Crucial BX300 480GB SSD Review


  • Author: AkG
  • Date: August 29, 2017
  • Product Name: BX300 480GB
  • Part Number: CT480BX300SSD1
  • Warranty: 3 years

So here we are, in one of the slowest evolutionary years for the storage market and a few distinctive trends are beginning to emerge. NVMe devices continue to take over the high end price segment, SATA Express is dead as a doornail and mainstream SATA-based drives have become better and better. This last point is a particularly important one since the price of entry into the SSD marketplace continues to decline while the quality of the drives themselves has increased drastically. There’s no better example of this than the new BX300 series from Crucial.

It may seem like only yesterday that Crucial sent a shockwave through the storage industry when they introduced to the world their 3D CuA (CMOS under Array) 3D NAND and the potent MX300 series. However, we first saw the MX300 over a year ago. In the intervening months, more and more people have started to wonder aloud where the BX200’s successor was; and yet even with all these whispers becoming a dull roar Crucial stayed silent. That was until this year’s Computex IT Tradeshow in Taipei when they announced the soon to be released BX300 series. This review will focus in on the ‘flagship’ BX model: the $149(USD) BX300 480GB solid state drive.

With prices that range from $59.99 to $149.99 and capacities of 120GB to 480GB the new BX300 series may not be the most inexpensive series released by Crucial but it certainly is rather unique in many ways. For the first time the once clear and distinct line distinguishing the MX models and their BX counterparts is significantly blurred. While Crucial has taken steps to protect their MX line against an aggressively encroaching BX300 we do suspect that their steps will not be entirely successful. The new BX300 is truly different and arguably best described as a ‘BX+’ model rather than just another entry-level SSD.

Later in this review we will go over in greater detail exactly how Crucial was able to make such a bold change and the ramifications it has on not only future BX and MX models but the competition as well. For time being let’s just say that the BX300 is unlike any BX model before it due to the NAND being used. Much like the MX300 750GB Limited Edition was the showcase model for Micron’s TLC 3D CuA NAND, the BX300 is the showcase model for their MLC 3D CuA NAND.

This seemingly minor change from previous BX models’ reliance on TLC to cutting edge MLC cannot be overstated. It is significant and the dramatically improved performance the BX300 series offers reflects this change. The chart above highlights this is a pretty stark way, particularly when you take a look at the IOPS and NAND endurance numbers.

On first blush the BX300 looks almost exactly like its predecessor the BX200. The label may have changed but the BX300 once again makes use of a low profile (7mm z-height) 2.5″ form factor and comes with a free 2.5mm adapter for use in older systems that do not properly support this newer standard.

The chassis also is very similar in that it is an all metal 2-piece affair that does double duty as a large if somewhat inefficient heatsink as well as providing excellent protection for the relatively delicate internals.

However, if you look closely you will see that this new generation makes use of screws and is not simply press fit together. This change will not matter to the average user but it does make for a much more secure chassis. It also makes disassembly a lot easier – but once again this will not matter to anyone other than reviewers as doing so will void your warranty.

Internally the BX300’s layout also has not changed all that much. Contrary to rumors, it makes use of a half-length PCB that houses 8 NAND ICs (four per side, though the smaller 120GB only has NAND ICs on one side), the SATA controller, and a DDR3 RAM cache chip. It certainly is reassuring that Crucial did not go down the RAM-less road to artificially handicap performance like some suggested. This RAM buffer (128MB to 512MB depending on capacity) really is critical for performance and if it was ‘missing’ would have severely handicapped this nifty new SSD series.

While the NAND technology Crucial opted for has radically changed, the controller has not. Once again Crucial has tapped Silicon Motion for this important role, though it is now the latest SMI SM2258 instead of the SM2256 that the BX200 made use of. This controller is basically just a slight upgrade to the SM2256 and brings only modest improvements – its largest claim to fame is native support for 3D NAND. Furthermore, this controller will be the weakest link of the BX300 series as it is best described as an entry level orientated 4-channel unit.

The last thing of note is the lack of hardware based data loss protection. Of course, this drive does offer data loss protection but as with previous BX generations those interested in MX levels of protection will have to pay MX prices. Though considering this drive costs more than its comparatively sized MX sibling, we doubt many will find that as hard to justify as in previous generations. The pricing part of this equation is in and of itself quite important since many will wonder why these new so-called “mainstream” SSDs are suddenly more expensive. Well this new BX300 really is a game changer and flips the usual BX-MX relationship – which is sure to cause a certain level of uncertainty within the market. But will the performance and longevity points allow the BX300 to shine and somewhat nullify its price premium? Let’s find out.

Posted in

Latest Reviews