Crucial BX500 SSD Review: The DRAMless Invasion Continues

SSDs are dirt cheap this holiday season because the market is flooded with excess flash and companies are getting more aggressive with pricing. Prices have declined so drastically that you can now supercharge your PC with 500GB of flash for a mere $70 or pay roughly half that for 250GB. Now there's almost no excuse to use an HDD for your operating system and applications, and new drives like the Crucial BX500 are designed to bring prices even lower.

Crucial's BX500 is the successor to its popular BX300 line of SSDs. Like the company's mainstream MX500 brand, the BX500 skips over the 400-naming scheme. But, unlike the MX500, the BX500 doesn't offer much of an upgrade path over its predecessor.

The BX series is a streamlined, no-frills SSD with fewer accessories and features than the MX series. Crucial launched the BX series to tempt buyers into purchasing flash when other options in the market were too expensive. The original BX100 came with 16nm planar (2D) MLC flash and a Silicon Motion (SMI) controller. That was Crucial’s first SSD with an SMI controller, and that trend continues with the BX500. The new SSD uses the new SM2258XT four-channel SSD controller paired with Micron’s latest 64-Layer 3D TLC flash.

The base SM2258 is a good SATA SSD controller, and it offers impressive performance and reliability if it’s paired with the right flash. But it needs an expensive DRAM package for caching.

The SM2258XT, known as the XT model, combats this by removing the need for DRAM. This allows the SSD to store the critical flash translation layer directly on the flash instead of in a DRAM buffer. This lowers prices by a few dollars, but it also results in lower performance. NAND isn't as fast as DRAM, and the constant read/write modifications to the flash translation layer are a strenuous task. As a result, performance can be rather unflattering–even falling into hard drive territory.

Specifications

ProductCrucial BX500 120GBCrucial BX500 240BBCrucial BX500 480GB
Pricing$26.99 $42.95 $69.99
Capacity (User / Raw)120  / 128
240 / 256480 / 512
Form Factor2.5" 7mm2.5" 7mm2.5" 7mm
Interface / ProtocolSATA 6.0 Gb/s / AHCISATA 6.0 Gb/s / AHCISATA 6.0 Gb/s / AHCI
ControllerSilicon Motion SM2258XTSilicon Motion SM2258XTSilicon Motion SM2258XT
DRAMNoneNoneNone
NAND FlashMicron 64L TLCMicron 64L TLCMicron 64L TLC
Sequential Read540 MB/s540 MB/s540 MB/s
Sequential Write500 MB/s500 MB/s500 MB/s
Random ReadN/AN/AN/A
Random WriteN/AN/AN/A
EncryptionN/AN/AN/A
Endurance40 TBW80 TBW120 TBW
Part NumberCT120BX500SSD1CT240BX500SSD1CT480BX500SSD1
Warranty3-Years3-Years3-Years

Crucial’s BX500 provides up to 540/500 MB/s of sequential read/write throughput, but that can drop to an average of just 100 MB/s during a sustained workload. Crucial doesn't disclose random 4K IOPS performance, likely due to unimpressive performance, but we'll measure it on the following pages.

The BX500 is available in 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacities, just like the BX300 did before it. The BX500 currently sells for ~$0.22-per-GB for the 120GB model and $0.15-per-GB for the 480GB.

A three-year warranty and affordable prices designate the BX500 an entry-level SSD, but its rather low write endurance epitomizes its rank. The BX500's endurance rating starts at 40 TBW (Terabytes Written) and spans up to 120 TBW. Those are among the lowest endurance ratings on the market. Surprisingly, the BX500's endurance is even lower than its predecessor.

A Closer Look

The BX500’s case is made of thin metal and plastic. That keeps it lightweight, but the plastic gives it a cheap feel, which stands in stark contrast to its predecessor and the MX series. It connects to the host via a SATA 6GB/s connection.

