Not all lower-cost SSDs are slow and unreliable. I managed to get hold of the newest Crucial MX300 525GB SSD and ran it through a full week of speed and endurance tests. I used both my iMac and Ninja Assassin video monitor/recorder non-stop to see how well the MX300 would behave. It didn’t crack under the pressure, it didn’t slow down and it never got warmer than the palm of my hand.
The Crucial MX300 SSDs come in three sizes: 275GB, 525GB, 750GB and 1TB. I tested the 525GB model. The advertised performance figures are a read speed of 530MB/sec and write speed of 510MB/sec. My disk was mounted through a Thunderbolt dock on a mid-2011 iMac. It managed to read at 373MB/sec and write at 335MB/sec. That’s only 25MB/sec slower than a SanDisk Extreme Pro when reading and actually 5MB/sec faster when writing.
Those figures were very promising for the next test: recording 30 minutes of 4K footage via a Ninja Assassin. Recording video with a recorder introduces three problems:
- The media must mount quickly in order not to lose time switching media on the set
- The heat can be considerable, given that the disk has to continuously write data
- The speed must be consistently high to avoid dropped frames.
The MX300 mounted instantly, regardless of whether the Ninja was running or going through its startup cycle. After half an hour, I held my hand against the half-exposed MX300. It was still cool, slightly cooler than the palm of my hand. Since then I’ve had the MX300 recording for over three hours, while switching between half an hour and five minute sessions, and playing back footage on the Ninja at double speed. The SSD performed exemplary, without a single glitch.
The value a Crucial MX300 SSD offers
At about €138 for the 525GB model, the Crucial MX300 sure isn’t going to break the bank. A 512GB Angelbird SSD wrk or wrk for Mac costs €289.90, while a plastic SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB switches owners for €220. True, the Angelbird looks great in its black aluminium enclosure, but the Crucial has a metal wrapper too and comes with a serial number for Acronis True Image HD, a PC-only backup application.
That in fact is the only disadvantage I could find: there’s no such an app for Mac users. In that respect, Crucial has the same policy as SanDisk. In terms of robustness, read and write speed and the suitability to be used as 4K video recording medium, the Crucial MX300 performed as well as a SanDisk Extreme Pro.
For the technically inclined, the Crucial uses “Extreme Energy Efficiency” technology within the drive, which reduces the amount of active power usage that is consumed. It uses only 0.075W of power, compared to a typical hard drive which uses 6.8W.
Furthermore, it’s engineered with Micron 3D TLC NAND technology, resulting in an endurance rating of up to 220TB total bytes written by leveraging larger NAND cells. Finally, the Crucial MX300 offers AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption for Wave and eDrive support, RAIN technology for increased reliability by storing data in multiple locations on the drive, “Exclusive Data Defense” to prevent files from becoming corrupted, and most important for video recording use: “Adaptive Thermal Protection” to keep the system cool.
Comparing favourably in terms of performance and reliability, the biggest benefit you’ll get from buying an MX300, however, is its low price compared to its closest competitors, the SanDisk Extreme Pro and Angelbird wrk. It is now available in 275GB, 525GB, 750GB and 1TB capacities.