The Crucial P5 M.2 NVMe Gen 3 module is blazingly fast. The 2TB model I received easily handles 3400MB/s read and 3000 MB/s write speeds. More importantly, the P5 is capable of sustaining that speed over longer periods of time, not just bursts.
I tested Crucial’s P5 with three external enclosures, a Plugable NVMe enclosure, an OWC 4M2 and an OWC Envoy Express. If you’re going to be using the P5 in an enclosure, the one you use is important as some may limit the speed of the memory module to avoid overheating. Such was the case with the Envoy Express which supports no higher speeds than 1550MB/sec throughput.
The 4M2 fairing better with around 2000MB/sec was still much lower than Crucial claims the drive to be capable of. So, I took it to a friend who has a gaming computer — not a Mac — and I asked him to install the P5 module for me. He did and his test results outperformed mine. With a peak performance of 3160MB/sec read and 2700MB/sec write the P5 lived up to its promise.
The experience is telling of what you need to enjoy the full performance of top-speed NVMe M.2 drives like the P5. You’ll need a hefty gaming PC as my friend’s, an external Thunderbolt 3 enclosure most likely won’t do and a Mac probably won’t either, although I can’t tell if a Mac Pro wouldn’t be able to handle the P5’s highest speeds because I don’t know anyone who has such an expensive workstation.
Bottom line is that if you own a regular iMac or MacBook you probably aren’t going to see much speed gain with a P5 as opposed to, for example, Crucial’s P1. However, if you have a powerful PC — like a Puget Systems workstation — the P5 will definitely be faster than anything you’ve seen.
Does all this mean that, If you’re a Mac user, you shouldn’t buy a P5? Well, it depends. You could do with a P1, of course, but there’s a good reason why I think you should still consider the slightly more expensive P5 NVMe even if it doesn’t achieve its top performance in a Mac or an external enclosure and that’s heat.
When an SSD runs at its highest speed, it generates a lot of heat that needs to be properly dissipated. Too hot means shortened lifespan and the protection circuits kicking in that throttle back the SSD’s speed temporarily. That throttle mechanism may not kick in as soon and often as it will in a not-too-well designed enclosure where heat is allowed to build up.
In that scenario, buying a P5 will allow you to enjoy consistent high speed levels as supported within the enclosure or your Mac, which will make it live longer and have a beneficial effect on the SSD’s overall performance over longer periods of time.
The 2TB Crucial P5 retails at $399.99 directly from the Crucial web store. A 250GB P5 costs $54.99, the 500GB version retails at $79.99, and the 1TB model at $149.99.