Crucial MX300 525GB & 1TB SSD Review
Recently we reviewed Crucial’s then-new MX300 750GB and walked away impressed with their vision for the future of mass market facing SSDs. At the time, that version of the MX300 was supposedly a “limited edition” due to a number of different factors that happened in parallel with one another. There was a radical change in NAND from planar 2D to 3D and the actual NAND type switched from 2bit MLC to 3bit TLC versus Crucial’s previous generation SSDs. It was very much a work in progress and as a result the MX300’s performance ended up being a touch lackluster compared to their previous models.
That’s not to say it was a poor choice; it just failed to wow me like the MX200 series did when it replaced the MX100. This new generation’s overall performance was slotted right in between the MX200 500GB and the MX200 1TB instead of being better than either. In short, Crucial treated it as a litmus test that was simply meant to give potential buyers a taste of what was to come.
Today we get to see exactly what the real, non-Limited Editions can do. Yes, Crucial has finally brought their 3D TLC NAND production capacity up to a level where they feel comfortable releasing more models meant to compete at a variety of price points. Specifically, the MX300 1050GB MX300 525GB models are now primed and ready to go.
These two drives share a few things in common, but for the most part allow the MX300 series to do what the MX200 could never accomplish: compete in both the entry level budget and mainstream marketplaces. Think of this as a true chameleon of SSDs which has been tuned for specific price points.
This is made possible by the new NAND type being used and is why buyers interested in their first Solid State Drive can spend only $130 (USD) and get a half terabyte solid state drive that promises to not suck all the enthusiasm out of their conversion. Conversely people with a bit more money to spend and are interested in higher throughput can get a better performing drive that tips the scales at over one terabyte of space… and yet only costs $260 (USD). That is one hell of a goal and one big ass promise and yet it appears that Crucial has been able to do just that.
On the surface both of these models offer the same three-year warranty, the same 'maximum' performance, and both have excellent Total Drive Write specifications of 160TB for the 525GB and 360TB for the 1050GB model. This is possible due to the same Drive Write Acceleration algorithms that made Crucial’s smaller MX200 models so potent – and such a great value. There are however a few caveats to this and DWA is not a magic bullet. As we show in this review there is a difference in real world performance. That is why the 525GB is focused more towards first time users, and the large 1050GB is able to satiate the demands of more demanding segments.
Externally both drives are the same and no corners have been cut. Both use a full metal enclosure that has a 7mm z-height form-factor and thus can be used in a laptop, desktop, or even an UltraBook. In other words, the 525GB does not look like a 'cheap' drive, nor does the 1050GB look like a compromise in order to offer such good performance, great capacity at such a low price of 25cents per GB!
Instead of getting fancy and trying to mess with the NAND IC density Crucial has made the wise decision of simply using either more (1050GB) or less (525GB) of these ICs to reach a given capacity. To be precise the 525GB has exactly half the number of ICs as the 1050GB. This is slightly different NAND than the 750GB which is due to the 750GB being an early run limited edition.
Also if you take a close look at the NAND IC's there is actually two different capacities used ('h' and 'g'). Specifically, the 525GB has one 'G' IC and three 'H' ICs, whereas the 1050 has six 'H' and two 'G' ICs. This does explain why the 1050 has the same number of ICs as the 750GB but 40% more capacity and better NAND interleaving. However, all models use the same Marvell controller. Crucial has simply made the PCB short, or longer, as needed.
By streamlining the production process the overhead for the new MX300 series has been reduced and this too is a major reason behind how Crucial was able to release a half Terabyte model for only $130 and a Terabyte for only $250.
Interestingly enough Crucial has felt that the 525GB also only needs half the amount of RAM cache, and while this may impact overall performance it should only be noticeable in deep queue depths. Just as with the 750GB L.E., both of these new models have copious amounts of onboard capacitors to provide one of the best power loss data protection setups available outside of business orientated models. Of course the 525GB has fewer, but it needs fewer to ensure data security even in a worst case scenario.
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