Crucial BX100 500GB Review (Page 2 of 10)

Page 2 - A Closer Look, Test System

The Crucial BX100 500GB is based on Silicon Motion's SM2246EN controller. But before we dig down into the ever so important technical details, let us briefly discuss the physical attributes of the SSD first. The Crucial BX100 500GB has a very simple appearance -- a plain silver aluminum cover with a sticker in the middle. Unlike the Crucial MX100 256GB we have reviewed back in December, this is actually the top of the drive, just like how it should be conventionally. The label on top of the metal enclosure has the same design as the product packaging, which features blue gradient background is blended in with wave stream pattern. Meanwhile, the outline of the letters "BX" are horizontally oriented in the background to give the overall design a bit of visual style. We can see Crucial's logo and "2.5-inch Solid State Drive" printed on a strip across the design, so one will make no mistake what this device is. Measuring in at about 100 mm x 70 mm x 7.0 mm, its thickness -- or lack thereof -- will ensure wide compatibility. If, for some reason, a full 9.5 mm is needed for installation, a rubber spacer is included out of the box.

Turning the SSD around reveals a flat metal backplate. This is something users will come to expect from a solid state drive, as there are no exposed printed circuit boards like you would normally see with a traditional hard disk. The only thing that is common between the Crucial BX100 500GB SSD and a traditional hard disk drive is its SATA 6Gb/s and corresponding power connector at the end. As shown in our photo above, there is no warranty seal anywhere. In fact, it is not even held together by any screws. There are no user serviceable parts inside, but if you ever want to take a look inside, all you need to do is to give the edges a quick pry, and you will be on your way in no time.

Moving on, the Crucial BX100 500GB's shell is attached to the aluminum backplate by friction clips only. As aforementioned, a quick pry, and you will be well on your way inside. No screws, no warranty seals; nothing. In case you are uncomfortable with taking apart your brand new SSD, to save you some trouble, I cracked mine open to take some photos of its internals for you to see. Judging by dozens of SSDs we have opened up in the past, we have exactly what the doctor ordered once again: A full sized PCB inside. The heart of Crucial's BX100 500GB is the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller, with a piece of thermally conductive tape between it and the enclosure. The PCB itself is held secure to the shell by more friction clips. As the drive controller is fundamentally very important to any SSD, let us dig more into the details of its brain.

The Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller is a four channel SATA 6Gb/s chip, and is compatible with SLC, MLC, and TLC flash ICs. If the Silicon Motion name does not sound familiar to you, a quick search on APH Networks indicates we go way back to the days of the original Asus Eee PC equipped with a 4GB Silicon Motion SSD. Yes, you have read that right -- a 4GB SSD. That aside, the BX100 was developed in close collaboration with Silicon Motion, and the result is a custom firmware from Crucial. From a hardware perspective, the BX100 is TCG Opal compliant with AES 256-bit support, but hardware encryption is disabled, since this is a value oriented product. Enabling hardware encryption will require additional validation from the manufacturer, and from a marketing perspective, this is something saved for the somewhat higher end MX series drives instead.

Device sleep, SLC caching, RAID-like internal protection, and thermal protection are other features unavailable on the budget minded BX100. However, you will still get the usual list of traditional features on a solid state drive for the past few years. This includes a temperature sensor, TRIM, active garbage collection, and power loss protection to prevent data corruption in case of sudden power losses.

Rated at 535MB/s read, 450MB/s write, and up to 90,000 IOPS over SATA 6Gb/s, these figures are very respectable for a $190 drive with 500GB capacity. It is certainly not the fastest drive in the world; nor was it meant to be. To see how it translates to numbers in our benchmarks, we will pit them against all the drives we have tested in the past to see how this new budget drive from Crucial steps up against SandForce, Indilinx, Marvell, and Phison based drives in the next seven pages or so.

Of course, the part that really stands out about the Crucial BX100 500GB is its low cost flash memory ICs. A total of sixteen NAND flash chips are found on the Crucial BX100 500GB solid state disk, with eight on each side. The chips used are Micron's own MT29F512G08CMCCBH7 (FBGA code NW744) NAND flash memory, with a capacity of 16GB per integrated circuit chip. These are multi-level cells manufactured on the 16nm fabrication process, which are exclusive to Micron at press time. Its rated write endurance is 72TB, which equates to 40GB per day for five years. 12GB out of the 512GB total capacity (Just under 3%) is provisioned for the drive controller for overhead, so the actual usable space is 500GB, as advertised. You will see 465GB in Windows. One Micron MT41K256M16HA-125 (FBGA code D9QLJ) 512MB DDR3L-1600 chip is present; it is used by the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller for system memory.

Our test configuration is as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K @ 4.6GHz
CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U14S (2x Noctua NF-A15)
Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
RAM: Kingston HyperX Savage HX324C11SRK2/16 2x8GB
Graphics: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 760 2GB
Chassis: SilverStone Temjin TJ04-E (Noctua NF-S12A PWM, Noctua NF-P12 PWM)
Storage: SanDisk Extreme II 240GB; OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB
Power: PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk III 1200W
Sound: Auzentech X-Fi Bravura
Optical Drive: LiteOn iHAS224-06 24X DVD Writer
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional

Compared Hardware:
- Crucial BX100 500GB
- Crucial MX100 256GB
- G.Skill Phoenix EVO 115GB
- Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB
- Kingston HyperX 120GB
- Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe 480GB
- Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB
- 2x Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB RAID 0
- OCZ ARC 100 240GB
- OCZ Agility 3 240GB
- OCZ Agility 4 256GB
- OCZ Octane 512GB
- OCZ RevoDrive 350 480GB
- OCZ Vector 150 240GB
- OCZ Vector 180 240GB
- OCZ Vector 256GB
- OCZ Vertex 2 160GB 25nm
- OCZ Vertex 2 60GB 34nm
- OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB
- OCZ Vertex 3.20 240GB
- OCZ Vertex 4 256GB
- OCZ Vertex 450 256GB
- OCZ Vertex 460 240GB
- Patriot Blaze 240GB
- Patriot Pyro 120GB
- Patriot Pyro SE 240GB
- SanDisk Extreme II 240GB
- SanDisk Extreme PRO 480GB
- SanDisk Ultra II 240GB
- Silicon Power Slim S80 240GB

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look, Test System
3. Benchmark: AIDA64 Disk Benchmark
4. Benchmark: ATTO Disk Benchmark
5. Benchmark: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0
6. Benchmark: HD Tach
7. Benchmark: HD Tune Pro 4.60
8. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 8.0
9. Benchmark: PCMark Vantage
10. Conclusion