The Crucial M500 was a highly regarded SSD of last year; fast, available in higher than normal capacities and priced reasonably as well. Now Crucial has released the follow up, the M550, but can it keep up the good work laid out by its older sibling?
The M550 still comes in a variety of capacities from 128GB, through 256GB, 512GB and on to the 1TB version we tested. Its 2.5 form factor drive uses a 20nm Micron MIC NAND flash storage, with a more modern Marvell 88SS9189 controller and a whopping 1GB of DRAM cache to help sweeten the performance numbers. This results in faster than average read and write performance and should lead to extended drive life expectancy — the longevity of the drive is rated at 1.5 million hours, with an estimated 72TB total bytes written, equating to something like 40GB a day for five years.
Errr… Crucially the Crucial M550 is exceptionally fast. The ATTO benchmark recorded an immensely impressive 560MB/s read on the 8192kB file size, with 510MB/s write speeds. Even the smaller 4KB file size speed tests were pretty good, with 103MB/s read and 218MB/s write.
The price isn’t too bad either. At roughly $450 it’s only slightly more expensive than the Transcend SSD370. Either way, $450 isn’t too bad for a one terabyte of extremely quick solid state storage. We can only imagine how fast a pair of these in RAID 0 configuration could be — largely because we’d have to shell out over $900 for the luxury of finding out in reality.
It’s worth noting, though, that this product doesn’t make any attempts to become a de facto upgrade kit in the same way as the Transcend offering does. As with the other Crucial M550 SSDs, and many other SSDs for that matter, you won’t find a copy of a backup program or some kind of imaging software to aid the transition from a traditional drive in its box. In fact all that’s in said box is the drive itself and a 9.5mm adapter mounting bracket. That doesn’t mean that the drive is lacking in any way, or that Crucial has short changed potential customers in any way. Imaging software, and the like, is freely available and easy to find with a simple search; this belies the fact that the M550 is pitched slightly differently from the majority of other drives in this class.
Installing any SSD in a PC can make a tremendous difference to its performance, this much we already know, but when you install 1TB of this type of speedy storage the benefits are simply astounding. Whether you decide to use this as a second drive or as the main OS and programs drives, you can be sure you’ll be getting the best possible setup in your machine.
The Crucial M550 1TB SSD has the right combination of read and write speeds, driven by its updated controller. Add to this its 1GB of cache and of course the large capacity, and the M550 is certainly puts itself forward as an SSD you should be considering very seriously come your next storage upgrade.