Random Read/Write Speed

The four corners of SSD performance are as follows: random read, random write, sequential read and sequential write speed. Random accesses are generally small in size, while sequential accesses tend to be larger and thus we have the four Iometer tests we use in all of our reviews.

Our first test writes 4KB in a completely random pattern over an 8GB space of the drive to simulate the sort of random access that you'd see on an OS drive (even this is more stressful than a normal desktop user would see). We perform three concurrent IOs and run the test for 3 minutes. The results reported are in average MB/s over the entire time.

Desktop Iometer - 4KB Random Read

Desktop Iometer - 4KB Random Write

Desktop Iometer - 4KB Random Write (QD=32)

Random performance is strong when dealing with an empty drive but as the two previous pages show the big picture isn't as pleasant. The difference between 64Gbit and 128Gbit NAND is very clear here as the M550 is up to twice as fast as the M500 at the smaller capacities.

Sequential Read/Write Speed

To measure sequential performance I ran a 1 minute long 128KB sequential test over the entire span of the drive at a queue depth of 1. The results reported are in average MB/s over the entire test length.

Desktop Iometer - 128KB Sequential Read

Sequential speeds are up quite a bit from the M500 as well but the read performance is still a bit lacking.

Desktop Iometer - 128KB Sequential Write

AS-SSD Incompressible Sequential Read/Write Performance

The AS-SSD sequential benchmark uses incompressible data for all of its transfers. The result is a pretty big reduction in sequential write speed on SandForce based controllers. Again, the M550 shows a decent improvement over the M500, particularly at the lower capacities.

Incompressible Sequential Read Performance

Incompressible Sequential Write Performance

AnandTech Storage Bench 2013 Performance vs Transfer Size
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  • Cerb - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    It's just that Samsung and Sandisk/Toshiba developed that technology for their flash, and Micron/Intel decided to go all in to making it denser, instead. There's nothing "Pro" about the 840, nor Toshiba's Q, with a, "Pro," after them, other than the name. Hell, gaming video cards have had "Pro" suffixes.

    Samsung and Toshiba/Sandisk decided to develop and use that kind of technology (it's in the Q series, with no marketing at all, and in Sandisk's Ultra Plus (X110?) and Extreme II (X210?) as ncache), while Intel/Micron went all in for density and cost, instead.

    It's generally useful, as it can allow a first stage of buffering to fake SLC, so live data writes generate less wear. So, bursty writes and random writes can both perform better, and wear the flash out less, than if it were pure TLC or MLC. I suspect it will find its way into server products over the next few years, as well, if it's not already hiding in something of Toshiba's.

    Also, just as there's been increased demand for 7200 RPM SATA and SAS for professionals, plain SATA SSDs are all most users need, as well. Pro users are using the same classes of drives as consumers, for the most part.
  • JBVertexx - Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - link

    I also agree this is positioned as a mainstream drive but with the additional performance and features upping the ante.

    It's hard to argue with price. The last several SSDs I have purchased have been the M500 240GB model. The current price of the 550 is what the 500 was only 3 months ago. So I would expect the positioning of the 550 to continue the price/value leadership position as it eventually replaces the M500. My bet is that the volumes of M500s that have been selling for them support this positioning as a winning one for Crucial.
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - link

    Agreed - the M500 is really putting price pressure on everyone else. For this benefit I can live with slightly lower performance. If M550 at 120/240 GB comes even close in price it's a default win. It has to be cheaper than 840 Evo, though.
  • trichome333 - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    Agreed, just got a 240gb M500 for $115. Read is up there with any SSD which is all I care about.
  • laviathan05 - Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - link

    On a personal note, as a person who bought a new Samsung EVO 1TB drive yesterday, I'm pleased with this review. Also, if you follow the link in the pricing chart you'll see that it currently is selling for $470 on newegg.
  • Jaguar36 - Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - link

    In your final words you mention that "It has the best-in-class encryption support", How come you don't say anything else about this in the article? What exactly does best in class mean?
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - link

    "There is TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE-1667 support, which are the requirements for Microsoft's eDrive encryption."

    It's something we've covered before so I only mentioned it in the review. Clicking the eDrive link leads to an article where the M500 is tested with eDrive, so you'll see the benefits there.
  • Jaguar36 - Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - link

  • just4U - Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - link

    When looking at SSD's to purchase I settled on 3 Intel, Samsung, and Crucial. The controller on the Intel and the fact that it was priced in the range of the Samsung led to me dropping it as a choice. So that left me with Samsung/Crucial. Given the choice I'd go Samsung.. as it is a higher performing drive but price/availability I wouldn't be to terrible upset if I had to go with the Crucial drives.

    I think maybe they just let performance take a back seat because their other drive was popular even though it was slower than the rest of the pack. It gained a good reputation so their hoping that will carry over to this new slightly faster/feature rich incarnation.
  • extide - Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - link

    Were you talking an Intel SF drive (300/500 series?) or the 720, with the super sweet in-house controller? Also don'[t forget about the Sandisk Extreme II...

    IMO The Top Tier performance drives are (In no specific order):
    Sandisk Extreme II
    Intel 720 Series
    Crucial Neutron GTX
    Samsung 840 Pro
    Seagate 600
    OCZ Vector 150

    And the best in terms of capacity/price:
    Crucial M500 (& M550?)
    Samsung 840 EVO

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