One of the Best SSD you can have is the Crucial M4 256GB. After the success of its rival C3000, Crucial came up with another hit SSD in the form of M4, but this time its climb up to the limelight for being the best selling SSD on the market up to date. Today we’re going to take a look what makes it the best selling SSD.
What makes it fast? They use the updated version of Marvel 9174 Controller also found in their previous C300, similar to Intel Series 510 SSD. To be precise, the Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 drive controller features in the new Crucial M4 is the revised version of the last year’s C300 Marvell 88SS9174-BJP2.
Aside from the worlds’ first who released the 6GB/s SSD in the form of C300, this new improved version shows much better performance than its rival. Although there’s a minimal improvement on the controller, the firmware updates brings more on its resulting factors.
When they first released, it is bundled with 0002 firmware and recently they came up with a much better 0009 version and it is available for free online at Crucial website. The newly built M4 series is now bundled with the 0009 firmware version.
Most firmware updates are solely made to fix bugs and doesn’t bring much improvements on its performance, but, in the case of Crucial M4 the 0009 promises to push it further. We can barely notice such improvements as we compare it to the previous 0002 version along with other great SSD.
Adding to its speed, this includes a 128MB cache also made by Micron in the D9LGQ chip which is usually a DDR3-133MHz SDRAM. The inclusion of this buffer works best to overcome such possible slow down specially when dealing with TRIM environment.
The M4 256GB is made of 16 25nm NAND chips from Micron of 16GB each in eight channel configuration, resulting in 2 chips per channel. The M4 is also available in 64GB, 128GB and 512GB version that may suit according to your needs. As always the case, lower capacity suffers in a slower performance.
It requires a 6GB/s SATA interface to fully utilize it, the SATA 3GB/s definitely can’t handle this. Why? Because, the resulting output giving us an impressive 415MB/s in read and 260MB/s for write, obviously this is not possible with SATA 300MB/s bandwidth. With this impressive number a 20 percent boost in its performance compare to the older C300.
The most interesting part here is that, at 256GB you got an extra 16GB of space compare to other with only 240GB. The M4 uses the standard 2.5 inch PCB design that perfectly fits any laptop but it provides a 3.5 inch drive bay adapter that will suit standard desktop casing.
Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Nominal capacity: 256GB
Formatted Capacity: 238.47GB
Controller: Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2
Cache memory: 128MB DDR3
Memory type/amount: 16 x Micron 16GB 25nm MLC NAND flash
Available Capacity: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Warranty: 3 years
Testing the Crucial M4 256GB
All SSD’s are tested using the following common components. Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5 2400, Asus P8P67 Deluxe motherboard, 8GB DDR3 1300Mhz memory, Asus 5550 graphics card, XFX 850w power supply. The results can be seen on the table.
A vast improvement can be noticed in the following results from firmware version 0002 to 0009. On the sequential read test, from 409.1MB/s to 492.1MB/s and from 351.8MB/s to 418.2MB/s in 512K while the 4K read doesn’t show that much difference.
The Sequential, 512 and 4K write test produced an impressive result here. Although it doesn’t beat the Vertex 3 the numbers are very close. A faster loading time can be seen with 2 minutes in Vista from 39 down to 37 and a minute in Adobe CS5 from 12 to 11.
The Crucial M4 256GB is no doubt a solid performer, the new improved firmware version 0009 helps boost further its performance. The M4 is well priced which is a lot cheaper than OCZ Vertex 3 240GB and other competing SSD’s. This earns the highest review rating for fast and a very reliable drive. However, it doesn’t get the position as the fastest SSD, this drive is worthy to be an enthusiast level drive.
Does it make sense to upgrade an existing HDD? Yes, if you want a lightning fast and you don’t have any patience for waiting an OS loading time, this is definitely for you. If you’re willing to spend money for a fast motherboard, processor and memory but not on the fast drive, you better think twice because, you can never have better results.
Aside from its great performance, a 3-year warranty makes it even more attractive for us to have a safe purchase, we got nothing to lose here but to have a speed demon PC. Price, performance and reliability is the main selling point for the Crucial M4 256GB SSD.