by Kevin O’Brien
Crucial has recently entered the Solid State Drive (SSD) market and received fantastic reaction at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Crucial is driving home the fact that flash-based storage drives really hold up well under stress, with things like added performance and lower power consumption being runnerup. Read on to see if you should consider purchasing one of the Crucial SSD’s in this saturated market.
For this review, we tested the 32GB SSD. Crucial also offers a larger 64GB version at this time if you have a big enough wallet.
- Form factor: 2.5-inch industry-standard metal housing
- Dimensions: 100.2mm (l) x 69.85mm (w) x 9.5mm(h)
- Weight: 82g
- Available capacities: 32GB and 64GB
- Host interface: Serial ATA (SATA)
- Host data transfer rate: 3Gb/s (backwards compatible with 1.5Gb/s)
- Read/write speeds: 32GB: up to 100MB/s (read), 60MB/s (write); 64GB: up to 100MB/s (read), 35MB/s (write)
- IOPS (inputs/outputs per second): 80K sequential read IOPS for a 512-byte transfer
- Shock: 1,500G/0.5msec
- Vibration: 20G (20-2000HZ)
- Temperature: Operating (0°C to 70°C); Non-operating (-40° to 85°C)
- Acoustics: 0dB
- MTBF (mean time between failures): > 1 million hours
- Endurance: Static & Dynamic wear-leveling with 6-bit ECC error correction
- Crucial Warranty: 5 years
- MSRP: $799.99
The Lenovo ThinkStation S10 specifications used in this review
- Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (3.0Ghz)
- 2GB DDR3 1067Mhz Memory
- 2 x 500GB Seagate 7200.10 Hard Disks running in RAID 0
- NVIDIA FX4600 Graphics Card
Build and Design
It seems that SSD manufacturers aren’t going the extra mile when it comes to making the SSD as cool as possible. For spending almost half the price of your desktop on one, they might include a fancy hologram sticker across the top with “SSD” in big bold letters. The Crucial SSD is no different, making nerds scratch their heads when they look at the packaging the drive came in, and the drive itself. It really looks like something you would take off the shelf in the dollar store.
Build quality is top notch on this drive, and Crucial is sure to make everyone know this fact. At CES they showed off the durability of this drive, with it functioning inside a shaking paint shaker. If this doesn’t convince you that these drives can stand up to almost anything, I don’t know what will. Personally I think your computer would shake to bits before the drive decides to stop working. These things are like the Chuck Norris of storage.
(Video courtesy of reghardware.co.uk)
Setup is as simple as installing your operating system or other software on a standard hard drive, only faster. No additional drivers are needed; just follow the prompts during the installation. Crucial also sells an external enclosure for this drive, but any external SATA/USB enclosure for standard 2.5″ hard drives will work.
Performance is outstanding in every category. Average speeds are the best we have seen from an SSD and when combined with its low seek times; it makes for some interesting situations when playing games. When most games pause for a few seconds to load up a new section of a map, the Crucial SSD freezes for only a fraction of a second and continues working. At first I thought the game was having a glitch, but then I realized it was areas that a new section of a map was loading; instead of a game freeze it was a super fast map load.
The SSD performance was a bit below the RAID 0 in transfer speed, but it still performed very well considering it was 2 against 1.
HDTune Intel Raid 0
HDTach Intel Raid 0
Heat and No Noise
The Crucial SSD, not unlike every other flash-based storage device, operates without making a hint of noise. Since it has no moving parts, you will never have to worry about that annoying clicking sound under intensive hard drive activity. For those with super sensitive hearing, you won’t even have to worry about the high pitched noise that a drive spinning at a few thousand RPM makes.
Thermal performance is an odd subject with the current SSD’s on the market. Many manufacturers, including Crucial, claim that SSDs emit little-to-no measureable heat, as they have no moving parts. This couldn’t be farther from the truth during normal operation, as they get just as hot (or hotter) than standard drives. This problem rears its head when enclosed in an external case with no airflow. Using the optional Crucial drive storage kit, the SSD and surrounding case would warm up to almost 125F after a couple of hours under constant use. While this isn’t technically going to start plastic on fire or anything, it does make you wonder why they make claims that the drives are almost heat-free.
Crucial offers an external storage kit for their SSD, which accepts a standard 2.5” drive, and lets it connect to your computer through its native SATA connection, or another computer with USB. The slot loading assembly mounts in either a 3.5” bay, or with an included adapter, a 5.25” bay. Internal connections consist of a standard 4 pin power cable and SATA cable.
In general use the setup worked flawlessly, although heat was a concern. Since the SSD got quite warm during use, having no direct airflow might cause long term problems. Another quirk that came up when using it with our Lenovo S10 workstation was the way the 5.25” bay mounted inside the case. You are only given one rail for mounting, and the right side of the SSD had a bit of play. Using a custom case or any system that offers access to both sides for mounting, this would never be a problem.
The speed of the SSD using USB is super slow, but that is the nature of the interface. It gives you another connection option if needed, but it shouldnt be the primary choice.
HDTune through USB:
The Crucial 32GB SSD offers consumers another choice in the greatly expanding SSD market. Crucial is also going the extra mile to show off the ruggedness of their flash drives by operating them in one of the most severe environments possible; a paint shaker.
Considering that the Crucial SSD is also the fastest SSD we have tested to date, this level of performance makes it quite tempting to finally pull the trigger on one for my own computer.
- Blazing Fast
- Resists strong vibrations
- Heats up quite a bit in confined areas
Pricing and Availability
The Crucial 32GB SSD ($799.99) and the Crucial 64GB SSD ($1,499.99) are both available for purchase on the Crucial website.