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Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report

Crucial's low-cost, high-performing MX100 SSD is back in the lab for another round of RAID testing goodness - this time in a three-drive array.

@JonCoulterSSD
Published Fri, Jan 30 2015 9:11 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:33 PM CDT

Introduction, Drive Specifications, Pricing, and Availability

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 01 | TweakTown.com
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A three-drive array is the sweet spot for an Intel RST based SATA array. A three-drive array can max out the sequential bandwidth available on an Intel motherboard, and nearly max out available random bandwidth. A three-drive RAID 0 SATA SSD array is the most cost effective, and highest performing storage option available to an enthusiast at this time. Right now, there are no consumer based PCIe drives available that can come close to delivering the performance of a good IRST SATA based RAID 0 array in an operating system environment.

When we last looked at Crucial's MX100 512GB, we came away impressed by its compelling performance in a two-drive array. The MX100 scaled better in RAID 0 than any drive we have tested to date. When we went from just one drive to a two-drive array, performance more than doubled in our heavy usage model testing. Another aspect we were thoroughly impressed with was the quality of the MX100's components. MLC NAND in BGA packages and integrated host power-loss protection are features you do not typically find in a SSD that is as affordable as the MX100. In addition, the inclusion of Acronis data migration software adds value.

Things change fast in the computer hardware universe, but right now, I feel Crucial's MX100 512GB SSD is the best bang for the buck available in two-drive RAID 0. But what about a three-drive array - the sweet spot? As we have demonstrated many times in the past, the fastest single drives are rarely ever the fastest drives in an array. The MX100 512GB SSD is a prime example of this.

As a single drive, the MX100 is nothing special, but when you RAID 0 a pair, everything changes, and an MX100 array becomes one of the fastest arrays around. Today, we aim to find out what happens when we introduce a third drive into our MX100 array. Let's go!

Specifications

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 02 | TweakTown.com

Crucial's MX100 SATA III SSD is available in three capacities, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Specifications list the 512GB MX100 SSD as capable of 550MB/s sequential reads, and 500MB/s sequential writes. Random read/write speed is listed at 90,000/85,000 IOPS. Crucial's MX100 comes in a 2.5" x 7mm z-height form factor, and ships with a spacer, should you need to increase the drive's thickness to 9.5mm. The MX100 supports AES 256-bit hardware encryption that meets TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE-1667 standards. Microsoft's eDrive is also supported. Crucial backs the MX100 with an industry standard three-year warranty, with a 72 TBW limit.

Because this is a RAID review, we are going to focus on performance, rather than features. For a more in-depth look at the MX100's feature set, I will refer you to Chris Ramseyer's extensive review of Crucial's MX100 512GB SSD.

So, what will it be? Will the MX100 512GB continue to scale as we add a third drive to our array? Does a three-drive MX100 512GB array have what it takes to challenge the supremacy of our champion Intel 730 three-drive array, or our juggernaut Toshiba Q Series Pro three-drive array? Let's dive in, and find out.

PRICING: You can find Crucial's MX100 (512GB) for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Crucial MX100 512GB retails for $199.99 at Amazon USA.

Canada: The Crucial MX100 512GB retails for $232.52 at Amazon Canada.

Drive Details, Test System Setup, Array Properties

Drive Details - Crucial MX100 512GB SSD

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 03 | TweakTown.com

Crucial packages their MX100 in an attractive blue and silver flip-top box. There is a picture of the drive on the top of the box.

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The rear of the box lists the contents, although there is no mention of the included Acronis migration software.

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The MX100 512GB ships with a download key for Acronis migration software, and a 7mm to 9.5mm black plastic spacer.

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The top of the drive's enclosure is formed from a piece of sheet aluminum. A manufacturer's sticker lists the drive's capacity, shipping firmware, model number, serial number, and other relevant information.

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The bottom and sides of the drive's enclosure are formed from a single piece of cast aluminum. There is an attractive blue sticker centered on the bottom face of the drive's enclosure.

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Here's what Crucial's MX100 512GB SSD looks like completely disassembled. There is a thermally conductive pad to wick heat from the drive's controller and DRAM package into the thick cast aluminum half of the drive's enclosure.

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 09 | TweakTown.com

On this side of the PCB there are eight Micron branded 16nm BGA NAND packages, one DRAM package, a row of small capacitors providing host power-loss protection, and Marvell's newest 88SS9189 Flash Processor.

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There are an additional eight NAND packages on the opposite side of the PCB.

