REPORT ANALYSIS AND FINAL THOUGHTS
Crucial’s first TLC SSD, let alone the first SSD we have tested with Micron’s TLC NAND, is essentially just another one of the new low-end SSDs in the market paired with an SM2256 controller. It is available in capacities from 240GB to 960GB and comes in only a 2.5″ 7mm form factor. Unlike some of its competition, it comes bundled with Acronis True Image HD and a 7mm to 9.5mm spacer to help increase the purchase value to the customer, and with this release, they have updated Crucial Storage Executive to allow in app over provisioning control, similar to Samsung Magician. Finally, it does have decent endurance across all capacities, at 72TBW, but similarly categorized SSDs have better endurance numbers at the higher capacities.
In terms of performance, the Crucial BX200 really doesn’t bring anything special to the table as we can see in our tests. It has good synthetic performance when you are working within the SLC NAND cache buffer and idle power consumption is very good. It reached a max of 559MB/s read and 500MB/s write in ATTO and 4K QD 1 speeds are good. Beyond the pseudo SLC buffer, write performance may drop down to under 100MB/s which can be disappointing when doing large file transfers. During PCMark tests it fared well. In PCMark Vantage it received a total of about 85K for both capacities tested, which is almost the same as the BX100 received when we reviewed it earlier this year. In the PCMark 8 consistency test it do not do well at all in the heavy workload portion, however, during the light workload phase, which is more in line with real world performance, it did much better, although second to last compared to the rest of the drives on the chart. Finally, looking at the real world file transfer test, it was disappointing to see such low speeds, especially since a HDD is able to surpass them. Write performance is not its strong suit, but luckily it has fast read performance.
With this product release we are seeing not only a reinforcement of an industry trend where companies are now focusing on lower cost SSDs to gain HDD market share, but also a clearer divergence between the mainstream and entry-level SSD contenders. Right now we are starting to see much greater performance differences in the lower priced SSD market and competition for the lowest cost per GB. This has effectively increased the trend for companies to offer these planar TLC SSDs that have small SLC-like buffers to help boost performance for just a few GB.
A lot of readers may think that because these drives have much slower native write performance (write speed after the buffer runs out) that they are not worth owning at all. As an enthusiast, I have a similar mindset myself. However, looking at these drives in a different light and considering what most consumers use their systems for on a day to day basis, these drives are not all that bad. Consumer workloads typically don’t involve multi-GB transfers and heavy write workloads. For the most part you are limited by your internet speed streaming rich content at just a few MB/s and installing programs that take up about 50-200MB at most. There are exceptions of course, say you are installing MS office for the one time that you do or a big game, then yes, this drive and others like it may possibly show themselves to be much slower than normal or higher-end SSDs, however, compared to HDDs for an OS drive, they still fit the bill perfectly for many. Much lower access times (latency) and 4K low QD performance is what makes SSDs so much better than HDDs. Just look at our PCMark Vantage and 8 performance scores. Those are proof enough that for a consumer workload, these SSDs will typically perform well for those who are budget minded.
Again, these entry level SSDs aren’t the best and aren’t for the many enthusiasts out there, but they are helping to bring flash performance to those who have slow mechanical HDDs. All things considered, still, we feel the pricing of SSDs like this is just not low enough to warrant purchasing them when there are still so many better options out there in their price range, especially when considering sales. Unless these drives were $0.25/GB instead of over $0.30/GB, we would much rather suggest that you wait for something else to go on sale or buy a similarly priced alternative with MLC NAND. Right now you can even get the Crucial BX100 at a similar price still and it is very competitive option if you are looking for a new SSD, until they run out.
Hopefully, when NAND manufacturers other than Samsung start distributing their 3D TLC NAND we will start seeing SSDs that perform more competitively in this entry-level bracket. The Samsung 850 EVO, for example, with its 3D V-NAND sure does extremely well even though it has TLC. For those who really are on a tight budget, if these new planar TLC SSDs are the lowest cost, then sure, go ahead and get one. If you have a system with a HDD and want something faster, one of these newer entry-level SSDs will do the trick, just make sure there is nothing else of higher performance is in the market at the same price range. If you feel that the BX200 fits the bill for you, then be sure to…