The Crucial M4 is currently one of the most popular SSDs on the market and by reading through this review, you can see why. In many cases the numbers it posted were right up there alongside more expensive Sandforce-based drives and long term performance in non-TRIM environments was second to none.
Custom firmware is the driving force behind this driveís success over a similar Marvell 9174-based SSD; the Performance 3 in operating systems that donít support TRIM. Sure, the change in NAND may have boosted some numbers but the M4ís dynamic garbage collection routines give it a leg up over the competition. Instead of having processor cycles taken up by always-enabled housekeeping, the controller is free to stretch its legs when needed and run ITGC during true idle periods. Getting out of a degraded state does take a bit longer but we highly doubt most end users will see much of a difference between these competing drives.
The benchmark and real world performance numbers are actually a perfect example of what can be accomplished when a company is given free rein over firmware. They contribute to make the M4 a much better option than the Performance 3 in nearly every situation. It also ends up being a very good alternative to SF2281-based drives for people who have TRIM-enabled OSes.
A combination of power and performance across a wide swath of operating environments will make the Crucial M4 a great choice for many consumers. But the most important selling point here is price. The 256GB version of this drive retails for significantly less than many comparable enthusiast level SF2281 drives and also undercuts similar Marvell-based SATA6G SSDs as well. And whatís not to like about that?
- Good performance in a non-TRIM environment
- Great overall performance
- Appealing price
- Separate SKUs with different accessories to better meet individual needs
- Self-maintenance routines donít hinder performance
- Perceived write endurance issues from 25nm NAND
- Potential consumer confusion from all those SKUs
- Slightly slower garbage collection performance than a Corsair Performance 3
- While a good value for its class, still is a large monetary investment
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