Conclusion

Most of the time, it seems like all the interesting new developments in the SSD market are in the NVMe segment, while SATA SSDs are stuck with the same performance limits and decreasing endurance. The Crucial MX500 bucks the trend by setting several surprising performance records while offering competitive mainstream pricing.

The MX500 is a more well-rounded product than its predecessor, the Crucial MX300. The MX300's performance takes a serious hit when it is full or subjected to heavy write loads, but the MX500 retains much more of its performance and does a better job of keeping latency under control. It is still subject to some of the pitfalls of TLC NAND with SLC write caching, but they are mitigated about as well as on any of its competitors.

Several of our synthetic benchmarks returned results for the MX500 that are far above any previous SATA SSD we've tested. The Crucial MX500 is faster at handling short bursts of I/O than any of its competitors, and even outperforms some NVMe drives with MLC NAND. This is exactly the kind of performance that a consumer SSD should focus on: increasing responsiveness, rather than trying to get a high score on a benchmark of throughput with queue depths that consumer workloads never hit.

These optimizations translate into some of the highest average data rates on our ATSB Heavy and Light test that we've seen from a SATA SSD. In favorable conditions (which also happen to be the most common and realistic) of a drive that isn't full and does get TRIM commands from the OS, the MX500 will generally hold its own against any other SATA drive. It isn't at the top of every benchmark—under sustained I/O it isn't any faster than most of its current-generation competition. But for most users, there's no need to pay any extra for the performance of a Samsung drive.

The MX500's power management seems to have taken a step backwards from the impressively efficient MX300. The MX500 is still a reasonable option even for mobile use, but it's a bit disappointing to see that Micron had to sacrifice efficiency on almost every test to improve performance on most of them. The MX500's idle power consumption is also a bit higher than the MX300, but not enough that we worry about something being broken. (It's also possible that our new power measurement equipment is contributing to higher readings; we'll rule out such potential discrepancies over coming weeks by re-testing the back catalog of drives.)

The Crucial MX500 does not stand out as being the top SATA SSD, but it is clearly a top-tier choice. Micron has extended the warranty to 5 years and increased the write endurance rating to match. The performance and power consumption of the Crucial MX500 are suitable for almost every consumer use case. We look forward to the rest of the capacities arriving next year.

SATA SSD Price Comparison
  240-275GB 480-525GB 960-1050GB
Crucial MX500 TBA TBA $259.99 (26¢/GB)
Crucial BX300 $87.99 (37¢/GB) $149.99 (31¢/GB)  
Crucial MX300 $89.99 (33¢/GB) $139.99 (27¢/GB) $272.00 (26¢/GB)
Samsung 850 EVO $84.99 (34¢/GB) $139.99 (28¢/GB) $289.99 (29¢/GB)
Samsung 850 PRO $109.99 (43¢/GB) $223.42 (44¢/GB) $399.99 (39¢/GB)
SanDisk Ultra 3D $79.99 (32¢/GB) $139.99 (28¢/GB) $279.99 (28¢/GB)
WD Blue 3D NAND $79.99 (32¢/GB) $139.99 (28¢/GB) $279.99 (28¢/GB)
Toshiba TR200 $74.99 (31¢/GB) Out of Stock Out of Stock
Intel 545s $99.99 (39¢/GB) $171.99 (34¢/GB)  

In terms of performance, the SATA drive to beat has long been the Samsung 850 PRO, but its much cheaper sibling the 850 EVO also offers great performance in most use cases and is the most important competitor for mainstream SSDs. The 1TB Samsung 850 EVO is currently selling for $289.99. With the MX500 arriving at $259.99 for the same capacity but with a longer warranty, higher everyday performance and better power efficiency, Samsung needs to change something. The rest of the industry will also have to respond, because the MX500's MSRP is beating the holiday street prices on competitors like the SanDisk Ultra 3D.

The NAND flash shortage is starting to ease as everybody (except SK Hynix) ramps up their 64-layer 3D NAND production. By setting an aggressive introductory price, it is clear that Micron expects SSD prices to be in decline, and they intend for the MX500 to remain an economical choice for the near future. If they can keep the MX500 ahead of the pace of price drops, they have a good chance at recapturing the broad market appeal that once made the MX100 such a clear-cut recommendation. Given how the recent Crucial BX300 is also aggressively positioned, they are probably going to keep up the pressure.

Power Management
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  • The Benjamins - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    The flyer I link shows the rated Sequential speeds and IOPS are the same for all capacities, so I wouldn't expect it to vary much Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    0 variation at all over all capacities strikes me as suspicious, not reassuring. Reply
  • jjj - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    Oddly they note in the pdf that those numbers are:
    "Based on the published specs of the 1TB model. Speeds based on internal testing. Actual performance may vary"
    Reply
  • Ninhalem - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    I think I finally found the drive to replace my aging mechanical drive in my venerable 2009 Macbook Pro. Reply
  • linkman10 - Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - link

    Still going on that with an HDD? I'm still using the same model and an SSD sure perked it up. Reply
  • casteve - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    Nice part. Look forward to seeing the 256 and 512MB results. Too bad the Crucial Storage Executive is still Java based. Reply
  • hansmuff - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    The tool that you have to use what, a few times a year being Java based is some sort of problem? How? Reply
  • ddrіver - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    Do you need it for anything but a FW update? I expect there'll be a few updates now in the beginning but I definitely wouldn't call it a problem. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    I think I've updated firmware on my Crucial drives, but I know I don't have Java on any of those systems. Reply
  • ddrіver - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    Java comes with the dashboard installer. Reply

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