159 of 166 people found the following review helpful
Really fast, pretty small,
This review is from: Crucial CT128M4SSD2 128GB M4 SATA III 6Gb/s MLC 2.5 Inch Internal SSD (Personal Computers)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.
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Jun 2011 12:11:57 BDT
Thanks for your review!
I'm looking for a new SSD and I'm most interested in the Crucial M4. In my current setup I use a reasonable amount of applications and not more than two modern games at a time. All in all, I use an amount of 60-70gb (including Windows). Would you say 120gb is already to limited for this usage? Of course, I can also consider a 160gb SSD but 120gb seems to be the max. for me as far as price is concerned.
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jun 2011 12:16:41 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Jun 2011 12:19:03 BDT
Currently, I've installed :
-Some motherboard utilities
-MS Security Essential
-Battlefield Bad Company 2, Mass Effect 2 and Defense Grid
- and I've got about 69GB free on the drive - a little over half. I'll also need to put an office suite on it, so there's another 5-10Gb gone.
(EDIT : plus the usual gamut of Windows updates, and I've turned off system restore)
I think it's just a basic issue of use that you'll need to keep an eye one what you install on these SSDs. You probably won't start encountering performance troubles unless you have less than 10Gb or so free on it, so there's a bit of room left to use there.
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jun 2011 18:03:52 BDT
Wow, that's a few number of apps indeed! So basically you're using a bit over 30Gb for the apps/games... I think I'll be needing more applications, although I have a seperate laptop for all the 'work suites'. That said, I'm pretty sure 120gb is more than enough for me.
One last thing, could you check in explorer how much 'real' data there is in all the root folders (also hidden folders) combined (Program Files, Windows etc.) while not including any media files/downloads etc. I notice there is always an extra margin of used space, probably caused by fragmentation. In my case, on my 298Gb hard drive this is 12gb.
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2011 11:45:37 BDT
Alright thanks! I think I'm going to go ahead and buy it.
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2011 11:49:15 BDT
Enjoy. When you first install Windows (hopefully Windows7 or you'll miss out on TRIM support) however, see how it performs before you try out any driver software - in my experience, Windows' own SATA/AHCI drivers are entirely fine.
Posted on 9 Sep 2011 10:25:28 BDT
update the M4 to this latest firmware (0009) to get 530MB read! A big leap from 415mb reads!!
Release Date: 08/25/2011
Changes made in version 0002 (m4 can be updated to revision 0009 directly from either revision 0001 or 0002)
Improved throughput performance.
Increase in PCMark Vantage benchmark score, resulting in improved user experience in most operating systems.
Improved write latency for better performance under heavy write workloads.
Faster boot up times.
Improved compatibility with latest chipsets.
Compensation for SATA speed negotiation issues between some SATA-II chipsets and the SATA-III device.
Improvement for intermittent failures in cold boot up related to some specific host systems
Posted on 22 Nov 2011 09:08:54 GMT
I. Hickey says:
I have just installed this drive and I am only getting sequential reads of 238 MB/s and believe I am conected to a SATA-3 port. What driver are you using as I have loaded a Windows 7 and seem to be limited on the speed as denoted by AS SSD Benchmark.
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Nov 2011 09:33:47 GMT
I'm using the driver included with Windows 7, although as I mentioned in the review, I initially had trouble like that using the Intel Drivers. It would help to know the rest of your system specifications; maybe you're not connected to a SATA3 port ? It looks like you're getting SATA-2 speeds. Try running the benchmark a few times too to be sure the reading isn't bogus. Do you have your SATA ports in AHCI mode in the BIOS ?
Also, as I said in the review, it's important to run the Windows Performance Index in Windows 7 for these drives so that they're recognised as SSDs; have you tried that ? You can also post the query on Crucial's own forums for more direct help. Lastly there's the more drastic option of a re-install of Windows, but it won't take very long with the SSD.
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Nov 2011 11:57:06 GMT
I. Hickey says:
Thanks for the response.
After some searching I have discovered that my SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports are infact SATA-2 and therefore the speeds are in line with what is expected.
Sorry for the confusion and thanks for the advice.