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Crucial 128GB SSD (CT128M225)

SSD’s are all the rage for ultra fast storage, Crucial has released the CT128M225 with the Indilinx Barefoot controller. We’re betting this is one of the fastest SSD’s out there.

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INTRODUCTION

With SSD’s at the top of the list for computer enthusiasts we’ve been looking at a lot of them lately. The Crucial CT128M225 128GB SSD is based on MLC (Multi-level Cell) Nand Flash technology with a whopping 64MB of cache to bolster the already lightning fast Indilinx Barefoot controller. If previous experience has taught us anything drives with the Indilinx Barefoot controller and 64 MB of cache to smooth data transfer rates its that they are among the fastest drives out there. Not that we would expect anything less from Crucial. When Crucial fields a product you can depend on it doing just what they say it will. Ease of operation and dependability are synonymous with the Crucial name.

We’ve run the Crucial CT128M225 128GB SSD through our usual grueling battery of tests and enjoyed it’s speed for a few weeks in day to day operation. Lets see if the Crucial SSD lives up to our expectations.

Surrounded with a no nonsense solid metal body, no moving parts, and the Crucial name on it the CT128M225 promises to be lightning fast and durable. About the only thing missing from this jewel is a snazzy graphic and fear evoking name. This won’t affect performance any but a drive like this deserves a name like the Drivenator, or SSD-Rex, hey we never said we were any good at naming drives but the “Crucial SSD-Rex 128GB” would give it a little more brand identity than Crucial CT128M225. Gotta admit a laser etched T-Rex on the drives metal chassis would rock.

FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS

Here’s Crucial’s take on the 128GB M225 SSD

A Better Alternative.

Crucial’s M225 series solid-state drive is a better alternative to a traditional hard drive in notebook PCs. No moving parts provide for a quieter, cooler, and more durable storage solution designed for the demands of mobility.

Improves Performance.

Solid-State technology brings a new level of performance and reliability to netbook and notebook storage. With read speeds up to 250MB/s the Crucial M225 series can improve boot and application load times.

Memory Experts.

The Crucial brand of memory has long been synonymous with reliability and high-performance. Our expertise in NAND process technology enables us to optimize the performance and durability of Crucial™ solid-state drives.

Guaranteed Compatible.

Crucial M225 series employ a standard hard drive interface and dimensions, so it is an easy storage upgrade for most notebooks.

With Crucial’s experience in memory optimization and years of being a leader in the memory industry you can bet this is a highly optimized SSD and will deliver every ounce of speed and durability Crucial promises.

Promising 250MB/s Read and 190MB/s write we have high expectations for the Crucial M225 128GB drive. Lets digress a little here and dwelve into the reasearch zone. We might as well tell you right up front, we haven’t found any issues with Indilinx Barefoot controller drives that would keep us from recommending them for any storage application.

Crucials is a little late coming into the SSD market and that’s not a bad thing. They initially released their first SSD and other companies were releasing their 2nd and 3rd generation drives. Soon after Lexar the parent company of Crucial announced a 2nd generation drive but it never appeared. Why did that turn into vaporware a lot of people ask. While other companies were releasing JMicron controller drives that had known issues with stuttering Crucial refused to jump onto the “Lets make Money at the cost of producing an SSD with a buggy controller” bandwagon. Potentially losing a lot of money they chose to wait on a reliable controller rather than release the JMicron (stuttering) controllers that other companies were flooding the market with. It quickly becomes apparent that Crucial invests a lot of time in internal testing and would rather pass up potential profits than release a product with a buggy controller. Other companies shoved them out the door as fast as they could produce them, that says a lot about the integrity and quality control at Crucial and we commend them on making that choice.

Finding a company that puts end user satisfaction ahead of profits is a rare thing, that’s the type of product and commitment you can depend on from Crucial.

PICTURES & IMPRESSIONS

The Crucial M225 128GB SSD box suffered a little in transit but the drive arrived unscathed. The no nonsense packaging is no doubt part of the effort to bring you a high quality drive at a lower price and we’re more than fine with that.

Inside the box you’ll find the SSD in an anti-static bag along with a helpful manual that details how to install the drive in a notebook system.

The top of the drive where the SSD-Rex laser etched logo would lok great is devoid of any markings or stickers.

The bottom of the drive has the Crucial sticker with the model number of the drive and pertanant information about density and size.

Utilizing a standard Sata interface Crucial guarantees compatibility something we haven’t seen from other vendors.

Up close and personal with the information on the sticker you can see the drive is RoHS compliant and that it is indeed a 128GB Crucial CT128M225 which is generally shortened to Crucial M225.

