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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  • tech6 - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    It's nice to finally see a Samsung alternative that doesn't suck. Reply
  • ddrіver - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    I am thoroughly impressed. And that's not something I take lightly. Samsung will have to get their game on now, with the age old 850 series no longer being king of the hill in SATA drives. Reply
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    Not sure if you noticed this, but they recently released a new 850 EVO with 3D NAND. Reply
  • ddrіver - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    Until now the 850 line was unquestionably better than everything else in almost every regard, except price maybe. It's enough if the competition is "close enough", even without actually taking the crown. Right now Samsung isn't the go-to SSD with good alternatives like the MX500. That's enough for me. Reply
  • Alistair - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    Samsung has by far the worst customer service and warranty coverage. Good luck actually getting them to replace a drive in Canada. Glad to see Crucial stepping up their game, buying one immediately. Reply
  • Alistair - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    Just to expand on this. Samsung is forcing customers to contact newegg for warranty coverage. I've already spent weeks just trying to get Samsung to respond to their normal emails. Newegg obviously isn't responsible for a year old drive failing. They have no RMA process, and I've already contacted their chat, voice, and email.

    Dear Samsung Valued Customer,

    We have received your email and would like to thank you for the information that you sent us however, you will need to contact the place of purchase for warranty coverage. We already have notify the dealer and they will be calling you shortly to offer warranty coverage.
    We apologize for the inconvenience this issue may have caused you.

    Thank you/Merci

    Regards,

    (name redacted)
    Samsung Electronics Canada
    Reply
  • Alistair - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    Nobody is getting coverage in Canada:

    https://forums.redflagdeals.com/has-anyone-dealt-s...
    Reply
  • Alistair - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    This was purchased from Newegg.ca Reply
  • Arnulf - Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - link

    Interesting. Over here in EU it is far more common to deal with the seller/store.

    I buy hardware from a store, not the manufacturer, store gives me warranty on goods purchased and I don't care what hoops they have to jump through (RMA with the manufacturer? Deal with the national distributor? etc.) to get things settled as long as they beat the deadline(s).
    Reply
  • Alistair - Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - link

    Basically they sell the product in Canada, but have no procedure in place to provide their warranty service. That's not a warranty at all. Reply

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