Taking the casing apart reveals a 1/4 sized PCB, which is another way to reduce costs while still keeping compatibility with the 2.5" form factor. The SM2258XT resides near the connector for the best signal, and the 64-Layer 3D TLC flash is distributed among four emplacements (two on each side). Raw NAND capacity is 51GB, but after over-provisioning the user addressable space is just 480GB. That drops to 446GB of addressable space after you format the drive in Windows.

MORE: Best SSDs

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs

MORE: All SSD Content

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject
13 comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • clifftam
    The problem is the price point. It is 'cheap' but not so 'cheap'. Take a look at the 480 GB, for a few dollars more, i can get a 860 EVO. Unless they lower the price point a lot more, say by 10 or 20 dollars, I will choose the 860 EVO over this.
  • BulkZerker
    @clifftam $80 for an 860 on Amazon vs $60 for the BX500 which is also the same price as a Patriot Burst and $5 more than aTeamgroup L5.

    I'll have to look into the results of the burst and L5 of there are any... These kinds of drives are what I look at when making basic PCs.
  • hannibal
    The problem is that you can not make these even cheaper because of the production cost. In this they have shaved almost everything off. The only way of making these cheaper is by making them smaller. 64Gb or even smaller... and even that does not make them much cheaper.
    We can see these in market computers... Cheap, but slow. Everybody else goes a little bit higher and use those models that are not handicapped too much by making cost cutting procedures.
  • gasaraki
    They need to stop bring these crappy ass products out. The price is not even that cheap! You can buy way better for a few bucks more. Why would any get this over the MX500 when the MX500 is soooo much better.
  • elbert
    hard drive makers are going to have to drop their 1 and possible their 2TB drives from product lists. Start focusing on 3TB for $50, 4TB for $65, and 6TB's for $100. Otherwise they are out of the market in sub $100 range.
  • tim.gatton
    Not had good long term luck with Crucial
  • cryoburner
    The pricing of these drives might not be all that attractive to those building their own systems, due to the notable performance gains from spending just a little bit more, but they are likely aimed more at manufacturers of prebuilt systems, who are more willing to shave an extra few dollars off the cost of components wherever they can. They can still advertise the system as having a "480GB SSD", and their main target audience likely wouldn't know any better. And these drives don't actually seem "bad", they are just not as good as other drives that are currently available.
  • PapaCrazy
    Endurance is kind of scary. Reminds me of bad memories with early gen SSDs.
  • cryoburner
    Anonymous said:
    Endurance is kind of scary. Reminds me of bad memories with early gen SSDs.

    I kind of think endurance ratings are an overrated metric, and are probably not all that relevant for the vast majority of usage scenarios. How much does the typical user write to a drive each day? Probably well under 10GB. Even with the lowest-capacity 120GB drive in this series with just 40TBW endurance, at 10GB of writes per day you would be looking at the drive lasting around 10 years, assuming you are still making frequent use of a system with a 120GB boot drive a decade from now. And keep in mind, we're talking about a $27 drive here, not some huge investment. If someone is writing a large amount of data to a drive each day, they will probably go for something with a larger capacity, which results in the endurance rising substantially, since the drive has more blocks to work with.
  • Blytz
    I see no value in this drive, it's the same price for 1/2tb as the 860 evo, and it's all marginal for smaller sizes.
  • faustvonbarley
    Regular home user, who writes documents, surfs the internet and watches YT videos doesn't need an SSD with DRAM! I'm sick of SSD fanboys trashing on a budget oriented user products. The laptops in which I replace HDDs with these are 3 - 8 years old and will need to be changed anyway. Why not get an extra juice for 35$ 240GB BX500 SSD?
  • captaincharisma
    so if your coming from a samsung EVO this is not the SSD to get
  • skpark
    I think...
    The BX500's problem is file read speed drop.

    * File Copy Test : BX500 -> 950Pro
    [Link1] https://youtu.be/0OJMatp5ocQ
    [Link2] https://youtu.be/woKpBfJ1iRQ