Two years ago, Samsung burst onto the market with the 850 Pro — its first SSD with 3D flash memory, with high speeds and correspondingly high prices — and followed that up with the more affordable 850 Evo. Now, memory manufacturer Crucial is the second company to use 3D NAND in a 2.5-inch solid state drive, and it's aiming to provide both fast transfer speeds and high disk capacity — at a reasonable price.
What Is It?
The $299 Crucial MX300 is a 2.5-inch solid state drive using the SATA data and power connectors, supporting the 6Gbps SATA3 standard with SATA2 backwards compatibility, making it suitable for any new or reasonably new laptop — it can replace a traditional 2.5-inch spinning-disk mechanical hard drive, and will fit in either slim drive bays (7mm) or thicker drive bays (9.5mm) with an included plastic adapter. It'll also fit a desktop computer with SATA connectors, although you'll need to invest in a 3.5-inch drive tray or use a case with 2.5-inch mounting points, since the MX300 doesn't ship with 3.5-inch hardware.
- Capacities: 750GB
- Max Read: 530MBps
- Max Write: 510MBps
- Interface: SATA III 6Gbps; compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
- Warranty: 3 Years
- Form Factor: 2.5-inch Ultra-slim (7mm), spacer included, no 3.5-inch adapter
The MX300 supports 530MBps maximum read and 510MBps maximum write speeds for sequential data blocks according to Crucial, making it very nearly as fast as the Samsung 850 Evo and 850 Pro. At $299 the 750GB 'limited edition' MX300 doesn't quite square up in capacity against either of the 500GB or 1TB variants of Samsung's 850 Series family, but in pure dollars and cents its $0.399 cost per gigabyte compares favourably to the $599 Samsung 850 Pro 1TB's $0.599 and $299 512GB's $0.584, as well as equalling the $399 Samsung 850 Evo 1TB's $0.39 and $199 Samsung 850 Evo 500GB's $0.398 per-gigabyte costs. In this way the 750GB Crucial MX300 fits nicely into an under-served price-to-performance-to-capacity segment.
There's only a single version of the Crucial MX300 at the moment, with the aforementioned 750GB capacity — using eight of Crucial's newly developed 384Gbit 3D TLC NAND chips. This unconventional size means that the smallest SSD Crucial will likely produce with the MX300 name would be around 275GB in usable capacity, but maximum drive capacities of 2TB are easily possible; there's no word on when these might launch beyond "later this year" according to Crucial, but expect to see them in the near future.
What's It Good At?
For basic transfers around your PC, as well as to and from a fast external hard drive like the Samsung T3 through a fast interface like USB-C 3.1 Gen 2, the Crucial MX300 is perfectly fast enough for all but the heaviest everyday workloads. In our synthetic CrystalDiskMark benchmark and with the same results validated through a 100GB Windows file transfer to a (faster) internal Samsung 950 Pro M.2 SSD, the MX300 hit the performance benchmarks that Crucial told us to expect, with 527MBps read and 504MBps write under the best possible conditions — large sequential files.
Crucial MX300 (750GB): Performance
Storage: CrystalDiskMark (Sequential Read): 527MBps CrystalDiskMark (Sequential Write): 504Mbps
Max IOPS, too, mean that the MX300 represents good if not great random read and write performance, with 92K and 83K figures reported by Crucial and coming in very close to Samsung's 98/90K IOPS for the 850 Evo. It's also worth keeping in mind, too, that Crucial's use of 3D TLC NAND means the MX300 is one of the most power-efficient solid state drives on the market with 5.7 Watts maximum power usage and as little as 2mW power usage during device sleep mode. When you consider that you're getting a 750GB drive with broadly the same performance figures as a 500GB Samsung, that's an impressive achievement. Crucial's Storage Executive software also boosts performance by enabling 'dynamic write acceleration' through faster onboard memory.
What's It Not Good At?
It all depends on the reason that you're actually looking to buy a solid state drive. If overall storage capacity isn't a huge concern for you — which it likely isn't, with SSDs costing significantly more per gigabyte than traditional spinning-disk drives, and with the increasing capacity and portability of external and portable hard drives using USB and Thunderbolt interfaces — then you may be better served with the longer warranty, slightly higher performance both in sequential read/write and IOPS, and more comprehensive software suite of the 500GB Samsung 850 Pro.
Similarly, if overall storage capacity is a concern, then you might be tempted away by the 1TB capacity of the Samsung 850 Evo, or even the 2TB version for very nearly the same cost per gigabyte as long as you're willing to pay that extra upfront cost. Since these drives are effectively the same price when differing storage capacity is taken into account, with similar performance levels, then Crucial's value proposition against the 850 Evo is that you can buy a 750GB-capacity drive if you need that particular mix of price and storage space.
Should You Buy It?
- Good performance figures
- Unique 750GB capacity
- Software, spacer included
- Merely equals competition in price
- Only one capacity available
- Middling 3-year warranty
The $299 Crucial MX300 is a tempting drive in that it offers nearly identical performance for mainstream users to Samsung's two top SATA solid state drives, and is the only drive on the market that offers that 750GB capacity. For some users, that might just be the Goldilocks zone that gives you the price you need and the capacity that you want. It's the same price as a less capacious 500GB Samsung 850 Pro that's only slightly faster, and it sits perfectly in between Samsung's 500GB and 1TB 850 Evo drives for those that need that middling level of storage.
Crucial includes three years of warranty for the MX300 in Australia, as well as a licence key for Acronis' True Image 2015 HD, which allows for backups as well as complete disk clones — what you'll likely use to move data and a Windows install from an old drive onto the MX300 — and restore and rescue media creation. This warranty is not bad in terms of how Crucial compares to most other SSD manufacturers, but falls short of Samsung's 5- and 10-year warranty conditions for the 850 Evo and Pro respectively.
It's likely that smaller capacity — 275GB, 525GB — Crucial MX300 drives will be even more price competitive than the 750GB variant, and that these will be more attractive rather than equally attractive versus competitors' 250GB and 500GB drives especially considering their 10 or 5 per cent extra capacity. We're looking forward to these hitting the market and shaking things up even more in Australia. As it stands Crucial's MX300 is an ideal product for a small segment of the market, and more drives will broaden that appeal.