performance through a variety of tests which can be customized. Since some of the tests more or less duplicate what we get from other benchmarks we use already, we decided to use the IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) testing on 4kb file sizes at a queue depth of 4, 16, and 32. IOPS performance is something SSD makers tout quite a bit but we generally don't do a lot of IOPS testing because frankly a lot of users can't relate to IOPS metrics as well and it tends to be more meaningful to the enterprise/server crowd. Still, it is another performance indicator with relevance and while some drives post good MB/s numbers, their IOPS scores aren't always commensurate which this test will prove out.

Anvil SSD Benchmark:

anvil

 Benchmark Results: The overall Anvil SSD Benchmark score was 3,662.64 with 100% compression (incompressible data). anvil2 Benchmark Results: We also ran the benchmark with the Applications test setting of 46% compression and found nearly identical performance results with an overall score of 3,670.21. 

PCMark 8 Storage Test

pcmark8 logo PCMark 8 is the latest version in Futuremark's series of industry standard PC benchmarking tools. With PCMark 8 you can test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. PCMark 8 is the complete PC benchmark for home and business. We ran the storage benchmark test suite on the Crucial BX200 480GB SSD.

Crucial BX200 480GB SSD:

pcmark8-bx200 Benchmark Results: When it comes to PCMark 8 performance you are looking at an overall score of 4,912 on the Crucial BX200 480GB 2.5-inch SATA III 6Gbps SSD.  The storage bandwidth on the drive was 202.76 MB/s!

IOMeter Sequential Performance

Starting here in April 2015 Legit Reviews  has brought back synthetic IOMeter v1.1.0 testing to our high-end Solid-State Drive reviews as we feel that the canned benchmarks no longer show enough of the performance picture nor do they expose many of the heat issues that we are starting to encounter on M.2 PCIe SSDs. We start out testing each drive with IOMeter, but first we prepare the drive. This is done by using Parted Magic or Samsung Magician to complete a full Secure Erase each and every drive. Next we use IOMeter to prefill the drive by performing the industry standard 128KB, aligned, sequential write workload across the entire drive for a period of 20 minutes. Once the drive is conditioned we run our saved sequential test profile that runs our 128KB test for two minutes without any idle time in between the tests. The queue depth is set to 32 as we feel with NVMe drives starting to come out that we need to increase our IO depth. iometer-128-mbps The 128KB Sequential Read/Write test is done primarily to make sure the drives we are testing meet or surpass the manufacturer specifications for sequential Read/Write performance. The Crucial BX200 480GB SSD is rated at up to 5400 MB/s sequential read and 490 MB/s sequential write. We were able to top our drive out at 559 MB/s read and just 83.1 MB/s write. 128kb-write The reason that the write performance is so low is that after 11 seconds of continual 128KB writes to the drive the SLC cache is filled up and then the performance plummets down under 100 MB/s and at times slows all the way down to 33 MB/s. It should be noted that before the drives cache filled up that it was running right around the rated speed of 490 MB/s and will do so for short periods of time. The other 'canned' benchmarks that we run don't show this as the either don't perform the write test long enough or only show the peak score. iometer-128-iops For those that like to know the IOPS results you are looking at 4,266 IOPS for the sequential read and 634 IOPS on the sequential write. Before the cache filled up the Write IOPS average was 3,740. iometer-128-ms Having high IOPs per second is generally considered good, but you also look at the latency when interpreting the results. Just because the IOPs are high it might not mean that the data is being delivered at a reasonable latency and this could cause for a poor user experience. The Crucial BX200 480GB SSD was found be at 7.5ms on the average read response times and was at 50.45ms for the average write response time. Before the cache filled up on the drive the average response time was a more reasonable 8.57ms. We've never tested an SSD that had over 50ms repsonse times on the 128KB sequential write test, so that is higher than we'd like to see.

