Crucial M4 256GB Update: The Power of Firmware

Author: AkG
Date: September 7, 2011
Product Name: Crucial M4 256GB
Part Number: CT256M4SSD2
Warranty: 3 Years
Purchase at NCIX: | UK
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Very recently we had the opportunity to look at a pair of second generation Marvel “9174” based solid state drives: the Corsair Performance 3 256GB and the Crucial M4 256GB. The latter of these impressed us with its reasonable asking price and abilities to perform well in a wide array of situations. During that review, we were using Crucial’s 0002 firmware but right after it went live, a brand new “0009” version was released.

Since this new firmware promises some significant performance increases without any drawbacks, we decided to revisit some of our previous numbers to see if Crucial’s promises live up to reality.

Most firmware updates usually bring about some minor improvements and bug fixes while allowing new NAND types to be recognized on subsequent drives within the same series. If an SSD is working perfectly fine these small tweaks can usually be overlooked but there are some situations where updating can fix some major issues. So as a rule of thumb, we usually recommend using a drive’s default firmware unless some problems are encountered.

We have yet to hear about any widespread issues with the M4 series so some of you may be wondering why a new firmware is being released. In this case, Crucial is actually bucking a longstanding trend by introducing an update that focuses almost exclusively upon wringing even more performance out of their drives. While new-build M4 units will be shipping with the 0009 firmware, it also has the ability to give consumers’ previously installed SSDs a significant (and free!) upgrade.

The term “firmware update” may conjure up images of potentially disastrous situations and bricked drives but installing it deceptively easy. Crucial has the firmwares listed on their site as ISO files which need to be downloaded and burned to a CD or DVD (we recommend IMGBurn for this).

Once the burning process is complete, simply reboot into your system BIOS, ensure IDE mode is selected, and set the CD as your primary boot priority. Upon another reboot the software will load, automatically find your drive, apply the firmware and tell you when it is done. Simply do a full reboot / power cycle, change back to AHCI mode (or whatever your default storage mode was) and enjoy the benefits of this new firmware.

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