Whether it be on cars or computers, enthusiasts are always looking for ways to improve performance, ways to just one up their friends, or even just ways to spend money on their hobby when they have nothing else to do with it. Who doesn’t like having the best of the best at times? We know we sure love it. But, sometimes, the best of the best can be pricey or just doesn’t make sense for your application.
For most PC enthusiasts, PCIe SSDs are the way to go, however, it isn’t always the case. Yes, they offer multi-GB/s read speeds and over 1GB/s write speeds more often than not, but they are more expensive than a SATA RAID array for the capacity you get and can have cooling issues that cause thermal throttling if you don’t have enough airflow in your case. Not only that, but what happens when you already have a PCIe SSD installed and you want another fast volume to transfer to and from? You need to get another PCIe SSD or if that isn’t an option, you can simply build a RAID 0 array out of SATA SSDs. That is why today we are going to look at a storage configuration any enthusiast would like to have and could fit into almost any build, two SATA SSDs in RAID 0. For this, we decided to reach out to Crucial in light of their recent announcement.
Last month Crucial announced that they have expanded the available capacities MX300 SSDs and are now offering a M.2 form factor. While the 750GB capacity we first reviewed was odd enough, the new capacities are even stranger. Due to the new 384G-bit TLC 3D NAND, the MX300 line up is now offered in 275GB, 525GB, 750GB, 1050GB, and 2TB options. From this announcement, the 2TB option intrigued us the most, however, they are still unavailable, so we opted to get two 1050GB models for today’s review. With very competitive prices and slightly higher capacities than the competition, how will these new MX300 SSDs perform and how viable would they be in RAID 0? Read on to find out.
SPECIFICATIONS, PRICING, AND AVAILABILITY
The Crucial MX300 is a 2.5″ 7mm SATA 6GB/s SSD and is also available in a M.2 form factor. It is available in capacities of 275GB ($70), 525GB ($130), 750GB ($178), 1050GB ($260) and 2TB ($550 very soon). Sequential read speeds are rated for up to 530MB/s while write speeds are rated for up to 510MB/s, thanks to their dynamic write acceleration feature. This technology helps to improve write speeds dynamically as the drive is filled. The MX300 is also rated for up to 92K/83K IOPS random read/write. In addition, the endurance is rated for up to 220TB TBW on the 750GB model and it is covered by a 3-year warranty. Other capacities’ endurance ratings are not listed.
The MX300 features AES 256-bit hardware encryption for those who need data security. It is also TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE-1667 compliant and works with Microsoft eDrive. Other features such as data-path protection, Redundant Array of Independent NAND (RAIN), Exclusive Data Defense, adaptive thermal protection, and power-loss protection are utilized to maintain reliability and data integrity. Standard features such as SMART, TRIM, and DevSleep are also supported.
To add some value to the MX300, Crucial includes a serial key to Acronis True Image HD with the SSD. You can also download Crucial Storage Executive to monitor your Crucial SSD, update its firmware, and even secure erase as well as reset the SSD’s encryption password.
PACKAGING AND COMPONENTS
The packaging is no different than what we seen before in our review of the 750GB model. On the front is an image of the SSD, the form factor is listed, and the capacity is shown in the bottom left corner. On the backside is a list of what is included in the box. Not mentioned before is a 7mm to 2.5mm spacer in addition to the SSD and Acronis True Image software key.
Taking a look at the exterior, we can see that it is the same, as expected. It has a metal clamp shell type casing. Once disassembled, we can see that the PCB is a bit smaller however. This 1050GB model utilizes 8 NAND packages, which contain Micron’s latest 384G-bit 32 tier floating gate 3D TLC NAND. Once formatted in Windows the end user has 978GB available to them.
Looking more closely, we can see it has the Marvell 88SS1074, a 4-channel controller that has demonstrated very good performance in the past. Additionally, the cache is provided by a Micron LPDDR3 1333MHz DRAM package. We can also see that in comparison to the 750GB model, there are a few more surface mount capacitors to provide enough power to the NAND in the event of an unexpected power loss.