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Crucial P2 SSD Review: Beating SATA Dollar for Dollar

Crucial’s low-cost P2 delivers SATA-breaking speed, even without DRAM

Crucial P2 M.2 NVMe SSD
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

Crucial has swapped out the P2's TLC flash for QLC flash in newer revisions of this product, but they carry the same name and model number. These new versions result in much lower performance in several key metrics. We recommend you look elsewhere for your next SSD.

For

  • Five-year warranty
  • Black PCB
  • Software package

Against

  • Sub-par performance
  • USB 2.0-like sustained write speed
  • Firmware needs further performance optimization
  • Aesthetics could use some work
  • Small SLC write cache and slow direct-to-TLC write speed
  • Reduced power efficiency

Tom's Hardware Verdict

Crucial has swapped out the P2's TLC flash for QLC flash in newer revisions of this product, but they carry the same name and model number. These new versions result in much lower performance in several key metrics. We recommend you look elsewhere for your next SSD.

Pros

  • +

    Five-year warranty

  • +

    Black PCB

  • +

    Software package

Cons

  • -

    Sub-par performance

  • -

    USB 2.0-like sustained write speed

  • -

    Firmware needs further performance optimization

  • -

    Aesthetics could use some work

  • -

    Small SLC write cache and slow direct-to-TLC write speed

  • -

    Reduced power efficiency

Update 8/16/21 5:30am PT: Crucial has swapped out the TLC flash that powered the initial P2 SSD we tested with QLC flash, severely reducing performance. We've written an investigation into that matter, which you can read here, with our results showing that the 'new' drives are nearly four times slower at transferring files than the original, read speeds are half as fast in real-world tests, and sustained write speeds have dropped to USB 2.0-like levels of a mere 40 MBps. That’s slower than most hard drives. Unfortunately Crucial made the change without altering the product name or number or issuing an announcement. Crucial claims that the P2 will live up to its specs because the company baked the performance of QLC flash right into the spec sheet at launch. But those specs don’t match the performance you’ll see in numerous reviews of the originally-shipping drives.

As such, we do not recommend purchasing this drive — instead, consult with our latest recommendation in our Best SSDs article. In this article, we have also inserted additional albums in each test category to reflect the real performance you'll get when purchasing this drive today. 

Original article:

Crucial’s P1, the company's first M.2 NVMe SSD, was a bit of a disappointment with slow performance and among the lowest endurance specifications on the market. It surely didn’t scream value as we had hoped it would. Crucial’s new P2 aims to be a better value with Phison’s entry-level E13T NVMe SSD controller and Micron’s latest 96-Layer TLC flash under the hood, though. Crucial’s P2 may not be the Best SSD on the market, but it offers multi-gigabyte throughput at low price points, blowing SATA SSDs out of the water. 

The SSD market is quite crowded, and if you’re on the hunt for a new SSD for your system, you probably notice there are innumerable options. If you’ve got the dough, you may want to consider one of the newest PCIe 4.0 x4 options, say the Seagate FireCuda 520 or Sabrent’s Rocket NVMe 4.0. But, if you’re a bit strapped for cash, then one of the many low-cost SSDs, like Crucial’s MX500 or P1, might be up your alley…until you suddenly realize that Crucial’s new P2 is now available, potentially offering significantly more performance at the same price. Overall, the P2 is perfect for a cheap M.2 NVMe boot drive, making it a clear contender for the top spot among value SSDs, but it appears Crucial will make the drive with a variable build of materials, meaning the internal components could change over time. That means you'll need to do your research before you plunk down your hard-earned dollars. 

