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Appeared on: Friday, July 02, 2010
Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB review


1. Features

Today we have in our labs Crucial's latest mid-range addition to its C300 series of Solid State Drives (SSD). The Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB is offering a capacity of 64GB and it is also comparatively cheap. The new drive could attract many enthusiasts looking for a super-speedy boot drive.

The new 2.5-inch Crucial RealSSD C300 drive promises mobile and desktop users fast read speeds of up to 355MB/s.

The 64GB C300 is built on the same platform (NAND design and controller) as the company's initial 128GB and 256GB C300 capacities, and the target applications are the same—notebook/desktop computers.  The drive is designed and optimized for these personal computing applications, however; Crucial have seen a good level of interest in the 64GB capacity from the industrial/embedded market as well as the server space. The drive is priced at $150 (including VAT). As a result, the the dollars per gigabyte and relative performance of the drive are well suited for these types of applications.

The 64GB C300 ships with all the features associated with the C300 line. It has been designed with high-speed synchronous MLC NAND, advanced controller technology (Marvell 88SS9174-BJP2 controller), optimized NAND management, and have a SATA 6Gb/s interface. The NAND chips (16 in total) are manufactured by IMFT, a collaboration between Intel and Micron, and are based on 34nm NAND. All these contribute to improved data transfers for bandwidth-demanding applications like audio and video.

The improvement in boot time and application load times push performance to new levels at the desktop too. The drive is offering improvement across a variety of common tasks such as viewing and editing photos, video, music and other media, gaming, and communications.

Last but not least, the Crucial RealSSD C300 series employ a standard hard drive interface and dimensions, so it is an easy storage upgrade for most notebooks.

- Features


2. The drive

The Crucial RealSSD 64GB SSD (CTFDDAC064MAG-1G1) is aggressively priced at ~ $150. The price is really good for everyone compared with other SSD of the market. On the other hand, the drive is backed by a 3-year limited warranty, which is lower than what other companies offer for their SSD (OCZ, PatriotMemory).

The device retails in a small and stylish package as you can see below. It's front size is simple enough and provides the basic information about the product. More information is available at the rear side of the box, where the the full specifications of the SSD are listed.

The SSD is placed into an anti- static bag. The package also includes manual with only basic information.

The Crucial RealSSD 64GB has the typical dimensions of a 2.5" drive and weights 90 grams.

The sticker on the bottom side of the SSD includes information about the product and its firmware revision (Ver.0002).

The SSD is compatible with SATA 6GB, 3GB and 1.5GB/s interfaces. The certified 355MB/sec is only achieved when the drive is connected to the 6GB port, which is only found in the latest motherboards or extra PCI-e slot cards:


3. Benchmarks - page 1

- Testbed

We test the SSD in the following testbed

Since we haven't installed the operating system to the Crucial SSD, no optimizations were necessay.We made sure that "enable advanced performance" checkbox was ticked (Control Panel-- Device Manager) before performing any test. Below you can see the benchmarking software we used for the tests:

We connected the SSD to a SATA 2 3GB/s port, since out motherboard did not provide a SATA 2 6GB/s interface. If you are also not having a SATA 2 6GB/s motherboard, you can simply use a PCI-e SATA2 6GB/sec card, such as the Highpoint Rocket 620 LF or the Asus U3S6 PCI models. This will allow you to achieve the drive's nominal maximum read/write speeds (355MB/sec).

In addition, its advised to switch the SATA mode from IDE to AHCI, in order to get better performance. Changing from from IDE to AHCI mode is simple: just run this reg file and after reboot and then install Intel's RST v9.6.0.1014 (Intel RAID driver) even if your SSD drive is not connected in a RAID configuration. The Intel RAID driver supports the TRIM commands. The system will also work just fine using Microsoft's standard drivers, reports indicate that the latest Intel 9.6 driver pack offers an even greater performance.

After installation, we run the CrystalDiskInfo utility software, which monitors the installed SDD. As you can see in the screen shot below, the C300 -CTFDDA064MAG SSD Ver.0002 supports the S.M.A.R.T, 48-bit LBA, APM, NCQ and TRIM features:

We start the tests with the HDTachRW software. HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices

The trial version of HD Tach measures the sequential read speed (at various points on the device), the random access speed and sequential write speed. We selected the full benchmark.

