Real World Performance / Parting Thoughts
Vista Start Up
When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. While all the other tests were run with a Windows 7 operating system, this particular test uses another older test bed's “day to day” OS (copied over to our new testbed) which has accumulated a lot of crud over the months from installs and removals. We chose the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line as it is the last program to be loaded on start up.
While an improvement of two seconds may not sound like all that much of improvement, it is shockingly good. More importantly, this shows that the firmware improvements are not just going to help benchmark junkies, but will actually have a noticeable impact on your real world usage. The results of this one test make it well worth your while to take the time and update your drive. Simply amazing and well deserving of its very respectable third place finish, which is up from the decent fifth place the previous firmware netted the Crucial M4 256GB.
Adobe CS5 Load Time
Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, and while the latest version is actually pretty decent, when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit faired in the Adobe crucible.
With an improvement of only one second, the results are not quiet as staggering as the load time results; but they are still good enough to move the Crucial M4 256GB Solid State Drive from fourth to a second place tie. This really is one amazing firmware update.
Firmware updates are usually boring things that can improve drive life and stability but don’t usually have that much impact upon performance. The 0009 update on the other hand allows the M4 to fly above the dank morass of mediocrity which defines the current SSD market. It literally sets a benchmark that all other firmwares will be measured against.
The M4 was never close to being the fastest SSD on the block but this new firmware has allowed it to compete on an almost level footing with some of this generation’s best drives. Granted, Crucial didn’t concentrate upon write performance this time around but the real world numbers point towards an improved experience across a large number of applications.
Instead of offering a “tweaked” and ultimately more expensive version of the M4 (and we can point the finger at a few companies who have done and will be doing just that), Crucial is offering this upgrade free of charge to anyone who is willing to update their firmware. This rightly sets Crucial apart as a company that’s willing to put aside greed and offer their customers an easily applied firmware that works across the entire M4 SSD family.
If anything, this quick article should be taken as a case study which illustrates the importance of some firmware updates and the willingness of certain companies to go the extra mile. Congrats Crucial, you’ve managed to impress us.
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