Following on from its impressive debut in last month’s SSD roundup, it seems in order to look further into Crucial’s M4 SSD, specifically the 256GB version of this Sata 3 capable device. Crucial M4 Crucial's M4 really shows what SSDs can achieve thanks to its Sata 3 interfacing First off, the usual; Crucial has made the M4 …
"Short of a major CPU upgrade, an SSD is the best performance addition you can really go for"
That's comparing chalk and cheese. There are many workloads (those involving intensive access to many smallish files) where a faster CPU will buy you very little, and an SSD will result in a spectacular gain. Booting an operating system tends to be one of these.
Plus I doubt there is any CPU upgrade you can perform that would result in a 300% performance increase which didn't involve buying a completely new motherboard and replacing all your RAM because it's last year's style and now completely wrong.
Ordered one yesterday
Went for the 512GB option to stick in my early-2010 MacBook Pro. I had a 128GB Samsung in it until I ran out of space, then had to fall back to a 500GB Momentus XT. That was painful. Back to speed tomorrow though!
Good god. I've got a 256GB in my MBP 2011 17" and it's given me nothing but trouble. I'd love to hear your experiences. Macbook support of SATA3 is very very flakey, so don't expect anything to work out of the box. I'm currently looking at moving the M4 to the optibay, as this is supposed to be the only stable way to run this drive atm
Unfinished comment re boot speed
You make a particular point that the old 7200rpm hard drive in the test rig results in a 48 second boot time, but then never mention the time with the SSD? Surely in a review of the SSD it's that boot time which matters?
I'm sure many of us would appreciate knowing the improvement in boot speed as something we can better relate to. Max read/write speeds are interesting and all, but since most desktops don't spend their days transferring around large files in the foreground but manipulating small files in the background there has to be something said about how the SSD improves speed in those normal applications.
annoying part ...
... is that the current price of C300 (previous "generation" or perhaps only firmware) is above same capacity M4. And here I was hoping C300 would quickly drop in price
To digress slightly - how do I tell what my system supports as far as SATA 1/2/3? Or even EIDE - I really don't know when the latter was dropped. I'd hate to buy something and find it doesn't fit! I'm pretty sure I'm on SATA of some sort on my 2-3 year old PC but beyond that Device Manager isn't helping me.
SATA is backwards compatible, so even if you're on SATA1, a SATA 2 etc. drive will work.
How to tell?
To identify if your drives are SATA or IDE open up the box and look at the cables connecting your drive to the motherboard. SATA ones are a LOT slimmer, and the connectors a similar size to USB, whereas IDE connectors are about 6cm wide.
As to the speeds, the SATA types are backwards compatible, so if you plug in an SSD you'll still see a performance improvement, just you won't be getting the full benefit of what the drive can do.
If you're asking this question though I'd also ask what OS are you using? To see the full benefit of an SSD you really need to be using an OS less that 3 years old or so.
I put a C300 in my old desktop a year or so ago, which runs on a low-power AMD Athlon 64 laptop CPU @ 2GHz. The box runs fine, and I only remember it's a weedy chip when I rip the occasional DVD...
Smaller sizes = Slower writes
Please note that the 64GB versions of these drives can only write at 'up to' ~95MB/sec, it's always difficult to find decent reviews and 4k random write speeds of the smaller sized SSD's.
48 sec to boot?
you make it sound as if that's 48 minutes. What will you ever do with those extra seconds saved that the SSD may or may not provide?
People expect instant-on, these days.
That's progress, like it or not. Or are you still on dial-up?
I want to see more hybrid drives with larger SSD based caches. For my work a large internal HD is important. I currently run one of the 512gb Seagate hybrids. The performance increase for apps you open every day is huge and for only a little more than a traditional platter drive. It's not as fast as a pure SSD but it's very respectable for stuff like OS boots and opening Final Cut Pro. From the tests I did (from memory) starting Final Cut Pro (plug ins and all) took about 50 seconds on the old platter HD, but now takes under 20 seconds. No doubt an SSD could do it in in 10 seconds, but the cost!
So I'd like to see larger SSD caches on these drives as they seem to do a good job.
I have 120GB SSD's in all the workstations at work
They are the biggest performance increase you can give an old-ish machine, new machines just fly with them, no long shutdowns and start-ups. The users couldn't believe the boot up times.
People get straight to work, no twiddling thumbs or going for a walk, multiply all those saved minutes across the workforce over a year and they definitely pay for themselves.