Tuesday , 2 September 2014
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Crucial MX100 SSD Review (256/512 GB) – Crucial Strikes a Victory For Value

Crucial has been making reliable cost effective mainstream SSDs for years now. Each new product release striving for better performance, reliability, and value. The recent release of the M550 built upon their M500, offering even better performance, but at a higher price point per GB. Because of this, Crucial needed to release a more modern lower budget drive.

They had already separated their product line of SSDs in the 2012 with their V4, offering a more budget friendly SSD. However, it turned out to be a bad move. To make the V4 cheaper they skimped out on the controller and used an unstable and slow Phison controller and firmware. This lead to users having windows freezing issues and real world performance was almost similar to HDDs besides boot times.

Crucial MX100 Stacked

They have moved on since then. This time around, instead of skimping out on the controller, they turned to a newer cheaper NAND manufacturing process, 128Gbit 16nm IMFT NAND. In fact, the SSD basically has all the features of a M550, with the exception of its newer cheaper NAND. As a result, today we get to review the first product on the market to use this 16nm NAND, the new Crucial MX100.

Crucial MX100 Angled

CRUCIAL MX100 SSD SPECIFICATIONS

The Crucial MX100 SSDs come in a 7mm 2.5″ form factor and is available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities. As with many SSDs, it features SMART, ECC, and TRIM support. What makes it more unique are the many features it shares with the M550 including:

  • Hardware Encryption – The MX100 features the latest AES 256-bit hardware encryption support. As a continuation of their other M500 and M550 SSDs, it is also one of the only drives currently on the market to be in accordance with Microsoft® eDrive®, IEEE-1667, and TCG Opal 2.0 encryption standards. This means when enabled, your data will be safe from thieves and hackers. Not only that, but there is a significant performance improvement over typical software based encryption which relies on the system CPU to encrypt data before it is written to the drive.
  • Native Write Acceleration – Crucial’s Native Write Acceleration features allows for more consistent performance with fewer lags in storage response. The features of the firmware and drive design that enable Crucial SSD’s to take native advantage of the drives inherent parallelism without employing caching or compression to achieve the highest levels of performance.
  • Adaptive Thermal Protection – When the temperature sensor reaches out of the normal rated operation temps, this technology allows for the Crucial MX100 to dynamically adjust storage component activity to keep the drive cool. Mainly, it reduces write data throughput to about 150MB/s, if greater temps occur after that point performance will drop another 50% and read rates will be reduced as well. Once temperature returns to 65C, the SSD performance will revert back to normal operating speeds.
  • Exclusive Data Defense – To prevent precious user data from corrupting, Crucial has a multi-step integrity algorithm built into the components. They include methods like error correction and integrity checking and also leverage our RAIN implementation. What results is four layers of Exclusive Data Defense ensure the integrity of your data and guard against corrupt files.
  • RAIN (Redundant Array of Independent NAND) – RAIN basically takes some of the NAND and makes it dedicated strictly to parity rather than user space. This feature helps to protect user data against page and block level failures in the NAND. In the MX100, the parity ratio is 127:1 for every 127 bits of user data, there is another 1 bit is used by RAIN for parity.
  • Data Path Protection – Essentially, Data Path Protection allows for checks and correction on the data as it travels in the drive to processing in the system and back. A feature like this usually isn’t found on a consumer drive and is more oriented towards the enterprise market.
  • Power Loss Protection – Again, typically a feature of most enterprise grade SSDs, power loss protection is almost a standard feature of Crucial SSDs now. The MX100 is no exception to his. The PCB contains a row of capacitors that will allow the drive enough power to safely transfer in buffer data to the NAND in case of a power failure. A very nice feature to have to preserve your data when you don’t have yourself a UPS or even just a hard reset.

Crucial MX100 Specs

As we can see in the chart above, the sequential read and write speeds are advertised up to 550MB/s and 500 MB/s respectively on all file types. Random high queue depth IOPS are rated at up to 90,000 read and 85,000 write for the 512GB variant. Its write endurance is rated for 72TB as it has been in the past with most of their drives. And it comes with a 3 year warranty and is backed by amazing customer support.

Crucial MX100 with package

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY

The Crucial MX100 SSD is currently available at the time of this reports publishing (Check here!) MSRPs for these drives come in pretty low, good news for the consumers. The 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB drives come in at $79.99, $109.99, $224.99 respectively. That is less than .50 per GB at the higher capacities. The goal of the low price pint is to maintain a competitive edge in market prices as more competition is released.

Crucial has been making reliable cost effective mainstream SSDs for years now. Each new product release striving for better performance, reliability, and value. The recent release of the M550 built upon their M500, offering even better performance, but at a higher price point per GB. Because of this, Crucial needed to release a more modern lower budget drive. They had already separated their product line of SSDs in the 2012 with their V4, offering a more budget friendly SSD. However, it turned out to be a bad move. To make the V4 cheaper they skimped out on the controller and…

Review Overview

Build and Components
Performance
Features
Price and Availability
Warranty

Low Cost & High Performance

Summary : Crucial MX100 hits the market offering many enterprise grade features at a budget friendly price point. Combined with its high performance, this drive is almost impossible to pass up if you are in the market for a new SSD.

User Rating: 2.81 ( 83 votes)
85

About Sean Webster

Sean Webster is a professional photographer and long time PC tech and enthusiast. He writes informational guides and reviews across the web and specializes in storage technologies.
  • Benjamin Hojnik

    This drive is an insane value, especially given performance. It’ just too bad, that they won’t offer 1TB version.

