Top positive review
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Very pleased with the M500
on July 11, 2013
I did a LOT of research on SSD's before deciding on the Crucial M500. My shortlist of drives was as follows.
My target computer for this drive is a MacBook Pro mid-2010 model.
- Samsung 840 Pro. This drive has a very good reputation, but it is by far the most expensive of the drives I considered. It has faster overall performance than the other drives I looked at, but that doesn't matter to me as my laptop is only capable of SATA-2 speeds.
- Samsung 840. The cheapest drive I considered. The 840 (non-pro) uses TLC NAND memory which is not as long lasting as MLC. Even though it probably wouldn't be an issue, I decided to stay away from it.
- Crucial M4. This 2-year-old drive originally had numerous firmware problems, but those have been ironed out and the drive now enjoys a healthy reputation. This drive was about the same price as the M500. The advantage would be tried-and-true technology, the disadvantage is that it is now outdated technology.
- Crucial M500. Very new, thus a bit of an unknown. If you read the various in-depth reviews, there are pluses and minuses . Not quite as blazing fast as some of the others. But it boasts some nice enterprise-level features not found on other consumer drives (RAIN parity protection and sudden power-loss handling). The AnandTech review points out, "The 840 Pro comparison is interesting because Samsung manages better average performance, but has considerably worse consistency compared to the M500.". So nothing is quite black and white.
I ended up choosing the M500 because a) Crucial (Micron) has a good reputation for overall reliability, b) the drive has some interesting features and attributes that make it stand out, c) it uses traditional MLC NAND and d) the price point is quite good. A very important consideration for me is reliability and this is where I had the most difficulty in deciding among the drives. Both Samsung and Crucial have very good reputations for reliability (again, Crucial had some firmware problems early on with the M4, but those were fixed). Yet both companies have less than perfect records. Devices fail for one reason or another. I just hope I have a good experience (and I will update my review if I ever run into any problems).
The M500 was VERY easy to install. Here is the process I used:
1) I used a "Vantec NexStar TX 2.5-Inch SATA to USB 2.0 External Hard Drive Enclosure" to connect the M500 to my laptop directly out of the box. For this purpose, I just used the connector, however the full enclosure can be used later on to turn the old hard drive into a portable USB drive for backup, etc.
2) Next, I opened Disk Utility on the MacBook and connected the drive via USB. It said the drive is unrecognized and needed to be initialized. After it was initialized, I selected the drive and created a single partition, setup as Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
3) I used Carbon Copy Cloner to copy my current drive image to the M500. This took several hours to complete. Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) can be downloaded from bombich.com. Following the drive swap, the old hard drive can be used to store ongoing CCC backups (always backup your data!).
4) The scary part (though it was surprisingly easy) was to open the MacBook and swap the drives out. I used the "TEKTON 2830 Everybit Tool Kit for Electronics, Phones and Precision Devices, 27-Piece" to get the proper bits. And I used the appropriate guide from ifixit.com.
5) When I started up the first time with the new drive installed, I opened System Preferences and set the Startup Disk to the new M500 drive (if you don't do this, startup may not be as fast). Also, I used Chameleon SSD Optimizer to enable TRIM support on OS X.
Super fast, feels like having a new machine. Much quieter. No worries anymore about bumping the table and wiping out my fragile hard drive.
ADDENDUM - 27 September 2013: I continue to really love my Crucial M500 drive. No problems whatsoever. I am writing to say that Crucial has released a firmware update for this drive on 24 September 2013 (going from MU02 to MU03). While it is listed as an optional update, I have applied it and would recommend that others do so, especially based on the list of issues it addresses.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you buy your drive after 24 September, look on the back of the drive (and maybe the box) and it will list the firmware it was shipped with. The original shipping firmware is MU02. On a Mac, you can also discover the firmware version by running the System Information utility. Click on the Apple icon, select About This Mac > More Info... > System Report... > SATA/SATA Express. Look for the Crucial disk (it will be named something similar to this: Crucial_CT480M500SSD1), look for Revision: and that is the firmware version. I'm sure there is a similar way to do this on Windows, but I don't have any details.
For Windows users, Crucial supplies simple updater apps. For Mac users, they make it a bit more complicated, but I had no problems whatsoever. You download the firmware as an ISO file and then burn this to a blank CD-ROM / DVD using Disk Utility. Reboot your computer, hold down the "C" key down just after you hear the startup beep and it will boot into DOS (yay for ancient operating systems!). For some reason, the first time I tried it, nothing happened (the CD-ROM spun up but it never finished booting). So I held the power button until the system shut off and tried again and it booted right into DOS. Follow the detailed instructions that Crucial provides (basically typing "yes" at a prompt and confirming that it successfully updates to MU03).
You can find the download and installation instructions at [...]
Version MU03 includes the following changes:
- SMART fix to ensure zero at all attributes upon shipment
- SMART counter improvements for better customer data
- Fix for potential Haswell compatibility issue (latest Intel platform)
- Provide system builders with the ability to disable the temperature throttling function (please see updated data sheet)
- Resolved potential problem causing long reboot times on some Apple MacBook systems
- Improved compatibility with latest encryption management software
- Changed polarity of DAS (drive activity signal)
- Improvements in efficiency of background operations for improved lifetime and performance
- Fixed bug in SMART readlog operation (does not affect SMART data)
With the latest firmware, an already great drive is now even better.
And another ADDENDUM - 13 June 2014: I still love my Crucial M500 drive. No problems whatsoever. I've updated to the MU05 firmware (using the same method I outlined above for the MU03 update). One thing to consider when shopping for a drive is the newer Crucial MX100 series of SSD. It uses a different NAND and is priced about the same as the M500 series (which continues to be sold). There is also the Crucial M550 series, which offers better performance if your computer can take advantage of it. So many choices! While the M500 is still a great choice, if I was in the market for a new SSD, I would seriously consider the M100 series.