SSDs are a lot faster than hard drives. But their price tags continue deterring enthusiasts. Less-expensive SSDs are available, but what do you trade off (aside from capacity) when you buy a smaller drive? We test four models from Crucial to find out.
If you're unfamiliar with Storage Bench v1.0, you can read more about it in Second-Gen SandForce: Seven 120 GB SSDs Rounded Up. But, in a few words, it's a trace of my own personal workstation that lets us rank the performance of drives given a particular I/O workload.
With the exception of the 256 GB model, Crucial's m4 drives line up the way we'd expect, given their capacity points. The 512 GB takes second place, and is, in turn, faster than the 128 GB model, which itself outperforms the 64 GB version. Interestingly, the 256 GB m4 turns out to be the fastest drive; that's odd because we would have expected the 256 GB m4 to be slightly faster than the 256 GB C300, but slower than the 512 GB m4.
All of the m4 drives in our lab employ the firmware version 0001. However, the 256 GB model comes from an earlier production run. It's actually the same drive we tested in Crucial m4 And Intel SSD 320: The Other SSD Competitors. The company went ahead and sent us the other capacities at a later date. That's the only possible explanation for this discrepancy (in fact, the pictures on page two indicate that the 256 GB drive's Marvel controller has a slightly different label).
There's very little difference between the average data rate for the 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB drives. The 64 GB m4 is another story. It has an average data rate of 100.9 MB/s, which explains why its busy time is 40% greater than the 128 GB m4.
Despite the 64 GB version's loss to the larger models, though, compare it to the 500 GB Momentus 5400.6. The difference between SSDs and hard drives is stark. Seagate's 5400.6 achieves an average data rate of only 17.0 MB/s. That's one-fifth the speed of the 64 GB m4 and one-ninth of the larger-capacity m4s. The performance difference is tangible enough to feel during day-to-day usage.
- Performance Across Capacities
- Hard Drives And SSDs: Capacity Vs. Performance
- Test Setup And Benchmarks
- Tom’s Hardware Storage Bench v1.0: Real-World Analysis
- 4 KB Random Performance: Throughput
- 4 KB Random Performance: Response Time
- 128 KB Sequential Performance
- Sequential Performance Vs. Transfer Size
- PCMark 7: Storage Suite
- Power Consumption
- Final Words