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The Crucial M550 SSD Review: Striking Back With More Performance

Test Setup And Benchmarks

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 DriveIntel 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
GraphicsMSI Cyclone GTX 460 1 GB
Power SupplySeasonic X-650, 650 W 80 PLUS Gold
ChassisLian Li Pitstop
RAIDLSI 9266-8i PCIe x8, FastPath and CacheCade AFK
System Software and Drivers
OperatingSystemWindows 7 x64 Ultimate
DirectXDirectX 11
DriversGraphics: Nvidia 314.07RST: 10.6.1002IMEI: 7.1.21.1124Generic AHCI: MSAHCI.SYS
Benchmarks
Tom's Hardware Storage Bench v1.0Trace-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 7Secondary Storage Suite
PCM VantageStorage Suite
  • ikyung
    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.
    Reply
  • _potts_
    I just splashed $250 (delivered to Oz) on a M500 480GB mSATA, eh, can't complain.
    Reply
  • cryan
    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 $140 for the 240 GB version here in the State.Regards,Christopher Ryan
    Reply
  • venk90
    INSANELY GOOD DEAL ON AMAZON ! The 512 GB SSD is listed at 169$ 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 !
    Reply
  • cryan
    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
    Reply
  • Ankursh287
    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.
    Reply
  • Nada190
    When I look at SSD's I want price to performance because I won't even notice a difference.
    Reply
  • Drejeck
    Specifically for gaming which would be the best? All sort of tricks are allowed, from tweaks to samsung's magician (ram caching).
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    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.
    Reply
  • gizmoguru
    Hay Tom's the chart for Sequential Reads Benchmark is labled "Random Writes", please correct
    Reply