Thursday , 24 July 2014
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Crucial M550 SSD Review (1TB) – Increased Speed, Capacity and Value

It’s been some time since Crucial introduced the M500 Series SSD and, as it was when first released, the M500 remains to be a top value premium SSD offering. At $439 for a 960GB M500, this translates to .43/GB which is still lower than some premium SSDs of half that capacity.  Not so much a difficulty with respect their  target market, performance of the M500 family was a bit lower than the competition, although Crucial seemed hit a bulls eye when considering capacity and value.

Today’s introduction of the Crucial M550 SSD family is intended to cross that speed hurdle, offering the consumer the perfect combination of performance, capacity and value.  Crucial has accomplished this, not only through introduction of a new Marvell SATA 3 controller, but also by effectively using both 128Gb NAND, as well as 64Gb NAND, to tackle the performance numbers we saw in the M500. Will the Crucial M550 have what it takes to conquer the SSD triangle of speed, capacity and value?

Crucial M550 1TB SSD Closer

CRUCIAL M550 SSD SPECIFICATIONS

The Crucial M550 family consists of 2.5″ notebook, mSATA and M.2 form factors, all available in capacities of 128, 256 and 512GB capacities with the notebook SSD also available in 1TB.  The M550 is a self encrypting drive with several highlighting features to include Native Write Acceleration, Adaptive Thermal Protection, AES 256-Bit hardware encryption, SMART, ECC, TRIM, and compliance with TCG Opal 2.0, IEEE01667 and Microsoft E-Drive.

Crucial M550 1TB SSD Performance Specifications2

Listed Crucial performance specs show consistent performance at all capacities with exception to 128GB.  The M550 has a 3 year limited warranty, is a low power SSD and is capable of SATA DEVSLP (Device Sleep)with an under 3mW power rating.

Crucial M550 512GB Report at Technology X.

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY

The Crucial M550 SSD will be available at the time of this reports publishing (Check here!) and Crucial has identified this SSD as being a 15-20% price increase on the M500 SSD.  The goal of the M550 is to attract power users and gamers, while still holding a very competitive price point with that high 1TB capacity point.  When calculating current pricing, we should see the 1TB capacity of the M550 at the low $500 mark.  Check Amazon pricing!

M550 PACKAGING AND COMPONENTS

The Crucial M550 is a 7mm notebook SSD which also includes a 7mm to 9.5mm spacer for older systems.  Exterior packaging consists of a simple cardboard exterior of minimal detail.

Crucial M550 1TB SSD Exterior FrontCrucial M550 1TB SSD Exterior BackThe M550 itself is of a brushed gold aluminum construction, the PCB screwed into the aluminum casing and then protected by an aluminum base plate.  One of the screws that secure the base plate is covered with security tape and damaging this sticker will void the warranty.

Crucial M550 1TB SSD FrontCrucial M550 1TB SSD BackThere is a green colored printed circuit board (PCB) inside the exterior casing that contains the Marvell 8 channel 88SS9189 controller, 16 modules of Micron NAND flash memory, as well as two Micron cache memory chips.

Crucial M550 1TB SSD PCB Front

There is a thermal pad that is on the exterior casing and sits upon the controller to dissipate heat, this also resulting in the branding being a bit difficult to photograph.

Crucial M550 1TB SSD Controller

By using the Micron FBGA Decoder, we can identify this memory as having the product number MT29F512G08CKCABH7.  It is 20nm mlc NAND flash memory with each module being 64GB in capacity.  Although the total RAW capacity of this SSD is 1024GB, the user will only have 954GB at his disposal for storage .

Crucial M550 1TB SSD PCB Back

Like the M500 family, the M550 contains power capacitors that ensure your data is safely stored should a power failure occur.  Even with the M500 having been released just under a year ago, this remains to be a feature not seen in the consumer SSD arena.

Crucial M550 1TB SSD Capacitors

It's been some time since Crucial introduced the M500 Series SSD and, as it was when first released, the M500 remains to be a top value premium SSD offering. At $439 for a 960GB M500, this translates to .43/GB which is still lower than some premium SSDs of half that capacity.  Not so much a difficulty with respect their  target market, performance of the M500 family was a bit lower than the competition, although Crucial seemed hit a bulls eye when considering capacity and value. Today's introduction of the Crucial M550 SSD family is intended to cross that speed hurdle,…

Review Overview

Build and Components
Performance
Features
Price and Availability
Warranty

Standard Power Failure Protection

Summary : Crucial/Micron significantly improves on their M500 release by adding the M550 which has upper tier performance, increased capacity, as well as a very competitive price. Crucial also includes the M.2 form factor which will benefit many newer systems available today.

