Increasing the capacity of flash memory devices while transitioning them to more advanced manufacturing technologies is an expected trend. The semiconductor manufacturers want to optimize their cost efficiency, so 128-gigabit NAND devices have begun to replace traditional 64-gigabit dies in consumer-class SSDs. Currently, there are products with 128-gigabit dies from nearly every leading SSD maker including ADATA, Samsung, Intel and Plextor. Unlike the questionable transition to TLC NAND flash, this is not bad for end-users. SSDs with 128-gigabit MLC memory are as reliable as before but their price turns out to be more affordable, making large-capacity SSDs more attractive.
The only downside of the 128-gigabit NAND devices is the performance hit suffered by 128GB and 256GB SSD models due to the reduced parallelism of their internal design. There are solutions to this problem and Crucial’s is to use new 20nm MLC NAND with 128-gigabit dies only when it doesn't provoke the mentioned performance hit. After applying this strategy to the old M500 drive, replacing the controller with the newer Marvell 88SS9189 and optimizing its firmware, Crucial has come up with a most attractive product - the M550 series.
The Crucial M550 delivers good performance at a low per-gigabyte cost, which makes it one of the best solutions for mainstream desktop PCs. It is not a leader in performance and cannot compete with the Samsung 840 Pro, yet its price/performance ratio is hard to beat. The M550 is a mere 25-35% more expensive than the overtly low-end M500 but can match the speed of many flagship-level products from other brands.
Added to this are its high reliability and endurance, special protection against overheat and power failures and the exclusive RAIN technology which ensures data integrity by means of checksums. The new SSD also features low power consumption and supports OS-managed encryption.
To help you with your choice, we offer the following summary table with test results of various SSDs. It contains basic hardware information about SSDs we’ve tested so far and allows to quickly determine the general position of a particular model among its competitors in terms of relative performance.