Let me introduce myself. I am a huge computer nerd. I have been dismantling computers from the age of 16, back when I got my first AMD K6 PC. After a week my Windows 98SE packed in, and because I had no money to pay a professional to fix it, I did the unthinkable and started tinkering with it myself. To my and everyone else's surprise, I fixed it, reinstalled the entire thing myself and a few years after at only 19 I was working as a professional IT technician, fixing other people's computers. Anyhow, I'm not going to bore you with the details of the last 9 years of my life, but I did want to make sure that you understand how this will not just be a user review, but a professional one as well.
About a year ago, I decided I wanted a powerful machine. Given the fact that AMD A10 processor laptops were either always out of stock, ridiculously expensive or installed into HP Pavilion laptops (do not ever buy an HP Pavilion!), I was compelled to become creative, ending up building my own desktop PC. A lot cheaper and a lot more powerful I might add. There was one thing "wrong" with it though. I installed a regular hard drive due to SSDs being still quite expensive. While otherwise my PC was a step away from being a ballistic rocket, the regular Western Digital 7200 rpm hard drive tended to slow things down more often than I could accept from such a powerful machine. However, about a week or so ago, I saw the prices drop sharply and I managed to get my hands on a Crucial M500 240GB SSD. Happy days!
General info: HDD vs SSD (why buy an SSD)
Before getting into the details of this specific SSD, I feel the need to provide a few basic details, namely differences between a regular hard drive (HDD) and a solid state drive (SSD). HDDs for desktops, are usually bigger than those for laptops, they mechanical moving parts inside and write/read data on/from disks, while using around 6-7 W/h. The speed at which these read and write data are generally low, so low in fact that they can slow down an otherwise extreme performance computer. SSDs on the other hand have none of these traits and defects. An SSD is practically a very fast internal thumb drive, just a bit bigger, but not bigger than a regular laptop drive, which means these are compatible with pretty much any computer out there. Having no mechanical parts inside, also results in less power consumption, namely 2-3 W/h. There is also zero noise, and much lower heat emission. My SSD is at this moment running at 23 C degrees. My old HDD on the other hand after the same amount of hours and demands, would run at about 50 C degrees. That's a lot of difference, if you ask me. SSDs are also shock resistant, and feed data a lot faster. Having no moving parts also means you can position it in any way you wish inside a desktop PC's case. To facilitate that, SSDs come with mounting holes on the two sides and the top (where the fancy label is applied too).
Now the Crucial M500 240GB (picture for some reason shows the insides of the SSD)
It comes in a nice thin square box. What you will find in the box is nothing more than the SSD wrapped and sealed into an anti-static bag, plus a free spacer if you wish to install it into a laptop (traditional laptop HDDs are a bit thicker so something needs to fill that gap). The drive itself is very light, you can hardly feel its weight. The build quality is great, all metal of course with a metallic gray finish. On the top side of the SSD you will find the fancy label with the big Crucial logo poking your eyes out, while on the bottom you'll see the less fancy one stating the rarely needed technical specs and other info. Mine is 240 GB one, which given the fact that I am not a gamer, gives me more than enough space for the operating system (Windows), the virtual operating system (Ubuntu Linux) and an entire separate partition for simple storage purposes. It does not come partitioned, and actual formatted space is less than 240 GB, it's around 224 GB. This is a SATA3 SSD which means that data transfer is extremely fast, but it's also backwards compatible with SATA2 and SATA1. Bare in mind though, that adding this SSD to a SATA2 or SATA1 motherboard will slow the drive down. It will still be faster than a regular HDD, but it will not work at its full potential.
Just how fast is this thing? Well, let me illustrate. My PC booted up and launched all needed programs:
- with regular HDD: 40s to boot + 10s to load desktop + 120s to load everything else on machine startup = 150s
- with SSD: 30s to boot + 2s to load desktop + 2s to load everything else on machine startup = 34s.
I believe this illustrated very well the speed differences between the two. Programs like Photoshop used to take around 10s to start, now they take around 3s. I would say all in all, my PC is now 3 to 4 times faster than it used to be. That's a whole lot of speed and difference for a mere £85 (on Amazon). Copying from one partition to another is up to 10 times faster. On top of that, there's an added bonus. With this SSD (and any other SSD for that matter) you can stop worrying about "defraging" your hard drive, in fact you should never do it. The Crucial M500 also supports hardware data encryption, which few people use, but there, you get it anyway. It comes with a 3 year limited warranty. Will it last that long? Yes, it will. Even if you write to it 40GB/day (highly unlikely), it should be as good as new for 5 years.
For those interested in more technical details:
Capacity (Unformatted): 240GB
Interface: SATA 6Gb/s (SATA 3GB/s compatible)
Sustained Sequential Read up to (128k transfer): 500MB/s
Sustained Sequential Write up to (128k transfer): 250MB/s
Random Read up to (4k transfer): 72,000 IOPS
Random Write up to (4k transfer): 60,000 IOPS
Form Factor: 2.5-inch, m-SATA, and M.2
NAND: 20nm Micron MLC NND
Life Expectancy: 1.2 million hours mean time to failure (MTTF)
Endurance: 72TB total bytes written (TBW), equal to 40GB per day for 5 years
Operating Temperature: 0°C to 70°C
Compliance: RoHS, CE, FCC, UL, BSMI, C-TICK, KCC RRL, W.E.E.E., TUV VCCI, IC
Firmware: Field upgradable firmware
Product Health Monitoring: Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) commands
All in all, it's a great little SSD. Worth every penny. My PC now is not just a ballistic rocket, it's a spaceship!