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Crucial M4 256GB SATA III SSD Review

Crucial M4 256GB SATA III SSD Review - PCSTATS
Price Check: $/£/€
Abstract: In this review PCSTATS will be testing the 256GB Crucial M4 SSD, a 6Gb/s SATA III drive rated by the manufacturer for read speeds of up to 500MB/s and write speeds of 260MB/s (sequential).
 87% Rating:   
Filed under: Hard Drives Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Crucial Dec 04 2012   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Hard Drives > Crucial CT256M4SSD2

In this review PCSTATS will be testing the 256GB Crucial M4 SSD, a 6Gb/s SATA III drive rated by the manufacturer for read speeds of up to 500MB/s and write speeds of 260MB/s (sequential). Crucial's M4 SSD uses 25nm MLC NAND Flash and the same Marvell controller that Intel relies on in several of its better known solid state drives. In the hierarchical world of Solid State Drives, Crucial's CT256M4SSD2 SSD slots into the upper-mainstream region - it's fast, yet it's not the fastest (or most expensive).

Looking at the numbers, Crucial's M4 SSD is spec'd for 4KB random reads at 45,000 IOPS and 4KB random writes at 50,000 IOPS -- placing it a hair slower than the OCZ Vertex 3 PCSTATS tested here. Under the Crucial M4's aluminum cover we find 256GB of Micron Multi-Level Cell NAND Flash, 256MB of Micron DRAM for the cache and a Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 controller.

The M4 drive supports RAID, SMART, NCQ, TRIM, self monitoring and self analysis. Average access times are less than 0.1ms. Peak power consumption is 0.15W, idle is a scant 65mW so this puppy can certainly help extend the battery life of any notebook by replacing a spindle'd hard drive. The 1.2 million hours MTBF rating on Crucial's M4 SSD is slightly lower than other solid state drives PCSTATS recently tested, most of which have averaged 2M hours. It's backed by a 3 year limited warranty.

Crucial's 2.5" M4 256GB SSD (CT256M4SSD2) retails for around $210 USD/CDN at Crucial.com, or about $0.82/GB. The M4 SSD family includes models ranging from 120GB all the way up to 480GB capacity. The Crucial M4 is priced per gigabyte between the 240GB SanDisk Extreme which runs about $0.91/GB and the 240GB OCZ Vertex 3 which is pegged at $0.78/GB.

256GB Crucial M4 SSD

Model: CT256M4SSD2
Memory: MLC NAND Flash
Controller:Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2
TRIM: Yes
NCQ: Yes
Garbage collection: Yes
Wear levelling: Yes

Capacity: 256GB
Interface: 6Gb/s SATA III
Formfactor: 2.5" (9.5mm thick)
Warrranty: 3 Years

Price:
$211 USD/CDN

Crucial's M4 256GB SSD comes in a standard die cast aluminum chassis, painted gray with a large logo sticker on one side and detailed bar codes / serial numbers on the opposite. The SSD measures 2.5" wide and 9.5mm thick - no adaptor plate, cable or mounting screws are provided by Crucial.


Crucial M4 256GB SSD


Aluminum case measures 9.5mm thick.

Voiding the warranty for a peak under the cover will reveal a green PCB with eight 16GB MLC NAND flash memory chips per side, for a total of 16 x 16GB = 256GB.


(8x) MLC NAND flash and the Marvell controller on one side of the SSD.


(8x) MLC NAND Flash and 256MB cache DRAM on the other side of the SSD.

The on board controller is what makes or breaks an SSD -- it's responsible for balancing bandwidth, latency and reliability. Crucial's M4 uses a Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 controller which supports a host interface of 6Gb/s SATA III and includes a range of passive flash management tools.


Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 controller

The useable capacity of the drive is 238.5GB.

The drive is equipped with (16) Micron 29F128G08CFAAB NAND chips and a 256GB Micron 2SD22-D9LGQ DRAM (DDR3-1333) chip which acts as cache. The 25nm MLC NAND Flash chips are 16GB apiece, the DRAM is 256MB in capacity.

Let's see how this SSD handles itself on the PCSTATS test bench, next.

Prelude to Benchmarks

The details of how the Crucial M4 256GB SSD (CT256M4SSD2) test system was configured for benchmarking; the specific hardware, software drivers, operating system and benchmark versions is indicated below. Please take a moment to look over PCSTATS test system configurations before moving on to the individual benchmark results on the next page.

PCSTATS Test System Configuration
Test System
Processor:

Intel Core i5 2500K (32nm)

Clock Speed: 33 x 100 MHz = 3.3 GHz
Socket: Socket LGA1155
Motherboard:

Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H (Z77 Express)

Videocard:

GBT GV-N470SO-13I (Geforce GTX470)

Memory:

4x 4GB Corsair DDR3-1600C9

Memory Speed: DDR3-1600 RAM
Hard Drive:

- SSD -
128GB Plextor PX-128M1S (3GB/s)
120GB OCZ VTX2-SSD (3Gb/s)
240GB OCZ VTX3-SSD (6Gb/s)
240GB SanDisk SDSSDX-240G-G25 (6Gb/s)
256GB Crucial M4 CT256M4SSD2 (6Gb/s)

- HDD -
1TB WD RE4 WD1003FBYX (3Gb/s)
1TB WD WD1001FALS (3Gb/s)
3TB Seagate Barracuda XT (6GB/s)
2TB Segate Barracuda XT (6GB/s)
750GB Seagate Momentus XT SSHD (6GB/s)
500GB Seagate Momentus XT SSHD (3Gb/s)

Optical Drive:

Plextor PX-B310U Blu-Ray

Power Supply:

Seasonic SS-760KM (760W)

Heatsink:

Intel Reference 2011 Heatsink

Monitor (1080p):

ASUS MK241 24" HD LCD

Software Setup:

Microsoft Windows 7 Ultiimate 64-bit
Intel INF 9.2.3.1020
nVidia 285.62

Benchmarks:
Hard Drive Benchmarks:
AS SSD 1.6
HDTune Pro 4.0
PCmark Vantage
SiSoft Sandra 2012
HD Tach 3.0.4.0
CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1

© 2014 PCSTATS.com Next Page >

 

Contents of Article: Crucial CT256M4SSD2
 Pg 1.  — Crucial M4 256GB SATA III SSD Review
 Pg 2.  SSD Benchmarks: CrystalDiskMark 3, AS SSD
 Pg 3.  SSD vs HDD Benchmarks: HD Tune Pro 4.01
 Pg 4.  SSD vs HDD Benchmarks: HD Tach 3.0.4, Sandra 2012
 Pg 5.  HDD Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 6.  Conclusions: Weighing your SSD Options with SanDisk

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