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VINE VOICEon 1 June 2011
I picked up one of these a few days ago to complement a newer Sandy Bridge setup. For no reason I could ever figure out, my boot times were terrible with the motherboard (an Asus P8P67 Pro) using a conventional HD - on the order of 3 minutes from cold until the PC was responsive. Connected to a SATA-3 controller, this SSD reduced my boot time to around 35 seconds, and, once the desktop appears, the PC is fully responsive to whatever you want to do. It sounds obvious, but the main thing that differentiates SSDs from conventional HDs is this "snappiness" factor - seek times are completely flat, thus, the only delay is actually transferring data off the drive to RAM for CPU operations (and this drive is capable of >400 megabyte per second bursts). The drive is also completely silent, and it's slightly weird not to hear the usual HD ticking & clicking. You may also need a 3.5" drive bay adapter; physically, the drive is about 50% bigger than a credit card and very light - alternatively, I have seen these drives held in place by double-sided tape - with no moving parts, you can pretty much put them anywhere the data and power cables will stretch. Also, a side effect of the "solid state" part of the drive is that it is largely unaffected by any movements or accidental drops - anything that doesn't destroy the casing will leave the drive completely unaffected - the interior is largely the same as a USB flash drive, but with larger capacity chips and a small controller.

I initially had some trouble with the drive (some stuttering and pausing) after installing Windows7 then Intel's RST drivers (the drive is connected to an Intel ICH9 port), and decided that a re-format would be my best option to completely get rid of the Intel drivers. When installing Windows only takes 12 minutes - and at that, you're largely limited to your DVD drive's transfer rate more than anything else, it's no longer a chore, and using Win7's built-in ACHI drivers fixed the problem completely.

There's also a little more to installing one of these compared with a standard HD. You should connect it to a SATA-3 drive port to get best performance (although it will remain very fast if you're using a SATA-2 port on older motherboards). You also need to run the Windows Experience Index in Windows7 (and in fact, use Windows7 too, since it contains drive control commands optimised for SSDs not found in older versions of Windows). When Windows has run the Windows Experience Index, it will fully recognise the drive as an SSD and automatically disable some scheduled processes like defragmentation etc. Lastly you can check your speeds are what they should be with e.g. AS SSD Benchmark - sequential reads should be over 300 or 400 megabytes per second depending on the controller you're using, and if so, you're good to go.

Obviously, the downsides to this drive are the high cost and relatively small capacity; at 120GB after formatting, a default installation of Windows7 itself will immediately eat another 17GB or so, so you're basically looking at 100GB all told once you're set up. While smaller applications like web-browsers etc. load more or less instantly now, more extensive applications show less benefit - e.g. a modern multi-gigabyte game will only show speed differences of a couple of seconds. In all, it's a mixed bag, but, I could see myself abandoning conventional HDs in the future as prices come down over time. If you need very large quantities of storage space, you won't want to use these, but 100GB is minimally useful for a working system plus a few apps. And of course, you can continue to use any existing HDs you have for secondary storage.

EDIT : Been running this drive for slightly over a year now with no real ill effects, although I am finding the 128gb quite cramped now with the addition of a Dropbox account (weirdly, even though the Dropbox folder is on another, larger drive). A minor speed-bump was the firmware update Crucial sent out late last year where unless installed, the drive would reboot itself after (x) thousand hours of use. As a bonus, however, once you have the update installed, you get an extra 100mb/sec speed boost, so it's not all bad - although the bug would effectively prevent you from using your PC for more than an hour at a time.

Since I bought this, prices have roughly halved, and I'm strongly considering getting another one of these in the 256GB flavour to complement the existing one.
1616 comments|166 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 August 2012
This works very well with my MacBook Pro (15 inch early 2011). However it is necessary to install a firmware update (see instructions below) in order for the SSD to work. Once installed I noticed a dramatic speed improvement. Did a fresh install of Mountain Lion and it's like a new laptop!

Instructions for MacBook Pro (early 2011):

1) Backup your files to an external hard drive with Time Machine.

2) Go to the Crucial website and download the latest firmware (as of writing version 000F). This consists of a .iso and a .pdf guide.

3) Burn the iso to a black CD or DVD using Disk Utility. (The USB option did NOT work for me!). There's plenty of guides/videos on how to burn an .iso if you search the web.

4) Two options at this point: a) Create a bootable OS X install USB so that you can install an operating system on the SSD once it's installed or b) use your Time Machine backup to copy your files to your new SSD. I'll follow option a).

5) Insert the firmware DVD/CD into your Macbook and shut it down. Open it up and remove your current hard drive. Replace it with the SSD and screw everything back in place (again there's plenty of excellent videos online if you're unsure...)

