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Crucial M500 M.2 NGFF SATA 3 SSD Review (480GB) – High Capacity and Power Loss Data Protection

It has been almost a year since Crucial/Micron introduced their new M500 family and, with that, came the news of what we then termed as a new Crucial M500 NGFF SSD that would be introduced to retail consumers.  Today, many are now searching for high-capacity M.2 SSDs both for their purchase and upgrade of new M.2 SSD contained systems, and as a replacement to current systems containing M.2 SSDs.  There are absolutely no M.2 retail SSDs available for purchase as we write this report, however, our receipt and review of the first Crucial M500 M.2 SSD just may signal change in the very near future.

Crucial M500 M.2 NGFF SSD Angled 3x5

The Crucial M500 is a SATA 3 M.2 SSD and we might predict that its pricing will be similar to that of regular notebook SSDs, however we have yet to receive confirmation and availability dates from Crucial/Micron.  For those new to the M.2 form factor, we have learned through our past few reports that many configurations of M.2 SSDs will avail themselves soon enough.  Taking just a quick look at the M.2 SSDs we have on hand, we see a large number of configurations that are being introduced.

Various M.2 SSDs Explained

From left to right, we have the Samsung XP941 PCIe X4 m.2 SSD, capable of up to 1.2GB/s performance.  It utilizes four PCIe lanes, whereas the Plextor M6e M.2 SSD to its right is a PCIe X2 SSD, uses two lanes and is capable of just over half the performance at about 730MB/s.  Unlike all other SSDs to date, the M6e M.2SSD that we have contains its own boot files and is capable of being the boot drive in present PC systems, whereas the Samsung XP941 is not.

The Super Talent PCIe DX1 M.2 SSD to the right of the Plextor only uses a single PCIe lane and is also bootable.  Interestingly enough, this SSD is, in fact, a SATA 3 SSD which runs through PCIe lanes and not the SATA port.  To the right of the STT PCIe DX1, we have the Crucial M500, Toshiba HG5d and ADATA AXNS360 M.2 SATA 3 SSDs, all of which use the motherboards SATA ports and are fully bootable, just as any other storage medium connected to ones motherboard.

CRUCIAL M500 M.2 SSD SPECIFICATIONS

 Specifications for the crucial M500 family are the same, regardless of form factor and all M500 SSDs come with a 3 year warranty.

Crucial M.2 Specs

CRUCIAL M500 M.2 SSD COMPONENTS

Crucial has been a long time fan of Marvell controllers and this SSD is no different.  Front and center on the top of the PCB is tha Marvell 88SS9187 eight channel SATA 3 controller that we have seen previously in SSD reviews of SanDisk, Plextor as well as crucial/Micron.

Crucial M500 M.2 NGFF SSD Micron DRAM Cache

To the right is a Micron 256Mb DRAM cache memory chip and there also four modules of Micron NAND flash memory that we haven’t seen prior in any SSDs.  They are first gen 1Tb density modules and each has a capacity of 128GB.

Crucial M500 M.2 NGFF SSD FrontThe memory has a FBGA code of NW388 which, when entered into the FBGA decoder,  returns with a product number of MT29F1T08CUCABH8-10:A. You are not likely to learn anything about this memory from the present Micron charts as they have yet to be updated but we were able to break the product number down as such.

Crucial M500 M.2 NGFF SSD Micron Memory

(MT) Micron technology (29F) NAND Flash (1T) 1Tb Density (08) 8-bit (C) MLC (U) 8 Die (C) 3.3v (A) 1st Gen (H8) 152-ball LBGA (*DP), 14 x 18 x 1.4mm (10) 200 MT/s (A) 1st Design Rev.

Crucial M500 M.2 NGFF SSD Back

On the back of the Crucial M500 M.2 SSD os something never seen on consumer SSDs.  These are 20 modules of power capacitors that ensures that all information in the cache completes its travel to the memory, should a power loss occur.  These are standard in al Crucial m500 SSDs and definitely a reason to consider the m500 above the rest if data loss is a major concern.

