on October 21, 2012
I bought the mSATA version of the Crucial M4 mostly for the form factor and have not been disappointed at all. I also bought it for the fact that it's one of, if not THE only mSATA SSD I know that doesn't use compression algorithms (a la SandForce). The Marvell controller here works great and Crucial/Micron have done a fantastic job with their firmware. Just as I received it (about 2 weeks ago) they sent notice of an updated firmware that fixed most all extended use failures that people have been getting in the past. I myself have not had a single problem. As I said in the title, it may not max out the synthetic benchmark programs or have the fastest write specifications on paper but it does have one of the best reliability track records out there and it doesn't use any sort of super over-provisioning or compression to get the job done. It also has one of the most attentive companies backing it and troubleshooting the problems that do arise, so that makes it a true winner in my book. You won't be disappointed in the performance if you're upgrading from any standard platter based HDD. Also, if you're looking for the small form factor and something to plug directly into a desktop motherboard or laptop to save space, it accomplishes that goal for you as well.
For a little background on the hardware, it's been first used in an ASUS Crosshair III Formula motherboard in a SATA II socket through the Syba adapter. Afterwards I transferred it over to a new build on the Maximus V Gene where it directly plugs into the mPCIE expansion bracket (also SATA II). For those interested, it does also work wonderfully of course in the SATA III sockets on the new build which allows for faster read speeds. I however prefer the convenience of the direct motherboard interface and the fewer cables associated therewith. My perception is that it does not suffer for being attached to a SATA II socket. The response times are just as snappy and Windows 7 still grades it at 7.8 so I'm happy. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to comment and I'll try to answer as best I can from my own experience.
*******UPDATE ON 28-Oct-2012*******
Well.... two days after the return window to Amazon, the drive decided to fail... No warning, just suddenly a blank screen. Upon reboot, the drive cannot be found. It seems another reviewer here has the same problem with the most recent firmware revision. The drive is no longer listed at all in the BIOS in any mode (IDE or AHCI) after a crash and hard reboot. *SIGH*. I'm just glad I kept my Raptor in it's original image condition (just a month old is all). Now I have to see how or if Crucial handles the RMA and whatnot. Here's hoping my faith is not betrayed. :-(
*******UPDATE ON 31-Oct-2012*******
I visited the Crucial forums after trying the tech support email. I managed to find a "power cycle" reset method to allow the SSD to self correct. It worked and I didn't have to follow through with an RMA. The drive came back to life without any data loss thankfully and it's working just as well as it did before! The issue I experienced was with the 01MG firmware revision. It is known to Crucial/Micron and hopefully they are working on a fix. I am glad they do actually support their products and that the community is active in finding fixes. They did respond very quick to the support email I sent as well. My faith in good companies held true! =D
Here are the links to those fixes for anyone who might also have a similar problem. First is the official procedure from Crucial:
Next is the procedure (slightly modified) that I used and worked quite well:
on January 10, 2013
Although this SSD is not listed as one of the compatible SSDs with lenovo ideapad y480 laptop in Crucial's website, I took the risk and well it definitely works! Although at first I thought of buying an SATA3 SSD for my laptop, I later realized it has a vacant mSATA slot and decided to buy this SSD (an SATA3 SSD would require me to remove my HDD since there is only one drive bay in y480 and now with mSATA SSD, I am using both my HDD and SSD).
The SSD arrived with two screws and it took me like 5 minutes to insert the SSD in the PCIe slot. At first boot, the system did not recognize SSD. I opened Device Manager and looked for hardware changes and it did not recognize again. After that, I rebooted the system again. When I opened the Disk Management (can be clicked from the menu Win+X), the SSD was there. I initialized it using quick NTFS format and default unit size. Since my system was pretty new, I didn't want to bother myself with installing everything from scratch. I searched the Net and saw ppl talking about how Paragon Migrate OS to SSD software can seamlessly make the transition from HDD to SSD. My system came with Windows 8 and I discovered only the latest version (v3.0) of Paragon Migrate OS to SSD which costs like $20 supports Win 8. I searched for coupons/promotions and found out that today (01/10/13) Paragon Drive Copy 12 Compact which also supports migration of Win 8 to SSD is offered as a freebie to my luck. I quickly read the Help section (it was actually damn straightforward) and migrated my OS to my new SSD. Then, I restarted my computer and entered BIOS settings by pressing F2 at the boot and moved the SSD up as the first booting device . When the OS booted from the SSD, I opened disk management again and reformatted my HDD not to cause any conflicts.