6) Turn on your MacBook. I didn't have to press anything. After about 30 seconds the firmware updater presented itself. You'll be prompted for a 'yes' or 'no'. Type 'yes' and hit enter. After another minute or so the firmware will be updated.

7) Hold the power button to switch off your MacBook. Insert your OS X install USB stick. Power up your MacBook while holding the option key. Select the OS X installer.

8) Once you've booted into the USB installer you'll be presented with a menu. Select Disk Utility. If everything has gone according to plan you should see your new SSD drive in the menu. Reformat it to Mac OS (Journaled). Exit Disk Utility and from the menu you can now select Install OS X. Choose this and select your SSD for installation.

Additional options:

At this point you might want to invest in a special hard drive caddy that allows your to replace the internal DVD drive with a second hard drive. I bought the brainy deal version for about £12 on amazon. If you want to use this open up your MacBook again. Unscrew the DVD drive and replace it with your the hard drive caddy containing your original HD (again plenty of good guides online..). With this setup you have the speed of an SSD and the larger storage capacity of hard drive. Obviously install the system and apps on the SSD. Larger downloads, movies, or backups can be placed on your second hard drive.

Enjoy!
33 comments|48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 December 2011
I use my PC mainly for gaming (racing/simulator), photo processing, video creation, working on documents, entertainment (music and videos) and internet browsing.
Before the Crucial M4, my PC configuration (based on a P55 chipset) looked something like this: Windows 7 64-bit, Processor: i5-760 (@ 2.8 Ghz), 8 GB RAM, 2xGTX 460 (in SLI), 1 TB HDD.

My choice for the HDD (spinning at 5400 rpm) wasn't the wisest and I could see how much it affected my system's overall performance. Adding a SSD-HDD was really the only way I could maximise the potential of my system.

I've been watching the evolution of the SSDs from the the past couple of years. Apart from the prices, (earlier) firmware issues kept me from investing in a SSD-HDD.
However, as the performance of the SSDs had started to become more stable (compared to earlier), I thought it was the right moment to start looking for something to upgrade my system with.

Since the SSD will be used as a system drive (OS+programs and the current game that I'm playing), a 120/128 GB SSD-HDD was my target.
My criteria for selection were:
1. Performance on SATA III (6 Gbps) - although my system supports only SATA II, I wanted something that was 'future-proof'
2. Performance on SATA II (3 Gbps) - this was a critical point for selection
3. Reliability - many 'performance oriented' SSDs have the reliability of a leaking boat. I wanted something that had a proven track-record for reliability
4. Performance per $
5. Cost per GB

It took me almost two weeks to gather enough information about all the SSDs in the market and check if they met my criteria.
Many SSDs failed to meet criterion #2, which shortened my list to about 5 names.

The controller on the SSDs impacts the performance and also the reliability of a SSD. Sandforce controller based SSDs show better performance, but reliability differs from SSD manufacturer to manufacturer.

I was left with 2 names in the end: Mushkin Chronos Deluxe and Crucial M4.

The ultimate winner for me was the Crucial M4 for the following reasons:
1. Performance on SATAIII may not be the best, but with the 0009 firmware update, performance levels are right amongst the top Sandforce controller based SSDs.
2. Crucial M4 SSD drives have shown the least percentage performance drop when operating on SATAII. The Sandforce controller based drives, except the Mushkin Chronos Deluxe, are hit badly.
3. In terms of reliability, only Intel, Mushkin and Crucial have shown sustained stable results.
4. Crucial M4 ranks amongst the top SSDs for performance per $. It is only bettered by its older sibling the C300.
5. Crucial's SSDs have by far the best (or almost the best) cost per GB over the entire range of SSDs offered by any manufacturer.
6. Availability of Crucial M4 drives is better than Mushkin Chronos Deluxe.

Migrating my system drive (C:) from my old HDD to the Crucial M4 with a $19.95 software made a big mess. After migration, the SSD drive was not configured for optimum performance and after 3 re-boots, my geniune Windows 7 got invalidated. This forced me to take the much preferred route of a fresh install.
Doing a fresh install (or reinstall) in the past was always a daunting task taking me sometimes up to 2 days to set up my PC right - with all required programs, settings etc. This incredible drive shrunk that time to 4 hours!!!
The performance after the fresh install also improved significantly. The AS-SSD score went from 365 (post-migration) to 515 (fresh-install) - not bad for a SATAII.

