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Crucial M550 SSD review
Posted on 6-May-2014 14:08 by M Freitas | Tags Filed under: Reviews


Not too long ago the most touted upgrade for any PC was memory. Anyone running a PC on less than 4GB was quickly advised to bump up the memory - and for a while it did make things faster.At the same time OS developers did a great job of creating strategies to better utilise memory, move things around so there was a point where more memory didn't necessarily mean better performance.

Enter Solid State Drives (SSD), a storage device that uses memory chips to store information instead of magnetic recordings on a rotating platter as it is common in hard disk drives (HDD). SSD gives a host of benefits thanks to the way information is stored and retrieved.

For example on a HDD a magnetic head needs to align with a specific area of a spinning disc to be able to read from the device. This takes time. Also the information may be stored in non-sequential areas, which means the head needs to move from point to point adding to the time needed to retrieve information. With SSD data is stored in random locations but being a dynamic memory storage access is almost instantenous with same speeds regardless of location.

SSD prices have been declining while performance and capacity have going up. My first SSD was a Crucial C300 which I used to replace the HDD in my old desktop PC. That instantly boosted speed and overall experience.

Crucial has now released a new device, the Crucial M550 with promises of more speed and rich features. How does it perform?



To test this (and compare with my old C300 which is now a spare disk) I used my HP Gen8 Microserver running Windows Server 2012 R2 and a Crucial M550 256GB. On this server I have Seagate 4TB NAS drives, which I also used for comparison using a software to test read and write performance.

And here are the results:





As you can see the Crucial M550 outperforms the older Crucial C300 model and it speeds up ahead of traditional HDD devices in both MB/s (megabytes per second) and IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second).

In real world I decide to test a Hyper-V virtual machine running Windows 7 Pro with 4GB RAM using the same VHD stored on two different drives. Booting up the virtual machine from the SSD to the desktop took 13 seconds, while booting up the same virtual machine from the HDD took about 100% longer, with 26 seconds.

In terms of features the Crucial M550 comes witha very low power profile, meaning it uses less power and generates less heat than standard HDD. This means a laptop can last longer on batteries than it would with the mechanical device. According the Crucial website the M550 uses only 0.15 watts compared to 2.5 watts a standard HDD consumes. It also supports Device Sleep, which means it uses even less power when in sleep mode.

What really interested me its built-in support for Microsoft eDrive, or Encrypted Hard Drive. This means the drive comes with hardware-enabled encryption support and the operating system uses this to its advantage. When you enabled BitLocker on these devices all the cryptographic operations are performed at hardware level, instead of software, making all transparent and faster. In other words Windows itself doesn't need to perform the complicated mathematical operations to encrypt data, leaving this to the SSD itself, very much like it does for graphics when using GPUs and network data when using supported NICs.

I used windows BitLocker to encrypyt my M550 and tested booting the same virtual machine used in my previous tests, with no difference in time for boot, restart, read or write.

Overall an excellent addition to any enthusiast or for IT departments planning to deploy encrypted SSD with good OS support to boot (no pun intended).


More information: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=...




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