Test System Setup

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- Array Properties

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The majority of our testing is performed with our test drive/array as our boot volume. Our boot volume is 75% full for all OS Disk "C" drive testing to replicate a typical consumer OS volume implementation. We are using 64k stripes for our all our three-drive arrays.

Cstates and Speed stepping are both disabled in our systems BIOS; High Performance power plan is enabled in Windows, Write-back caching is enabled via Intel's RST control panel, and Windows buffer flushing is disabled. We are utilizing Windows 8.1 64-bit for all of our testing.

Synthetic Benchmarks - ATTO, Anvil Storage Utilities, CrystalDiskMark & AS SSD

ATTO

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.47

ATTO is a timeless benchmark used to provide manufacturers with data used for marketing storage products.

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Sequential read transfers max out at 1.383 GB/s. Sequential write transfers max out at 1.283 GB/s.

Sequential Write

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 14 | TweakTown.com

Sequential write performance is better than the erratic performance of our Q Series Pro array, but falls slightly behind the rest of the arrays on our chart.

Sequential Read

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IMFT NAND based arrays like our MX100 array and our Intel 730 array, fall behind the rest of the arrays on our chart in this test.

Anvil Storage Utilities

Version and / or Patch Used: RC6

Anvil's Storage Utilities is a storage benchmark designed to measure the storage performance of SSDs. The Standard Storage Benchmark performs a series of tests; you can run a full test, or just the read or write test, or you can run a single test, i.e. 4k QD16.

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 16 | TweakTown.com

This is the second best performance we've obtained from a three-drive array running on Windows 8.1. Sequential read performance in this test is exceeding our ATTO results. This is an awesome score, but not awesome enough to challenge our 850 Pro array. The only PCIe drive we've had in the lab that can exceed this performance is Intel's NVMe based DC P3700 PCIe SSD, and that drive will set you back about $2500.

Read IOPS through Queue Depth Scale

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Random read performance of our MX100 array leads that of our Q Series Pro array, but comes in lower than the rest of the arrays on our chart.

Write IOPS through Queue Scale

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 18 | TweakTown.com

Random write performance is where our MX100 array delivers the goods. All of our arrays, with the exception of our Q Series Pro array, reach maximum performance at QD4. It's hard to say whether our MX100 array or our 850 Pro array is the winner, because while the 850 Pro array has the highest QD1 and QD4 performance, the MX100 is beating it at every other QD. Our Q Series Pro array continues to deliver erratic synthetic performance.

CrystalDiskMark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0 Technical Preview

CrystalDiskMark is disk benchmark software that allows us to benchmark 4k and 4k queue depths with accuracy.

Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 Technical Preview was used for these tests since it offers the ability to measure native command queuing at QD4.

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 19 | TweakTown.com

These are some nice looking numbers, especially the numbers corresponding with write. Drives with the best write performance tend to be the best overall performers; we will see if this holds true when we move to real-world simulations.

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 20 | TweakTown.com

Breaking down read performance reveals our MX100 array performing in the middle of the pack, which is quite good for an array with 16nm class NAND.

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 21 | TweakTown.com

Write performance is excellent across the board; our MX100 array is trading blows with our 850 Pro array and our Intel 730 array for supremacy.

AS SSD

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.7.4739.38088

AS SSD determines the performance of Solid-State Drives (SSD). The tool contains four synthetic, as well as three practice tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD.

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 22 | TweakTown.com
Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 23 | TweakTown.com

Read performance of our MX100 array is lagging behind the rest of our arrays. Most of this is due to the inherent lower performance of 16nm NAND at 4K-64 Thread. Write performance is exceptional, as we've been seeing, and second only to our V-NAND powered 850 Pro array. Let's move on to our light usage model simulations, and see what our MX100 array can deliver.

Benchmarks (Trace Based OS Volume) - PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7 & PCMark 8

Light Usage Model

We are going to categorize these tests as indicative of a light workload. If you utilize your computer for light workloads like browsing the web, checking emails, light gaming, and office related tasks, then this category of results is most relevant for your needs.

PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.0.0

The reason we like PCMark Vantage is because the recorded traces are played back without system stops. What we see is the raw performance of the drive. This allows us to see a marked difference between scoring that other trace-based benchmarks do not exhibit. An example of a marked difference in scoring on the same drive would be empty vs. filled vs. steady state.