To summarise, metaphorically, the addition of the Crucial M4 128 GB to my system is like the BMW M5. It is one of the best 'track-day' weapons, and it also seats 5 persons!
Kudos to Crucial for a great product!
1414 comments|88 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 October 2011
I got this to coincide with my intention to do a fresh install of Windows 7. I had originally upgraded to Windows 7 from Vista. This worked OK but then I upgraded again from Windows 7 32 bit to 64 bit and had all sorts of problems with the PC not seeing all my RAM and it kept crashing. I therefore decided I would buy an SSD and load Windows 7 64 bit onto it as a clean, new installation. Physically installing the SSD was simple with an adaptor tray to make use of a spare 3.5" bay. I disconnected all my SATA HDDs so only the SSD was connected. I connected it to a SATA 3 socket, ensuring I used the correct cable that had been supplied with my motherboard (no cables supplied with the SSD). I put the Windows 7 64 bit disc in a DVD drive, ensured the boot sequence was set to the DVD drive and the Hard drive type was changed from IDE in BIOS, and booted up. The installation began OK but when it asked to choose a drive to install the operating system, there were none present. Clearly the SSD wasn't formatted and there was nothing in the included instructions to suggest this. I therefore connected the HDD with Win 7 still on it, changed the boot sequence and switched on again. The intention being to use Win 7 to format the SDD, however when Win7 booted up it couldn't see the SSD either! I tried all sorts but in the end I temporarily connected the SSD to a SATA 2 socket. Win 7 then saw it so I formatted it, reconnected it to the SATA 3 socket and checked Win 7 could still see it and it could. I then reset the boot sequence, disconnected my old HDD again and booted to the Win 7 disc. This time it saw the SSD and the installation was completed. I've now reconnected all my HDDs and restricted what I've loaded to the SSD to just those applications where I need speed. The PC is running reliably without crashing and it's seeing all 8Mb of RAM. The main observation is the speed of boot up. Overall I'm very pleased with the performance and my only criticism is the lack of information included with the SSD. Crucial seem to assume these drives will only be installed by experts!
66 comments|35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The Crucial M4 is 128GB solid state drive. These drives use a technology akin to that used in flash drives , and seen in the likes of tablets and smart phones, to provide a slim, cool and fast performing storage device for your system.

I'd be thinking about getting one of these for ages as my 1.5 TB Hard Disk Drive had become extremely slow and no amount of defrags and optimisation could improve it that much. I'd tried an alternative 1TB drive but still had very slow times between turning on, logging in and eventually loading my desktop so I could work.

I was aware that SSD's can greatly improve performance but was concerned that they are know to have a shorter life than HDD's and that they won't slowly degrade like an HDD but just stop working (rather than gradually giving bad sectors as Hard Disks tend to).

I took the plunge though and I'm very glad I did, my boot times have improved from several minutes to under a minute even with my system now fully loaded with all my services and the system is extremely nippy now.

It's worth noting that these drives are 2.5" laptop sized. If you want to install them in a desktop then an adaptor like this allows you to attach them Akasa AK-HDA-03 2.5-3.5 inch SSD/HDD Adapter.

Installation was easy. I plugged the drive into the adapter bay and easily slotted this into my tower. I then plugged this into a spare sata port (my P55 mother board has sata 2 so I'm testing at a slower rate than those with sata 3 will get and still very impressed). Following that I booted and went into my BIOS set-up to tell the system this was my primary HDD and to set my boot order. Following that I put Windows 7 in my DVD drive, started the boot process and carried out the installation. A frresh install is required rather than copying an image from and old HDD as Windows 7 will optimise itself for an SSD and you always get a better and fresh performance when performing a clean build.

The biggest bottleneck to performance on my system was the HDD, and it will be for a lot of people. The temptation can be to buy a new motherboard or CPU but it's often the case that these may well handle everything you need perfectly fast but are being hamstrung by a slow old mechanical drive. This is an upgrade that can affordably transform a system.

A couple of things worth noting though: These drives have a limited life and tend to be expensive compared to an HDD and they are best used in conjunction with an HDD. What I've done is set this as my systems drive for windows but kept my HDD and used it to hold all of my user libraries and have also installed several programs onto it, plus i've put my steam library on there. That way the majority of dynamic and frequantly changing high volume stuff can sit on the HDD whilst the SSD handles the task of running the OS itself. This should ensure a balance of performance and system life and the system still runs very quickly. This also means this drive is still two thirds empty , thus ensuring plenty of spare capacity and hopefully life.

Knowing the drives are more vulnerable I'd also advise taking regular image backups in case you need to quickly rebuild your system following failure. I've also kept win 7 on my other HDD so that I can always boot from it when I need to.

Overall though I'm very impressd with this drive. A big boost to my system for a reasonable price.

