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We Like The High-Capacity Crucial M500 SSDs Best...

SSD Deathmatch: Crucial's M500 Vs. Samsung's 840 EVO
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As the solid-state drive market matures, we're watching companies take different routes to end up in largely the same place. Some are on the interstate, others are winding around the scenic route, and an unfortunate few became hopelessly lost along the way. That's alright by us; we're interested in both the journey and the destination. 

We remain huge proponents of SSDs. Few other technologies can affect the snappiness of your PC quite like solid-state storage. As they become more economical and technically refined, we continue refining the way we test them, compare them, and ultimately recommend them. We've seen this road littered with potholes in the past, but launch after launch, the top contenders impress us over and over again with interface-limited performance, fresh features, and attractive pricing...

...it's just that we sometimes get the impression one or two companies are flying private jets, laughing at the poor suckers stuck in rush-hour traffic.

Sometimes that's Crucial's position, and sometimes its not. Parent company Micron moves tons of drives, and being huge certainly helps. Did we mention that Micron is the number-two DRAM manufacturer next to (surprise, surprise) Samsung. 

The M500 is the organization's sole consumer offering at the moment. While it was beset with early availability issues, getting your hands on any drive in the line-up shouldn't be a problem today. That's good news, since affordable 1 TB SSDs are a significant milestone. Previously, one-thousand gigabytes required a pair of 512 GB drives in RAID (not always an elegant solution, to be sure). Now, Crucial achieves this using higher-density dies, but continues leaning on two-bit-per-cell NAND. Samsung proved a while back that three-bit-per-cell flash is viable too, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that Micron might jump on that bandwagon in the future.

This takes us to the unavoidable comparison with Samsung's 840 EVO. We just reviewed that entire line-up in Samsung 840 EVO SSD: Tested At 120, 250, 500, And 1000 GB. Although the 840 EVOs employ triple-level cell memory, it gets a big boost from some quantity of emulated SLC, too. Consequently, the EVO is on par with, and sometimes ahead of the M500 in write performance benchmarks. Read performance is squarely in Samsung's camp, though.

The 840 EVO is missing power loss protection, cross-die redundancy, and it currently lacks Opal 2.0 encryption, which is one of the M500's aces. Samsung says its EVO will get that last feature in time, though the discussion is largely academic until the new 840 shows up for sale anyway. Both drive families sport three years of warranty coverage, but suddenly-lower pricing on the M500s might give them an edge.

What Crucial's latest offerings lack is the EVO's sweet set of consumer-friendly management and cloning tools. The company also isn't selling the M500s with installation kits, though a standalone upgrade package is available separately for $20 from Crucial's Web store. Samsung, on contrast, adds a USB 3.0-to-SATA adapter to its installation kit (though that luxury will add to the 840 EVO's price tag).

At the end of the day, we have to break our recommendations down by capacity. If 128- and 256 GB-class offerings are big enough for you, then it's hard for us to get behind the smaller M500s due to their performance. Conversely, the 480 and 960 GB models are genuinely quick. Speed alone doesn't make an SSD worth buying of course. Enhanced security and reliability features rate way up there, too. Ingenuity might be a better selling point, except that ingenuity rarely shows up on benchmarks. So, we continue plugging away at our M500s and 840 EVOs to get a better sense of how long they'll last.

Not Very Photogenic, Eh?Not Very Photogenic, Eh?

Now that the 960 GB versions of the M500 are plentiful (they weren't at first), the worst thing we can say about the behemoth is that its metallic label gets marred if you so much as breathe toward it. This makes for bad beauty shots. But we're still pretty enamored with the hardware underneath.

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  • 2 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 6, 2013 11:38 PM
    I think you mixed up the axis on the read vs write delay graph. It doesn't agree with the individual ones after, or the writeup.
  • 8 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 6, 2013 11:57 PM
    Even 3bpc SSDs should last you a good ten years...

    The SSD 840 is rated for 1000 P/E cycles, though it's been seen doing more like ~3000. At 10GB/day, a 240GB would last for 24,000 days, or about 766 years, and that's using the 1K figure.

    You're free to waste money if you want, but SLC now has little place outside write-heavy DB storage.

    EDIT: Screwed up by an order of magnitude.
  • 6 Hide
    cryan , August 7, 2013 12:20 AM
    Quote:
    I think you mixed up the axis on the read vs write delay graph. It doesn't agree with the individual ones after, or the writeup.


