Crucial m4 - solid state drive - review: Crucial m4 - solid state drive -

We first tested the drive as the main drive of the test system. In boot and shutdown tests, the m4, like all SSDs, helped the system take a very short time to boot up and shut down, just 28.7 and 6.8 seconds respectively. Note that the boot time includes the time the test machine takes to go through the hardware initialization, which is about 15 seconds. Compared with when the system used a hard drive as the main storage drive, the amount of time required to boot up and shut down was cut by about one-third.

In the office performance test, in which we time how long the computer takes to finish a comprehensive set of different concurrent tasks, as expected the Crucial m4 didn't help much, as the test system took 393 seconds to finish the job. Note that when used with a hard drive, the system took just a few seconds longer to get the job done. The storage device doesn't play a big role in these tasks. We did notice that the applications used in the test launched much faster than when using a hard drive.

Similarly, in our multimedia multitasking test, which gauges the computer's performance as it converts an HD movie from one format to another while iTunes is doing a heavy job of music conversion in the background, the Crucial m4 only helped speed up the process just a little bit, scoring 322 seconds, compared with 340 seconds when a hard drive was used.

The Crucial did much better at the copy test, which is the most important test, showing how the drive performed while simultaneously reading and writing a large amount of data. In this test, the m4 scored 118MBps, which is about three times the speed of the fastest hard drive. Unfortunately this was still slower than the Plextor PX-256M2S , which scored 162MBps. It was in no way the slowest, however, as the OCZ Agility 3 scored only 102MBps in this test.

We did only one test with the drive being used as a secondary drive, and it's the same copy test as mentioned above. The only difference is that this time, the drive performed only writing, and the m4 did much better, showing a speed of 236MBps. Again this easily more than doubled the speed of even the fastest hard drive. Compared with other SSDs of the same standard, the m4 was again neither the fastest nor the slowest.

All in all, considering how affordable the m4 is, we were pleased with its performance, which will definitely improve any computer's overall performance, compared with a hard drive.

CNET Labs' system performance scores (measured in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
MMT  
Office  
Crucial m4
322 
393 
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
321 
394 
OCZ Vertex 3
322 
338 
Plextor PX-256M2S
323 
383 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
323 
393 
OCZ Agility 3
331 
390 

Boot and shutdown times (measured in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown time  
Boot time  
Plextor PX-256M2S
6 
28.2 
Crucial m4
6.8 
28.7 
OCZ Vertex 3
5.8 
29.1 
OCZ Agility 3
6.7 
29.7 
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
7.9 
45.4 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
12.2 
56.2 

CNET Labs' data transfer scores (measured in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive  
As OS drive  
Plextor PX-256M2S
261 
162.03 
OCZ Vertex 3
260.71 
150.01 
Crucial m4
235.51 
117.99 
OCZ Agility 3
207.75 
101.67 
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
126.33 
58.05 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
112.59 
47.12 

Service and support
Crucial backs the m4 with a three-year warranty, which is decent and standard for most SSDs. At Crucial's Web site, you can find a page dedicated to the m4 that offers lots of support information, including firmware and manual downloads.

Conclusions
Add better performance and the 4-star Crucial m4 SSD would earn our Editors' Choice Award. In its current state, we still loved it for its already decent performance and, most importantly, its affordable price. The drive will make an excellent buy for anyone who wants to upgrade and get the best performance out of a high-end system.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Form Factor 2.5" x 1/8H
  • Hard Drive Type internal hard drive
  • Interface Type Serial ATA-600
  • Capacity 512 GB
About The Author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.