What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

The Crucial MX300 2TB SSD Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Crucial’s MX300 series of SSDs are quite highly regarded around these parts and our reviews of the 512GB, 750GB and 1TB models back that observation up. However, the MX300 lineup has undergone a bit of change with the elimination of the original 750GB model and the addition of bookend products with new 275GB and 2TB offerings. All of these are now offered in a handy M.2 format as well.

The 2TB version represents the pinnacle of Crucial's MX300 series as it takes everything that makes the smaller drives so impressive and turns the dial all the way to eleven. Not only does this high capacity version offer double the storage capacity of the recently MX300 1GB it also offers twice on the onboard RAM cache (1GB vs 512MB), and nearly double the pseudo-SLC write buffer of its nearest capacity neighbor. It is does all this while still keeping a highly reasonable asking price of 25 cents (USD) per GB.
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/top2_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

From a raw performance perspective, the MX300’s stats are remarkably consistent across the lineup and as a result the 2TB version doesn’t really offer faster speeds than its siblings. It does however have significantly better NAND endurance due to its massive capacity.

On paper, the MX300 2050GB is indeed worthy of its flagship status but a price of about $512USD does bring up the question of whether or not it could be considered a good value. While a low cost per GB is always a good thing, costing adds up quickly when dealing with over 2 Terabytes of capacity.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/intro.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
It’s important to remember the SLC write buffer that this model comes with is best described as massive and that actually does cause a difference in some testing, regardless of what Crucial’s baseline specifications state. In testing we did find that occasionally the 1050GB MX300's write buffer was not quite large enough to keep up with long term throughput demands, so on paper doubling it should alleviate this concern.

Also of note is that due to the use of 384Gbit 3D NAND, the 2TB model actually has 2.6 times the over-provisioning of the 1TB model. To be precise a 1TB MX300 has a mere 6GB of NAND set aside, whereas the 2050GB has 14GB. For those interested, the 275GB MX300 has 13GB, the 550GB model has a whopping 26GB, and the Limited Edition 750GB used 18GB.

Counterbalancing this promise of improved performance are potential two issues. Firstly, the Marvell 1074 controller being used here only has four channels. If past experiences are any indication there does come a point where increasing the NAND interleaving – the number of layers of NAND each channel has access to – does little to improve the actual performance. Within the 2TB model there are 43 layers in total (48GB per layer with 43 layers for 2064GB of actual capacity) so not all four channels are equally populated. One channel will be 'shorted' by one layer. This could potentially cause some minor performance losses due to internal load balancing.
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/board.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

One way this could have been avoided is by simply making the '2050GB' a 2.1TB drive. Such a move would have reduced over-provisioning to 12GB but may have allowed all four channels access to the same amount of NAND. This however would have been a bit more complicated than simply adding in a forty-fourth NAND layer. Right now Micron does not make 5 or 6 layer versions of their ONFi 4.0 677Mt/s '3D' TLC NAND. Instead it comes in 1,2,3,4,8 and 16 layer configurations. This does limit the possibly NAND configurations that Crucial can create.

Of course, Crucial could have easily made a 44 layer MX300 if they had used a full-length PCB with room for 12 NAND ICs with four 3 layer and eight 4 layer NAND ICs. Instead of going with a longer PCB Crucial actually reuses the same one as the MX300 1TB and has opted to simply user higher density 'stacked' 3D NAND ICs. We can understand this step since it makes conversion to the more compact M.2 form factor much easier.
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/board2.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

In realistic terms the added thermal load from using higher density NAND should not be a problem as the NAND ICs do use the 2.5-inch metallic case as a heatsink, but it does hint at future possibilities. Crucial does not have to stop at 2TB for the MX300 and only consumer demand is holding them back from creating a MX300 that has a whopping 9.2 Terabytes of storage capacity.

With all of this being said, in the here and now we have a 2TB drive that certainly isn’t inexpensive but it could provide a perfect solution for gamers looking for a performance boost. Plus, with games eating up more and more capacity (look no further than Fallout 4’s new 58GB high resolution texture pack for proof of that!) a 2TB drive may soon become the norm.
 
Last edited:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
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 testbed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high-end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what 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 aspect, most people are not going to do this. For this reason, a standard OS setup is used. The exception to this is for the Windows 7 load test times, where 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 Sabretooth TUF X99 LGA 2011-v3 motherboard was used, running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate edition. All drives were tested using either AHCI mode using Intel RST 10 drivers, or NVMHCI using Intel NVMe 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 a manufacturers 'Toolbox', and then quick formatted to make sure that they were in optimum condition for the next test suite.

Processor: Core i7 5930K
Motherboard: Asus Sabretooth TUF X99
Memory: 32GB Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4-2666
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780
Hard Drive: Intel DC S3700 800GB, Intel P3700 800GB
Power Supply: XFX 850

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB: 1.33
Vertex 460 240GB: 1.0
Intel 7230 240GB: L2010400
AMD R7 240GB: 1.0
Crucial MX200: MU01
Intel 750: 8EV10135
Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB: 0C34L5TA
OCZ Trion 480GB & 960GB: SAFM11.1
AData XPG SX930 240GB : 5.9E
AData SP550 240GB: O0730A
PNY CS2211: CS221016
PNY CS1311: CS131122
ZOTAC Premium Edition: SAFM01.6
Apacer AS720: PLD1130
Apacer AS330: AP121PD0
Crucial MX300 series: M0CR011
AData SU800: P0801A
PNY CS2030: CS203020


Phison PS5007:
PNy CS2030 - 15nm MLC Planar NAND

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

SandForce SF1200 controller:
OCZ Vertex 2 - ONFi 2 NAND

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

Marvell 1074 controller:
Crucial MX300 - Custom firmware w/ IMFT 384Gbit TLC 3D NAND