    You are totally correct! You win a gold star, because I didn't even notice. Thanks for catching it, and it should be fixed now.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan

  • 2 Hide
    cryan , August 7, 2013 12:24 AM
    Quote:
    I would only buy SSD that uses SLC memory. I dont wan't to buy new drive every year or so.


    Not only are consumer workloads completely gentle on SSDs, but modern controllers are super awesome at expanding NAND longevity. I was able to burn through 3000+ PE cycles on the Samsung 840 last year, and it only is rated at 1,000 PE cycles or so. You'd have to put almost 1 TB a day on a 120 GB Samsung 840 TLC to kill it in a year, assuming it didn't die from something else first.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan

  • 8 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 7, 2013 2:57 AM
    I'd like to see some sources on that - for starters, I don't think the 840 has been out for a year, and it was the first to commercialize 3bpc NAND.

    You may be thinking of the controller failures some of the Sandforce drives had, which are completely unrelated to the type of NAND used.
  • 2 Hide
    mironso , August 7, 2013 3:57 AM
    Well, I must agree with Someone Somewhere. I would also like to see sources for this statement: "Yes, in theory they last 10 years, in practise they last a year or so.".
    I would like to see, can TH use SSD put this 10GB/day and see for how long it will work.
    After this I read this article, I think that Crucial's M500 hit the jackpot. Will see Samsung's response. And that's very good for end consumer.
  • -1 Hide
    edlivian , August 7, 2013 3:58 AM
    It was sad that they did not include the samsung 830 128gb and crucial m4 128gb in the results, those were the most popular ssd last year.
  • 8 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 7, 2013 4:27 AM
    You can also find tens of thousands of people not complaining about their SSD failing. It's called selection bias.

    Show me a report with a reasonable sample size (more than a couple of dozen drives) that says they have >50% annual failures.

    A couple of years ago Tom's posted this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-reliability-failure-rate,2923.html

    The majority of failures were firmware-caused by early Sandforce drives. That's gone now.

    EDIT: Missed your post. First off, that's a perfect example of self-selection. Secondly, those who buy multiple SSDs will appear to have n times the actual failure rate, because if any fail they all appear to fail. Thirdly, that has nothing to do with whether or not it is a 1bpc or 3 bpc SSD - that's what you started off with.

    Quote:
    This doesn't fix the problem of audience self-selection
  • 7 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 7, 2013 5:27 AM
    You were however trying to stop other people buying them...

    Sounds a bit like a sore loser argument, unfortunately.

    SSDs aren't perfect, but they generally do live long enough to not be a problem. Most of the failures have been overcome by now too.

    Just realised there's an error in my original post - off by a factor of ten. Should have been 66 years.
  • 4 Hide
    warmon6 , August 7, 2013 5:30 AM
    Quote:
    I am not talking about Samsung SSD-s, I am talking about SSDs in general. And I am not going to provide any sources because SSD fail all the time after a year or so. That is the raility. You can find, on the internet, people complaining abouth their SSD failing. There are a lot of them...
    Also, SLC based SSD-s are usually "enterprise", so they are designed for reliability and not performance, and they don't use some bollocks, overclocked to the point of failure, controllers. And have better optimised firmware...


    Tell that to all the people on this forum still running intel X-25M that launched all the way back in 2008 and my Samsung 830 that's been working just fine for over a year.......

    See what you're paying attention too is the loudest group of ssd owners. The owners that have failed ssd's.

    See it's the classic "if someone has a problem, there going to be the one that you hear and the quiet group, isn't having the problem" issue.

    Those that dont have issues (such as myself) dont mention about our ssds and is probably complaining about something else that has failed.


  • 6 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 7, 2013 5:43 AM
    Quote:
    Yes, in theory they last 10 years, in practise they last a year or so.

    Quote:
    because SSD fail all the time after a year or so.


    Those don't seem like opinions to me. It's customary to include some form of leeway in the sentence, like 'IMHO', 'often', or 'I've heard' etc.
  • 5 Hide
    InvalidError , August 7, 2013 7:10 AM
    Quote:
    At 10GB/day, a 240GB would last for 24,000 days, or about 766 years, and that's using the 1K figure.

    Assuming the system has more than enough RAM to avoid needing any significant amount of swapping. If someone with 4GB RAM uses a 16GB swapfile to avoid upgrading to the 8-16GB RAM he really should have, he could end up writing over 1GB/minute.

