Crucial P1 500GB Review (Page 2 of 11)

Page 2 - A Closer Look, Test System

As you may have already gathered, the Crucial P1 500GB is in M.2 2280 size, which means it is 22mm by 80mm, hence its numerical designation. The Crucial P1 500GB uses the NVMe 1.3 logical device interface and plugs into compatible motherboards directly. Electrically, M.2 NVMe interfaces with PCIe 3.0. The Crucial P1 500GB uses four lanes for up to 4000MB/s of theoretical bandwidth in each direction. However, the rated speeds are not anywhere close to this theoretical output. Unsurprisingly, there is not much visual difference from this perspective compared to their P1 1TB, aside from the fact it shows the respective capacity on the label. The P1 500GB is assembled in Mexico.

On the underside of the Crucial P1 500GB, you will find no components to be interested in. A small label on the back of the drive shows a QR code and a small set of numbers and letters, presumably to identify the device. The rest of the board shows off just some possible placement for other chips on possibly larger configurations of the P1. There is supposed to be a P1 2TB model available in the future, which will populate these pads on the back. Otherwise, you can see the board comes in a mostly black color scheme with some white outlines for the components.

Peeling the top label back, we can see there are three major different components underneath. The first is a Silicon Motion SM2263. This controller is intended for the mainstream market with maximum advertised read and write speeds of 2400MB/s and 1700MB/s, respectively. The SM2263 was designed to support 3D NAND and includes Silicon Motion's NANDXtend ECC technology and low power consumption. According to Crucial, the rated power consumption is 0.02W idle and a maximum of 8W. Next, we have a Micron D9SHD memory module, which is 512MB of DDR3L memory. This maintains the standard 1 gigabyte DRAM per terabyte NAND ratio found in most solid state drives.

The other major component to take note of are the two NAND flash nearby. It is marked 'NW946'. According to the manufacturer, these are Micron 64-layer quad-level cell or QLC NAND flash chips. With some quick math, we can see that each of the NAND flash chips are 256GB in size, making up the approximate 500GB capacity together. In the Windows OS, you will see 465.75GB available for use. As we noted in our Crucial P1 1TB review, QLC is the newest developing of NAND flash, stacking four bits per cell, instead of single-level cell or SLC which only has one bit per cell. QLC is being developed and produced because it can potentially have a much lower price per gigabyte due to its denser nature. In addition, it can offer similar performance though caching. QLC relies heavily on the SLC write cache to keep faster speeds, which can vary depending on how full the drive is. On a nearly empty drive, the cache will be larger compared to when it is full, which should result in relatively fast performance.

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to quad-level cell NAND. For one, because there are more bits per cell, the endurance of the cells are much lower, which is known as a rated program/erase cycle. The P1 500GB rated write endurance is 100TB, which equates to over 54GB per day during the five years of warranty coverage. Crucial has offset this problem by offering only higher capacity drives with its lowest capacity at 500GB, but this should definitely be kept in mind if you write a lot to your drives. Users with a more server-like workload will probably want a drive with a higher endurance. Another point of contention with QLC NAND flash is performance when the drive starts filling up. Despite being denser, it takes longer to program a QLC block compared to other multiple-level cells like MLC or TLC because of the added steps required to ensure preexisting data is not affected by subsequent writes. We will see how all of these numbers translate into our benchmarks and performance, so let us carry on.

Our test configuration is as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i5-6600K
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5
RAM: Patriot Viper Elite PC4-24000 2x8GB
Graphics: EVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB
Chassis: NZXT H200i
Storage: Patriot Ignite 480GB
Power: Seasonic PRIME 600 Titanium Fanless 600W
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro

Compared Hardware:
- Crucial P1 500GB
- Crucial P1 1TB
- Gigabyte M.2 PCIe SSD 256GB
- Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe 480GB
- OCZ RD400A 512GB
- OCZ RevoDrive 350 480GB
- Patriot Hellfire M.2 240GB
- Toshiba RC100 240GB
- Western Digital Black NVMe SSD 1TB

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 6.0
6. Benchmark: HD Tach
7. Benchmark: HD Tune Pro 4.60
8. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 9.0
9. Benchmark: PCMark Vantage
10. Benchmark: PCMark 8
11. Conclusion