We run Vantage three ways. The first run is with the OS drive/Array 75% full to simulate a lightly used OS volume filled with data to an amount we feel is common for most users. The second run is with the OS volume written into a "Steady State," utilizing SNIA's guidelines (Rev 1.1). Steady state testing simulates a drive/array's performance similar to that of a drive/array that has been subjected to consumer workloads for extensive amounts of time. The third run is a Vantage HDD test with the test drive/array attached as an empty, lightly used secondary device.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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OS Volume 75% Full - Steady State

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Secondary Volume Empty - Lightly Used

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As you can see, there's a big difference between an empty drive/array, one that's 75% full/used, and one that's in a steady state.

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The important scores to pay attention to are "OS Volume Steady State," and "OS Volume 75% full." These two categories are most important because they are indicative of typical of consumer user states.

When a drive/array is in a steady state, it means garbage collection is running at the same time it's reading/writing. This is exactly why we focus on steady state performance. Our MX100 array defeats both our Extreme Pro and 730 arrays. At 75% full, only our 850 Pro array is delivering better performance.

PCMark 7 - System Storage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4.00

We will look to the Raw System Storage scoring for RAID 0 evaluations because it's done without system stops and therefore allows us to see significant scoring differences between drives/arrays.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 28 | TweakTown.com
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Our MX100 array comes in fourth place. Toshiba's Q series Pro array dominates this particular test.

PCMark 8 - Storage Bandwidth

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.157

We use the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs, HDDs, and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive, or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 31 | TweakTown.com

PCMark 8 is the most intensive light model workload simulation we run, and this time our MX100 comes in second to our 730 array. We love the MX100, and this is a perfect example of why we feel a MX100 array is one of the best bangs for the buck on the market. Think about it - for about $600 you get 1.5 terabytes of enthusiast grade OS performance that no consumer based PCIe drive can touch.

Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - Disk Response & Transfer Rates

Iometer - Disk Response

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1.0

We use Iometer to measure disk response times. Disk response times are measured at an industry accepted standard of 4k QD1 for both write and read. We run each test twice for 30 seconds consecutively, with a five second ramp-up before each test. The drive/array is partitioned and attached as a secondary device for this testing.

Write Response

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Read Response

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Average Disk Response

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Write response times benefit most from RAID 0 because of RST write caching. There is a slight latency increase in read response times for an array vs. a single drive. Write response times are far more important than read response times, and the MX100 can hold its own with the more expensive arrays on our chart in this category.

DiskBench - Directory Copy

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.6.2.0

We use DiskBench to time a 28.6GB block (9,882 files in 1,247 folders) of mostly incompressible random data as it's transferred from our DC P3700 PCIe NVME SSD to our test drive/array. We then read from a 6GB zip file that's part of our 28.6GB data block to determine the test drive/array's read transfer rate. The system is restarted prior to the read test to clear any cached data, ensuring an accurate test result.

Write Transfer Rate

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Read Transfer Rate

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Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 37 | TweakTown.com

When it comes to large file read/write transfers, our MX100 array is a cut above the rest. This is a new lab record for write transfers, and the second best read transfer performance from a three-drive SATA based array we have seen to date. If you plan to transfer large files on a regular basis, you really cannot beat a three-drive MX100 array.

Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - PCMark 8 Extended

Futuremark PCMark 8 Extended - Consistency Test

Heavy Usage Model

We consider PCMark 8's consistency test to be our heavy usage model test. This is the usage model most enthusiasts, heavy duty gamers, and professionals fall into. If you do a lot of gaming, audio/video processing, rendering, or have workloads of this nature, then this test will be most relevant to you.

PCMark 8 has built-in, command line executed storage testing. The PCMark 8 Consistency test measures the performance consistency and the degradation tendency of a storage system.

The Storage test workloads are repeated. Between each repetition, the storage system is bombarded with a usage that causes degraded drive performance. In the first part of the test, the cycle continues until a steady degraded level of performance has been reached. (Steady State)

In the second part, the recovery of the system is tested by allowing the system to idle, and measuring the performance with long intervals. (TRIM)

The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state, and the recovered state, as well as the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state and the recovered state.

We feel Futuremark's Consistency Test is the best test ever devised to show the true performance of solid state storage in a heavy usage scenario. This test takes 13 to 17 hours to complete on average, and it writes somewhere between 450GB and 14,000GB of test data, depending on the number of drives or array being tested. If you want to know what a SSD's performance is going to look like after a few months or years of heavy usage, this test will show you.

