We’ve become used to SSDs costing substantially more than the average hard disk, but drives like Crucial’s MX100 could go some way to banishing that reputation. This drive has enough space to function as a boot drive in a PC or as the sole drive in a laptop, but it’ll cost just £75 – not much more than many high-end hard disks.
As usual, the trade-off for gaining an SSD’s speed is a lack of capacity. The Crucial may not cost much more than the average hard disk, but its 256GB size can’t compare to the 1TB and 2TB hard drives you'd get for the same money.
There’s no room in the Crucial’s modest budget for the sort of wholesale redesign that Samsung introduced with its 850 Pro drive – but Crucial has still found room to innovate inside the MX100.
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This is the first mainstream SSD to use 16nm NAND chips, which is the smallest process that’s been deployed in consumer drives since Toshiba and SanDisk introduced 19nm transistors memory back in 2012. It’s not surprising that they’ve debuted in the MX100, because those 16nm chips have been developed and manufactured by Micron – the firm that owns Crucial.
It’s a mixed move. The inclusion of a 16nm manufacturing process means that Crucial can squeeze more transistors into each slice of silicon – and performance, in some departments, can benefit from the smaller size. However, a smaller manufacturing process means the MX100 is at greater risk of the electricity leaks that can effect transistors when they’re packed in such close quarters.
That’s the only component that’s seen a big change. The Marvell 88SS9189 controller inside the MX100 is the same chip that was used in the older M550 drive. The exterior is business as usual: a 7mm chassis made of smart-looking metal and a bright blue sticker.
The MX100’s endurance rating of 72TB is decidedly average – half as much as the Samsung 850 Pro. Many other drives also promise greater longevity, although most consumers shouldn’t be concerned unless they’re running lots of heavy workloads.