In December, the 1TB Crucial MX500 impressed us with its combination of great performance for a SATA drive and an aggressive introductory price. Since then, Micron has launched the rest of the Crucial MX500 product line, and several other new SSDs have been announced. The most important new competitors aren't any of the many drives shown at CES, but the new Samsung 860 PRO and 860 EVO that launched last week. So far, we have only tested the premium Samsung 860 PRO, but it is clear that the improvements from Samsung's 64-layer 3D NAND process and their updated SATA SSD controller will affect where the 860 EVO stands. The handful of performance records set by the 1TB MX500 didn't last long.

The MX500 is the first Crucial drive based on Micron's 64-layer 3D TLC NAND, and is the second generation of Crucial's mainstream MX series to use TLC NAND instead of MLC NAND. The MX500 breaks from previous MX generations by using Silicon Motion's SM2258 controller instead of a Marvell controller, but all the usual features of the MX series are still present. This includes both TCG Opal encryption support and Crucial's partial power loss protection, features which are uncommon on mainstream or budget consumer SSDs. As usual for Crucial, the SLC write cache is dynamically sized based on how full the drive is.

The Crucial MX500 uses Micron's 256Gb 64L 3D TLC part and consequently returns to the standard drive capacities and overprovisioning ratios, instead of the unusual configurations caused by the 384Gb die capacity in the MX300's 32L 3D TLC. The slightly lower usable capacities of the MX500 than the MX300 means the new drives have slightly higher prices on a per-GB basis, but the MSRPs are still very competitive against current street prices for the competition.

Internally, the 500GB MX500 uses the same PCB as the larger models. The back side is entirely blank, with the 8 NAND package locations and one DRAM spot unpopulated. On the front, we find the eight of the same dual-die NAND packages used on the 1TB model, plus 512MB of DRAM, the SM2258 controller, and all the usual smaller components.

Crucial MX500 Specifications
Capacity 250 GB 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB
Form Factors 2.5", M.2 2280 single-sided 2.5", M.2 2280 single-sided 2.5", M.2 2280 double-sided 2.5"
Controller Silicon Motion SM2258
NAND Micron 256Gb 64-layer 3D TLC
Sequential Read 560 MB/s
Sequential Write 510 MB/s
4KB Random Read  95k IOPS
4KB Random Write  90k IOPS
Dynamic Write Acceleration (SLC Caching) Yes, dynamically sized
DevSleep Power 2 mW 2 mW 4 mW 25 mW
Slumber Power 55 mW 55 mW 65 mW 110 mW
Max Power 3.0 W 4.0 W 5.0 W 6.0 W
Encryption TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667 (eDrive)
Endurance 100 TB 180 TB 360 TB 700 TB
Warranty Five years
MSRP $79.99 $139.99 $259.99 $499.99

With capacities from 250GB to 2TB now available at MSRPs that are highly competitive, the Crucial MX500 is shaking up the SATA SSD market. Last year's budget SSDs need big price cuts, and even mainstream drives like the SanDisk Ultra 3D are having to drop in price. M.2 versions of the Crucial MX500 up to 1TB are also on the way, so ultrabook users will have most of the same upgrade options.

For this review, we are focusing on the 500GB Crucial MX500. This is a lower capacity than we initially tested, making it more affordable and a bit slower than the 1TB model. With a MSRP of $139.99 and current retail prices slightly lower, the 500GB Crucial MX500 should prove to be a very popular product. Testing at the 500GB capacity point gives us the opportunity to make more direct comparisons against some other drives in our collection, especially the Intel 545s and the Crucial BX300.

AnandTech 2017 SSD Testbed
CPU Intel Xeon E3 1240 v5
Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC
Chipset Intel C232
Memory 4x 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws DDR4-2400 CL15
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 5450, 1920x1200@60Hz
Software Windows 10 x64, version 1709
Linux kernel version 4.14, fio version 3.1

Our SSD testbed's software has been updated for 2018 with a fresh Windows installation that corrects some problems with The Destroyer that cropped up during testing of the 1TB MX500. The testbed is now running Windows 10 version 1709 for the ATSB tests instead of version 1703. So far, the benchmark results on 1709 appear comparable to those from 1703, so this review uses a mix of old and new results. It is likely that results for NVMe drives will not be as closely comparable between Windows versions due to the ongoing development of Microsoft's NVMe driver, so all NVMe drives will be re-tested before inclusion in new reviews (And all the SATA drives will be retested too over the next two months to take advantage of the higher resolution power measurements from our new Quarch XLC Programmable Power Module.) The Linux-based synthetic benchmarks in this review are all fresh results with an updated 4.14 kernel and fio version 3, which brings much higher resolution timing measurements.