Here's a breakdown of Futuremark's Consistency Test:

Precondition phase:

1. Write to the drive sequentially through up to the reported capacity with random data.

2. Write the drive through a second time (to take care of overprovisioning).

Degradation phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for ten minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat one and two, eight times, and increase the duration of random writes by five minutes on each pass.

Steady state phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 50 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat one and two, five times.

Recovery phase:

1. Idle for five minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat one and two, five times.

Storage Bandwidth

PCMark 8's Consistency test provides a ton of data output that we can use to judge a drive/array's performance.

Crucial MX100 512GB 3-Drive SSD RAID Report 38 | TweakTown.com

We consider steady state bandwidth (the blue bar) our test that carries the most weight in ranking a drive/array's performance. The reason we consider steady state performance more important than TRIM is that when you are running a heavy-duty workload, TRIM will not be occurring while that workload is being executed. TRIM performance (the orange and red bars) is what we consider the second most important consideration when ranking a drive/array's performance. Trace based consistency testing is where true high performing SSDs are separated from the rest of the pack.

We were hoping to see a little better scaling from the MX100 in this particular test as we moved from a two-drive array to a three-drive array. However, there are a couple of bright spots I would like to point out. First, in a heavy usage model scenario, a MX100 array delivers better performance than a much more expensive 850 Pro array. Second, TRIM (recovery) performance is arguably the best we've seen to date. Some would make the case that TRIM performance is more important in a consumer based usage scenario than steady state; however, I do not personally subscribe to that reasoning.

We were hoping to see a new RAID champion crowned today, but based on my personal belief that steady state is the true measure of an array's performance; our Intel 730 array is still our performance champion. At the same time, it is worth mentioning that Intel's 730 is actually an enterprise class SSD in consumer clothing.

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We chart our test subject's storage bandwidth as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations. This gives us a good visual perspective of how our test subjects perform as testing progresses.

Total Access Time (Latency)

We chart the total time the disk is accessed as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations.

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Disk Busy Time

Disk Busy Time is how long the disk is busy working. We chart the total time the disk is working as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations.

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When latency is low, disk busy time is low as well. It is interesting that our MX100 array has better latency in a steady state than it does while descending into a steady state. The rest of the arrays on our chart exhibit the opposite behavior. Once TRIM kicks in, our MX100 array is in a virtual tie for the best performing array we have tested to date.

Data Written

We measure the total amount of random data that the drive/arrays are capable of writing during the degradation phases of the consistency test. The total combined time that degradation data is written to the drive/array is 470 minutes. This can be very telling. The better the drive/array can process a continuous stream of random data, the more data will be written.

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Workload latency is a problem for the MX100 in RAID 0, and this chart serves to illustrate that point.

Final Thoughts

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Solid state storage is the most important performance component found in a modern system today. Without it, you do not even have a performance system.

If you want to have the fastest storage solution in an operating system environment, you need to be running a properly configured RAID 0 SATA based array.

There is a lot to like about Crucial's MX100. Most notably, the MX100 is an intoxicating blend of price and performance - probably the best on the market. The array we put together today is 1.5 terabytes of high performance flash for only about $600 USD. While it's not the fastest array to come across our bench, it is one of the fastest, and that's saying a lot. If your usage pattern falls into a light model usage scenario, it is actually the second fastest array we've tested to date.

If you plan to transfer large files on a regular basis, you can't do much better than a MX100 array; as evidenced by our DiskBench testing. We really like the fact that the MLC based MX100 is priced to compete with TLC based drives. Getting a MLC SSD for the price of a TLC based SSD makes the MX100 a superior buy, hands down. Crucial's MX100 is quality through and through. Genuine MLC NAND in high-performance, high-quality BGA packages, host power-loss protection, and genuine Acronis migration software all combine to make for a SSD that is a cut above the rest for the price.

I highly recommend you own a three-drive MX100 array, and experience life in the fast lane for yourself.

RAIDing two or more drives together provides you with storage that takes performance to the next level, and is something I highly recommend you try. Think of it as the SLI of storage. Once you go RAID, there's no going back!

PRICING: You can find Crucial's MX100 (512GB) for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Crucial MX100 512GB retails for $199.99 at Amazon USA.

Canada: The Crucial MX100 512GB retails for $232.52 at Amazon Canada.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

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Jon became a computer enthusiast when Windows XP launched. He was into water cooling and benching ATI video cards with modded drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for more than 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first booted an Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to bring consumer SSD reviews into the spotlight.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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