The drive's reading and writing performance is linear. The reported average reading speed was 246.9 MB/sec under SATA IDE mode and 250.4 MB/sec under SATA AHCI mode. The writing test showed a 81.9 MB/sec and a 80.3 MB/sec for each mode, respectively. The SATA 2 port was maxed out at a burst speed of 267.3MB/sec:

The HD Tune Pro software is also a utility we used to measure the drive's reading performance. The average sequential reading performance of the Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB was 234.3 MB/s for the IDE mode and a little bit higher for the AHCI mode (237.8 MB/s):

We used the same software in order to measure the drive's random reading performance. Again, the results are great, especially under the SATA AHCI mode:

Let's see now the writing performance of the drive. Using the HD Tune Pro, we confirmed a 76.9MB/sec result for the sequential writing task for both IDE and AHCI modes:

The random write tests seems to be slightly benefited from the IDE mode:


4. Benchmarks - page 2

The next benchmark is the CrystalDiskMark. The software provides throughput data based on sequential reads and writes, and random (512K/4K/4KQD32) reads and writes. We've used the default 1,000MB file-size for the tests.

The CrystalDiskMark gave an even higher performance, especially for the random 4K QD32 test:

The AS SSD Benchmark also provides sequential and random read/write tests, as well as other useful information about the drive's access times.

You can see the results in the below screen shots. Again the SATA AHCI mode seems to offer a better performance than the SATA IDE mode:

The next software we used was the ATTO Disk Benchmark. The tool measures storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes:

Iometer is run by using workstation and database patterns for queue depths (outstanding I/Os) of two and 32, representing very light and moderate loads. Iometer is both a workload generator (that is, it performs I/O operations in order to stress the system) and a measurement tool (that is, it examines and records the performance of its I/O operations and their impact on the system). It can be used for measurement of the performance of an SSD.

We run the IOMeter tests using the Xtreme Benchmark template. Here are the results:

Compared with previous SSD we have tested in the past, the Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB is significantly faster, producing an IOPS rating of 4942.50 - is decent for a s$150 drive. In addition, the SSD has lower I/O response times:


5. Final words

The Crucial RealSSD 64GB drive showed a satisfactory performance in all our benchmarks. The product offers very high reading speeds, which will reach the 355MB/sec in a best-case scenario, if you are using a SATA2 6GB/sec capable motherboard or have a corresponding add-on PCI card on-board. All those who stick with the 3GB/sec SATA2 motherboards will still enjoy a 260~280MB/sec speed for reading but they will be limited to 75~80MB/sec for writing. Even this performance should be very acceptable if you consider that this product retails for just $150. The drive's average writing speed is not ideal but also isn't a huge letdown, because most consumers' usage pattern is based on reads more than writes.

Putting two of these drives in a RAID configuration would give very nice numbers, if you ask me.

The drive also supports TRIM commands under Windows 7. So far Crucial doesn't offer an utility to manually keep your SSD "clean" of garbage - a very useful option for older OS such as Windows XP. Maybe this operation is done automatically by the drive's firmware, but we are not very sure about this.

If we had to list one negative, that would be the limited 3-year warranty for the drive, while other companies offer up to 10 years for their SSD adding buying confidence.

 

Even SSDs have been available at the market for quite some time now, their prices have remained high compared to HDDs. For example, Crucial's 256GB version of the RealSSD series retails for more than $700! But at the same time, you will pay just $2.2 per GB for Crucial's latest RealSSD 64GB, which is obviously a good bet for SSD storage. From that point of view, we have no reason not to suggest this product for everyone who needs an SSD with a capacity high enough to store an operating system, commonly-used programs, being fast enough as a boot drive, and of course it is properly-priced.

As we previously mentioned the 64GB drive is not offering a blazing writing performance. But if you need a quality SSD boot drive and aren't planning on writing huge amounts of data to it on a regular basis, the Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB is recommended.

Positive

+ Very high reading up to 355MB/sec when used with SATA2 6GB/sec port
+ Great retail price for such high reading speeds
+ Drive worked great during our benchmarks
+ Supports the TRIM command
+ 3 years of warranty
+ Active forum community

Negative

- Competitors offers more years of warranty
- Writing speeds are limited to ~75-80MB/sec
- Retail package is bare, no desktop mount or cables



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