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Crucial BX500 SSD Review: The DRAMless Invasion Continues (Updated)

Crucial BX500

After Micron’s 96-Layer TLC flash became available, Crucial took the opportunity to add in a 960GB model to the BX500 SSD series and then the 1TB and 2TB (which we haven't tested). Crucial also moved the higher capacity drives to a newer, SM2259XT controller.

While Crucial's transition to the new 96-Layer flash and improved controller were welcome, it didn't  drastically change performance for the better. Looking through both the 480GB and 960GB results, we see a slight decrease in performance in some situations, like sustained write performance. The BX500 averaged 85 MB/s of sustained write speed after the SLC cache filled, so we see the decreased performance in our 50GB copy transfer test. Power efficiency suffers as a result.

ProductCapacity (GB)PricePrice Per GBTBWPrice Per TBWWarranty
Crucial BX500960$99$0.10240$0.523
Crucial MX5001024$107$0.10360$0.375
Samsung 860 EVO1024$139$0.14600$0.255
Samsung 860 QVO1024$109$0.10360$0.303
WD Blue 3D1024$109$0.10400$0.323
Intel SSD 660p1024$97$0.09200$0.595

The majority, if not all, of the similarly-priced (or cheaper) drives outperformed the 960GB BX500. The BX500 did well in SYSmark, but when we factor in the overall performance results, the result is a rather underwhelming SSD.

The BX500 does have a low price point, though. At $99, or $0.10 per GB, it is very affordable. However, it is only $7 cheaper than its much faster brother, the MX500. The MX500 also comes with a higher endurance rating. It’s well worth the extra few dollars for the increased performance and endurance.  Considering the performance delta, it's not worth saving that $7.

Meanwhile, the Intel SSD 660p is a few dollars cheaper and offers much more performance across the board. That is due to it being an M.2 NVMe SSD, so it is not a direct comparison if you can’t use an M.2 SSD in your system.

Be sure to weigh your options according to what you value most. Your hard-earned dollars could be better spent or saved by looking to alternatives.

Crucial 240GB and 480GB Conclusion

Crucial’s BX500 has a cost-reducing DRAMless architecture, but that has a big impact on performance. Even without DRAM, the SSD can achieve the typical sequential throughput we expect from a SATA SSD, but the BX500's all-important 4K random performance, a key measurement of drive snappiness, is lower than most SSDs.

We have seen this type of performance before from drives like Toshiba's TR200, which also doesn’t have a DRAM cache. Like the BX500, that drive exhibits low performance in random workloads. Write performance also suffers during extended write workloads.

As we saw in the PCMark 8 and SYSmark 2014 benchmarks, the Crucial BX500 is unimpressive in tests that measure real-world application performance. The BX500 surpasses an HDD, without question, but there is a clear divide between it and other SSDs. While it comes with an SSD toolbox and Acronis True Image HD for migrating your data, the BX500's value proposition still leaves a lot to be desired.

ProductCapacityTBW Price WarrantyPrice Per GBPrice Per TBW
Crucial BX50012040$26.993$0.22$0.67
24080$42.953$0.18$0.54
480120$69.993$0.15$0.58
Crucial MX500250100$52.995$0.21$0.53
500180$72.995$0.15$0.41
Kingston A40012040$24.993$0.21$0.62
24080$37.283$0.16$0.47
480160$76.993$0.16$0.48
Samsung 860 EVO250150$52.995$0.21$0.35
500300$72.995$0.15$0.24
WD Blue 3D250100$50.103$0.20$0.50
500200$77.993$0.16$0.39
Intel SSD 545s12872$26.995$0.21$0.37
256144$54.995$0.21$0.38
512288$89.995$0.18$0.31

The BX500 family is priced competitively at $0.15- to $0.22-per-GB, but there are better options for only a few dollars more. It appears the viability of lower-tier products has nearly vanished at these low capacities. The BX500 would need to have a significantly smaller price tag for us to recommend it. Even if you are pinching pennies, we would recommend the WD Blue 3D, MX500, or Samsung 860 EVO. All those drives boast longer warranties, greater performance, and endurance at competitive price points.

Image Credits: Tom's Hardware

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