Crucial BX300 Features 3D MLC NAND With Budget Prices

If you are looking for a budget 2.5-inch SATA SSD you'll quickly find that many are using TLC NAND Flash memory. TLC NAND has come a long way in recent years, but after a number of poorly implemented solutions have come to market it has some enthusiasts avoiding them. The Crucial BX300 series was launched in August 2017 as a budget drive that uses 3D MLC NAND with SLC caching!  This should appeal to those that don't want a drive using TLC NAND Flash memory. Say goodbye to the Crucial BX200 with TLC NAND Flash that came out in November 2015! The Crucial BX300 series is made up of 2.5-inch SATA 6Gb/s SSDs that is available in capacities of 120GB ($59.99), 240GB ($87.99), and 480GB ($144.99). Sequential performance is rated at up to 555MB/s read and 510MB/s write on all three capacities. When it comes to 4K Random IOPS performance all three are rated at 90K write, but differ in read performance. For example the 120GB drive is rated at just 45K IOPS, the 240GB drive is rated at 84K IOPS and the 480GB drive is rated at 95K IOPS. All Crucial BX300 drives come with a 7mm to 9.5mm spacer and a serial number for Acronis True Image HD 2015 software for easy data migration. Crucial BX300 SSD Retail Box Crucial BX300 Series Features:  The model that we'll be taking a look at today is the Crucial BX300 480GB SSD  that is sold under part number CT480BX300SSD1 for $144.99 shipped or roughly $0.30 per GB. This model has 16GB of fixed SLC Cache for write acceleration, 512MB of DDR3 DRAM and an endurance rating of 160 TBW. That means the BX300 480GB drive should be good for 146GB of drive writes per day over the 3-year warranty period. [caption id="attachment_202338" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Crucial Storage Executive Tool Crucial Storage Executive Tool[/caption] The Crucial BX300 series is fully compatible with the Crucial Storage Executive Tool for easy drive maintenance. This utility will allow you to monitor the drive, check the S.M.A.R.T. attributes, secure erase the drive, update the firmware as well as enabling advanced features like over provisioning, FlexCap, or momentum cache (only use if you have a battery backup). Crucial BX300 480GB SSD Inside PCB If you want to access the inside of the BX300 SSD you just need to remove the four Philips screws on the outside of the metal enclosure. Once that is removed there are just two Philips screws holding the tiny half-height PCB to the enclosure. These shots are of our 480GB drive and you can see eight 3D MLC NAND modules (256Gbit 32-layer 3D MLC NAND Flash), Micron 512GB DDR3 DRAM and Silicon Motion SM2258 four-channel controller. As you can see from the image above there is thermal tape over the controller that makes contact with the SSD housing and another for spacing across two of the NAND packages. Crucial BX300 480GB SSD Rear PCB Let's take a look at some benchmarks of this drive!

The SSD Benchmark Test System & TRIM Support

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 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1709 build 16299) 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 10 also had the power option set to high performance and we also disabled c-states and Turbo mode on the Intel Core i5-8400 to ensure our numbers are spot on and repeatable. ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-F GAMING Motherboard The Intel Z370 platform that we used to test the storage drives was based around the ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-F Gaming motherboard with BIOS 0606 that came out on January 4th, 2018. We used Intel Chipset Driver v10.1.1.45, Intel Management Engine Interface v11.7.0.1045 and Intel RST v15.9.0.1015 drivers. This is important to point out as they include some of the fixes for Meltdown and Spectre design flaws that have recently rocked the PC Market. The Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 16GB 3200MHz memory kit was run with CL15 memory timings and a Samsung SSD 850 PRO 512GB SATA SSD was used as the primary drive.

Intel Z370 Test Bench

Intel LGA 1151 Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i5-8400

Motherboard

ASUS STRIX Z370-F Gaming

Memory

Corsair Vengeange LPX 3200MHz 16GB

OS Drive

Samsung 850 PRO 512GB

Power Supply

Corsair RM850x

Operating System

Windows 10 64-Bit

CrystalDiskInfo 7.5.1 Readout:

The readout on CrystalDiskInfo 7.5.1 shows that the Crucial BX300 series supports S.M.A.R.T., NCQ, TRIM and DevSleep. The drive we received had firmware version M2CR010 installed and that is the version that we used for general testing and benchmarking. The overall capacity shows up as 447 TB on the Crucial BX300 480GB SATA III SSD in Windows 10 version 1709. Please remember that 1GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes. A certain portion of capacity may be used for system file and maintenance use, thus the actual available capacity may differ from the labeled total capacity. Does The Crucial BX300 PRO SATA III SSD Series Support Trim?  Most SSDs today support the TRIM command, but we still run a quick test to ensure that the command is being properly passed through to the SSD and being done. A great free utility called TRIMCheck can be run to ensure that TRIM is functioning properly. trimcheck hellfire According to TRIMCheck v0.7 ,the Crucial BX300 series does execute the TRIM command correctly! Let's have a look at the performance!

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 1, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128. 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 with 100% Compression (incompressible data):

Benchmark Results: The Anvil SSD Benchmark showed that with 100% compression (incompressible data) the Crcucial BX300 3D NAND 480GB SATA drive was able to achieve a score of 4,656.55 points with 529 MB/s read and 486 MB/s write speeds when it comes to the measured sequential performance with 4MB file sizes. 

