CRUCIAL MX200 1TB
£301 inc VAT • uk.crucial.com
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