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Cru­cial has be­come one of the go-to brands for SSD up­grades since the tech­nol­ogy be­came rel­a­tively af­ford­able around five years ago. Over that time, we’ve seen the C300 launch in 2010, the M4 the fol­low­ing year, then the M500 in 2013 and M550 in 2014. More re­cently, the MX100 was quickly fol­lowed by this year’s MX200 and BX100 to­gether – split­ting the sin­gle line into two prod­ucts. The BX100 is aimed at the bud­get end of the mar­ket; the MX200 mean­while now stands as the brand’s best SSD at this time.

A win­ning for­mula was de­vised early on in all the above drives, us­ing NAND flash chips from the brand’s par­ent Mi­cron Tech­nol­ogy, run by a Marvell con­troller, and with Cru­cial’s own firmware on the con­troller. In the case of the MX200, we have the same Marvell 88SS9189 con­troller that pow­ered both the MX100 and the M550, now al­lied to 16nm Mi­cron multi-layer cell (MLC) NAND flash.

As with the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion there is Adap­tive Ther­mal Pro­tec­tion, which will re­duce per­for­mance when in­ter­nal sen­sors de­tect high tem­per­a­tures, while Power Loss Pro­tec­tion is de­signed to re­duce the chance of data loss in the event of a sud­den switch-off, us­ing small on­board ca­pac­i­tors to main­tain power long enough to write data from DRAM cache to NAND.

Re­dun­dant Ar­ray of In­de­pen­dent NAND (RAIN) is said to pro­tect your data at the com­po­nent level, sim­i­lar to how RAID is used with mul­ti­ple hard drives. The need for this may be greater than ever with the tiny 16nm-process NAND, since the down­siz­ing process also leads to lower re­li­a­bil­ity.

New to the MX200 se­ries is Dy­namic Write Ac­cel­er­a­tion, a way to in­clude a faster write cache us­ing sin­gle-layer cell (SLC) flash. This is avail­able on the smaller 128- and 256GB ca­pac­ity drives only though, and not in­cluded on 512GB nor the largest 1TB sam­ple we tested; pre­sum­ably be­cause ad­di­tional par­al­lel­ism and over­pro­vi­sion­ing make it un­nec­es­sary here.


In ba­sic sequential data trans­fers the Cru­cial MX200 com­fort­ably ex­ceeded the 500MB/s mark, reach­ing 548MB/s for reads and 514MB/s writes us­ing the sim­ple ATTO disk bench­mark test.

A run with Crys­talDiskMark con­firmed what has long been ap­par­ent with Cru­cial’s choice of Marvell con­troller, that there is no slow­down in per­for­mance when faced with in­com­press­ible data like MPEG and JPEG files: when writ­ing ran­domised data, the Cru­cial could read and write at around 438- and 480MB/s re­spec­tively.

Tested with 4kB ran­dom data, the Cru­cial showed reads at the typ­i­cal 29MB/s level, while 4kB ran­dom writes were the high­est in our tests at 131MB/s. When stacked up to 32 queue depth the drive didn’t scale as well as oth­ers, turn­ing in just 102MB/s reads where other mod­els could reach 300- or 400MB/s. This trans­lated into weak read IOPS re­sults of around 26,100, although the 90,100 write IOPS re­sult was closer to the rest of the pack.

Turn­ing to AS SSD, which uses 64 threads of in­com­press­ible data, the Cru­cial re­ported slightly bet­ter re­sults of around 68k read IOPS and 79k write IOPS. The bench­mark’s fi­nal nom­i­nal score of 954 points is good but here in the lower half of re­sults in this group of six. VER­DICT: When we tested the Cru­cial M550 last year, it had a price/ stor­age quo­tient of 37p/GB. The latest MX200 is avail­able for around 30p/GB, but other than that lit­tle has changed, ex­cept the newer drive has smaller process 16nm flash. It’s still a good drive, but it’s lost a lit­tle head­way against higher-per­form­ing com­peti­tors

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