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Thread: Crucial MX500 m.2 1TB review

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    Crucial MX500 m.2 1TB review

    I recently decided to replace my crucial MX100 boot disk (as the old one was fast approaching its rated endurance), so here's what 4 years of improvements has done to SATA SSDs.

    The biggest difference between the two is the form factor - the MX100 is in the old 2.5" footprint, whereas I bought the M.2 MX500 (so I could avoid having to mess with my cable management while fitting it). It's amazing how compact modern flash drives are - a whole TB in something the size of my thumb! The drive itself was purchased from Novatech (they were the cheapest with stock at the time), and arrived pretty promptly. Here's what you get in the (easy to open) packaging:



    The drive itself (in the M.2 80mm long form, with chips on both sides), two tiny screws (I think these are for the M.2 mounting standoff, but my motherboard had one already that was left in the standoff out the factory. Including a spare standoff instead of the second screw would be more useful IMO), and a bit of paper telling you how to get a copy of Acronis True Image software (go to crucial.com/clone to download it, and make sure you've got your own crucial SSD installed when running the software). I didn't need the software as I was doing a complete reinstall of windows, but it should make it a doddle to upgrade a spinning rust drive to solid state.

    On the PCB is everything you'd expect:
    - a Silicon Motion controller (SM2258H).
    - 1GB of DDR3L SDRAM, in two 512MB chips (one on top, and one underneath). According to the code on the chips, they're part number MT41K256M16TW-107:'P - running at an effective 1.866 GHz and CL 13 timings, these should be good from 0C to 95C.
    - The 8 memory chips themselves (4 per side, therefore 128GB per chip). Their part number is MT29F1T08EMHAFJ4-3R:A, which isn't on Microns website yet. After formatting, and windows claiming their recovery partition, this offers 930GB of storage.
    - And an orange drive activity LED next to the M.2 mounting screw hole. It'd probably look really cool if this was underneath the drive giving a backlit effect, or if you could cycle through the full RGB gamut.

    The underside carries a white sticker listing the usual part numbers, while the top has a nice looking rubber-textured branded sticker. There appears to be a sliver of metal (possibly copper) in the core of the top sticker to aid in heat dissipation, whereas the underside sticker looks to be plain paper. I'll get onto whether this could work later in this review, but first some performance numbers:



    Looks like SATA SSD's are still SATA SSD's, with no major performance improvements. The Q1T1 read has greatly improved, at the expense of some Q32T1 read, and writes are a mixed bag - improvements in half of them, but worse off in the other half. Hexus have already reviewed these drives (MX100 here, and MX500 here) and those results are also very similar (with an identical score in PCmark8). The only real change is in rated endurance (from 80TBW to 360TBW, or 160 write/erase cycles to 360 on the latest drive) - and as my older drive is 92% worn out, this is a big benefit.


    The copper layer in the black sticker on top piqued my interest, so I decided to look deeper into how effective it could be. As part of my uni work I've got academic access to COMSOL Multiphysics 5.3, so out of academic interest I used that to analyse the thermal properties of the sticker. I carried out two analyses - one steady state, looking at the maximum heat that could be shed, and one time dependent looking at how fast the sticker would heat up.

    The sticker is 6.7 x 1.7 cm, with a 1.3 x 0.7 cm notch taken out from one corner (leaving a 1.3cm long tab to contact the SM controller). I'm not sure what the thickness of the copper layer was; I'd have to scrape the black topcoat and the adhesive off to get an accurate measurement so I assumed the copper was 0.1 mm thick (around the thickness of a sheet of paper). It's probably a bit thinner than this, and the coatings will increase the thermal resistance, so this analysis is a best-case scenario. The following parameters were used, along with default mesh settings:




    For the steady state simulation, I set the underside of the tab covering the SM controller to 80C (T_b) and set the other surfaces to conduct heat at 10 W/m^2.K out to the ambient of 25C (this is next to graphics cards, after all). The surface touching the memory chips was adiabatic, for this analysis I'm assuming the controller is the only significant source of heat. Here's the result:



    This was much better than I expected - the total heat shed was 0.45W. The bare chip should shed 0.055W, so that gives an effectiveness of 8 (and efficiency of 77%). This shows that the sticker is surprisingly useful, and greatly increases the power that can be fed into the controller.

    For the time-dependant simulation, I used a heat flux of 10 kW/m^2 from the chip (representing a 1W output over 1cm^2). Starting temp was 20C, and I let it run for 10s in 0.1s increments. What I'm interested in is how long it takes for the highest temp in the heatsink to hit 80C (where I'm assuming the chip would start to throttle).




    9.1s to heat up! That's a pretty big file transfer at SSD speeds. All in all, that smart looking sticker adds a lot of thermal mass to the system, and is surprisingly efficient at spreading the heat.

  2. Received thanks from:

    CAT-THE-FIFTH (22-06-2018),satrow (22-06-2018)

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    Re: Crucial MX500 m.2 1TB review

    Thanks for sharing that. It's a really detailed and well-written review. I was looking for a reliable SSD to upgrade my dad's laptop. I'll keep an eye on this one.

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