Introduction

The biggest reason why SSDs have not become truly mainstream (yet) is price. While prices have come down significantly over the last year, you are are still paying roughly $0.75 per GB, whereas hard drives can usually bought for less than $0.10 per GB. For an enthusiast, it shouldn’t be a problem to pay up to ten times more per GB if it yields significantly better performance, but the consumer market is much harder to convince. Most aren’t ready spend hundreds of dollars on a single component, especially if there is a cheaper alternative that is sufficient. In this case, hard drives also offer more capacity, which can make it very hard for consumers to understand the benefits of an SSD.

Besides price, there is another problem. Most SSDs sold today are SATA 6Gbps but the vast majority of computers are only compatible with older and slower SATA 1.5Gbps and 3Gbps standards. That means consumers who don’t have a SATA 6Gbps compatible computer will not be able to take advantage of the extra IO bandwidth that the SATA 6Gbps SSDs offer, and it may feel pointless to pay for something you can’t use. Of course, there are previous generation SSDs that are SATA 3Gbps but they aren’t necessarily cheaper due to the use of more expensive NAND (2Xnm vs 3Xnm).

However, almost any SSD is faster than a traditional hard drive, be that 2.5” 5400RPM, 3.5” 7200RPM or even a 10,000RPM VelcoiRaptor. Crucial sees that there is a market for low-end SSDs, which are not as fast as today’s fastest drives but offer a more affordable $/GB ratio. The v4 SSD is specifically targeted at consumers with SATA 3Gbps and due to the usage of a cheaper controller, Crucial was able to price the drive below its 6Gbps counterparts...but is it priced low enough to really sell?

Crucial v4 Specifications
Capacity 32GB 64GB 128GB 256GB
NAND Micron 25nm synchronous MLC NAND
Controller Phison PS3105
Sequential Read 200MB/s 230MB/s 230MB/s 230MB/s
Sequential Write 60MB/s 100MB/s 175MB/s 190MB/s
4K Random Read 10K IOPS 10K IOPS 10K IOPS 10K IOPS
4K Random Write 1.2K IOPS 2.4K IOPS 4K IOPS 4K IOPS

Performance wise the v4 is significantly behind SATA 6Gbps SSDs. Sequential speeds are actually fairly normal for SATA 3Gbps SSDs but random speeds are awful to get straight to the point. Even the Intel SSD 320 has three to four times higher random read/write speeds and it's a year and a half old drive, so the random performance is really not good by today's standards. We'll soon see how the random speeds impact real world performance, but the specs aren't overwhelming.

NewEgg Price Comparison (11/22/2012)
Capacity 32GB 60/64GB 120/128GB 240/256GB
Crucial v4 $50 $65 $85 $160
Crucial m4 N/A $73 $110 $200
Samsung 830 N/A $70 $104 $200
Intel SSD 330 N/A $70 $104 $140
Plextor M5S N/A $50 $110 $200
OCZ Vertex 4 N/A $80 $75 $160
OCZ Agility 4 N/A $75 $95 $165
Mushkin Enhanced Chronos N/A $65 $100 $165

As for the pricing, the v4 is cheaper compared to it's big brother m4 but there are other, faster SSDs that offer similar pricing. For example the Mushkin Enhanced Chronos is only $5-15 more expensive depending on the capacity and there are others such as Kingston SSDNow V+200 and OCZ Agility 3 that are priced equivalently. Samsung's 830 drives are also regularly on sale, and we've seen the 128GB drive go for as little as $85 with the 256GB now routinely on sale for $170 or so (or $190 for the kit). Even if you're stuck with a 3Gbps SATA connection, it's a safe bet that $5 to $10 more will get you much better performance. How much better? We'll get to that on page three....

The Drive
POST A COMMENT

44 Comments

View All Comments

  • Lone Ranger - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    On page two, you state that you are surprised to only find 8 packages on the board despite finding room for 16. In the next paragraph you state that the controller supports 8 channels. Is it possible to "gang" two packages together to one controller channel? If not, the controller is the reason that 16 packages aren't used. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    The controller supports up to 32 NAND packages (i.e. 4 per channel). Pretty much all consumer-grade controllers have eight channels but support more than one package per channel Reply
  • Lone Ranger - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the clarification. Reply
  • creed3020 - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    I stopped reading at Phison PS3105...

    Most people who know SSDs understand their controllers are useless even in a low end product.
    Reply
  • Pessimism - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    Phison is the new JMicron. Reply
  • tjoynt - Saturday, November 24, 2012 - link

    We spend so much time looking at the upper range of prrformance, it's nice to get a lower bound, too. :)
    It also demonstrates just how important a good controller is and how hard it is to make one. Also gives me a better idea of why usb flash drives and most devices with flash have so much lower performance than SSDs. Any one know what the cost differential is between a Psion and a Sandforce or Indilinx or Samsung?
    Reply
  • infoilrator - Saturday, November 24, 2012 - link

    The article implied about $10 more buys a better controller. I do not know where firmware vs hardware may make a difference.
    Crucual will sell these on the basis of its M4 reputation. Unfortunately I believe it will leave a large number of customers unset with crucial.

    I do not want one at any price (hey, i found way better prices.

    Would RAID0 help these any?
    Reply
  • jack.fxx - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    Well, even though benchmark results of V4 are considerably lower than other contemporary SSDs, it still is decent SSD. For example Windows boot time of V4 is the same as any other SSD (see http://www.legitreviews.com/article/2010/6/ ) , average user won't notice any difference between Samsung 840 Pro and V4.

    Benchmark results are pretty much useless when comparing desktop SSDs, because SSD drives in desktops/laptops are at least 99% of time idle, which means that 2x faster SSD will improve performace of your system at most by 0.5%.
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    Casual users have gotten used to having 500GB, or 1TB of hard drive space, but few will use more than a small fraction of that capacity.

    A $99 128GB drive is perfect for most users and they don't realize what they're missing!
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Monday, November 26, 2012 - link

    At its current price, the Crucial V4 is not a good deal. However, Crucial is one of the few PC component manufacturers based in the USA (they employ American's as well) so when it comes to purchases for SSDs and RAM I often go with them or Kingston. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now