Crucial’s latest SSD has big shoes to fill, as the MX100 has been our favourite budget drive for some time thanks to solid performance and a jaw-dropping price. The MX200 carries on Crucial’s tradition for keen pricing – it’s newer, but it costs just £90.
It helps, of course, that Crucial is owned by Micron, which manufacturers the memory used inside the MX200. That’s not this drive’s only advantage, though – its new SLC caching mechanism promises to improve performance.
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The MX200’s modest price means there’s not room for wholesale innovation, unlike Samsung’s pricier 850-series products and their 3D V-NAND. In fact, two of the major components used to build the MX200 are retained from its predecessor.
The Marvell 88SS9189 controller is retained from the MX100, and the new drive also uses 16nm Micron-made NAND. It proved innovative in the MX100, as it was the first time the memory had appeared in a commercial SSD, but there’s no denying that the sheen has now worn off.
That doesn’t sound like a recipe for improved performance, but Crucial gives the older hardware a boost with its version of SLC caching – an innovation that siphons off a portion of the drive and mimics faster SLC memory. The SLC section is used to provide a write-cache that takes advantage of the higher write speeds and longevity of SLC before the data is then moved to MLC memory for longer term storage.
Samsung and SanDisk have already introduced SLC caching in some of their SSDs, but those products used fixed caches. Crucial’s Dynamic Write Acceleration system uses a flexible cache that changes in size depending on how much of the drive is occupied.
The endurance has been given a leg-up, too. The 80TB rating assigned to the 250GB version we’ve tested is mid-table, but it’s 8TB better than the MX100 – and larger versions of the MX200 have even higher longevity ratings. Elsewhere, we’re pleased to see security-friendly features, with TCG Opal 2.0 and eDrive encryption both included.