[edit]

After a few months of good performance and no problems I ran into problems with this drive. Googling around I found these problems are very common. The drive can begin to randomly freeze and completely freeze windows. Once this happens you are forced to power reset and will find the drive is missing from your bios.

In order to find your drive again you need a power cycle. To do this, boot the machine into your bios and leave it for 20 minutes, reset the machine and repeat, the drive will then reappear. This has worked for me.

In order to prevent the freezing it is suggested you update your firmware, but this doesn't always work. The following was another suggestion from Crucial themselves:

"The behaviour you are describing is consistent with deleted cells not being cleaned from your drive. This can result in reduced performance or even complete lack of response from the SSD.

There is a feature built into our SSDs called Active Garbage Collection. Letting Active Garbage Collection run on the drive for an extended period will clean these cells and restore the SSD to a healthy state.

To do this on your PC or Laptop, you will need to let the SSD idle for 6 to 8 hours.

In a PC, simply disconnect the SATA cable from your SSD and only leave the power cable connected. After switching your PC on, the SSD will be in an idle state but still have power so Garbage Collection can function. Leave the PC powered for the 6-8 hours.

In a laptop, power on with the SSD installed and enter your system BIOS (please refer to your system manufacturer's documentation on how to access the BIOS.) Leave the laptop in the BIOS menu for the 6-8 hours.

Following this process, your drives functionality and performance should be restored.

To prevent the SSD performance degrading again, you can make adjustments to your power settings:

- Go to Control Panel
- Go to Hardware and Sound
- Go to Power Options
- Select Change Plan Settings
- Select Change Advanced Settings
- Make sure the 'hard disk' field is set to `never' (Laptop users select 'battery and power adapter'). "

Hope this helps if you experience this.
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on 10 September 2011
I received this product quickly and well packed. It was fitted to a MacPro with an OCZ 2.5 mounting bracket. This was not fitted in a HD bay, but in the optical drive bay, allowing me to reserve the HD spaces for future conventional HDs for storage. Due to the size of the SSD. It will be possible to fit two more of these SSDs if required into the Optical drive bay. This bay slides out of the MacPro and with cable extensions allows plenty of space for extra SSDs.(one extra hole for screw to be drilled) As with the Mac OS, I used the Disc Utility to restore Snow Leopard across to the SSD in minutes, it was up and running. I am using this drive for a Flight Simulator program. This gives rapid loading of scenery to the graphics card, which in turn takes the jerkiness off the screens when you go from one area tile to another. The booting up is very quick and with a small trim enabler program for Mac OS installed, stops the SSD clogging up with deleted programs.
Now that the SSDs are dropping in price, they are strongly recommended for heavy action progs, such as games, video editing,
flight simulation etc.
Crucial have a good reputation in Their field of memory products, giving a good support service. Since I installed this SSD, I have as yet, not given the SSD a second thought, just used it.
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on 9 February 2013
Great SSD - as any, transforms PC experience into a pleasure.
14 sec Windows 7 boot times, instant launch of the apps and access to any data, insanely fast internal transfers when muxing.

512 GB capacity means I can finally have all photos and Lightroom catalog on the laptop and still have enough space for games/apps and ~200GB spare capacity to make sure the firmware can cycle flash cells well and don't reduce its life.

1) General:
Build quality is excellent - as with all Crucial (Micron) SSDs and included data transfer kit makes the swap to a new drive a doddle.

2) Performance:

SATA 2 mode (SATA 3 Sony Vaio laptop - with SATA reduced to 2 by the BIOS)

Sequential:
Read: 262.6 Mb\sec
Write: 244.6 Mb\sec

Random 512K:
Read: 240.9 Mb\sec
Write: 235.8 Mb\sec

Random 4K:
Read: 17.87 Mb\sec
Write: 41.28 Mb\sec

SATA 3 mode (in my SATA 3 desktop)

Sequential:
Read: 418.3 Mb\sec
Write: 254.1 Mb\sec

Random 512K:
Read: 376.7 Mb\sec
Write: 252.3 Mb\sec

Random 4K:
Read: 21.18 Mb\sec
Write: 101.6 Mb\sec

Well deserved 5/5, recommended!
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on 26 February 2012
Crucial m4 2.5-inch (9.5mm) SSD

Release Date: 01/13/2012
Change Log:
Changes made in version 0009 (m4 can be updated to revision 0309 directly from either revision 0001, 0002, or 0009)
Correct a condition where an incorrect response to a SMART counter will cause the m4 drive to become unresponsive after 5184 hours of Power-on time. The drive will recover after a power cycle, however, this failure will repeat once per hour after reaching this point. The condition will allow the end user to successfully update firmware, and poses no risk to user or system data stored on the drive.
This firmware update is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for drives in the field. Although the failure mode due to the SMART Power On Hours counter poses no risk to saved user data, the failure mode can become repetitive, and pose a nuisance to the end user. If the end user has not yet observed this failure mode, this update is required to prevent it from happening.