IOMeter 4KB Random Performance

Our 4KB random performance test is conducted in the same manner as our sequential tests, but once the drive is conditioned we run our saved random test profile that runs our 4KB test for two minutes without any idle time in between the tests. The queue depth is set to 32 on four workers and the test is begun. To get the benefits from NVMe based drives you must use multiple CPU queues and this is why we are now using four workers for this IOMeter test. iometer-4k-iops IOPS is the main thing we are looking at in this test scenario and the Crucial BX200 480GB drive is rated at up to 66,000 IOPS for the 4K Random Read and 78,000 IOPS for the 4KB Random Writes. On our properly conditioned drive we hit 71,000 IOPS Read, which is higher than the drive is rated for! On the write test we found the drive scored 25,000 IOPS for our prolonged test since the cache filled up. If we ran the test for just 10 seconds (before the cache filled) we found that we were able to get 83,400 IOPS Write. This is again well over the drives rated 78,000 IOPS for Random Writes. iometer-4k-mbps When it comes to MBps you are looking at 292 MB/s on the 4KB Random Reads and 104 MB/s on the 4KB Random writes. iometer-4k-ms The response times on the Crucial BX200 480GB SSD were 5.05 ms for writes and 1.80 ms for reads, which is what we were kind of expecting for this TLC drive since the 6GB SLC cache was filling up on this prolonged write test.

IOMeter Mixed Performance

Our mixed performance test is conducted in the same manner as our sequential tests, but once the drive is conditioned we run our test profile to look at performance in various read/write states. We start the test with 100% reads and then add write data into the mix in 10% increments until we end up with no reads at all in the workload. mixed-128 The Crucial BX200 480GB drive didn't do too hot in the 128KB mixed workload test as the drives 6GB cache fills up when doing write operations of more than 10-11 seconds and then the write performance drops off and never recovers. We started out at 559MB/s with 100% reads and then dropped off to just 83MB/s with 100% writes to the drive. With a 50% write and 50% read mix the drive was at 159MB/s. mixed-4k When looking at 4KB Random mixed workload performance the Crucial BX200 480GB SSD displays similar results as with the OCZ Trion 100 480GB SSD and this makes perfect sense as both or TLC drives with SLC cache that take a performance hit when the cache fills.

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

Crucial BX200 480GB SSD The Crucial BX200 is an entry-level drive that we had high hopes for coming into this review as we were really curious with how Crucial's first drive using their own 16nm TLC Flash would do. The BX200's software package was excellent, but once we started to look at the performance numbers we saw the familiar sequential write performance drop when the SLC buffer filled up. Not all TLC-based architectures have this performance drop as Samsung's SSD 850 EVO does not.  Let's not ignore the elephant in the room, the Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB SATA SSD is hands down the drive to beat when it comes to entry-level SSDs and the Crucial BX200 wasn't able to compete. The Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB was faster when it came to raw performance as well as having a longer warranty and a higher TBW rating. The only thing the Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB drive has going against it is that it is priced a bit higher at $163.88 shipped, but the cost per GB is about the same ($0.327 per GB versus $0.312 per GB) when compared to the new Crucial BX200 480GB SSD at $149.99. We should note that the Crucial BX200 480GB SSDs $149.99 price tag is the MSRP and we suspect that it will drop from there based on the performance numbers we are seeing. When it comes to pricing against other entry-level SSDs though you'll see the Crucial BX200 is competitive with the other drives currently on the market. Keep in mind that the Crucial BX100 is now EOL (End of Life) and will be gone once the remaining inventory is cleared out.
Entry-Level SSD Pricing on November 3rd 2015
Drive 240/250/256GB 480/500/512GB 960GB/1TB
ADATA Premier SP550 $72.99 $154.99 -
Crucial BX100 $79.99 $159.99 $342.99
Crucial BX200 (MSRP) $84.99 $149.99 $299.99
Crucial MX200 $94.99 $169.99 $329.99
OCZ Arc 100 $91.99 $149.99 -
OCZ Trion 100 $93.99 $175.13 $348.99
Plextor M6V $99.99 $189.99 -
Samsung 850 EVO $87.99 $163.88 $346.00
Sandisk Ultra II $83.99 $149.23 $299.99
It's disappointing to see the Crucial BX200 unable to compete with some of the other big names on the market, but we are hopeful that the price of the drives drop below the MSRP and that maybe Crucial will introduce some performance improvements in future firmware updates. We aren't writing off the Crucial BX200 just yet, but what we are seeing isn't enough for us to recommend this drive over others on the market right now. Legit Bottom Line: The Crucial BX200 is late to the TLC party and doesn't do enough to distinguish itself from the pack. Crucial BX200 SSD