When Crucial launched their M500 series, they paved the way for low cost, high capacity SSDs. Last year, we were looking at $1/GB as a good price for an SSD. Today, we are looking at $0.50/GB for a mainstream SSD. As enthusiasts, we look at more than just pricing when it comes to choosing our solid state storage devices. We want superior performance every bit as much as we want low cost per GB.
The M500 delivered from a cost perspective like no other; however, it comes up woefully short in the performance department, and it is really out of the question for enthusiast implementation. The enthusiast crowd is a segment of the consumer pool that spends a lot of money to own hardware that delivers bleeding edge performance.
Crucial designed the M550 from the ground up to deliver compelling enthusiast level performance. The M550 is the first SSD to tap Marvell's newest SSD controller, the 88SS9189. Marvell's 88SS9189 improves on the performance of its predecessor, the 88SS9187, and delivers new features like DEVSLP for improved battery life.
Crucial's M550 has a host of built-in features that help separate it from other enthusiast class SSDs. The M550 supports AES 256-bit hardware encryption that meets TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE-1667 standards. Microsoft's eDrive is also supported. In addition, the M550 is equipped with onboard capacitors that provide host power loss protection.
Crucial's M550 is the third drive in a row that I've reviewed that is built on IMFT 20nm NAND Flash. We are finding that IMFT NAND Flash delivers superior scaling in comparison to competing Toshiba NAND Flash. What this means is that while Toshiba flash-based SSDs typically outperform IMFT flash-based SSDs on a single drive basis, the superior scaling of IMFT flash can deliver a superior performing array, which is exactly what happened when we reviewed Intel's 730.
The M550's specifications look great on paper; now let's find out what the M550 has under the hood in real life.