Marvell 9293 controller:
Kingston HyperX Predator - Custom firmware w/ 19nm Toggle Mode NAND

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

Intel NVMe G1 Controller:
Intel 750 - Customer firmware w/ MLC 20nm NAND

Phison PS3110 Controller:
Kingston HyperX Savage 240GB - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND
PNY CS2211: 15nm Toggle Mode NAND
PNY CS1311: 19nm TLC NAND
ZOTAC Premium Edition: 19nm MLC
Apacer AS330 - TLC NAND

JMicron JMF670H Controller:
AData XPG SX930 240GB - 128Gbit MLC NAND
Apacer AS720 - 128Gbit MLC NAND

SMI SM2256 Controller:
AData SP550 240GB - TLC NAND

SMI SM2258 Controller:
AData SU800 240GB - 3D TLC NAND

Special Thanks to Crucial for providing the memory for this testbed.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
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/MX300_2tb/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/MX300_2tb/write.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

As expected the read performance of this larger drive is all but undisguisable from that of any other SATA based solid state drive. That is to say it is excellent for its class but is being bottlenecked by the SATA AHCI interface.

The write performance on the other hand simply blew us away. Usually when dealing with SSDs that rely upon a pseudo-SLC write buffer there are three unique performance levels that create an almost 'steps' appearance. The SLC cache is the topmost step and as it is filled, it starts to rely upon the RAM buffer. This is due to the fact that it has to "cover" SLC write buffer as it is flushed to the TLC NAND. When this is done, the performance 'steps down' a notch, then as the RAM buffer is overloaded and the SLC buffer is overloaded the 'true' performance of the TLC NAND is shown.

The MX300 2TB on the other hand does not have three steps. It only has two. For the first approximate 900GB of write performance the RAM and SLC buffer can more than handle the load. Then as expected the performance dips down as the controller really starts to try and flush it while also keeping up with the incoming IO demands. However then instead of dipping down to a third level and staying there, the MX300 2050GB only occasionally <i>and only momentarily</i> dips down before going back up and staying up at the second performance level.

Yes this drive has so much RAM and such great interleaving that the SLC buffer will last for nearly a terabyte of constant writing and never really gets overloaded to the point of being useless – like it does on smaller TLC NAND drives.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
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/MX300_2tb/atto_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/atto_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Even though it is difficult to tell, the MX300 2TB does have much cleaner, more impressive performance curves than its smaller brethren. The combination of more RAM, more SLC cache, and more NAND interleaving means this TLC drive acts more like a MLC drive than any TLC drive we have seen to date.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
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/MX300_2tb/cdm_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/cdm_r.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/MX300_2tb/pcm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

This markedly improved write performance really does showcase the new(er) ONFi 4.0 3D TLC NAND nicely. Honestly this is the drive that Crucial should have released first as its performance is without question the best of the entire MX300 series. Release scheduling issues aside, the MX300 2TB can hold its own with any SATA 2D Toggle Mode NAND based drive out there as the difference are going to be almost unnoticeable in more real world scenarios.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
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/MX300_2tb/asd_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/asd_r.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/MX300_2tb/anvil_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/anvil_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Once again the memory buffer and large SLC cache does little to boost read performance over that of the 2050GB MX300's smaller brethren but it does make a rather noticeable difference on write performance. Especially deeper queue depth write performance where the smaller MX300s do occasionally miss a step. Certain 2D Toggle Mode SATA drives, like those from Toshiba, still can outperform it, but for an ONFi NAND based model the MX300 2TB really shows the competition how things are done.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
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/MX300_2tb/iom.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

These results were rather surprising – but in a good way. IOMeter is a notoriously difficult taskmaster and yet due to its combination of massive RAM and SLC cache with excellent NAND interleaving the MX300 2050GB is actually a pretty darn decent option for workstation users. Still not optimal, but a lot better than any TLC NAND based drive we have tested to date. Bloody brilliant!
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Windows 8 / Adobe CS5 Load Time

Windows 8.1 Start Up w/ Boot Time A/V Scan


<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. We have chosen Windows 8.1 64bit Pro as our Operating System with all 'fast boot' options disabled in the BIOS. 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/MX300_2tb/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 fared in the Adobe crucible! </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/adobe.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

These test results underscore exactly how good this mega-sized drive really is. It really is a case that bigger is better when dealing with TLC NAND based drives as the pseudo-SLC buffer is more than enough to cover even an enthusiast's needs. It is this combination that allows this relatively inexpensive drive the luxury of equaling and even beating Toshiba, Intel and other manufacturers who are still using 2D NAND.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
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/MX300_2tb/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/MX300_2tb/copy_lg.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/copy_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Once again the MX300 2TB proves to be the absolute best MX drive released to date; a drive that can take on Toshiba and other 'high end' SATA drive manufacturers.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
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/MX300_2tb/data_p.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Real World Results
<i>For a real world application we have opted for a modified version of our standard Windows 7 Start Up test. Unlike our standard Windows 7 image this image is based on a working system that has been upgraded numerous times of the past few years and represents an even more realistic real world test</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/MX300_2tb/data_b.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Almost as expected the combination of a massive RAM cache with massive pseudo-SLC write buffer does make the 2TB version the most potent MX300 released to date. This added performance boost allows the MX300 2TB to do what no Marvel SATA AHCI controller based SSD could do before: beat Intel. That is rather impressive, though there is still room for improvement as Toshiba – and NVMe drives in general – are still superior in this <i>crucial</i> area.
 

Latest posts

Twitter

Top