That's all! Now my computer boots in 6 sec before entering password and 7 sec after entering password. My Microsoft Primary Hard disk index went up from 5.9 to 8.1. In the end, I did a little tweaks like moving the Downloads folder of my Interner browser into HDD and so on. I really suffered from the deficiency of information on the Net about how to migrate Win 8 into SSD effectively and seamlessly. I hope my review has been helpful for the ones trying to do the same thing.
on October 25, 2012
There has been an awful lot of bad press about Crucial leaving out a single screw from the the mSata products. This screw is used to secure the module into the laptop. Some clarification is required. Lenovo laptops include this screw in the laptop. No problem, just open it up and there it is where you would expect it to be. It sounds like Dell does not include the screw, maybe other manufacturers don't either. When you think about it, it makes sense that the PC manufacture should supply the screw, especially in a laptop. It is their hardware you are screwing into with very tight spaces. Yes, it is a standard screw, but as a rule, I think it is best the manufacturer of the PC provide that kind of hardware, just as they do for your main disk drives. SO, if you have a Lenovo, you are getting some of your money back for buying a higher end PC. If you bought another brand, you may have to go fish for a screw. you get what you pay for in this case.
Some other issues I see come up, the speed of the mSata being SATAIII. I talked with Lenovo tech support and did my own research. Best I can tell, mSata buses, at least in the Lenovo, only operate at SATA II speed. That said, be careful to look at the various read and write speeds of a given module within given brand. Depending on the number of chips and the controller used on the module, speeds will vary. In the case of crucial, their 256GB module is much faster then the smaller modules.
So, why worry about speed if it is really working at SATAII? Read speeds can quickly saturate the SATAII bus, so there, it is the bus that is the bottleneck. For write speeds, where SSDs are markedly slower, the additional speed in the 256GB module brings the write speed just about to saturation on a SATAII bus. Worth it for the work I do.
This is all the theory and research I have done. Formal tests have confirmed the different speeds of the various size modules, that is known. Less testing and less information seems to be available on the mSata bus speeds, despite the SATAIII marketing of these things.
on November 5, 2012
I purchased a Crucial 256Gb mSATA and installed it in a Dell XPS 8500. Then plugged the 2Tb HD the XPS came with into Port 0. The Dell specs were incorrect. The two SATA III ports are Port 0 (blue) and the mSATA port. This configuration works great and leaves two free SATA II ports for expansion. There is one other SATA II port taken by the optical drive.
Using Acronis 11.5 Server, was able to migrate a Win 7 64bit image to the mSATA drive. Interestingly, Acronis 10 also worked, but not Acronis 11.0. The drive is set to AHCI in the BIOS. However, was not able to configure the XPS in RAID 0 and migrate the image. When I contacted Dell they said I'd have to install Win 7 64bit from scratch to use it in RAID 0 configuration. Not worth the hassle. Simply migrating the image to the mSATA in AHCI mode provides excellent performance. Furthermore, AHCI is more stable than RAID 0. Would be a hassle to reconstruct the RAID 0 array is case of corruption. As it is with the mSATA drive I can restore a 76Gb image in about 9 minutes. The image is created onto and restored from the 2TB HD.
I'm getting advertised performance: about 500 Mb/s sequential read. I have Diskeeper 2011 Server running in the background. So far it does seem to keep the mSATA drive running in an optimized state.
Overall, looks like the Crucial mSATA drive is an excellent primary drive for the Dell XPS. Just be sure to buy the two screws that you will need to secure the mSATA drive to the XPS motherboard, or in your laptop. I purchased the Rhino LapTop Screw Kit at Frys. It was only $6.50, but did have the CM2x3 screws (five of them) you will need to do the job. Otherwise you could spend a whole lot of time hunting for that specific screw. Without the screws to secure the mSATA to the motherboard it will pop out of the socket.
Be sure to check around on the price. You should be able to get it for $181 or less as of 11-4-2012. I have other Crucial SSD drives. They make good products and support them. Highly recommended.
on October 24, 2012
How do you rate a product that works great from a company that doesn't seem to care?
Do not upgrade your Crucial m4 drive (2.5" or mSATA) to firmware 010G / 01MG. There is a known issue with the drives not being recognized after a reboot.
There is a path to revert from 010G to 000F for the 2.5" drive, but not for 01MG to 000F on the mSATA drive.
Here's hoping that Crucial does something to address this soon.
on January 31, 2013
I bought the Crucial M4 mSATA after spending a good deal of time researching various products in the market. I decided to invest in the Crucial M4 series mSATA, owing to its good reputation in the market with regards to its reliability as well as the R/W speeds it offers.
During my first attempt at placing the order (@199USD), amazon had issues charging my card. Luckily, when I tried purchasing the item the second time using another card, the price had dropped by 20USD to 179.99USD, which made this a rather sweet deal.
Being a prime member, amazon dispatched my shipment citing a '2 day delivery' time frame. However, the shipment was lost while it was in transit, the day it was supposed to be delivered.
I contacted the helpful amazon support staff, and they immediately sent a new replacement shipment, which I received the next day.
The Crucial 256GB M4 mSATA came with 2 additional screws required to mount it to the motherboard. This was an unexpected surprise as there are tons of complaints by customers on the internet regarding the absence of the same.
Anyway, installing the drive was rather straight forward. The steps that I followed are listed here, to make it simple for people installing this on Lenovo Thinkpads:
Required: 1) Thinkpad Restore USB or DVDs. 2) Phillips head screwdriver set.
