In our first Crucial solid state drive review we tested the companies first generation product at the same time other companies were releasing their second and third generation drives. As you can imagine, the drive didn't perform as well as the newer drives. A few months after the review, Lexar, the parent company of Crucial, announced that a new SSD was headed our way, but after weeks of waiting we found out that the product wouldn't materialize. Looking back now it is easy to see why Crucial let the paper launch turn into vaporware; JMicron drives were all the rage and even though everyone knew about the issues that accompanied them, the companies still released the drives, all except for Crucial.
We have tested several Indilinx Barefoot drives from a wide range of manufacturers and have yet to find an issue that would keep us from recommending the controller to both notebook and desktop users. It is obvious that Crucial does their fair share of internal product testing which goes a long way with end users who want a product that already has the little issues worked out. The solid state market is moving along very quickly and the M225 Series might be a little late for the power users that must have the latest and greatest as soon as possible. But Crucial recognizes that the Barefoot controller has been out for a few months now so they are going to compete on a different level, cost.
When we reviewed the G.Skill Falcon we made a point to show that the drive was one of the first Barefoot drives on the market and that the drive had the lowest price point of all the 128GB drives with the same controller. Since then we have observed that the Patriot Torqx (256GB) has a Newegg price of 699 USD, the Super Talent UltraDrive ME is 619 USD and the G.Skill Titan (JMicron controller) is 599 USD. The Crucial M225 has an MSRP of 599 in 256GB capacity and we should see the drive priced lower once it hits the e-tail market. In short, right from the launch the Crucial M225 in 256GB capacity is the lowest priced Barefoot controlled SSD on the market. Let's move on and see what else the M225 has to offer.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
These are some of the highest numbers claimed to date for an Indilinx controlled drive. Every company seems to have pulled a different number out of their hat and we have not seen any coloration between the claimed speeds and the real world performance numbers. Hopefully the M225 can bring performance numbers close to their claimed speeds.
The M225 Series is currently made up of three products, 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacity. All of the drives use multi-level cell memory and the same Barefoot controller that we have tested countless times before with 64MB of cache. The large amount of cache eliminates any stutter issues that we had with the early JMicron controlled drives.
As stated on the previous page, Crucial is playing hard ball with the price of the new line-up. The 256GB drive that we are testing today is already available for 599 USD; this is quite a bit lower than just about everyone else's price on 256GB Barefoot drives. Crucial is sticking with the low cost strategy for the entire line, the 128GB is 329.99 and the 64GB is 169.99.
Let's move on and see if Crucial's low(er) cost SSD can live up to the high performance claims.
Crucial informed us that the final box design was going to arrive after our drive shipped, but the difference between what we received and the final retail box would be minimal. The outside of the box is pretty plain with very little product information on the front.
On the back we found a full specifications list as well as some general information about solid state drives.
We found the drive in an antistatic bag and inside of a box that keeps the drive secure for shipping.
The Crucial M225 SSD
Here is our first glance at the M225. On the bottom of the drive you will find a label with the serial and model number. The drive has reinforced areas where you screw the drive into a carrier.
The top of the drive is made of aluminum and is void of labels.
The power and data connectors are located where they should be. The M225 does not have a jumper for updating firmware.
On the side we see that the drive also has the mounting holes just like standard platter 2.5 inch form factor drives.
Crucial has a very informative manual that shows how to swap drives in many notebook models.
Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline
Processors: AMD Opteron 2356 (2.3GHz Quad-Core) x2
Motherboard: Tyan S2915-E (Supplied by Tyan)
Memory: Kingston KVR667D2S4P5/2G x4 (Supplied by Kingston)
Graphics Card: XFX 8800 GTX (Supplied by XFX USA)
Enclosure: Lian Li V2000
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12DO (Supplied by Noctua)
SATA Controller: Areca ARC-1231ML (Supplied by Areca)
SAS Controller: Areca ARC-1680i (Supplied by Areca)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate X64
Today we are comparing the Crucial M225 256GB SSD to other 2.5 inch drives that we've reviewed in the past.
All of the drives tested were performed on the listed system under identical conditions to ensure true apples to apples performance results for comparison.
ATTO Baseline Performance
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.34
ATTO is used by many disk manufactures to determine the read and write speeds that will be presented to customers.
Here we see that under ideal conditions the M225 is capable of hitting nearly 230MB/s read and 193 MB/s write speeds in our test system.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro
HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 3.00
Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com
HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:
- Benchmark: measures the performance
- Info: shows detailed information
- Health: checks the health status by using SMART
- Error Scan: scans the surface for errors
- Temperature display
HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.