Crucial P2 Specifications

ProductP2 250GBP2 500GBP2 1TB
Pricing$49.99 $64.99 ?
Capacity (User / Raw)250GB / 256GB500GB / 512GB1000GB / 1024GB
Form FactorM.2 2280M.2 2280M.2 2280
Interface / ProtocolPCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
ControllerPhison E13TPhison E13TPhison E13T
DRAMDRAMless - HMBDRAMless - HMBDRAMless - HMB
MemoryMicron 96L TLCMicron 96L TLCMicron 96L TLC
Sequential Read2,100 MBps2,300 MBps2,400 MBps
Sequential Write1,150 MBps940 MBps1,800 MBps
Random Read170,000 IOPS95,000 IOPS?
Random Write260,000 IOPS215,000 IOPS?
Endurance (TBW)150 TB300 TB450 TB
Part NumberCT250P2SSD8CT500P2SSD8CT1000P2SSD8
Warranty5-Years5-Years5-Years

Crucial’s P2 is the company’s latest M.2 NVMe SSD for the low-budget crowd. In fact, the P2’s pricing might cannibalize the company’s MX500 sales just as much as it competes with other companies. The 250GB and 500GB capacities are well-suited for basic boot and application requirements, but although Crucial lists a 1TB SKU, it isn’t available at the time of publishing. The entry-level P2 SSDs are priced at $50 for the 250GB model and just $65 for the 500GB model, though. 

The P2 features Dynamic Write Acceleration, which essentially programs a pool of TLC flash as faster SLC for faster write performance. After it fills, write performance will degrade, which we will cover in greater detail on the next page. Crucial rates the P2 to deliver sequential performance of up to 2.4/1.8 GBps read/write and up to 170,000/260,000 read/write IOPS, but performance suffers a bit with the smaller 250GB and 500GB capacities. The 500GB’s sequential write performance is even rated below the 250GB model at just 940 MBps. 

The drives come with RAID ECC and Phison’s fourth-gen LDPC that has multiple levels of adaptation. As a result, Crucial’s P2’s endurance ratings, though they are low for TLC SSDs, aren’t as offensive as some of the QLC SSDs we’ve looked at. The company rates the 250GB P2 up to 150TB of writes within its five-year warranty, and adds another 150TB of write endurance with each doubling of capacity. 

Crucial P2 Software and Accessories

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Crucial P2 M.2 NVMe SSD

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Crucial P2 M.2 NVMe SSD

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The drives come with Crucial’s SSD Toolbox, Storage Executive, and Acronis True Image (via download). Crucial Storage Executive is quite handy and feature-packed. With it, you can optimize performance, manage data security, or even just update the firmware, among other features. Acronis True Image for Crucial lets you clone your data or make system images for free as long as you have a Crucial SSD plugged in, but some of the backup features aren’t included unless you buy the full version. 

A Closer Look at the Crucial P2

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Crucial P2 M.2 NVMe SSD

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Crucial P2 M.2 NVMe SSD

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Crucial P2 M.2 NVMe SSD

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Crucial P2 M.2 NVMe SSD

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Crucial P2 comes in an M.2 2280 form factor. The PCB is black, but the quality of the finish is rather lacking. The edges of the M.2 board are rough, and unlike other SSDs, the black finish doesn’t make it all the way to the edges..

The P2 interfaces with the host over a PCIe 3.0 x4 link with the Phison E13T, a DRAMless 4-channel NVMe 1.3 SSD controller. Phison fabs the E13T on the 28nm process node and the chip operates at 667MHz. The controller is a single-core design with a coprocessor optimized for NAND management task offloading. Speaking of which, there are four NAND packages on our 500GB P2, with 9% set aside as factory overprovisioning for background tasks like bad block management and garbage collection. Each package contains two dies of Micron’s latest 512Gb 96-Layer TLC flash that interface with the Phison E13T NVMe controller at 800MT/s. 

The P2 lacks DRAM, meaning that it doesn’t have a fast buffer space for the FTL mapping tables. Instead, the P2, like most modern DRAMless NVMe SSDs, uses NVMe’s Host Memory Buffer feature. With it, the SSD can use a few MB of the host system’s memory to provide snappier FTL access, which improves the feeling of ‘snappiness’ when you use the drive.

Additionally, the controller supports APST, ASPM, and L1.2 power saving modes for better power efficiency in mobile devices. There’s an adaptive thermal throttle protection built-in, so if the controller and NAND get too hot (70 degrees Celsius), the SSD will throttle performance or even shut down (85C), so it doesn’t damage data. Furthermore, the P2 comes with integrated power loss ‘immunity,’ so data is fairly protected in the case of a power outage. The controller also supports S.M.A.R.T. data monitoring, TRIM, and secure erase capability to completely wipe the data clean off it, too.