Both operating systems on this testbed have not been patched for the Meltdown or Spectre vulnerabilities, and the motherboard firmware has not been updated to include new CPU microcode. Testing is underway on other machines to determine the performance impact of the mitigation strategies. The primary testbed will remain in its current software and hardware configuration for now as the OS and microcode programmers continue to work toward stable and complete fixes.

AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer
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  • jordanclock - Friday, February 2, 2018 - link

    Generally, any good SATA SSD is going offer much the same performance as any other model. The gains when going from the second (or even fifth) best SSD on SATA to the absolute best are tiny. Plus, given the capacity you would want for a console, I think going for a 'mediocre' SSD will offer all the performance you need without spending twice as much for less than one second load time differences.
  • leexgx - Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - link

    this is true once you have a SSD (any) in a console your purely limited by the CPU speed and ram in the PS4 or xbox it self (some youtubers have tested it) even to the point the SSHD from seagate and toshiba after the second load is nearly the same as a SSD (but it has to have read the data before so if you load the same game or save twice for it work well witch mite happen if you die a lot and fall back to a checkpoint save) if you switch between games SSHDs can at times offer not as much benerfit

    still can't beat SSDs for consistency as it always be the same speed
  • tamalero - Friday, February 2, 2018 - link

    Those prices feel really nice!
  • Hurr Durr - Sunday, February 4, 2018 - link

    It's not nice until we hit around 10 cents for the gigabyte.
  • zirk65 - Friday, February 2, 2018 - link

    Looks similar to the MX200, but with bigger pipes and better thermals.

    MX200 = MLC NAND / Marvel Controller
    MX500 = TLC NAND / Silicon Motion Controller

    Yet I wonder much is different between the controller uArch these days, outside of specific I/O and power functions.
  • mode_13h - Friday, February 2, 2018 - link

    Last I checked, Crucial's MX-series SSDs featured end-to-end data protection. Does Samsung offer anything like that, in their consumer drives?
  • letmepicyou - Friday, February 2, 2018 - link

    Say Mr. Tallis, I'm sure I'm not alone when I ask this (feel free to chime in, guys) but there are those of us out here who want the greater capacity of a 1tb drive whilst not wanting to fork over 1tb drive prices. I can RAID 0 a pair of ~500gb drives and get better performance than a single 1tb drive, while spending $60-$120 less.
    What I'm saying is, I would love to see how your arsenal of ~500 gb drives perform in RAID. I have a feeling others would like to see the same information.
  • Billy Tallis - Friday, February 2, 2018 - link

    You can't get a pair of 500GB drives for $60 less than the price of a 1TB drive from the same product line, unless you're looking at an unusually good sale on the 500GB drives and not looking for the best price on a 1TB drive. Every 1TB SATA drive I price checked this week was cheaper per GB than its half-TB counterpart.

    As for RAID testing, my collection of drives almost never includes more than one of each. At the moment I'm finishing up a NVMe RAID review using a set of drives that was loaned by a vendor specifically for this review. Between the disappointing results I'm getting from that project and the prices I'm seeing that don't make SATA RAID economical either, it's not a priority for me to test SATA RAID.
  • Wardrop - Saturday, February 3, 2018 - link

    Is that a software raid or hardware raid you used for your NVMe raid review. I'm guessing software as I'm not even sure any NVMe raid solutions exist. In that case, I imagine we're back to needing dedicated RAID controller to deal with the order of magnitude increase in drive performance compared to HDD's, and then obviously you're left questioning who needs double the increase in sequential performance when a single drive is usually more than fast enough for any sequential workload.
  • peevee - Monday, February 5, 2018 - link

    Check m.2 PCIe/NVMe 1TB and 2TB prices.
    But you'll need an MB with 2 M.2 slots with 4x PCIe connected to CPU, are those even available? Otherwise latencies will dominate the performance (like for M.2 which only provide SATA, either slots or drives).

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