1) Disconnect the AC adapter from the laptop, and remove the laptop battery before proceeding.
2) Remove the 2 screws (located near the keyboard icon) at the base of the laptop to slide the keyboard off. (One of the screws is located inside the compartment for RAM modules.)
3) Remove the placeholder for the WWAN slot and a small screw under it (Factory installed by lenovo). (This screw is the same that Crucial provided with the mSATA SSD, required to secure the drive onto the motherboard)
4) Plug the mSATA drive in this WWAN slot, and secure it with the fore mentioned screw.
5) Slide the keyboard back in place.
6) Remove the back panel that houses the HDD. Then, lift the HDD up and remove it from the system before proceeding with the OS re-installation. (This is a precautionary measure to prevent OS re-installation on the Platter based HDD, as there is no option to select a specific HDD in the system restore menu)
7) Plug the laptop battery in and connect the AC adapter.
8) Power the laptop ON. Hit 'Enter' as soon as the lenovo logo appears to interrupt the boot process.
9) Select the option to enter BIOS by pressing F1.
10) Change the boot order and move SSD to the top, followed by the HDDs, Optical Drives etc.
11) Save changes and reboot.
12) Insert the USB restore Key as soon as the laptop shuts down after saving BIOS changes. Follow Step 8 again, and then select the system restore option this time.
13) Follow the instructions, and the system should be ready to use in about 7-8 minutes.
14) Once everything is installed and the system is in a usable state, power the laptop off to plug the Platter based HDD back in place.
That is it. Your laptop should be booting off the mSATA drive while recognizing the platter based HDD, which you could later use for storing data.
There isn't much to say about the performance of this specific mSATA drive that hasn't already been said, over and over again.
Even on the SATA2 interface on my Thinkpad W530, this drive offers excellent performance and completely saturates the available bandwidth (which is very close to the R/W capability of this drive anyway).
In short, this is a very good investment and the best possible upgrade for your laptop. It'll undoubtedly remove the bottleneck that the conventional platter based HDDs present on modern PCs.
I hope Thinkpad owners looking for a good mSata solution find this post useful.
on November 8, 2012
I installed this mSATA SSD card in a Thinkpad W520 (and also tested on W530) WWAN slot. It got recognized and worked well from the start. I use it to boot Windows 7 64-bit.
Performance is on par with any SSD running on SATA II controller. I will post some benchmark numbers when I can.
So far with 6 weeks of active daily use, it has performed flawlessly. The only negative is there isn't any statistical tracking on the card itself. For example, no tracking of amount of life-time bytes read or wrote. there isn't other factory reporting such as to expected write cycles left (as with most full-size SSD drives).
on December 16, 2012
Installed Ubuntu onto the SSD, so that I could have Windows 8 on my laptop's Hard Drive and Ubuntu for dev work on the SSD in my laptop. A few hours after using, and testing the drive with SMART Extended tests (which all passed)... the drive suddenly failed. Wouldn't mount, wouldn't respond, wouldn't provision. Tried recovering data using a mSATA-to-SATA adapter and some computer forensics software that I turn to as a last resort... but the drive's firmware wouldn't even enumerate the drive to attempt recovery.
And yes, the first thing I did was update the firmware to the latest version. So, this wasn't a matter of the drive not being set up properly.
In all, could I have gotten a one-off? Sure. But judging from some of the other reviews, I don't think I'm alone on writing this drive off as a bad cookie.
on April 28, 2013
Installing an SSD in laptops has been my standard practice for a while now. Every laptop I buy or setup for someone gets one. The Crucial M4 mSATA drives have worked flawlessly in every laptop I’ve installed one in so far. These include several Lenovo ThinkPad X220, X230, and Twist laptops. Unless maximizing battery life is critical I’ll usually leave the hard drives that come with each laptop installed as storage drives. Eating up all of the SSD space with things that don’t need as much speed like large music/video/photo collections seems like a waste.
on December 3, 2012
Satisfied with the performance of this SSD. Under a dollar per gigabyte and good speeds, making it a worthwhile upgrade if you have a motherboard that accepts mSATA or a laptop or other device that has removeable onboard mSATA storage. Very happy that this is SATA 3.
I'm seeing read speeds of 400MB/s, write speeds of about 140MB/s, and very quick access times. Speeds are about on par with older 2.5" OCZ Vertex 3 and older Intel X25 SSD drives that I have used in the past (and am still satisfied with). From the cursory check that I did on other mSATA manufacturers, this appears to have the highest speeds / dollar in the mSATA form factor.
I feel good about the reliability of this SSD as Crucial manufactures their own SSDs (Crucial is a brand of Micron Technologies) and offers a good warranty. The large SSD manufacturers are Micron/Crucial, Intel, Hynix, Samsung, and Sandisk. Any other brands, such as Corsair or OCZ, source their parts from aforementioned manufacturers. Micron was one of the first to release SSDs that used the new 6 Gb/s SATA III standards, so I feel confident about their technology's reliability.