Crucial MX300 2TB Review

The only writer we know who’s owned multiple Porsches, Jeremy Laird sullies his hands with the cheapest 2TB SSD in town.

Solid-state storage is one of the wonders of the modern world. Thinking about it, we’re reminded of the immortal words of Arthur C Clarke, the great science fiction writer. He reckoned that any sufficiently advanced technology will seem like magic.

Go back 100 years, and what would anyone make of, for instance, a 256GB MicroSD card? (they’d probably think it was chewing gum – Ed) The notion that something so tiny could store hundreds of thousands of books would surely seem like witchcraft.

Two terabytes is a lot of storage space in the SSD world.

Nowadays, it’s pretty impressive that you can bag a 128GB USB stick.

Despite that, SSDs aren’t yet the default option for mass storage. That will happen eventually. But not yet, not even thanks to Crucial’s 2TB MX300.

It’s about as close as you’ll get to a really big SSD aimed at a mainstream audience, but at £480 it’s getting on for eight times the price of the cheapest 2TB magnetic hard drive.

But then, the MX300 majors on capacity rather than performance.

That’s because it’s a SATA drive, rather than PCI Express, which introduces limitations in terms of the peak bandwidth on the SATA interface and the inefficiencies of the AHCI protocol it uses. The latter was never designed with solid-state storage in mind.

Thus, we’re talking peak claimed performance around 500MB/s for reads and writes, and IOPs (Input/ output Operations Per second) a fair bit below 100,000. The 2TB MX300, incidentally, has the same claimed performance for sequential throughput and IOPs as the 1TB, 750GB, and 525GB MX300 models. Only the entrylevel 275GB model differs with slightly lower performance. It also shares the familiar Marvell 88SS1074 controller with the rest of the MX300 family.

Similarly, this 2TB model uses the same 384GB TLC 3D flash memory dies as previous MX300s. It’s that unusual capacity per die that leads to the MX300 range having odd sizes, with this drive serving up 2,050GB. The MX300 range also has a dynamic write acceleration mode that switches a portion of the memory to SLC mode for increased performance. For the 2TB model, the amount of memory that can be switched to SLC mode is increased.

A major negative point is that any software that Crucial offers is Windows only, this includes its firmware update packages. We’d hope for better.

If all that reads like a feature list without much real-world analysis, the truth is that the MX300’s real-world performance isn’t all that interesting.

SATA SSDs such as this are a fairly mature technology, and the limitations we mentioned mean there’s zero chance of this drive setting any new records. What you want is a reliable drive with no performance nasties, and for the most part that’s what the 2TB MX300 delivers.

In our synthetic performance tests, it operates pretty much exactly as you’d expect, with peak performance around 500MB/s, and 4K results in the mid 20MB/s area for reads, and 120– 140MB/s for writes, depending on the benchmark app in question. It’s a similar story of generic SATA drive performance in our real-world compression and copy benchmarks. All of which means the MX300 ultimately trades on price, which is handy, because it’s comfortably the cheapest 2TB SSD you can currently buy.

The cheapest 2TB SSD in town solid-state storage is one of the wonders of the modern world. Thinking about it, we re reminded of the immortal words of Arthur C Clarke, the great science fiction writer. He reckoned that any sufficiently advanced technology seems like magic.

Go back 100 years, and what would anyone make of, for instance, a 256GB MicroSD card? The notion something so tiny could store hundreds of thousands of books would surely seem like witchcraft. Nowadays, it’s pretty impressive that you can bag a 128GB USB stick.

Despite that, SSDs aren’t yet the default option for mass storage. That will happen eventually. But not yet, not even thanks to Crucial’s 2TB MX300. It’s about as close as you’ll get to a really big SSD aimed at a mainstream audience. However, it’s getting on for 10 times the price of the cheapest 2TB magnetic hard drive.

Of course, the MX300 still majors on capacity rather than performance. That’s because it’s a SATA drive, rather than a PCI Express model, which brings limitations in terms of the peak bandwidth on the SATA interface and the inefficiencies of the AHCI protocol it uses. The latter never being designed with solid-state storage in mind.

Thus, were talking peak claimed performance around 500MB/s for reads and writes, and 10Ps a fair bit below 100,000. The 2TB MX300, incidentally, has the same claimed performance for sequential through put and 10Ps as the 1TB, 750GB, and 525GB MX300 models. Only the entry-level 275GB model differs with slightly lower performance. It also shares the familiar Marvell 88SS1076 controller with the rest of the MX300 family.

Similarly, this 2TB model uses the same 386Gb TLC 3D flash memory dies as previous MX300s. It’s that unusual capacity per die that leads to the MX300 range having odd sizes, with this drive serving up 2,050GB. The MX300 range also has a dynamic write acceleration mode that switches a portion of the memory to SLC mode for increased performance. For the 2TB model, the amount of memory that can be switched to SLC mode is increased.

The MX300 also comes with Crucial’s SSD management software, which enables you to tweak settings and performance. Among other features, you can update the firmware, monitor the health of the NAND chips, and toggle the Momentum Cache feature, which uses system memory to buffer random writes.

If all that reads like a feature list without much real-world analysis, the truth is that the MX300 s real-world performance isn’t all that interesting. SATA SSDs such as this are a fairly mature technology, and the limitations we mentioned mean there’s zero chance of this drive setting any new records. What you want is a reliable drive with no performance nasties. That’s what the 2TB MX300 largely delivers.

In our synthetic performance tests, it delivers pretty much exactly what you’d expect, with peak performance around 500MB/s, and 6K results in the mid-20MB/s area for reads, and 120-160MB/s for writes, depending on the benchmark app in question. It’s a similar story of generic SATA drive performance in our real-world compression and copy benchmarks. All of which means the MX300 ultimately trades on price, which is handy, because it’s comfortably the cheapest 2TB SSD you can currently buy.

– Jeremy Laird

Crucial MX300 2TB

BIG LEAGUE Mass-storage class capacity; very competitive pricing; no performance nasties.

ALTERNATIVE FACTS Mega money compared to a magnetic drive; PCI Express drives are far faster.

8 Total Score

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Last update was on: 2017-06-21 3:27 pm
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