Crucial MX500 Arrives With 64-Layer 3D TLC NANDWhen the Crucial MX300 series came out back in June 2016 it was a big deal as it was their first drive with Micron 3D TLC NAND Flash memory. We reviewed the 750GB and 1TB capacities last year and found them to be pretty solid drives. Crucial has since released the successor to that series with the new MX500 SSD lineup. The Crucial MX500 series is the first mainstream consumer product to use Micron's latest 64-layer 3D TLC NAND. This drive series is offered in both 2.5-inch and M.2 SATA form factors in capacities ranging from 250GB to 2TB. When it comes to performance, this series offers sequential reads and writes of up to 560 MB/s and 510 MB/s with Random reads and writes of up to 95,000 IOPS and 90,000 IOPS. Like the other MX series drives before, the MX500 offers hardware-based encryption and integrated power loss prevention for when the power goes out unexpectedly. The 3D TLD NAND on the MX500 series is based on Micron's 2nd generation of 3D NAND technology. Micron is using a stackable 64-layer, 256 gigabit die on this series to come up with a 64GB part that is said to offer good density and solid performance with exceptional longevity. The drives that we will be taking a look at today are the Crucial MX500 500GB that is sold under part number CT500MX500SSD1 for $134.95 shipped ($0.27 per GB) and the Crucial MX500 1TB that is available under part number CT1000MX500SSD1 for $259.99 shipped ($0.26 per GB). Both of these drives should be the most appealing to our readers due to their price points and capacities. The 500GB model with its 180 TBW rating can handle 99.6GB of drive writes per day over the 5-year warranty period whereas the 1TB model can handle 197.3GB of drive writes per day. Any of these drives will likely last longer than that as the average consumer isn't writing that much data to the NAND Flash every single day. Crucial MX500 SATA SSD Series Specifications:
- Controller: Silicon Motion SM2258
- 3D NAND: Micron 3D TLC NAND - 256Gb 64-layer
- Interface: SATA III 6Gbps
- Form Factors: 2.5-inch internal 7mm and M.2 2280
- Capacities (unformatted): 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
- DDR3 DRAM Cache:
- 250GB - 250MB
- 500GB - 512MB
- 1TB - 1GB
- 2TB - 2GB
- Data Protection: Hardware-based AES-256 encryption engine
- Sequential R/W (MB/s): 560/510 (all capacities)
- Random R/W (IOPS): 95K / 90K (all capacities)
- DevSleep Power: 2 mW (250GB/500GB), 4 mW (1TB), 25 mW (2TB)
- Idle Average Power: 55 mW (250GB/500GB), 65 mW (1TB), 110 mW (2TB)
- Active Average Power: 70 mW (250GB/500GB), 75 mW (1TB), 150 mW (2TB)
- Max Write Power: 3 W (250GB), 4 W (500GB), 5 W (1TB), 6 W (2TB)
- Life Expectancy: 1.8 million hours MTTF
- 250GB - 100 TBW
- 500GB - 180 TBW
- 1TB - 360 TBW
- 2TB - 700 TBW
- Warranty: 5-year, limited
The SSD Benchmark Test System & TRIM SupportBefore 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. 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 v22.214.171.1245 and Intel RST v126.96.36.1995 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|
|Intel Core i5-8400|
|ASUS STRIX Z370-F Gaming|
|Corsair Vengeange LPX 3200MHz 16GB|
|Samsung 850 PRO 512GB|
|Windows 10 64-Bit|
CrystalDiskInfo 7.5.1 Readout:The readout on CrystalDiskInfo 7.5.1 shows that the Crucial MX500 series supports S.M.A.R.T., APM, NCQ, TRIM and DevSleep. The drive we received had firmware version M3CR010 installed and that is the version that we used for general testing and benchmarking. The overall capacity shows up as 931 TB on the MX500 1TB model and 466GB on the MX500 500GB drive 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 MX500 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. According to TRIMCheck v0.7, these two drives do execute the TRIM command correctly! Let's have a look at the performance!
Anvil Storage Utilities
Anvil Storage Utilities 1.1.0Along 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 Crucial MX500 500GB drive was able to achieve a score of 4,886 points and the 1TB drive came in slightly behind that with 4,813 points. Basically the same performance and that is what we expected from the same drive series.
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 improved to roughly 4,900 points. Benchmark Results: We used Anvil to check the 4K Random Read performance and found we topped out at around 99,000 IOPS using the 46% compression preset that best matches typical applications. Crucial specifications show this drive as having a maximum 4K Random Read IOPS of up to 95K at QD32, so we are right where we should be in terms of performance. Low queue depth performance was exception with the second highest QD1 speeds we've seen from any SATA drive series. Benchmark Results: When it came to 4K Random Write performance, the Crucial MX500 drives topped out at around 88,000 IOPS at QD32 and that is close enough for us to the drives 90K rating. The QD1 thru QD3 4K Random Write Performance was on par with other big name drives although the QD4 performance did take a little performance hit.