User Rating: 4.68 ( 2 votes)
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About Les Tokar

is a technology nut and Founder of The SSD Review. His early work includes the first consumer SSD review along with MS Vista, Win 7 and SSD Optimization Guides. Les is fortunate to, not only evaluate and provide opinion on consumer and enterprise solid state storage but also, travel the world in search of new technologies and great friendships. Google+
  • Zaxx

    Timing was good for the 550…the 500 was quickly slipping to the under-performing ranks of the asynch value drives. Best thing from this new launch was the decision to bring back 64Gb die and thus the very desirable jump in performance with the 128GB drives. Combine that with power protection and good crypto and you have an unmatched offering that is perfect for those looking for a dependable/affordable ssd for their lappy. Doubtful anyone without their own nand fab will be able to follow suit re: the 128GB offering. Well played indeed.

    • Benjamin Hojnik

      Well to be fair, async drives tend to perform MUCH worse than m500. Remember, its not all about sequential speeds. m500 is performing just fine, especially given the price.
      And m550 is not meant to replace m500 in any way, it’s just a better performing verison of m550. m500 is here to stay (atleast according to crucial)

      • ARCUS1200

        The m550 is a better performing version of m550? This is a Mark II or something?

      • jalyst

        Hello mr necro-poster, he clearly meant to say:
        “And m550 is not meant to replace m500 in any way, it’s just a better performing verison of m500.”

        The differences are very marginal though, see the Anandtech review…
        Unless prices have come down a lot more since the review, the M500′s a better buy.

  • jp1wc1

    how does the Native
    Write Acceleration of the m550 work? is it a cache of some sort similar
    to how samsungs 840 evo turbowrite feature works? would i lose all unwritten data if their is a system error? can it be turned off?

    • Benjamin Hojnik

      I believe its just a marketing thing for highspeed writes caused by using smaller dies (and thus more of them for a given capacity).
      Crucial unlike other competitors isn’t using any kind of tricks to achieve writes speeds such as turbowrite and performance mode.

  • jp1wc1

    what is the m.t.t.f./m.t.b.f. and the t.b.w. for it?

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview
      • jp1wc1

        you read my post incorrectly, NOT what is m.t.t.f./m.t.b.f., but what are the m.t.t.f/m.t.b.f. and t.b.w. for the M550?

      • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

        Apologies…not listed in the documentation that we received.

      • Visigoth

        72 TB according to AnandTech.

      • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

        I was refering to mtbf rather than TBW and thanks for that.

      • Benjamin Hojnik

        Why would MTBF matter to you anyway ?

        its not like drive with higher mtbf is gonna last “longer” anyway.

  • Sam Nicko

    Great review Les :)

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Thanks Sam…

  • iCrunch

    Oh man, this is awesome! I was about to purchase a SanDisk X110 or X210 for my Drobo, but I’m liking this! Let’s see some M550′s as loss leaders at Slickdeals, huh? haha…thanks for another great review! You are THE SSD man! ~

  • Arne Markusen

    Thinking of upgrading my msata ssd for the samsung series 9 ultrabook (ivy bridge).

    Was planning on buying the: Samsung 840 EVO Series mSATA MZ-MTE500 500GB

    Is this new Crucial drive worth considering? Crucial M550 mSATA 512GB

    Are there any pros and cons, or any better alternative (type 500gb msata drives)?

    Afraid of wearing and tearing, is it true that the Crucial potensially could last longer, because of the NAND-type?

    Had a Corsair drive that got worn out and failed (almost 4 years old), good I had a fearly new backup :)

    Are there any pros and cons, or any better alternative?

    • jalyst

      Read Kristian’s latest review of the M550 at Anandtech:
      http://www.anandtech.com/show/7864/crucial-m550-review-128gb-256gb-512gb-and-1tb-models-tested

      *In Summary*

      For budget, stick with 840 Evo or M500, for the top performer (you’ll be hard pressed to notice the difference, except for some select use-cases) stick with Extreme_II/Vector_150 or “maybe” the 840 Pro. Pro’s no longer the best performer overall, but it’s proven & usually -not always- has slightly better $/GB.

  • john

    I will purchase the M500 or possibly the M550 over the Sam. 840 EVO as for me reliability and ability to take a huge workload (have several databases, VMs and dev envs running in parallel). The Samsung uses the significantly less reliable three-bit-per-cell NAND. I often write over 40GB a day.

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