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Crucial m4 256GB SATA 6Gbit/s SSD Review
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by Robert Tanner on December 5, 2011 in Solid-State Drives

It’s been a while since we last took a look at a Crucial product, so for the next one, how about we make it interesting? SSDs aren’t uncommon, but high-end SSDs that don’t feature a SandForce controller are – and of course, that’s what makes Crucial’s m4 notable. Does its lack of a SandForce controller hold it back? Let’s take a look.

Synthetic: HD Tune Pro 4.6

Since we included a program designed to benchmark SSDs, we will include HD Tune as it benchmarks both hard disks and SSDs. Because the test drive houses the OS itself, HD Tune will not perform any write tests; we will have to be content with both the Read and Access times. HD Tune 4.6 added a new quick benchmark that we will include for users that wish to make a quick comparison with their own drives.

Curiously the m4 seems to like the HD Tune tests, taking top spot in the read transfer test. More importantly it shows a healthy ~34MB/s lead in the minimum read result. In the random read test it slips into a veritable tie, the m4 clearly showing which league its performance is in. Access times for the m4 are also excellent.

What makes SSDs so effective is the nearly instantaneous access times, which is best illustrated by the last graph. A typical HDD requires around 14ms to access data, which is a literal eternity for a modern computer. A typical SSD on the other hand will need about 0.1ms. To add perspective, a 3GHz processor will run 300,000 clock cycles in the same 0.1ms. By comparison to a mechanical HDD, 42,000,000 clock cycles would have elapsed in that 14ms before the drive had even begun reading data to memory!