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Crucial BX100 1TB SSD Review

AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
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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AkG

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5,274
Test System & Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Testing a drive is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them onto folder on the drive in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account. There is also the SATA controller on your motherboard and how well it works with SSDs & HDDs to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for drives to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason our test-bed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what you the end user’s experience will be like.

Even when the hardware issues are taken care of the software itself will have a negative or positive impact on the results. As with the hardware end of things, to obtain the absolute best results you do need to tweak your OS setup; however, just like with the hardware solution most people are not going to do this. For this reason our standard OS setup is used. However, except for the Windows 7 load test times we have done our best to eliminate this issue by having the drive tested as a secondary drive. With the main drive being an Intel DC S3700 800GB Solid State Drive.

For synthetic tests we used a combination of the ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HD Tune, Crystal Disk Benchmark, IOMeter, AS-SSD, Anvil Storage Utilities and PCMark 7.

For real world benchmarks we timed how long a single 10GB rar file took to copy to and then from the devices. We also used 10gb of small files (from 100kb to 200MB) with a total 12,000 files in 400 subfolders.

For all testing a Asus Z97 Deluxe motherboard was used, running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate edition. All drives were tested using AHCI mode using Intel RST 10 drivers.

All tests were run 4 times and average results are represented.

In between each test suite runs (with the exception being IOMeter which was done after every run) the drives are cleaned with either HDDerase, SaniErase or OCZ SSDToolbox and then quick formatted to make sure that they were in optimum condition for the next test suite.

Processor: Core i7 4770K
Motherboard: Asus Z97 Deluxe
Memory: 8GB Corsair Vengeance LP “blue”
Graphics card: Asus 5550 passive
Hard Drive: Intel DC S3700 800GB, Intel 910 800GB
Power Supply: XFX 850

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB: 1.33
Intel 520: 400i
SanDisk Extreme 240GB: R211
Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB: M206
Intel 335 180GB: 335
SanDisk Extreme 2 240GB: R1311
Seagate Pro 600: B660
OCZ Vector 150 240GB: 1.2
Vertex 460 240GB: 1.0
Intel 7230 240GB: L2010400
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB:DXM06B0Q
Crucial MX100 512GB: MU01
Crucial M550 512GB: MU01
Plextor M6e 256GB: 1.03
AMD R7 240GB: 1.0
Crucial MX200: MU01
Crucial BX100: MU01

Samsung MDX controller:
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB- Custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

SandForce SF1200 controller:
OCZ Vertex 2 - ONFi 2 NAND

SandForce SF2281 controller:
Intel 520 - Custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 NAND

LAMD controller:
Seagate 600 Pro - Custom firmware w/ Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell 9183 controller:
Plextor M6e 256GB- Custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell 9188 controller:
Plextor M6s - Custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell 9187 controller:
Crucial M500 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND
SanDisk Extreme 2 - Custom firmware w/ 19nm eX2 ABL NAND

Marvell 9189 controller:
ADATA SP920 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND
Crucial M550 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND
Crucial MX100 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND
Crucial MX200 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND

Barefoot 3 controller:
OCZ Vector 150 (M00) - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND
AMD R7 (M00) - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND

SMI 2246EN controller:
Crucial BX100 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND

Intel X25 G3 controller:
Intel 730 - Custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 NAND
 
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AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
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5,274
Read Bandwidth / Write Performance

Read Bandwidth


<i>For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with these hard drives. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture. We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and thus we no longer included it. The most important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/read.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


Write Performance


<i>For this benchmark HD Tune Pro was used. To run the write benchmark on a drive, you must first remove all partitions from that drive and then and only then will it allow you to run this test. Unlike some other benchmarking utilities the HD Tune Pro writes across the full area of the drive, thus it easily shows any weakness a drive may have.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/write.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

While a touch lower than what we would like to see, this level of performance is still impressive given the 4 channel nature of the BX100's controller.
 
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AkG

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Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO Disk Benchmark


<i>The ATTO disk benchmark tests the drives read and write speeds using gradually larger size files. For these tests, the ATTO program was set to run from its smallest to largest value (.5KB to 8192KB) and the total length was set to 256MB. The test program then spits out an extrapolated performance figure in megabytes per second. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/atto_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/atto_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

These results do need a bit of explanation for some context. Obviously the BX100 is not going perform like a mainstream model, nor should it. Instead while these results are lower than most of the other drives, the level of performance is still very impressive given the BX100's low cost nature. Remember, most drives in this price range either use ancient ONFi 1 Async NAND or TLC NAND and compared to those drives this BX100's performance results are very good.
 
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AkG

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Joined
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Messages
5,274
Crystal DiskMark / PCMark 7

Crystal DiskMark


<i>Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds; and allows you to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5 and size at 100MB. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/cdm_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/cdm_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


PCMark 7


<i>While there are numerous suites of tests that make up PCMark 7, only one is pertinent: the HDD Suite. The HDD Suite consists of numerous tests that try and replicate real world drive usage. Everything from how long a simulated virus scan takes to complete, to MS Vista start up time to game load time is tested in these core tests; however we do not consider this anything other than just another suite of synthetic tests. For this reason, while each test is scored individually we have opted to include only the overall score.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/pcm7.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Once you surpass a certain threshold in small file, low que performance differences do start to become harder to discern. We honestly doubt many would notice a major difference in performance between the MX200's over 31MB/s read and the 28+ MB/s of the BX100. The same holds true for PCMark 7. Yes the BX100 is obviously going to be slower and offer slightly inferior computer responsiveness, but in the 40 cents per Gigabyte price range this level of performance borders on amazing.