There is a lot of data in the graph and it adds up to the Crucial M225 being a blazing fast drive. Directly under the Crucial M225 on the list is the Corsair / Samsung second generation drive. As you can see, the Crucial drive is around 12MB a second faster on average. Directly under the Corsair drive is the SLC flash based Solidata drive that that costs just as much as the M225, but only has 64GB capacity.
The write test shows numbers that are just as impressive.
Benchmarks - EVEREST Random Access Time
EVEREST Random Access Time
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.60
Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
EVEREST Ultimate and Corporate Edition offer several different benchmarks for testing and optimizing your system or network. The Random Access test is one of very few if not only that will measure hard drives random access times in hundredths of milliseconds as oppose to tens of milliseconds.
Random access time is where solid state drives really show their superiority over platter based drives. Here we see that the M225 is on par with other MLC Barefoot drives we have tested.
The write access times for nearly every SSD are right around .05 milliseconds.
Let's see how all of these synthetic benchmarks relate to real world applications.
Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk Tests
PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark-vantage//
Buy It Here
PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.
FutureMark has developed a good set of hard disk tests for their PCMark Vantage Suite. These tests are based on real world applications that many of us use daily.
HDD1 - Windows Defender
HDD2 - Gaming
HDD3 - Windows Photo Gallery
HDD4 - Vista Startup
HDD5 - Windows Movie Maker
HDD6 - Windows Media Center
HDD7 - Windows Media Player
HDD8 - Application Loading
Our Windows tests show that the M225 runs a little faster than most of the Barefoot drives that we have reviewed so far. The SLC drive from Solidata is a tad faster in some tests, but the M225 is able to outperform the Intel X25-M in some tests and runs toe to toe with it in others.
Benchmarks - Passmark
Passmark Advanced Multi-User Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 6.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.passmark.com
Test Homepage: http://www.passmark.com
Many users complain that I/O Meter is too complicated of a benchmark to replicate results so my quest to find an alternative was started. Passmark has added several multi-user tests that measure a hard drives ability to operate in a multi-user environment.
The tests use different settings to mimic basic multi-user operations as they would play out on your server. Variances is read / write percentage as well as random / sequential reads are common in certain applications, Web Servers read nearly 100% of the time while Database Servers write a small amount of data.
The Workstation test is the only single user environment and will be similar to how you use your system at home.
The workstation test shows that the M225 is faster than the Intel X25-M, a test designed to show multitasking performance. The Intel controller is still the fastest when it comes to web and file server tests and doubles the performance of the M225 in database tests.
Crucial is marketing the M225 for notebook users so for most people these tests have little value, but the high workstation test numbers give us all an accurate score for what to expect as a power user using a notebook.
This Crucial solid state drive is night and day different from the first drive we tested last year. The first drive was expensive and underperforming at the time it was reviewed. The new M225 is fresh, fast and for what could be the decision making difference, it is cheap(er). Yes, cheaper than the competition, but at 599 USD for a 256GB drive it still costs more than most notebooks sold in this economy. There is a market for 256GB drives and if you fall into the group of users looking for a nice, well rounded drive that has great performance and the lowest price point, the M225 is a no brainer.
The good thing is that Crucial has a pretty wide price range for their M225 Series. The 64GB drive is 170 and the 128GB is 330 USD; both are very competitive in price to the JMicron drives and lower than most Indilinx drives. Crucial has figured out a way to give you Indilinx performance at a JMicron price.
I hope that by now you already know about all of the benefits of solid state drives. Crucial is more of a mainstream company than G.Skill or even Corsair, so we should go over some of the basics. The Crucial M225 is an outstanding product that will transform your traditional notebook from a slow underperforming object that you despise and turns it into a performance monster. The slowest piece of equipment in any computer system is the storage subsystem, ie. your hard drive. Any increase in HDD performance has a direct effect on just about everything else you do. Even the simple task of starting your computer is changed when a solid state drive is used. If you normally turn your notebook on and then hit the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee, kiss your coffee preparation time goodbye because by the time you walk out of the room your notebook is ready to get to work and it took less time than it took you to measure a teaspoon of sugar.
It is hard to imagine a hard drive making your Facebook time go smoother, but many online websites store small pieces of data on your computer. These cookies and small cache files in some cases can make your notebook seem slower than it should be due to rotational latency of standard hard drives, something that SSDs simply don't have, so your computer feels faster.
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