Anvil SSD Applications Benchmark at 46% Compression:

Benchmark Results: With the compression at 46% to help mimic real world applications better we found the overall score dropped slightly down to 4,651.40 points.  Benchmark Results: We used Anvil to check the 4K Random Read performance and found we topped out at 99,400 IOPS using the 46% compression preset that best matches typical applications.  The Crucial BX300 480GB drive is rated as having a maximum 4K Random Read IOPS of up to 95K at QD32 and we surpassed that! The QD1 to QD4 performance numbers are heavily used on consumer PCs and the Crucial BX300 did pretty well at at low queue depth performance.  Benchmark Results: When it came to 4K Random Write performance, the Crucial BX300 480GB SSD topped out at 87,700 IOPS at QD32 and that is just below its 90K rating.  The good news is that the 4K Random Write Performance is much better than the older BX200 series that the BX300 is replacing! 

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 - Crucial BX300 480GB:

Benchmark Results: ATTO showed thCrucial BX300 480GB drive reaching speeds of up to 564 MB/s read and 529 MB/s write in the standard overlapped I/O benchmark. This drive is rated at up to 555 MB/s max sequential read and 510 MB/s max sequential write, so we exceeded both of those scores on our test platform.    Benchmark Results: Compared to some other SATA III SSDs we can quickly see that there isn't much difference with regards to sequential read performance. The Crucial BX200 didn't do too hot in the sequential write test, but the BX300 was notably better. When it comes to small file transfers almost all SATA III SSDs perform the same., so nothing too exciting here.    

CrystalDiskMark 6.0.0 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) and shows the highest score of five runs.

CystalDiskmark - Crucial BX300 480GB:

Benchmark Results: The Crucial BX300 480GB drive reached 563MB/s read and 526 MB/s write in the standard sequential write test. Random 4K QD1 performance was 34 MB/s read and 109 MB/s write. Those numbers improved up to 223 MB/s read and 203 MB/s write at a queue depth of 32.  Let's look at some other benchmarks!

AS SSD Benchmark

AS-SSD (2.0.6485.19676) 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.

AS SSD - Crucial BX300 480GB:

Benchmark Results: On AS SSD, the Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB drive had an overall score of 1,220 points with sequential read speeds of 529 MB/s and 499 MB/s write. 

AS SSD  Copy - Crucial BX300 480GB:

Benchmark Results: The copy benchmark test results were on par with what one expects from a SATA III SSD with speeds ranging from 475 MB/s in the program and game tests to 546 MB/s in the ISO benchmark. These are impressive results for a budget friendly SATA SSD!  Benchmark Results: We are fans of the AS SSD copy benchmark tests, so we charted the BX300 against six other drives to see how it performs. It actually led in the ISO test cases and had a strong standing in the other two test cases. 

AS SSD  Compression - Crucial BX300 480GB:

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. The Crucial BX300 480GB had virtually no dips on the read side, but had a handful when it was writing. 

Linear Write and Real World File Transfer Testing

AIDA64 Disk Benchmark

We've had some people ask for AIDA64 linear write tests to be done, so we fired that utility up to see what would happen. When you take a look at extended sustained write performance you'll see that the performance falls off after 16GB of writes as that is how large the SLC cache is on this BX300 480GB drive for write acceleration. After that you see that the performance drops down to around 234 MB/s as the data is being written directly to the 3D MLC NAND with brief jumps up to around 423 MB/s. This is a very hard on we stopped the benchmark after writing 100GB of data to the drive without a break.  The write speeds topped out at 496 MB/s with the lows reaching down to 234 MB/s. The average speed is right around 343.3 MB/s.

Real World File Transfer

Before we wrap things up we wanted to see how real-world was when writing a movie folder containing seven 1080P movies over to the SSD. For this test, we are going to simply stress write performance by transferring over a 30.6GB folder of movies off of a PCIe NVMe SSD to the drive being tested to see how performance looks. When it comes to writing large amounts of data to the Crucial BX300 480GB drive we found a 3.5x improvement over the Crucial BX200 480GB SSD! The Crucial BX300 still has some room for improvement as it is a good ways behind the Crucial MX500. The kicker here is that the Crucial BX300 480GB drive with 3D MLC NAND costs $144.99 shipped and the Crucial MX500 500GB with 3D TLC NAND available for $134.95 shipped. We'll talk more about that in the conclusion on the next page.

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

The Crucial BX300 is hands down a better drive than the Crucial BX200 and makes for a more competitive drive for the budget SSD market. The main reason we saw such a dramatic improvement over the BX200 series is due to the fact that Crucial ditched the TLC NAND they used on the BX200 series and moved over to Micron's 3D MLC NAND. This makes a world of difference and you need to have a solid product as the value SSD market is flooded with drives.

Crucial BX300 3D NAND SATA SSD Pricing 

The problem with the Crucial BX300 is currently it's price point. The Crucial BX300 series is priced below $0.50 per GB with the 480GB drive coming in at $0.30 per GB, but this is still too high. The Crucial BX300 series came out in August 2017 and since then the Crucial MX500 series was released. The kicker here is that the MX500 series was faster in almost all of our benchmarks yet it uses Micron's latest 64-layer 3D TLC NAND Flash. The Crucial MX500 500GB drive is priced at $134.99 shipped, so you have the mainstream product using TLC NAND and priced lower than the budget product that is using MLC NAND. This is rather strange as the MX500 series has a longer 5-year warranty along with enterprise features like RAIN, Exclusive Data Defense, full hardware encryption and the latest power loss technology. At the end of the day the Crucial BX300 proved to be a solid drive and should be of interest to those wanting 3D MLC NAND and don't need full hardware encryption. It also comes with a robust toolbox, data migration/cloning software and a 9.5mm spacer should any of that ever be needed. That said, the new Crucial MX500 series looks to offer the best bang for the buck right now and we'll have a full review on that series in the near future. LR Recommended Award Legit Bottom Line: The Crucial BX300 480GB Drive is hands down better than the Crucial BX200 480GB drive that we previously reviewed, but costs more than the Crucial MX500 500GB drive and has less features.