Crucial M500 M.2 NGFF SSD Power Protect

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David Bell
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David Bell

I am SUPER interested in this. Not sure what I would put it in, but it seems to have excellent potential for any computer in which it fits. Nice one Les!

Visigoth
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Visigoth

Excellent review. I especially like the included supercaps which protect against sudden power loss. This alone is reason enough for me to consider the M500 above all others. Together with the included OPAL 2.0 hardware encryption engine it’s just icing on the cake.

SSD_Guru
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SSD_Guru

Why do you need capacitors agains sudden power loss? given end user environment (Client), the OS can handle this, plus other drives can manage this through more robust firmware solution, capacitors are adding cost and another potential area for failure

jk000079
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jk000079

If someone plugs out the battery out of the laptop, or the oxidized contacts on it simply lose connection temporarily, or for whatever other reason the SSD would not be getting reliable power delivery anymore, from the hosting environment, you’d be glad to know, that the data, the SSD has “said” to the OS, were already written onto the persistent storage device, are actually written from the volatile write-cache, onto the persistent flash memory of the SSD module.

There is a reason why supercaps and/or backup batteries are a standard on enterprise-level SSDs.

Bogdan
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Bogdan

CrystalDiskInfo 6.1.0 Dev4 should support new SMART attributes layout for M500.

nostriluu
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nostriluu

seriously, can you do more than display screenshots? how about some comparison tools?

Les@TheSSDReview
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Not quite sure what you are speaking of as our review contains, not only several pictures and benchmarks, but also charting which compares read and write transfer speeds as well as high IOPS.

nostriluu
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nostriluu

I’m coming from an SATA SSD search and just came across m.2 PCIE devices, especially interested in 500mbps smashing RAID setups. Which is probably where most enthusiasts are coming from. I think in 2014 you’d want to be able to see at a glance how a unit compares to historical and contemporary devices, but your review does’t support this. It supports a much smaller group of people. People are coming from all different perspectives (should I upgrade from my 2009 device? those focused on day by day industry changes). Your articles are primarily made of screen grabs of common late… Read more »

Les@TheSSDReview
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The article, as with all of our articles, is based on what the vast majority has asked for for some time now, simple and easy to understand descriptions, benchmarks and explanations. The vast majority is not the enthusiast crowd, but rather, the common reader just learning about SSDs. We cater to them and we also cater very well to the enterprise crowd; this is the constant feedback we get and the reason our reviews remain as they are for consumer, client and enterprise SSDs. We weren’t aware that Engadget and Wiki were even reviewing SSDs and, by all means, if… Read more »

darckhart
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darckhart

In the review I saw that you had tested this ssd via a pcie adapter card. However, I notice you tested on an Asus Maximus Impact mobo which has its own m.2 spot. Have you tested it there? Is it bootable using that? (I’d be interested in going down this route.) Thanks for checking!

Les@TheSSDReview
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It is too long to fit in the ASUS Maximus VI adapter as that only accepts M.2/NGFF SSDs up to the size of 2242.

hyp36rmax
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hyp36rmax

Correction, this is from the Asus Maximus Impact VI manual/

“The mPCIe Combo II card supports 26.8mm x 30mm half-sized mPCIe module one sided and M.2 (NGFF) type 2242 (22mm x 42mm), 2260 (22mm x 60mm), 2280 (22mm x 80mm), or 22110 (22mm x 110mm) SSD cards for slot B on the other side.”

If you don’t mind the card hanging from the adapter then you are GOOD! 😉

hyp36rmax
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hyp36rmax

Well feel free to check how the board looks on the Asus Maximus VI. Installed!

http://www.overclock.net/t/1394314/build-log-watercooled-sg05-haswell-omgbbq/100_50#post_21739285

Les@TheSSDReview
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Nice….That’s not the Extreme as we have though is it? We can’t do that.