    I have ended up over-crowding my RAM many times in the past and it has a tendency to make my computers practically unusable when using mechanical HDDs at which point I had to spread my programs and swapfile across multiple HDDs to reduce the IO load on individual drives. I imagine this would burn through SSDs fairly quickly.
  • 4 Hide
    jryder , August 7, 2013 7:13 AM
    Quote:
    I am not talking about Samsung SSD-s, I am talking about SSDs in general. And I am not going to provide any sources because SSD fail all the time after a year or so. That is the raility. You can find, on the internet, people complaining abouth their SSD failing. There are a lot of them...
    Also, SLC based SSD-s are usually "enterprise", so they are designed for reliability and not performance, and they don't use some bollocks, overclocked to the point of failure, controllers. And have better optimised firmware...


    Anecdotal evidence is pretty useless. People with very good or very bad experiences tend to write reviews. People generally don't write reviews for random pieces of hardware that just work as expected. Provide citations with statistics to support your statements if you want anyone to take them seriously.
  • 8 Hide
    colson79 , August 7, 2013 7:26 AM
    Quote:
    Are you bloody shitting me?! What am I, a mechanical drive lobby, spreading anti-SSD propaganda???

    I will not be replying to this topic any more. All I wanted to do is say my opinion, but there had to be some smartass telling me that I don't have the right to do it. Noooo, I have to source it. This is my oppinion, get over it.


    You are entitled to your opinion but you are making bold statements without any facts. A lot of people use forums like these to research products they are thinking about buying and you are spreading misinformation about SSD's without and evidence for your statements. I personally have 4 computers with SSD's in them that are over 2 years old and I haven't had a single issue or failure. It really pisses me off when people start spreading inaccurate statements that may turn away a potential user of a SSD. Out of all the PC upgrades I have done in the past 12 years the SSD has been the best most noticeable improvement I have done.
  • 4 Hide
    Onus , August 7, 2013 8:51 AM
    Disagreement among techies is inevitable, but please watch language.


    Just to stick an oar into the reliability issue, my Samsung 830 has run reliably for over two years now. The only SSDs I had fail in use were a couple of Sandforce drives, but their replacements have thus far been reliable. I think InvalidError has a good point about RAM though; I tend to use at least 8GB, which probably cuts down swapping quite a bit. I also prefer to close programs completely rather than have a lot of windows open, which would also reduce swapping. With a SSD, they re-open pretty quickly anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    dalethepcman , August 7, 2013 9:54 AM
    Wow, nice 180 there anti global. I have used many SSD's in both enterprise and personal use, and their reliability has been on par with enterprise level HDD's. We currently use a mix of Samsung 830/840's and crucial m400's for SSD's and with the increased capacity and incredible price drops, the m500 would be an easy drop in upgrade.
  • 2 Hide
    bullwinkel , August 7, 2013 10:12 AM
    I've purchased 3 different SSDs over the last 2 years. My first purchase was an Agility 3 64gb that I used as a boot drive for my machine that I just build. About 6 months later I purchased an M4 128gb to be used for running select applications. About 6 months after the M4 purchase, I bought an 840 500gb. I moved my OS to the M4, applications to the 840 and gave my Agility 3 to my brother to be used in his machine as a boot drive. Never had a single problem with any of them. SSDs are fantastic. Pretty soon, when the price of the TB drives come further, the only mechanical storage I'll be using is for backups.
  • 3 Hide
    rrbronstein , August 7, 2013 11:21 AM
    Quote:
    Are you bloody shitting me?! What am I, a mechanical drive lobby, spreading anti-SSD propaganda???

    I will not be replying to this topic any more. All I wanted to do is say my opinion, but there had to be some smartass telling me that I don't have the right to do it. Noooo, I have to source it. This is my oppinion, get over it.


    LOL, when you come onto an article about SSD's and say nonsense like you did, you have to expect to get hate buddy. MLC/TLC is very viable and lasts much longer than a year kid, some drives do fail, and if they do you get your replacement. Other peoples drives are not lemons and last a normal lifetime, common sense bro.

  • 2 Hide
    anything4this , August 7, 2013 12:39 PM
    As stated, it was mostly sandforce drives that failed. Have bought 7 SSD's (Crucial, Samsung, Plextor) and all are working perfectly awesome (rather than just fine :p  )
  • 3 Hide
    ethanolson , August 7, 2013 9:26 PM
    My wife is running an X-25M G2 and I just got an M500. The X-25M gave her at least two more years out of her system and the M500... holy cow is this thing awesome! Everything feels like it should.

    Oh, I highly recommend getting the drive migration kit from Crucial for ~$20. It makes like much easier. It's a USB 3.0 SATA drive connector for your M500. Then just boot the supplied CD and run it in auto mode to copy over your drive exactly and make any sizing adjustments needed to the partitions to get it to fit. It works very nicely.
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