It’s textured aluminum chassis will provide durability and is a good choice for heat conductivity ensuring your drive will remain nice and cool during operation. Thankfully we haven’t seen higher priced gold plated rhinestone encrusted SSD’s yet but we won’t rule it out at this time. Not from Crucial of course but much like USB drives that have morphed into infinite varieties the solid state design of SSD’s provides a blank slate for people with far to much time to get in front of the drafting table and bling out SSD’s.

Knowing Crucial’s line of Ballistix Tracers we wouldn’t mind seeing some Crucial SSD’s with LED’s flashing from inside the chassis. Gold and Rhinestones bad, Crucial LED’s good, after all there are acceptable levels of bling. An SSD-Rex flashing LED on that blank slate of a bottom, now that would be some bling and if anyone could pull it off it would be Crucial.

TESTING & METHODOLOGY

To test the Crucial M225 128GB SSD we fired up Quadzilla the Bjorn3D Core i7 965 rig we’ve been using for all our hard drive testing. We cloned the OS onto the Crucial SSD and dove into our test suite. Unlike a lot of sites that test blank drives which results in slightly faster speed results we test with an OS on the drive using the drive as the primary boot drive. Very few people are going to buy the Crucial M225 128GB SSD and leave it blank. Most are going to run an Operating System on it and our test results are more what you will see in day to day operation and not the inflated blank drive numbers a lot of sites generate.

We ran each test 3 times and averaged the results of the 3 tests and report that average. While SSD testing is still in it’s infancy we have tested all the drives on the charts with the same utilities, the same version of each utility and all the testing was done on the same rig with the same ICH10R Northbridge controller to provide you with as much accuracy and consistency as possible. Speeds may differ with different NB chips slightly, that would be the NB chip and not the drives. We feel that the Intel ICH10R is the best choice for testing and currently offers the best shot at longevity of base testing.

Test Rig

Test Rig
“Quadzilla”
Case Type Top Deck Testing Station
CPU Intel Core I7 965 Extreme (3.74 GHz 1.2975 Vcore)
Motherboard Asus P6T6 (SLI and CrossFire on Demand)
Ram Corsair Dominator (9-9-9-24 1.5v) 6GB Kit
CPU Cooler Thermalright Ultra 120 RT (Dual 120mm Fans)
Hard Drives

Crucial M225 128GB SSD
G.Skill Titan 256 GB SSD (FM-25S2S-256GBT1)
Patriot 128GB Warp SSD
Intel 80 GB SSD X25-M
G.Skill 64GB SSD (FM-25S25-64GB)
2 WD VelociRaptor’s 300GB (In single and Raid0)
WD 160 GB SATA 2
Maxtor 160 GB SATA 2
WD & Maxtor in Raid 0

Optical Sony DVD R/W
GPU BFG GTX-260 MaxCore Drivers 182.20
Case Fans 120mm Fan cooling the mosfet CPU area
Docking Stations None
Testing PSU Thermaltake Toughpower 1200 Watt
Legacy None
Mouse Razer Lachesis
Keyboard Razer Lycosa
Gaming Ear Buds
Razer Moray
Speakers None
Any Attempt Copy This System Configuration May Lead to Bankruptcy

Test Suite

Benchmarks

ATTO

HDTach

Crystal DiskMark

HD Tune Pro

ATTO

Coming out of the gate the Crucial M225 128GB drive is showing 244.146MB/s in the 512k ATTO read test. A truly blazing speed for any SSD and the Crucial drive tops the chart.

Here’s an amazing result, we had to run the write test several additional times to confirm this result but no matter the number of times we ran it the result remained consistent. The Crucial M225 achieved a 242.662MB/s write speed in the ATTO 512K Write test.

Moving to the ATTO 1024K Write test we see the Crucial M225 coming in at 232.555MB/s and the fastest SSD on the charts. Notice the VelociRaptor managed a better read speed but the access time on the Raptor runs in the 11ms range and the access time on the Crucial runs at 0.1ms so it’s hard to compare a 11ms access time drive to a 0.1ms access time drive.

The 1024k write test in ATTO confirms our earlier result in the 512k write test and comes in at 242.662MB/s a smoking fast speed for any drive.

CRYSTAL DISKMARK

The 4k test in Crystal DiskMark is one of the most brutal tests on any drive, the Crucial M225 128GB SSD comes through with flying colors and hits 28.86MB/s topping the chart.

The 4k write test slowed the Crucial M225 down a bit and it comes in with a more than respectable 12.19MB/s and falls second to the Intel X25-M and it’s proprietary controller. Not to much to worry about there though the Intel controller typically runs about 60-70MB/s write in most tests and the Crucial Drive has already far exceeded that.

