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Test Setup And Benchmarks

The Crucial M550 SSD Review: Striking Back With More Performance
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Our consumer storage test bench is based on Intel's Z77 Platform Controller Hub paired with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU. Intel's 6- and 7-series chipsets are virtually identical from a storage perspective. We're standardizing on older RST 10.6.1002 drivers for the foreseeable future.

Updates to the RST driver package occasionally result in subtle performance changes. They can also lead to some truly profound variance in scores and results as well, depending on the revision. Some versions flush writes more or less frequently. Others work better in RAID situations. Builds 11.2 and newer support TRIM in RAID as well. Regardless, results obtained with one revision may or may not be comparable to results obtained with another, so sticking with one version across all testing is mandatory.

Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge), 32 nm, 3.1 GHz, LGA 1155, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost Enabled
MotherboardGigabyte G1.Sniper M3
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1866 @ DDR3-1333, 1.5 V
System Drive Intel DC S3500 480 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: D2010353
Drive(s) Under TestCrucial M550 1024 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware MU01

Crucial M550 512 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware MU01

Intel SSD 730 480 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: L2010400

Samsung 840 EVO mSATA 120 GB, Firmware: EXT41B6Q

Samsung 840 EVO mSATA 250 GB, Firmware: EXT41B6Q

Samsung 840 EVO mSATA 500 GB, Firmware: EXT41B6Q

Samsung 840 EVO mSATA 1000 GB, Firmware: EXT41B6Q

SanDisk X210 256 GB, Firmware X210400

SanDisk X210 512 GB, Firmware X210400
Comparison DrivesIntel SSD 530 180 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: DC12

Intel SSD 520 180 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 400i

Intel SSD 525 180 GB mSATA, Firmware: LLKi

SanDisk A110 256 GB M.2 PCIe x2, Firmware: A200100

Silicon Motion SM226EN 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: M0709A

Crucial M500 120 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: MU02

Crucial M500 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: MU02

Crucial M500 480 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: MU02

Crucial M500 960 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: MU02

Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: EXT0AB0Q

Samsung 840 EVO 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: EXT0AB0Q

Samsung 840 EVO 480 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: EXT0AB0Q

Samsung 840 EVO 1 TB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: EXT0AB0Q

SanDisk Ultra Plus 64 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: X211200

SanDisk Ultra Plus 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware X211200

SanDisk Ultra Plus 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware X211200

Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware DXM04B0Q

Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware DXM04B0Q

SanDisk Extreme II 120 GB, Firmware: R1311

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB, Firmware: R1311

SanDisk Extreme II 480 GB, Firmware: R1311

Seagate 600 SSD 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: B660

Intel SSD 525 30 GB mSATA 6Gb/s, Firmware LLKi

Intel SSD 525 60 GB mSATA 6Gb/s, Firmware LLKi

Intel SSD 525 120 GB mSATA 6Gb/s, Firmware LLKi

Intel SSD 525 180 GB mSATA 6Gb/s, Firmware LLKi

Intel SSD 525 240 GB mSATA 6Gb/s, Firmware LLKi

Intel SSD 335 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 335s

Intel SSD 510 250 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: PWG2

OCZ Vertex 3.20 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 2.25

OCZ Vector 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 2.0

Samsung 830 512 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: CXMO3B1Q

Crucial m4 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s Firmware: 000F

Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s Firmware: 1.02

 Corsair Neutron GTX 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: M206
Graphics
MSI Cyclone GTX 460 1 GB
Power Supply
Seasonic X-650, 650 W 80 PLUS Gold
Chassis
Lian Li Pitstop
RAID
LSI 9266-8i PCIe x8, FastPath and CacheCade AFK
System Software and Drivers
Operating
System
Windows 7 x64 Ultimate
DirectX
DirectX 11
Drivers
Graphics: Nvidia 314.07
RST: 10.6.1002
IMEI: 7.1.21.1124
Generic AHCI: MSAHCI.SYS
Benchmarks
Tom's Hardware Storage Bench v1.0
Trace-Based 
Iometer 1.1.0# Workers = 1, 4 KB Random: LBA=16 GB, varying QDs, 128 KB Sequential, 8 GB LBA Precondition, Exponential QD Scaling
PCMark 7
Secondary Storage Suite
PCM Vantage
Storage Suite
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  • 2 Hide
    ikyung , March 18, 2014 2:44 PM
    Heard rumors of Samsung planning to market the 850 with aggressive pricing this year. Would like to see Crucial and Samsung duke it out in pricing.
  • 1 Hide
    _potts_ , March 18, 2014 2:50 PM
    I just splashed $250 (delivered to Oz) on a M500 480GB mSATA, eh, can't complain.
  • 0 Hide
    cryan , March 18, 2014 3:51 PM
    Quote:
    Heard rumors of Samsung planning to market the 850 with aggressive pricing this year. Would like to see Crucial and Samsung duke it out in pricing.
    They already have IMHO. The Samsung 840 EVO is significantly cheaper than it was at launch. It and the M500 have seemed to move in lockstep. Along the way, we've seen other manufacturers follow suit. Even Intel's 530 series, which has been on the more expensive side of mainstream products has been seen for just $140 for the 240 GB version here in the State.Regards,Christopher Ryan
  • -1 Hide
    venk90 , March 18, 2014 5:16 PM
    INSANELY GOOD DEAL ON AMAZON ! The 512 GB SSD is listed at 169$ incorrectly ! Grab them before they change it. I ordered 20 myself ! Will e-bay all of it or feel bad and return it to Amazon !
  • 3 Hide
    cryan , March 18, 2014 6:53 PM
    Quote:
    I just splashed $250 (delivered to Oz) on a M500 480GB mSATA, eh, can't complain.
    I hope Crucial continues to sell the M500 right where it is. The deals are just too good, and it'd be truly sad were Crucial/Micron to up the price on us.And they're not slow. I know it seems like they're sub par compared to some of the last few drives we've tested, but the reality is most users are never going to notice the speeds between different SSD models. The only exception is jumping from an older SATA II drive to a modern SATA III SSD. Even then, you'd need solid hardware in the system.Regards,Christopher Ryan
  • 0 Hide
    Ankursh287 , March 18, 2014 8:58 PM
    M500 available at $240 (amazon)..damn good drive for the price, performance difference between M500 , M550 & 840/840 pro won't visible to normal user.
  • 0 Hide
    Nada190 , March 18, 2014 10:55 PM
    When I look at SSD's I want price to performance because I won't even notice a difference.
  • 0 Hide
    Drejeck , March 19, 2014 2:56 AM
    Specifically for gaming which would be the best? All sort of tricks are allowed, from tweaks to samsung's magician (ram caching).
  • 0 Hide
    RedJaron , March 19, 2014 12:43 PM
    Quote:
    Of course, we're in the throes of post-launch pricing. In a few weeks, it's possible that the gap between M500 and M500 will narrow.
    Typo on the last page. One of those should be 550.


    Happy to see Crucial with this update. I'm with a lot of people, you don't see a difference in SSD performance outside benchmarks. Give me something reasonably fast with great durability and I'm sold. With all this talk of the maturing of 20nm manufacturing, I'd love to see an M500 V2 with less overprovisioning.
  • 0 Hide
    gizmoguru , March 19, 2014 2:29 PM
    Hay Tom's the chart for Sequential Reads Benchmark is labled "Random Writes", please correct
  • 0 Hide
    mapesdhs , March 19, 2014 7:05 PM
    I notice the PCMark Vantage graph's x-axis does not start at zero. This
    is very bad practice, please don't do it. The visual result is totally misleading.
    It makes the results look more differentiated than they really are.

    Ian.
  • 0 Hide
    game junky , March 20, 2014 6:12 PM
    I have had nothing but good experiences with Crucials M4s so this could be an exciting development depending on how they compete with Samsung. Keep 'em coming, guys
  • 1 Hide
    snakyjake , March 24, 2014 10:40 PM
    In terms of reliability and maintaining data integrity, how does this compare to SanDisk X210?
  • 0 Hide
    f s , March 29, 2014 4:29 AM
    M550 price doesn't match the performance unfortunately, $60 less would have made the difference.
  • 0 Hide
    cryan , April 1, 2014 11:00 PM
    Quote:
    In terms of reliability and maintaining data integrity, how does this compare to SanDisk X210?


    Most data integrity protocols for client/consumer SSDs are centered around maintaining data at rest. That is, once data is written to the flash, you want to minimize and counteract operations which can skew existing data. Things like Read Disturb Management fit this category, where reading one cell can affect the voltages of adjacent cells.

    That said, both drives have three year warranties. Both are made by fabbed SSD manufacturers, both have stakes in NAND foundries. Both use Marvell controllers and custom firmware/PCB packages. When SanDisk updates the X210 with the newer Marvell 9189, it's probably going to be awesome. The X210 is undoubtedly the most underrated drive in circulation. If you can get a good deal on one, it's probably the drive for desktop applications, assuming you want something that's been through its paces. The M550 is too early into its launch to know much about it yet, at least over more than a couple weeks.

    Regards,

    Christopher Ryan
  • 0 Hide
    frank5868 , April 14, 2014 1:24 AM
    Hi, Christopher
    Thanks for the nice review. I have some questions and wondering if you could offer some answers for them:
    Is the drive using AES encryption? 128 bit or 256 bit? How about the "Block cipher mode of action"? Is it ECB? CBC or XTS?
    Please dig as much as possible. I think the readers would be happy to be aware of the mode of action. As well known, the ECB isn't secure but the CBC or XTS is far better.

    Thanks.
    Frank