Today, we put the 500GB Crucial P2 up against a bunch of the best SSDs on the market. We include performance leaders like the Samsung 970 EVO Plus, Adata XPG SX8200 Pro, and Seagate BarraCuda 510. We also threw in Silicon Power’s P34A60 and Crucial’s P1, which are two direct competitors on the pricing front. Also, we included a Crucial MX500 and WD Black HDD for good measure.
Game Scene Loading - Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV Stormbringer is a free real-world game benchmark that easily and accurately compares game load times without the inaccuracy of using a stopwatch.
The P2’s game loading performance takes a hit due to its DRAM-less design. Both of Crucial’s Silicon Motion-powered P1 and the MX500 were faster than the P2. The Crucial P2 dishes out the slowest performance of the bunch with a total game scene load time of 13.7 seconds.
Transfer Rates – DiskBench
We use the DiskBench storage benchmarking tool to test file transfer performance with our own custom blocks of data. Our 50GB data set includes 31,227 files of various types, like pictures, PDFs, and videos. Our 100GB includes 22,579 files with 50GB of them being large movies. We copy the data sets to new folders and then follow-up with a reading test of a newly written 6.5GB zip file and 15GB movie file.
When we copied our 50GB test folder on the half-full P2, performance exceeded that of the SATA competition but trailed the NVMe SSDs. We pushed things a bit harder by throwing a 100GB transfer at the P2, and it delivered roughly three times the performance of the P1 and outpaced the Silicon Power P34A60. Large file read performance was also very strong, placing it ahead of the P1 and P34A60 once again.
Trace Testing – PCMark 10 Storage Tests
PCMark 10 is a trace-based benchmark that uses a wide-ranging set of real-world traces from popular applications and common tasks to measure the performance of storage devices. The quick benchmark is more relatable to those who use their PCs lightly, while the full benchmark relates more to power users. If you are using the device as a secondary drive, the data test will be of most relevance.
Under light operation, Crucial’s P2 offers a snappy and responsive user experience that will surpass any SATA SSD. It trades blows with Silicon Power’s P34A60 and even keeps up with the Samsung 970 EVO Plus, yet gets beat in both the Quick and Full System benchmarks by both of the drives. Crucial’s P1, with its DRAM-based architecture, outperforms both the P2 and P34A60. That proves that DRAM-based designs provide the most responsive user experience, even with slower QLC flash.
Trace Testing – SPECworkstation 3
Like PCMark 10, SPECworkstation 3 is a trace-based benchmark, but it is designed to push the system harder by measuring workstation performance in professional applications.
SPECworkstation 3’s final score finds the Crucial P2 in fif1th place, just ahead of the Silicon Power P34A60 and just a hair behind the P1, but that score doesn’t tell the entire story. On average, the Crucial P1 was just as fast, or faster than Crucial’s P2 in most of the workloads SPECworkstation 3 threw its way. However, the P1’s performance tanked on some of the tests because of its slow QLC flash. As a result, the P1 took over twice as long to complete the entire benchmark compared to the P2, not to mention that the MX500 completed the test in roughly an hour. Crucial’s P2 offers more consistent prosumer workload performance than most entry-level SSDs.
Synthetics - ATTO
ATTO is a simple and free application that SSD vendors commonly use to assign sequential performance specifications to their products. It also gives us insight into how the device handles different file sizes.
DRAMless SSDs aren’t the fastest at copying and reading small files, yet depending on how the SSD is designed, some can overcome this issue. The Crucial P2, however, isn't tuned quite as well for small file sizes as we would like to see. We tested Crucial’s P2 at a queue depth (QD) of 1, representing most day-to-day file access at various block sizes, and the P2 struggled to match the other high-performance NVMe SSDs. Still, it delivered over four times the throughput of the SATA MX500.
Synthetic Testing - iometer
iometer is an advanced and highly configurable storage benchmarking tool that vendors often use to measure the performance of their devices.
We typically test an SSDs’ sequential read and write speeds with a 128KB block size. Although the P2’s write speed easily hit 1.8 GBps with that block size, even at a QD of 32, Crucial’s P2 couldn’t hit the rated 2.3 GBps performance it should have. We upped the ante with a larger 1MB block size for testing and sequential read performance hit the rated ‘up to’ 2.3 GBps spec.
Even though we had the little hiccup with sequential performance testing, random responsiveness measured very well. At QD1, the P2 responded quicker than the Samsung 970 EVO Plus, exceeding it by roughly 1,200/7,500 read/write IOPS.
Sustained Write Performance and Cache Recovery
Official write specifications are only part of the performance picture. Most SSD makers implement a write cache, which is a fast area of (usually) pseudo-SLC programmed flash that absorbs incoming data. Sustained write speeds can suffer tremendously once the workload spills outside of the cache and into the "native" TLC or QLC flash. We use iometer to hammer the SSD with sequential writes for 15 minutes to measure both the size of the write cache and performance after the cache is saturated. We also monitor cache recovery via multiple idle rounds.
Crucial’s P2 outperforms the P1 massively in heavy write workloads. After writing 24GB of data to Crucial’s P2 at a rate of 1.85 GBps, the dynamic write cache filled and write performance degraded to an average of 450 MBps. The Crucial P2 lags high-end competition, but it offers the fourth-best write performance out of the SSDs in the test pool, beating the other entry-level options. The write cache also recovers quickly after a minute of idle time.
Power Consumption and Temperature
We use the Quarch HD Programmable Power Module to gain a deeper understanding of power characteristics. Idle power consumption is an important aspect to consider, especially if you're looking for a laptop upgrade. Some SSDs can consume watts of power at idle while better-suited ones sip just milliwatts. Average workload power consumption and max consumption are two other aspects of power consumption, but performance-per-watt is more important. A drive might consume more power during any given workload, but accomplishing a task faster allows the drive to drop into an idle state faster, which ultimately saves power.
When possible, we also log the temperature of the drive via the S.M.A.R.T. data to see when (or if) thermal throttling kicks in and how it impacts performance. Bear in mind that results will vary based on the workload and ambient air temperature.
Efficiency and low heat output are some of the strengths of a DRAMless SSD, largely because they don’t have a DRAM package sucking down power. Crucial’s P2 proves efficient, managing to deliver a bit more MBps-per-watt over Crucial’s P1 as well as the high-end Samsung 970 EVO Plus and Seagate BarraCuda 510. It also had some of the lowest average and maximum readings (much less than the MX500). It dropped down to a low power state when it slipped into its idle state, sipping just milliwatts of power.
With such low power draw, the controller’s temperature peaked at 66 degrees Celsius while transferring 300GB of data around in a 23C environment with no airflow. Even this heavy workload didn’t trigger thermal throttling, so you shouldn’t have issues with cooling during normal use.
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