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Crucial MX500 500GB review: As fast a SATA SSD as you can find

Crucial is playing a cautious game with its SSDs. It still hasn’t launched a consumer PCI-E NVMe SSD, and when it debuted its first 3D NAND two years ago, it did so with a mid-range product, the MX300. That drive offered good value for money and perfectly adequate performance for most users, but was noticeably slower than several other mainstream drives.

Now Crucial’s back with the MX500 and, seemingly, the story remains the same. READ NEXT: The best SSDs you can buy This drive sees the debut of Micron’s 64-layer 3D NAND, up from the 32-layer NAND of the MX300, but there’s still no NVMe option and this SATA version still isn’t an all-out performance model.

However, while the picture doesn’t appear to have changed much, dig a little deeper and the MX500 shows it has a lot more going for it. First, the basics. The new range is available in capacities of 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB.

That’s a departure from the MX300; due to the odd 384GB capacity of its NAND dies, this was available in 275GB and 525GB versions. The new 64-layer dies have a more conventional 256GB capacity. Despite the drop in some capacities, the drives essentially offer the same value, with this 500GB model sitting at the bottom end of the price range for 500GB drives.

The drives are all rated to run at up to 560MB/sec sequential read and 510MB/sec sequential write speeds, along with 95K IOPS read and 90K IOPS write speeds. So, unlike several other drives, there’s no drop in performance for the lower-capacity models.

The MX500 also sees a bump up in the length of its warranty from its predecessor, with the drive now getting five years of cover. Write endurance has also increased slightly, with this 500GB model moving up from 160TB to 180TB.

The MX500 also uses TLC NAND, rather than MLC, so its write speed has to be bolstered by a portion of the NAND acting in an SLC manner. However, this SLC cache is dynamically managed in a way that means write performance only drops a little. After around 180GB, its write speed drops to 400MB/sec.

It’s when it comes to performance that the MX500 makes the biggest splash though. While the MX300 was no dog of a drive – we’re well past even cheap drives having genuinely troublesome performance – it was noticeably a step behind the best. The MX500, though, is right up there with the front-runners.

For a start, its sequential read speeds in both CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD are about as fast as they come for SATA drives, although sequential write speeds are just a smidge behind the fastest drives on test. Meanwhile, random performance has also been pushed about as high as possible, with the drive surpassing its claimed IOPS performance in Iometer. As for PCMark 8, an overall score that exactly matches the Samsung 860 Evo shows this drive’s capabilities perfectly.

In fact, its total bandwidth score is beaten only by the much more expensive Samsung 860 Pro. As far as mainstream SATA SSDs go, this drive has all the performance you could need.

Crucial MX500 500GB review: Verdict

Given the modest performance of the Crucial MX300, you’d be forgiven for expecting the MX500 to deliver much of the same. However, the Crucial MX500 is as nippy a SATA SSD as you can find, without opting for a pro-level drive.

With competitive pricing and a lengthy five-year warranty, it’s now the drive to put at the top of your shortlist.

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