Cru­cial fi­nally en­ters the NVMe SSD market.

APC Australia - - Contents - Chris Szewczyk

NVMe SSDs have been avail­able for years now, many of them fea­tur­ing Mi­cron NAND flash mem­ory. Cu­ri­ously, Mi­cron has not re­leased NVMe drives un­der its own Cru­cial brand un­til now. We have high ex­pec­ta­tions given Cru­cial’s track record and rep­u­ta­tion for value. Can it shake up the market like it did with the ex­cel­lent MX500 se­ries?

The Cru­cial P1 is a typ­i­cal NVMe M.2 2280 (80mm length) drive that makes use of a PCIe 3.0 x4 in­ter­face. The drive con­tains Mi­cron’s 64-Layer QLC NAND. Quad-level cell NAND stores four bits per cell. This means more data can be stored per die, in turn lead­ing to higher ca­pac­i­ties and/or cheaper prices. While QLC NAND should lead to lower SSD pric­ing, it does have some draw­backs. Per­for­mance favours TLC-equipped drives and even more so a drive like the Sam­sung 970 Pro which uses MLC (2 bits per cell). En­durance also suf­fers. The 1TB P1 is rated for 200 ter­abytes writ­ten, this is also some way be­low TLC drives. While reg­u­lar users won’t face any is­sues us­ing a QLC drive for many years, pro­fes­sion­als and users who thrash their drives with heavy I/O will pre­fer hard­ware with higher en­durance rat­ings.

The 1TB Cru­cial P1 uses a Sil­i­con Mo­tion SM2263 con­troller. It’s a more bud­get-ori­ented con­troller that won’t pro­duce the per­for­mance we see on top of the line NVMe SSD’s. That’s ok though, as the aim is to keep the price of the drive down. Per­for­mance is of­fi­cially rated at 2000 MB/s for se­quen­tial read and 1700 MB/s for se­quen­tial write per­for­mance. This is much faster than any SATA SSD, but some way be­low the top of the range drives. The P1 doesn’t come with any drive en­cryp­tion ca­pa­bil­ity. You do get the com­mon SSD fea­tures in­clud­ing TRIM, garbage col­lec­tion, S.M.A.R.T. and a wel­come five-year war­ranty. Cru­cial of­fers a link to Acro­nis True Image cloning soft­ware which is a nice piece of soft­ware for up­grad­ing from your ex­ist­ing drive.

As a bud­get ori­ented drive, we didn’t ex­pect any record set­ting per­for­mance from the P1 and our re­sults were pretty much medi­ocre, even though it ‘feels’ snappy enough dur­ing reg­u­lar testing and day to day use. Ran­dom read speeds are char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally strong with SM2263 con­trollers and we see this again with the Cru­cial P1. In all other ar­eas though, it does lag be­hind. In day to day use you won’t no­tice much dif­fer­ence, but un­der heavy load you will. As ex­pected, per­for­mance does drop off once the cache is sat­u­rated un­der heavy sus­tained load.

The P1 is a wel­come market en­try from Cru­cial, how­ever given its lack­lus­tre per­for­mance, it needs to be priced com­pet­i­tively in a cut throat market. Un­for­tu­nately this is where it falls down. At the time of writ­ing, the P1 was sell­ing for around $330 for the 1TB model, putting it a good $30 above the ex­cel­lent Sam­sung 970 Evo. This makes rec­om­mend­ing the Cru­cial P1 im­pos­si­ble un­less it gets a ma­jor price cut.

Cru­cial P1 1TB NVMe SSD; M. 2 2280 Form Fac­tor; Mi­cron 64-Layer 3D QLC NAND; PCIe 3.0 x4 In­ter­face, Sil­i­con Mo­tion SM2263EN Con­troller; 1GB DDR3 Cache; Up to 2000/ 1700 MB/s Se­quen­tial Read/ Write; Up to 170K/240K Read/ Write IOPS; 200 TBW En­durance; 5 Year War­ranty NVME SSD $330 | WWW.CRU­CIAL.COM

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