[...]
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on 18 June 2012
I bought this SSD to replace a mechanical 5400rpm hard drive on a Dell Studio 1558 laptop. I'd wanted to get an SSD for a while but the cost per GB was too high so when I came on Amazon and saw this 128GB SSD for less than £90 I snapped it up! After having used the SSD for a few weeks now, the performance can be summed up in one word...WOW! My laptop was never a slow one, but now it just flies! Everything you do is just so quick. Windows 7 boots up in about 10 seconds and when I installed the Windows 8 release preview, that booted up in about 6 or 7 seconds. Once Windows has loaded, all applications load so fast, e.g. Office 2010 applications which load in about 1 second. I would recommend this SSD to anyone, my laptop only has SATA II but this drive also supports SATA III which would allow it to run even faster. If you're looking for a way to speed up a laptop or computer, this is definitely the upgrade to make. Once you've installed Windows 7, make sure TRIM is enabled and that Superfetch and Prefetch are disabled in Windows (A quick google search will show you how to do this) as SSD's are so fast that they don't require these.
Another benefit of the drive is that it is silent as there are no moving parts. I haven't noticed any battery life improvements but the drive doesn't get hot either so my laptop is cooler to the touch and more pleasant to use. Once you have used an SSD, you will never want to go back to using a hard disk as your main drive. So get this SSD and you won't regret it, once you've installed Windows for the first time, go to the Crucial website to update the drive's firmware which is a straightforward process to allow it to operate at its optimum.
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on 29 February 2012
I'm using this SSD for a dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04 system. I felt that 256GB was appropriate for a dual-boot system. 128GB might not be enough for all of your games and applications if you're going to dual boot.

The Windows partition currently has Photoshop CS5, Lightroom 3, Office 2010, Visual Studio 2010, Visual Studio 11, IntelliJ, PyCharm, Skyrim and Mass Effect 2 on it, and they run fast. Keep in mind that although bootup time is often brought up as a great feature of having SSDs, the real benefit is while running applications - you won't keep rebooting your machine all the time so boot speed should not matter much... but you do use applications constantly. And on this SSD, applications start and run faster and generally feel snappier, especially where disk operations are involved. Even the browser is faster because of the hundreds of small files it is accessing.

When setting up for the first time, I remembered to install Windows first. Install was fast, and right after, I disabled defragmenting as well as indexing services and superfetch.

When installing Ubuntu, I moved /tmp, /var and swap off to another partition. I kept everything else on the SSD itself, even /home. However, from /home, I created symbolic links to Videos, Pictures and Music, to the mechanical hard drive, since those folders would be way too large. This means that my /home as well as the thousands of files used by other applications in hidden folders would be accessible faster. I also changed fstab to use noatime,nodiratime,discard when mounting the SSD partition.

I also had a look at a lot of SSD tweaking advice and the problem is, some of them can go overboard in terms of telling you what NOT to have on the SSD. They'll tell you to get the SSD then move EVERYTHING off the SSD. There is no benefit in doing this and the 'life' that you are saving only really applies if you are a data center. You, as a home user, will be just fine keeping your main apps and data on the SSD. Just move the 'huge' stuff (your music and video collection) off.

As a developer, I'm enjoying this a lot now because all of my IDEs (PyCharm, VS, IntelliJ, Eclipse) are fast and snappy... they no longer feel like clunky dinosaurs and are suddenly a joy to work with.

Installation of both OSes posed no problems, both of them worked with the SSD perfectly. For best results, use this with a SATA6 controller on your motherboard and make sure that the SSD is plugged in to port 0.

You will also see that this product is often bought with a mounting bracket. It is not necessary. There are no moving parts in the SSD so you can do as I did and let the SSD hang at awkward angles inside the computer case. The SSD is small and really light so the SATA/power wires dictate where it'll go when given the freedom. If a bit of anxiety kicks in, use some tape or a rubber band. The only reason to get a bracket is for organization and cleanliness.

This SSD came with firmware version 0009. Upgrading to 0309, which is the latest at the time of writing, was easy - you get the ISO, burn it to a USB drive, reboot and run it. Done.

I wouldn't call this a must-have. Your computer is fine without it, and you are probably happy with your computer as it is right now. However, this is one of those things which, once you have experienced, you will not want to abandon. My future builds will now always include an SSD.
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