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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.

Real-World: Boot Times, Game Level Loading

For the boot test we perform a cold boot, with the stopwatch starting the moment the power button is pressed until the last systray icon has finished loading. A large number of factors can change how fast a computer starts, from the motherboard to the BIOS/EFI configuration, so these times should not be used as an expectation of how fast the SSD will boot in your respective system. Thanks to motherboards replacing the BIOS with UEFI boot times have dropped significantly in many cases.

Crucial’s m4 has no trouble taking first place in our boot time test, by half a second. Although half a second may not seem like much, in the context of a mechanical drive the m4 gets the system booted in almost one-third the time. This result mirrors the strong performance demonstrated in our light batch test, where only an additional five seconds was needed to launch everything from Photoshop CS5 to MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, along with other background applications.

Game Level Loading

Last but certainly not least of our benchmarks are the game level-load times. SSDs are great at decreasing load intervals, and having an SSD can appreciably improve game immersion by minimizing load delays. It may not seem like much, but after a few levels, having the load times decrease by even a third compared to a hard drive adds up fast.

For our new regimen we chose Portal 2 and Civilization V. Portal 2 is already a very well optimized game and isn’t particularly demanding, and Civilization V is anything but either of those. For Portal 2 we chose to load the larger sp_a3_03 chapter, while with Civ V we loaded a save game file from late in a large game.

With game load times the m4 is average, although there isn’t much room for SSDs to distinguish themselves here. Any SSD will make for a noticeable and welcome improvement over game launch times and level loads compared to a mechanical drive.


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