Crucial M4 Adrenaline 50GB Cache SSD Review – Watch Your Hard Drive Perform Like an SSD

If you own a desktop computer, or even a dual drive laptop computer, and you haven’t considered the advantages of solid state drives yet, this review is going to open your eyes.

Our review today will examine the Crucial Adrenaline SATA 3 50GB Caching SSD and how it fits into the consumer market.  We will explain the simplicity of installation, examine the performance gain and we will draw a very clear picture of how this SSD can benefit you in your typical daily computer activity.


The Crucial Adrenaline is available in a 50GB capacity and a quick check shows it’s present price to be $99 US at the time of the report.  The exterior package includes the a Crucial M4 50GB SATA 3 SSD, instructions for download and a serial number for NVELO Dataplex Software, a 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter so the SSD can be easily installed in any desktop system as well as a data cable for connection to your systems motherboard.

blankThis is a caching SSD so data that is frequently accessed is stored on the SSD for quick retrieval when needed, significantly reducing the time for such things as start up and normal PC activities.  There is no need for a system ‘fresh install’ or any modifications to your present operating system whatsoever.  The the end result is that you have the exact same computer environment that you had before the installation, except you get where you have to go with lightning speed now.


blankblankThe exterior case is metal and secured by four screws, one of which is covered by security tape and will void your warranty if removed.  A quick click on the pictures will enlarge them and you will see the firmware of the SSD to be #0309 which was an excellent firmware upgrade for Crucial as it increased the performance of their M4 SSDs significantly.

blankInside the case is a printed circuit board (PCB) which contains the Marvell 88SS9174 SATA 3 controller, Micron DRAM cache and eight pieces of Micron 25nm mlc NAND flash memory (29F64G08CFACB), each having a capacity of 8GB.  This results in a total RAW capacity of 64GB, however, this SSD is over provisioned to provide for performance and endurance as a cache solution and the advertised capacity is 50GB.  There are no components on the rear of the PCB.


blankInstallation is quick and easy.  Simply follow the instructions found under the top of the interior case of the SSD and download the software.

From there, ensure that the Crucial Adrenaline is installed and follow the on screen instructions. You will have to enter your Activation Key for initial software download, and then again during its installation.

blankblankThe third screen will confirm which hard drive is going to be cached as well as the Crucial Adrenaline Caching SSD.  If the SSD is not recognized, check power and data connections.



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    I find it funny how you say this is the game changer where the OCZ Synapse has been out for quite some time now.

    I was looking forward to a comparison between this to the OCZ Synapse, It would be nice to have a comparison review on them, such that I can know as well the performance differences on a similar system.

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      Did I say game changer? There is no comparison to the Synapse, or even the new Crucial for that matter, simply because the software (Dataplex) used in all is exactly the same and simply amplifies the hard drive speed to that of the SSD being used. If you want to run a comparison of both, simply examine both reviews. We choose not to do the comparison because the main point of interest is the caching solution and its effectiveness on the system in this case.

      Having said that, we could have probably run a caching comparison but I feel we are then taking away from the focus on what we tried to put forward which is the effectiveness and simplicity in implementing the caching solution.

      Thanks for your comment and maybe we will run a head to head once a few more hit the streets.

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        Could you make a comparison with srt using the same drive?

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        I don’t use SRT as there is no comparison. Dataplex simply changes the performance of the hard drive to that of the SSD in use, something that SRT has yet to match. Tx for taking the time to comment.

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        Also, if you like, i can upload my results with testing SRT, which, i have been using since z68 boards dropped, i have yet to see anything similar “match” IT!

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        I didn’t mean to upset you and only expressed my opinion and experience. Nice to have you jump in though.

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        Hi there Mr. Tokar. I’d like to thank you for two things, and I also have a question. One, thank you for all the reviews you’ve done, knowledge is power and this site has helped me tremendously with SSDs. Second, thanks for writing about your subjective experience with SRT. I have seen benchmark comparisons in the past but never had someone explain that Dataplex works better than SRT in the real world.

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        And my question is, if I have a caching SSD such as the Synapse or the Adrenaline, should I do the SSD optimizations? I’m talking about the articles that you guys have in the ‘beginner’ section that tell you to change Windows 7 settings for your SSD.

        Thank you and take care.

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        I am going to suggest not to do the SSD optimizations as the background of these was made through use of a primary recognizable drive, unlike the Adrenaline and other cached designs. Remember, your primary drive is still a hard drive, although it is cached.

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    wow that is some great improvement from such a small ssd, tbh i am really surprised at how well that works 🙂

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    Does the cache work for the entire hard disk or only the partition?

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      The cache is et for the drive that it is identified, regardless of the number of partitions on the drive.

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        Thanks. That’s a decent deal, then. I usually have quite a few partitions on the disk and won’t want to have only one of them cached.

        BTW, does this solution work with disk partitioning tools? If I change the size of a partition using such a tool, would it kill everything or work as if there was nothing behind the curtains.

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    Hello Les, may I ask you a favour? I only want to know if in SATA 2 it would be approximately the same boot time (slower it’s sure but how), because still now the majority of people are using SATA 2 in their computers and this solution could be very attractive for older computers.

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      You will not observe a difference in the boot time as it is disk access which is instrumental in your boot time, regardless of whether it is SATA 2 or SATA 3.

      Actually, I was shocked as heck to get such a quick boot time in these tests.

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    @Les@TheSSDReview “Dataplex simply changes the performance of the hard drive to that of the SSD in use, something that SRT has yet to match.”……………………….WOW, so, without using SRT, you say that it can’t match this setup? well, you are in fact correct, SRT surpasses this technique, using a Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 60GB SSD to push a WD 500GB HDD, it scores 1,513.34 read-1,990.00 write=3,503.34 total using the Anvil Storage Benchmark, and, when using the 120GB Chronos Deluxe, it is even better, you should bench SRT before bashing it, Peace!

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    I am not upset, just thought that i would enlighten you so that people will take this sites benchmarks seriously, that’s all.

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    Les, I wish you’d started out your review by saying this only works with Win 7. I’m a Mac guy and was really disappointed to find it’s not available for the Mac. Also, reading the Amazon reviews, they are pretty much 5 or 1 star. The one stars are from those whose computers weren’t compatible and their HDs were trashed. Nvelo seem to be fixing the problems but it will probably be a while before all the bugs are out. The advice, as always, is to back up your whole system (clone it) so you can be up and running quickly if you are one of the unlucky ones.

    Also, I want to thank for all the info and reviews here. Based on your review I bought an Intel 520/240GB SSD for my MacBook Pro and couldn’t be happier.

    I also have to ask, what is all this rebooting about? Five times per day average?! As a Mac guy, I’ve gone weeks without rebooting.

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