Review: Crucial M550 512GB SATA SSD

Posted April 16, 2014 by Sam Chen in Reviews

M500, Evolved

crucial-m550-512gb-sata-ssd-custom-pc-review-9When Crucial first launched the M500 last year, it was a pretty big deal. It was the first time Crucial (Micron) had begun shipping their latest high density 128Gb 20nm synchronous MLC NAND, and with that included the ability to not only ship higher capacity SSDs, but also the possibility of more competitive pricing.

While Crucial was ultimately able to deliver both higher capacity drives and competitive pricing with the M500, by using higher density NAND on lower capacity drives, they weren’t able to take full advantage of the high performance eight channel SSD controller, which meant slower write performance on lower capacity drives. 

Despite this however, the Crucial M500 is still one of the most feature filled, most inexpensive, and most reliable SSDs on the market today although admittedly, it’s a difficult sell considering most of the latest SSDs, especially those in the more popular 128GB/256GB capacities, are rated for higher performance. 

In order to solve this problem, Crucial recently announced the release of the M550 SSD, which we’ll be reviewing today.

Crucial M550 Specifications

Manufacturer Crucial Crucial Crucial
Model M550 M550 M550
Form Factor 7mm, 2.5″ SATA mSATA M.2
Capacity 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Controller Marvell 88SS9189 Marvell 88SS9189 Marvell 88SS9189
NAND 20nm Micron Synchronous MLC 20nm Micron Synchronous MLC 20nm Micron Synchronous MLC
Sequential Reads 550 MB/s 550 MB/s 550 MB/s
Sequential Writes 500 MB/s 500 MB/s 500 MB/s
4K Random Read 95,000 IOPS 95,000 IOPS 95,000 IOPS
4K Random Write 85,000 IOPS 85,000 IOPS 85,000 IOPS
Interface SATA 3 6GB/s SATA 3 6GB/s SATA 3 6GB/s
Warranty 3 Years 3 Years 3 Years

Today’s review will be on the Crucial M550 (512GB) SSD which is more or less the successor to the Crucial M500 SSD (more or less because Crucial has no plans to discontinue the M500 anytime soon). The major difference with the Crucial M550 is that instead of using 128Gb NAND on all capacities, Crucial is reverting lower capacity drives (<256GB) to older 64Gb NAND to preserve write performance while the higher capacity drives continue using the newer 128Gb NAND. Additionally, the Crucial M550 will also be receiving the Marvell 9189 controller across the board, which includes some slight performance and power improvements over the Marvell 9187 used on the Crucial M500.

Like the Crucial M500, the Crucial M550 will retain Crucial’s RAID-5 like technology, RAIN (Redundant Array of Independent NAND), to increase drive endurance although Crucial is changing the ratio of data to parity blocks from 15:1 to 127:1. This results in more usable LBAs although it does sacrifice some reliability as there are fewer parity blocks per drive. That said, Crucial believes that with the maturation of their 20nm NAND manufacturing process, the same level of reliability can be achieved using a fewer number of parity blocks.

Let’s take a closer look at the Crucial M550 512GB SSD!

About the Author

Sam Chen