ATTO & CrystalDiskMark
ATTO v3.05ATTO 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 MX500 500GB:
ATTO - Crucial MX500 1TB:Benchmark Results: ATTO showed both Crucial MX drives reaching speeds of up to 564 MB/s read and 524 MB/s write on the 500GB drive and 519 MB/s on the 1TB drive in the standard overlapped I/O benchmark. This drive is rated at up to 560 MB/s max sequential read and 510 MB/s max sequential write, so we exceeded both of those scores on our Intel Z370 based 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 MX500 drives has solid performance compared to the other brands and series.
CrystalDiskMark 6.0.0 x64CrystalDiskMark 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 MX500 500GB:
CystalDiskmark - Crucial MX500 1TB:Benchmark Results: The Crucial MX500 500GB reached 563 MB/s read and 522 MB/s write in the standard sequential write test. Random 4K QD1 performance was 43 MB/s read and 105 MB/s write. Those 4K random performance numbers improved up to 223 MB/s read and 205 MB/s write at a queue depth of 32. The Crucial MX500 1TB benchmarked just slightly slower than the 500GB drive, but was still well within rated speeds. 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 MX500 500GB:
AS SSD - Crucial MX500 1TB:Benchmark Results: On AS SSD, the Crucial MX500 drives had an overall score of just over 1,200 points with sequential read speeds of nearly 530 MB/s and just over 480 MB/s write. The 4K random results were down at 39 MB/s read and 90 MB/s write.
AS SSD Copy - Crucial MX500 500GB:
AS SSD Copy - Crucial MX500 1TB:Benchmark Results: The copy benchmark test results were on par with what one expects from a SATA III SSD with speeds ranging from 482.5 MB/s in the Program to 526 MB/s in the Game benchmark. These are impressive results for a budget friendly SATA SSD!
AS SSD Compression - Crucial MX500 500GB:
AS SSD Compression - Crucial MX500 1TB: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 WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB had virtually no dips on the read side and just one around the 50% mark on the write side.
Linear Write and Real World File Transfer Testing
AIDA64 Disk BenchmarkOver the years many people have asked for AIDA64 linear write tests to be done, so we fired that utility up to see what would happen to these SATA SSDs. When you take a look at extended sustained write performance you'll see that the performance starts out at around 490 MB/s and then significantly dropped off to roughly 390 MB/s before recovering for a brief period. After the recovery period the drive performance dropped off again and had some brief recovery period. Overall the performance was not terrible for a 3D TLC NAND based drive, but not all drives have this. Overall the average speed for writing over 256GB of data to the drive without a break was 443 MB/s.
Real World File TransferBefore 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 real world data to the Crucial MX500 drive we found an average speed of 486 MB/s on the 500GB drive and 479 MB/s on the 1TB model. These numbers are better than the AIDA64 linear write test averages, so we are happy with that. Crucial clearly still has room for improvement in heavy workloads like this, but it's significantly better than their value oriented BX300 series. We'll talk more about that in the conclusion on the next page.
Final Thoughts & ConclusionsCrucial has two consumer SATA SSD series that you have to pick from. You have the entry-level BX series and then the mainstream MX series and both have been revamped in recent months. Both series feature the same exact Silicon Motion SM2285 controller, but differ in the capacities that they are available in and use totally different NAND Flash memory. The entry-level BX300 series is only available in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities whereas the mainstream MX500 is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. That alone right there should narrow down what series you need to purchase. The mainstream MX series that we looked at here today utilizes 64-layer 3D TLC NAND with a 5-year warranty and full hardware data encryption. The Crucial BX300 series does not offer data encryption and has a shorter 3-year warranty, so that might be a deal breaker for some. The Crucial BX300 series features 32-layer 3D MLC NAND Flash though and that might be appealing to some, but the performance numbers are better on the MX500 series with 63-layer 3D TLC NAND. Things get really interesting when you look at pricing as the MX500 500GB drive costs about $10 less than the BX300 480GB drive. The Crucial MX500 series is priced lower and has better performance, a longer warranty, higher endurance ratings and the ability to do full hardware encryption. Crucial BX300 3D NAND SATA SSD Pricing
- 120GB – CT120BX300SSD1 – $59.99 shipped ($0.49 per GB)
- 240GB – CT240BX300SSD1 –$87.99 shipped ($0.37 per GB)
- 480GB – CT480BX300SSD1 – $144.99 shipped ($0.30 per GB)
Crucial MX500 2.5-inch SATA SSD Pricing
- 250GB - CT250MX500SSD1 - $79.99 shipped ($0.32 per GB)
- 500GB - CT500MX500SSD1 - $134.95 shipped ($0.27 per GB)
- 1TB - CT1000MX500SSD1 - $259.99 shipped ($0.26 per GB)
- 2TB - CT2000MX500SSD1 - $499.99 shipped ($0.25 per GB)