Crucial BX100 1TB SSD Review

Author: AkG
Date: February 16, 2015
Product Name: BX100 1TB
Part Number: CT1000BX100SSD1
Warranty: 3 Years
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Crucial’s BX100 may be one of this year’s most eagerly anticipated drives and that shouldn’t come as a surprise given the amazing abilities of its bigger brother, the MX200. Both drives were announced at CES but the BX100 was arguably the more popular of the two. Perhaps this was due to it being a brand new value-oriented drive series from an extremely well respected company or maybe the interest came from it offering some impressive performance numbers despite a very affordable price point. Regardless of the whys, what we have on the test bench today is the BX100 1TB, an SSD that could very well represent a significant step towards the demise of spindle-based alternatives.

The BX100 represents a fairly significant departure for Crucial. Unlike the MX100, MC200 and M5xx-series, it eschews the usual Marvell controller design and instead uses Silicon Motion’s 2246EN. Throughout 2015 we’ll likely see this controller become the de-facto standard for entry-level since it combines fairly robust performance metrics via a 4-channel layout with the capability for advanced encryption via AES 128/256 and TCG OPAL standards. Add in an average power draw of just 60mV and an advanced global wear leveling algorithm for enhanced endurance and it isn’t hard to see why we’ll be seeing a lot of this thing.

Crucial’s adaptation is running 16nm MLC 128GBit NAND which shouldn’t be a surprise but what will likely draw most people in is the BX100’s price. With an MSRP of $400 for the 1TB model (or a mere 40 cents per GB), there’s a lot to be excited about here.

From a raw performance standpoint, we have to remember that this is a budget drive that does try to hit above its weight class. As such, the BX100 doesn’t feature the same throughput levels as Crucial’s own MX200 or other mid-level drives but it does compare favorably to the likes of OCZ’s ARC 100 and other budget-focused alternatives. Naturally what really wins out is Crucial’s awesome asking price.

Crucial has always had an excellent reputation in the mainstream marketplace and few experts would ever hesitate to recommend any of their mid-tier models. On the other hand, as smooth sailing as Crucial consumers have had with their higher end drives, Crucial’s value series has been marred by a rather rocky reputation. Their last V series - the V4 - was not only quickly EOL’d but it had a large number of performance and longevity complaints. Luckily SSDs have progressed a long way since that series was launched in 2012 so the BX100’s expectations are quite a bit higher.

Externally the BX100 looks almost exactly like the MX200 series we recently reviewed. The only difference is the press fit tab design on the metal chassis which is used to keep both halves securely attached instead of the typical screws. Crucial has also included a 2.5mm plastic spacer that allows this 7mm Z-height drive to fit inside a typical notebook. Unfortunately Crucial does not included a 3.5" adapter plate but that’s expected given the price of this drive.

At first blush, the BX100’s internal design is not all that different from the more expensive MX200 1TB model. Instead of simply four highly stacked NAND ICs, a ram cache IC and a single controller (as with the V4), it has a full sixteen 16nm 128GBit NAND ICs, two 256MB RAM ICs for cache, and a single controller. The only obvious difference is that instead of a Marvell 9188 there’s the aforementioned Silicon Motion 2246EN.

Where this drive really differs from its sibling is from a features perspective. Dynamic Write Acceleration hasn’t been implemented, Thermal Protection abilities have been reduced, there are no Flush in Flight routines and it doesn’t use a Redundant Array of Independent NAND (RAIN) configuration. Are these items really needed on a budget-oriented product? Not really, though we can see them becoming part of the broader entry-level SSD equation in the years to come.

Without the RAIN abilities and by using a lower-end controller the BX100 has a drive write rating of roughly a 72TB instead of the MX200 1TB’s 320TB. It remains to be seen if these compromises are worth the 7 cents per GB price reduction, but compared to most 'budget' series the physical characteristics of BX100 do appear to be above average for its class.

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