Crucial M4 mSATA 6Gbps SSD 256GB

10/20/2012 9:19:18 AM

Crucial takes its excellent M4 SSD technology and offers it for ultrabooks


Price: $260

Manufacturer: Crucial


Required spec: system that takes mSATA drives or mSATA converter to SATA connections.

Part number: CT256M4SSD3

Description: Crucial M4 mSATA 6Gbps SSD 256GB

Crucial M4 mSATA 6Gbps SSD 256GB


Capacity (Unformatted): 256GB

Memory Type: Micron MLC NAND flash memory

Form Factor: mSATA

Interface: SATA 6Gbps (SATA Ill)

Controller: Marvell with Micron custom firmware

Sequential Read: 500MB/s

Sequential Write: 260MB/s

4KB Random Read: 45,000 lOPS

4KB Random Write: 50,000 lOPS

MTBF: 1.2 million hours

Endurance: 72TB total bytes written (TBW), equal to 40GB per day for five years


If you hadn’t noticed, we’re I transitioning from the hard disk era to the solid-state one, and products like this new mSATA version of Crucial’s M4 series SSD just underlines that in brightly coloured marker pen.

At a touch north of US$255, that might seem expensive for just 256GB of storage, but irrespective of what you spend on a physical hard drive, it won’t perform like this, I can assure you.

Crucial quotes a whopping 500MB/s read speed and 260MB/s writing, which is stunningly rapid for an object, which in this case is about the size of a large postage stamp. This well demonstrates that the typical 2.5” SSD box is mostly filled with air, because the memory and board is remarkably compact.

This product also addresses the big concern that many people have about the life expectancy of flash memory when used for these devices. Crucial claims that it is capable of having at least 72TB of data written through it before failure which it’s calculated represents about 15% of the entire capacity being written every day for five years. If accurate, most people would have moved on to a new computer and a bigger SSD before this one packs in, and more frugal use could see it survive for decades.

Description: Crucial M4 mSATA 6Gbps SSD 256GB

This has always been a limitation of flash memory but statistically I’m not convinced that conventional hard drives live any longer, and some expire in much less time than five years.

Under testing, I found that under HD Tune Pro, read speed of 490MB/s and writing speed of about 188MB/s was typical, when on Crystal Disk Mark 509MB/s reading and 191 MB/s writing were possible. That’s slightly less speed than Crucial claims, but I was using a mSATA to SATA converter on a desktop PC, so conditions weren’t ideal.

The only drawback to this device I can find is that it uses mSATA, not to be confused with micro-SATA. mSATA is actually mini-SATA, so you’ll need a special adapter to convert it to normal SATA 6Gbps connections to use on a PC. That’s extra cost, and you need to find a compatible design, because due to differences in implementation, there are two different mSATA standards going around, one by Intel and another by Asus.

Asus incidentally has some motherboards that you can plug this drive directly into, avoiding the cables and conversion deal altogether. Those with an ultrabook with mSATA should be able to plug it in and go, once they’ve installed the OS.

If you can afford an ultrabook, you should get one of these too.


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