Crucial mX300 1TB review

Big SSD. Small price. Give it up for 3D NAND memory

Good things cometo those who wait, they say. If that’s true, Crucial’s new MX300 SSD must be smoking hot. It’s Crucial’s first SSD to offer 3D NAND memory technology, but it’s fully two years later to market than Samsung’s first SSD with 3D NAND.

Crucial mX300 1TB review

When it comes to memory density and capacity, however, it looks like the MX300 has been worth the wait. Samsung’s 3D NAND chips topped out at 128Gb per die at launch, and even its second-generation triple-level cell 3D NAND dies only max out at 256Gb. We say “only” because Crucial, along with production partner Intel, has come up with some beefy 384Gb TLC NAND chips right from the get go.

The large capacity of the NAND chips explains why the MX300 line comes in oddball sizes of 275GB, 525GB, the 1,050GB drive here, and 2TB. It’s a function of the NAND chip capacity. As a for instance, the 275GB model has six memory dies, making for a total raw capacity of 288GB. Slice a bit off for redundancy, and you get 275GB.

Impressive, but how does it perform? Truth is, this first viewing of Crucial’s 3D NAND tech isn’t a performance play. For starters, the controller chipset is Marvell’s 88SS1074, which is a couple of years old and a four-channel model, rather than a pricier and quicker eight-channel effort.

That said, Crucial’s 3D NAND does have a number of enhancements, including a fast 4K read mode that purportedly improves random access performance.
Sata Slowdown You wouldn’t necessarily know that from the MX300’s official IOPS performance, which clocks in at 92,000 read IOPS and 83,000 write IOPS, both of which are lower than Crucial’s own MX200 drive.

Similarly, the claimed 530MB/s sequential reads and 510MB/s sequential writes are nothing special. But this is an old-school SATA drive, not one of the brave new PCI Express models with GB/s of bandwidth and hundreds of thousands of IOPS, thanks to the newfangled NVMe control protocol.

crucial-mx300-1tb-benchmark

What the MX300 needs to offer is lots of capacity and reliable performance at a great price. In most of our benchmarks, it does. Peak sequential throughput is near 500MB/s, which is all you can ask from a SATA drive. Likewise, there are no horrors in the 4K random access test, though the 28MB/s in the AS SSD 4K read benchmark is average, and doesn’t square well with Crucial’s claims of optimized 4K read performance from its 3D NAND chips. The Marvell controller may be the limitation.

Whatever, our real-world 5GB compression and 30GB file copy tests look decent, too. In fact, the 2 minutes and 58 seconds it takes to complete the compression test is one of the best scores we’ve seen. Our only reservation when it comes to performance involves patchy observed performance during the pre-test setup, which involves filling the drive to capacity before deleting the data.

Specifications

Capacity 1,050GB
Interface SATA III
Control Protocol AHCI
Controller Marvell 88SS1074
NAND Type 3D TLC
Sequential Read 530MB/s
Sequential Write 510MB/s
Read IOPs 92,000
Write IOPs 83,000
Warranty Three years

All of which means that the MX300’s appeal largely hinges on price. It doesn’t need to be the cheapest 1TB SSD, but it does want to be very competitively priced.

At about cheaper than a 1TB Samsung 850 Evo and less than a 1TB SanDisk X400, it is. It’s not the fastest drive money can buy. It’s also not the game changer you might hope for in terms of GB/$, given the density of its 3D NAND chips. But it’s still a pretty compelling option. –Jeremy Laird

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Crucial MX300 1TB SATA 2.5 Inch Internal Solid State Drive - CT1050MX300SSD1

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8 Total Score
Crucial mX300 1TB review

PROS
  • Impressive density from 3D NAND tech; decent performance; competitive price.
CONS
  • PCI Express SSDs are far faster; not quite the revolution in GB/$ we were hoping for.
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