Skip to main content

Crucial MX500 SSD Review: Challenging Samsung on SATA

Comparison Products

512GB is the new 256! With the NAND shortage behind us, pricing can resume its downward slope. Now higher-capacity models are replacing smaller products at each price point. The 500GB MX500 retails for just $140. It wasn't very long ago that $140 was the entry-level cost of a high-quality 256GB-class SSD. This capacity delivers excellent value, but there is more to the story. Many new SSDs don't reach full performance in capacities smaller than 512GB because of the 256GBit die, but this capacity hits the sweet spot.

The BX300 is the underling from Crucial's current lineup. The drive features first-generation 3D MLC flash, but it's not the only MLC model in the charts. The Corsair Neutron XTi is the only Phison S10 drive in our tests with Toshiba's 15nm MLC. The Intel 545s, SanDisk Ultra 3D, Samsung 850 and 860 EVO all use 3D TLC NAND.

Sequential Read Performance

To read about our storage tests in-depth, please check out How We Test HDDs And SSDs. We cover four-corner testing on page six of our How We Test guide.

Image 1 of 2

Image 2 of 2

The 512GB-class products are very close in sequential performance like the 1TB drives. There is enough NAND parallelization inside these products to push the limits of the SATA interface.

Sequential Write Performance

Image 1 of 2

Image 2 of 2

There is a little more variation when we write data to the drives, but these products all deliver exceptional sequential write performance at low queue depths. You won't notice much of a difference simply transferring files to and from the drives.

Random Read Performance

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

Random read performance is the most important synthetic measurement. Windows constantly reads small 4KB files in the background, so stronger 4KB random performance leads to a better user experience.

The Crucial MX500 delivers the highest random read performance at low queue depths we've measured with our new burst testing. The 500GB model is actually faster than many low-cost NVMe SSDs on the market with first generation 3D flash.

Random Write Performance

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

The 500GB MX500 falls in the middle of the chart. The MX500's SLC cache is large enough to absorb the random data writes, which reduces the value of this test somewhat. Strong performance here is almost a given as modern consumer SSDs have largely moved beyond random writes as a bottleneck for consumer workloads.

70% Mixed Sequential Workload

We describe our mixed workload testing in detail here and describe our steady state tests here.

Image 1 of 2

Image 2 of 2

You'll notice lower performance with mixed read/write workloads compared to the 100% read or write tests. A few years ago some products would lose around 50% of their performance in this test. SSD controllers have evolved with more cores and better programming, though. Many of the most popular products deliver roughly the same performance with mixed sequential data. The MX500 is right in the mix with the best products on the market.

70% Mixed Random Workload

Image 1 of 2

Image 2 of 2

Mixed random data is more of a concern when you're shopping for a new SSD. This type of workload also impacts the user experience and is even more important than the 100% random read test. That's because your operating system updates file metadata (a write operation) right after it reads the data.

The MX500 dominates the QD2 test and maintains a strong lead in the QD4 test. The 850 EVO overtakes the MX500 at QD4, but by then we're outside of what most users will see when they are multitasking.

Sequential Steady-State

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

Steady-state performance comes during and after very heavy write workloads. Most users don't stress their storage in this way, but some consumer SSDs are fast enough for this type of workload. The Corsair Neutron XTi with an eight-core Phison controller and all eight channels populated shows how purpose-built drives can perform well under these conditions.

The Neutron XTi stands out in this test. It's one of the few products still shipping with MLC flash. The MX500 and most of the other products in the charts use TLC flash. We see those products clustered together without a real standout. The low endurance ratings would keep us from using most of these products frequently with a heavy write workload.

Random Steady-State

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

The random write steady-state tests shows us the lowest possible performance. Here we look for two traits: high write performance and consistency. A consistent SSD delivers predictable performance in a RAID array.

The MX500 500GB doesn't suffer from large performance drops, but the test shows significant peaks from the cache. We wouldn't shy away from using this drive in a consumer RAID 0 array. It's a good way to increase sequential performance and storage capacity.

PCMark 8 Real-World Software Performance

For details on our real-world software performance testing, please click here.

Image 1 of 10

Image 2 of 10

Image 3 of 10

Image 4 of 10

Image 5 of 10

Image 6 of 10

Image 7 of 10

Image 8 of 10

Image 9 of 10

Image 10 of 10

There are not any surprises in our application tests with real-world software. The MX500 doesn't overpower the other drives but is in the mix with the best SATA SSDs on the market.

Application Storage Bandwidth

The drives separate into two tiers, but all of the drives are exceptional for consumer workloads. Mechanical hard disk drives only score between 20 and 30 MB/s, and that's with the latest high-capacity models that cost three times more than the drives we're testing.

PCMark 8 Advanced Workload Performance

To learn how we test advanced workload performance, please click here.

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

We see the 500GB MX500's weakness as it recovers from a heavy workload. The 2TB model also had throughput issues during this portion of the test, but the service time and latency hold steady.

Total Service Time

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

The 500GB MX500 struggles as it recovers from a heavy workload. On the one hand, we don't like to see this behavior, but on the other, this is just the world we live in with 256Gbit TLC NAND.

Disk Busy Time

The MX500 500GB doesn't have any trouble with disk busy time. The Intel 545s and OCZ VX500 both had issues completing the application tasks, but the other products all provide expected results.

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE Responsiveness Test

Image 1 of 2

Image 2 of 2

We begin to see the pattern of lower performance with smaller drives. We expect this trend, but it is largely hidden from specification sheets. The 500GB MX500 is less responsive than the 2TB and 1TB drives. This model still performs well, but the new Samsung 860 and older 850 EVO SSDs armed with Samsung's fully mature V-NAND don't lose as much performance in smaller capacities.

BAPCo MobileMark 2012.5 Notebook Battery Life

To learn how we test advanced workload performance, please click here.

Image 1 of 2

Image 2 of 2

The MX500 500GB delivered 353 minutes of battery life in our Lenovo Y700-17 gaming notebook. The result is good, but not exemplary. The drive compares well to the Samsung 850 EVO and is better than the new 860 EVO with the initial retail firmware.


MORE: Best SSDs


MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs


MORE: All SSD Content