Crystal DiskMark 512k read sees the Crucial M225 128GB SSD hitting 163.2MB/s and bested by two other SSD’s but still that speed isn’t anything to be ashamed of.

The 512k write test the Crucial M225 tops the chart with 123.9MB/s and once again shows just how fast it really is.

The sequential read test shows the drive hitting 236.6MB/s and we ahd to check the case to see if smoke was rolling off the drive. Fortunately it was just our eyes watering with affection for the blazing speed the drive was churning out.

The sequential write test sees the Crucial M225 coming in at 140.6MB/s and the drive remains close to the top of the chart.

HD TACH

HD Tach shows the Crucial M225 128GB SSD hitting a lightning fast 231.4MB/s and again topping the chart.

The Burst rate test in HD Tach can just about be tossed aside for SSD’s but we’re putting it out there for informational purposes anyway. Generally burst tests are a result of a cache only read or write, and in the case of most SSD’s the cache is DRAM based and the burst rate comes in slower than the Average read.

SiSoft Sandra

We decided to toss in a little Sandra testing because of the graphical representation of Sandra so we can see the wave form of the drives performance. The Crucial M225 128GB SSD comes in at 241.65MB/s with a nice flat wave form with a small dip precisely at halfway through the drive. High quality SSD’s with enough cache produce nice flat waveforms and don’t taper off because they don’t depend on a mechanical arm like platter drives do.

HD Tune Pro

By now we’re not surprised to see the Crucial M225 128GB SSD top the chart in the Average speed test in HD Tune Pro. Coming in at 228.6MB/s running as the primary boot drive can be considered extremely fast.

Like we mentioned earlier Burst speeds are a result of Cache hits and we provide the information but Burst speeds aren’t used in the scoring of SSD’s and should be discounted due to them being cache only operations.

We saw 228.6MB/s Average speed and now we see 229.1MB/s Max speed, how’s that for consistency in data transfer rate. Less than 0.5MB/s between max and average speeds, it’s obvious Crucial did a great job with the M225 128GB SSD.

Minimum speed sees the Crucial M225 128GB SSD at the top of the chart again and it hits 213.2MB/s well ahead of the rest of the pack. Difference between Maximum and Minimum speed in the 16MB/s range.

Lets see where that minimum speed took place by looking at the wave form of the drives operation in HD Tune Pro. As you can see the Minimum speed happened right at the beginning of the read sequence which can easily be attributed to initial access. After the initial access the drive leveled out between 228.6 and 229.1MB/s that’s one of the things we like about SSD’s consistently high performance without a lot of variance of speed. Access time in this and all the tests ran 0.1ms consistently and CPU usage stayed in the 1.5 to 2% range.

CONCLUSION

The Crucial M225 128GB SSD is one of the fastest drives we’ve seen to date. With it’s massive 64MB cache, MLC Nand Flash technology and Indilinx Barefoot controller driving it to smoking fast speeds you can easily see that Crucial has a winner in the M225 128GB SSD.

As expected the install went easily and we didn’t have to do anything but Initialize the drive and do a quick format. Give it a little Acronis clone action and we were up and running at smoking speeds in a matter of minutes.

We are extremely impressed with the smooth transfer speeds of the drive and in extensive testing across a 2 week period saw no hint of stutter in the drive like previous generation SSD’s that use the JMicron controller. Crucial made a great choice in waiting to field their high end SSD’s and going with the Indilinx barefoot controller. We still think that Crucial could field variants with LED lights, and a Snazzy SSD-Rex name and logo but with speeds like the Crucial M225 128GB SSD churned out the drive given any other name would make us drool just as much. (A rose by any other name would smell as sweet)

We are using an addition to our scoring system to provide additional feedback beyond a flat score. Please note that the final score isn’t an aggregate average of the new rating system.

  • Performance 9.5
  • Value 9
  • Quality 10
  • Warranty 9
  • Features 10
  • Innovation 10

Pros:

+  System Is Snappier
+  Fantastic RAID Like Speed
+  Quiet
+  Never Gets Hot
+  Standard SATA Interface
+  Easy To Hide In The Chassis
+  Did We Mention Fast Really Fast

Cons:

- Price Still Higher Than Traditional Platter Drives

The consistently high speed of the SSD-Rex, err Crucial M225 128GB SSD with it’s 64MB cache, Nand Flash and Indilinx Barefoot controller left us awed and amazed and the drive earns a:

Final Score: 9.5 out of 10 and the Bjorn3D Golden Bear Award.

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