Micron has a number of new SSDs coming to market through its various brands. The drives span the entire range of usages, from high-performance NVMe datacenter products down to the MX300 targeting mainstream customers.
We have to wonder if this broad approach is taking away from Crucial's commitment to quality, and if performance issues are falling through the cracks as a result. The MX300 750GB Special Edition already received one firmware tune-up due to problematic performance from the first batch of samples. But its benchmark numbers are still sub-par compared to other 512GB- and 1TB-class drives.
Crucial tries increasing value by leveraging high-density NAND, giving you more capacity in comparison to mainstream 512GB SSDs. However, some low-cost 1TB products already ship in this price range as well. You'll have to decide whether a performance trade-off for more capacity makes sense.
The last major SSD released with 750GB of capacity was Samsung's 840 EVO in 2013. We chose 1TB-class SSDs to compare against Crucial's MX300 because the company plans to sell this drive for $200, which is the starting price for many value-oriented 1TB models. Crucial says the MX300 is a mainstream SSD, but its performance puts it up against drives like Adata's SP550, Corsair's Force LE and OCZ's Trion 150. All three also sell for $200.
We do appreciate some of Crucial's software features, which we rarely see accompanying entry-level SSDs. The drive utilizes 256-bit AES hardware encryption for Wave and eDrive support. Crucial's Storage Executive features Momentum Cache, a DRAM cache algorithm that increases the performance and endurance of Crucial SSDs, as well as other useful features. The MX300 also has an endurance advantage over many of its low-cost competitors.
I think we can put the performance issues on the back of Marvell. We have four other Dean-based SSDs in the lab, and only one delivers true mainstream benchmark results. The others target entry-level buyers. The four-channel Dean controller is late to market, and in our opinion it's not the right processor to take on the four-channel Silicon Motion or eight-channel Phison controllers dominating the mainstream space (behind Samsung's 850 EVO).
Crucial has a long history of partnering with Marvell, but that might have been the wrong move here. Its BX100 and BX200 both utilized SMI controllers, and Crucial may have realized better performance with a SM2258.