With all that being said, the MX200's results more than justify its extra 7 cents per GB results.
 
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AkG

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5,274
AS-SSD / Anvil Storage Utilities Pro

AS-SSD


<i>AS-SSD is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and small 4K read/write speeds as well as 4K file speed at a queue depth of 6. While its primary goal is to accurately test Solid State Drives, it does equally well on all storage mediums it just takes longer to run each test as each test reads or writes 1GB of data.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/asd_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/asd_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


Anvil Storage Utilities Pro


<i>Much like AS-SSD, Anvil Pro was created to quickly and easily – yet accurately – test your drives. While it is still in the Beta stages it is a versatile and powerful little program. Currently it can test numerous read / write scenarios but two in particular stand out for us: 4K queue depth of 4 and 4K queue depth of 16. A queue depth of four along with 4K sectors can be equated to what most users will experience in an OS scenario while 16 depth will be encountered only by power users and the like. We have also included the 4k queue depth 1 results to help put these two other numbers in their proper perspective. All settings were left in their default states and the test size was set to 1GB.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/anvil_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/anvil_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Once again we really don't have anything negative to say about these results. Sure the BX100 is once again residing in the bottom half of the charts, but for such an inexpensive drive the performance it offers is rather remarkable.
 
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AkG

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IOMeter

IOMETER


<i>IOMeter is heavily weighted towards the server end of things, and since we here at HWC are more End User centric we will be setting and judging the results of IOMeter a little bit differently than most. To test each drive we ran 5 test runs per HDD (1,4,16,64,128 queue depth) each test having 8 parts, each part lasting 10 min w/ an additional 20 second ramp up. The 8 subparts were set to run 100% random, 80% read 20% write; testing 512b, 1k, 2k,4k,8k,16k,32k,64k size chunks of data. When each test is finished IOMeter spits out a report, in that reports each of the 8 subtests are given a score in I/Os per second. We then take these 8 numbers add them together and divide by 8. This gives us an average score for that particular queue depth that is heavily weighted for single user environments.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/iom.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

You would never want to use the BX100 in a workstation environment, but this test is so far outside the realm of possibility that anyone who does do precisely that is doing so for a very specific reason. If you do find yourself in such an unlikely scenario expect the BX100 to be inferior to most options available today. The reason the BX100 falls so short (and strongly reminds us of an older generation of drives) is that it uses a 4 channel controller paired to ONFi 3 NAND ICs. This is simply a poor combination for the business environment. Thankfully, this is a mass-market drive meant for budget constrained consumers and as such these results can safely be overlooked.
 
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AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
Windows 7 / Adobe CS5 Load Time

Windows 7 Start Up w/ Boot Time A/V Scan Performance


<i>When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. Where Windows 7 has become nearly ubiquitous for solid state drive enthusiasts we have chosen Windows 7 64bit Ultimate as our Operating System. In previous load time tests we would use the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line; this however is no longer the case. We have not only added in a secondary Anti-Virus to load on startup, but also an anti-malware program. We have set Super Anti-Spyware to initiate a quick scan on Windows start-up and the completion of the quick scan will be our new finish line.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/boot.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


Adobe CS5 Load Time


<i>Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, and while the latest version is actually pretty decent, when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit faired in the Adobe crucible. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/adobe.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

In real world scenarios, the BX100 puts down some very good numbers.
 
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AkG

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Firefox Performance / Real World Data Transfers

Firefox Portable Offline Performance


<i>Firefox is notorious for being slow on loading tabs in offline mode once the number of pages to be opened grows larger than a dozen or so. We can think of fewer worse case scenarios than having 100 tabs set to reload in offline mode upon Firefox startup, but this is exactly what we have done here.

By having 100 pages open in Firefox portable, setting Firefox to reload the last session upon next session start and then setting it to offline mode, we are able to easily recreate a worst case scenario. Since we are using Firefox portable all files are easily positioned in one location, making it simple to repeat the test as necessary. In order to ensure repetition, before touching the Firefox portable files, we have backed them up into a .rar file and only extracted a copy of it to the test device.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/ff.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


Real World Data Transfers


<i>No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it cannot really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 10.00GB contiguous file and a folder containing 400 subfolders with a total 12,000 files varying in length from 200mb to 100kb (10.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, using MS RichCopy and logging the performance of the drive. Here is what we found. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/copy_lg.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/copy_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Once again Crucial's BX100 series may not be as potent as the MX200 series, but the 1TB version is still a very good drive in its own right. More importantly we can see a lot of other companies starting to opt for this Silicon Motion controller to power their value drives instead of the now ancient SF2281 controller - and that to us is a very, very good thing indeed.
 
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AkG

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5,274
Partial and Full Drive Performance

Partial and Full Drive Performance


<i>While it is important to know how a drive will perform under optimal conditions, more realistic scenarios are just as important. Knowing if a solid state drive will behave differently when partially or even nearly full than when it is empty is very important information to know. To quickly and accurately show this crucial information we have first filled the drive to 50% capacity and re-tested using both synthetic and real world tests. After the completion of this we then re-test at 75% and 90% of full capacity. </i>

Synthetic Test Results

<i>For our synthetic testing we have opted for our standard PCMark 7 test.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/data_pcm7.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Real World Results

<i>For a real world application we have opted for our standard Windows 7 Start Up with Boot Time A/V Scan Performance test.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/BX100/data_boot.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

While Silicon Motion has created a very, very powerful controller at the end of the day it still features a significant amount of performance drop-off as the space fills up. However, the loss isn't as drastic as some other drives. Thankfully, with 1TB of space to work with keeping it under 75% capacity is relatively easy.
 
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