Crucial has always been quite aggressive with their value driven strategy in the SSD market and it has resulted in success for many of their products. This has led to their most recent product launches of the MX200 and the introduction of a new entry-level product line earlier this year with the BX100. The BX100 was set out to be a revised step into this market. After initial failure with the Crucial V4 line, they knew they had to improve big time if they were going to try again. This time around, it was a success. By contracting with Silicon Motion, Crucial was able to release a reliable and great performing entry-level product.
Nearly a year later, things are getting tougher and there is still much more market potential. Even though SSDs are getting much cheaper, many still haven’t switched over to even entry-level SSDs due to their cost/GB ratio compared to HDDs. As you may have noticed, companies seeing this issue are working hard on entry-level products in order to get everyone up to speed as soon as possible, including Crucial. So, through the use of Silicon Motion’s latest controller, the SM2256, and 16nm Micron TLC NAND, today we see their latest response to the market, the Crucial BX200.
The BX200 sounds strikingly similar to that of the 240GB ADATA SP550 we recently reviewed, which utilizes the same controller, but instead of Micron’s TLC, SK Hynix’s TLC. To an avid reader here, this may come to you as a disappointment however. To others, we will explain why. In the SP550’s case, continuous write performance was not impressive past a few GBs. Beyond the small SLC buffer, speeds have dropped down to below 100MB/s in sequential performance, even as far as just 48MB/s. Similarly, many other TLC based SSDs face the same issue. Once a workload runs past a few GB we start to see TLC’s major flaws in the result of much lower performance. Therefore, today’s analysis of the BX200 is going to be interesting, especially once we throw some real world file transfers at it. Will the Crucial’s first TLC SSD have what it takes to stand out from the entry-level competition like the BX100 once did or will it just be another cheap, low performance option among the rising many in this TLC SSD category? Continue on and let’s find out!
SPECIFICATIONS, PRICING, AND AVAILABILITY
The BX200 is a SATA 6Gb/s 2.5″ 7mm form factor SSD. If you need anything in a M.2 or MSATA form factor, look elsewhere. Also, Crucial has decided to drop the 120GB capacity option, the BX200 is only available in capacities of 240GB ($84.99), 480GB ($149.99), and 960GB ($299.99). The BX200’s read performance is rated for up to 540MB/s while write performance is rated for up to 490MB/s thanks to SLC Write Acceleration. Random IOPS are rated for up to 66K/78K read/write. In terms of endurance it is rated for up to 72TBW with a 3 year warranty. There is also power loss protection for data-at-rest, thermal monitoring, and DevSleep support.
Also included is access to Crucial’s SSD toolbox, Crucial Storage Executive. It gives you information about your drive, options to update the firmware, Secure erase, enable Momentum Cache, and newly added with this revision (3.24) you even manually adjust over provisioning within the software to help improve performance and endurance.
PACKAGING AND COMPONENTS
The BX200’s packaging is similar to their previous iterations. There is a picture of the drive on the front with the capacity located in the bottom right via a sticker and on the backside there is a list of what is included.
Looking at the drive itself, it looks identical to the BX100. It has a matte silver finish and the model information such as serial number, storage size, firmware revision, etc., are on the back.
Inside we can see the drive is packaged in an anti-static bag and comes with two accessories. One being a 7mm to 9mm spacer and the other, a free copy of Acronis True Image HD for cloning over your existing OS drive if need be.
Disassembling the drives we can see that Crucial has used a clamp closed case in order to keep costs lower by not needing screws during assembly. Also, unlike some other SSDs we have tested, Crucial does include a thermal pad to help dissipate controller heat in to the drive casing.
A CLOSER LOOK INSIDE
Overall, the SSD’s design is fairly standard. There are a single SSD controller, places for up to 2 DRAM packages and up to 16 NAND packages on the full sized PCB. As you can see below, the 480GB model on the left utilizes a single DRAM package and 8 NAND packages while the 960GB model on the right doubles those.
Again, the controller used in this drive is the Silicon Motion 2256. We did a dedicated engineering preview of the controller back in February, so if you are interested in learning more, please go take a look here. This controller is a bit more advanced as it has low-density parity checking (LDPC) error correction code, which is what you usually end up needing when using TLC.
Above and to the right side of the image we can see the 16nm Micron TLC NAND packages. Each package is 64GiB in capacity. Once formatted the 480GB model 447GB usable space and the 960GB model has 894GB. Finally, along with the Micron NAND, Crucial is also utilizing Micron LPDDR3 DRAM. Each package is 512MB in capacity and thus the 480GB has a 512MB cache and the 960GB model has a 1GB cache.