    Samsung should really update it’s aging 840EVO, because crucial is destroying them :)

    • NoldorElf

      Performance wise, the 840 EVO actually is competitive compared to this. The drawback is that it is a TLC drive. Even at 16nm, the MLC MX100 will be a better choice (that and it has power loss protection). Judging by the performance, only the 512 GB version seems to fully saturate the controller. Heck, the 512 GB version is about as fast as the M550, which is supposed to be the “performance” version of Crucial’s SSD line. The 256 GB version is slower. I would imagine that the 128 GB version is even slower.

      The only thing I wish was a better controller. Marvell 88SS9189 powers this chip. On one hand, it’s a reliable, proven beast. We should not have any hitches on this drive. Usually for those who want reliable, it’s become standard advice on the computer enthusiast forums to wait a few months when a new controller hits the market to make sure that there are no issues. On the other, it’s not the fastest chip around. Write performance isn’t top notch it looks like. I guess at this price point, it’s not possible to get a top of the line chip.

      We seem to be seeing the proliferation of enterprise-like features onto consumer SSDs.

      This drive offers:

      - Power loss protection
      - Encryption support
      - Some pretty solid data protection features

      There have been other “enterprise-like features” on consumer drives.
      - The Corsair Neutron GTX’s LAMD controller offered really good sustained write performance – especially in sequential benchmarks

      - OCZ’s Vector 150 too seemed to have good performance consistency and judging by the PR around the Vector 180, it seems to be following in delivering enterprise features to enthusiasts

      I think that looking forward, the lines between consumer SSD and entry level enterprise SSD are beginning to blur.

      I’d love to see a LAMD-like controller with power loss protection, data protection, and offered with premium quality MLC NAND – at consumer prices like this. Judging by how ferocious competition is getting, that may not be far.

      • Benjamin Hojnik

        > The only thing I wish was a better controller. Marvell 88SS9189 powers
        this chip. On one hand, it’s a reliable, proven beast. We should not
        have any hitches on this drive. Usually for those who want reliable,
        it’s become standard advice on the computer enthusiast forums to wait a
        few months when a new controller hits the market to make sure that there
        are no issues. On the other, it’s not the fastest chip around. Write
        performance isn’t top notch it looks like. I guess at this price point,
        it’s not possible to get a top of the line chip.

        Actually, Marvell *89 (and 87*) is a wicked fast silicon; so fast in fact, that the fastest drive on sata6gbit is acutally based on the very same controller (or a older revision of that) — Sandisk Extreme PRO.
        Its not the controller, that makes the MX100 a lesser performing drive. Its the use of “subpar” NAND and firmware that makes mx100 (and other crucial drives) middlerange at best. But to be honest, its not like someone buying such a drive is gonna notice the difference anyway. Especially writes speeds (which are often criticized). Bulk of workload is reads anyway. There is little use for very fast sequential writes on consumer drives anyway.

      • NoldorElf

        Re-reading the Sandisk reviews, you may be right. They do use the same family of controller. Hmm interesting, so it is the NAND that is holding the chip back.

        Hmm, this drive might get somewhat faster with newer firmware. But yeah you are right that the 16nm NAND is not that good.

        ” But to be honest, its not like someone buying such a drive is gonna
        notice the difference anyway. Especially writes speeds (which are often
        criticized). Bulk of workload is reads anyway. There is little use for
        very fast sequential writes on consumer drives anyway.”

        It will depend on how the end user uses their SSD.

        But I agree that for most consumers, they are mostly doing reads, so read speed will dictate real speed most often. Then again, it’s probably not worth for most consumers paying the premium for something like the Extreme Pro either. For real world stuff, it’s probably not noticeable for most consumers.

        I think we are seeing some sort of segmentation like we did for hard drives. Western Digital for example has a “Black” series of drives that are faster, at the expense of cost:capacity, noise, and power consumption.

        Higher end SSDs seem to cost about 50-60% more per unit of storage, but offer higher quality NAND.

  • guest

    looks like someone turned off their cstates for once

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Yes… we are running a bit of a balancing act on this one, leverage coming from the fact that all new motherboards are optimized with C States off. It is still very funny how little education there really is on the benefits vs vulnerability with C States on or off.

  • Ralph

    It’s worth noting that the 256 is actually a 320 drive. With 20% overprovisioning the MX100 performance won’t degrade like a bargain drive with 7%

  • Mpegger

    “Although the total RAW capacity of these SSDs are 256GB and 512GB, usable storage space is only 238GB and 476GB respectively.”

    This is incorrect. Usable storage space is still 256GB and 512GB. The 238GB and 476GB is just Windows reporting the available space with the wrong suffix. It should be 476GiB, which is equal to 512GB. You can see it is in fact 512GB, by going into the properties window for the drive and you will see the capacity listed as over 512,000,000,000 bytes.

  • Dennis Htc

    it’s hard to chose between the samsung evo 250 gb and mx 100. read different reviews on the mx100 that contradict one another. Guess some of these review sites get payed to say something positive or negative insteead of being objective. I have a samsung 830 now and i’m satisfied with it, never failed me. But i need a bigger one now. I like the protection and encryption on mx100. Samsung 840 evo doesn’t have that right? The price of the mx 100 is a bargain, but the writing performance is not great. Yeah single mode is ok, but not mixed workloads. Some give me some advice. Gonna use it for audioproduction

    • Benjamin Hojnik

      Just go with MX100.
      While on paper write performance isn’t all that great, its actually better than EVOs (330 vs 250MB/s) once evo runs out of fake SLC cache.

      Powerloss protection, MLC flash and lower price makes it a nobrainer against EVO.
      You either get price/GB king or something a lot better (like 850pro or pci-e based solutions). Everything thats inbetween makes little sense, given how much more it costs.

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