I put the Crucial M550 through its paces with SSD Test benchmarks of the solid state drive that makes a fantastic replacement to traditional computer hard disk drives.
Ease of Use, Performance: 4/5
Look & Feel: 5/5
How much I enjoy: 5/5
Recommendation: 5/5 Stars
It is now time to abandon those hard drives and switch to solid state drives for faster startup, quicker response and better performance. Solid state drives have now come down in price while prices of hard disk drives have remained high due to flooding in Thailand back in 2011.
Solid state drives have continued to improve in performance with better hardware and firmware that manages data much better now that solid state drives have become a standard in computers. When people hear solid state drives they think of faster performance but often they are not sure of exactly what is faster or better.
A solid state drive performs faster than a conventional hard disk drive but this does not always mean better performance in every area of a computer. The drive controls startup and general program speed but for things like gaming and website surfing speed is increased in specific ways.
A solid state drive will make startup faster because any time the processor or program is doing things it accesses the programs on the hard drive or solid state drive. When you have a better drive programs start or work faster and even levels of games will load faster.
Solid state drives have really been brought into the main stream of computers and now with better hardware that handles transfers of data faster they are really much better than when they first came out. Crucial has been at the forefront of solid state drives with their past experience in memory giving them a solid foot in the door of this emerging market.
The Crucial M550 is the bigger brother to the flagship of Crucial SSD the M500 and comes in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB sizes. The Crucial M550 is a slightly better performance at a little higher price but still trying to keep the cost low enough to entice buyers.
Crucial sent me the M550 in the 256GB size and I put the SSD test benchmarks up against the Intel 520 SSD as well as a conventional Seagate 1 terabyte hard drive. The SSD test benchmarks were pretty conclusive when comparing the solid state drives and the hard disk drive while the Crucial SSD did better than the Intel SSD.
The most telling and obvious tests I performed was the boot time and game level loading where you can really see the difference by being able to use the computer and start gaming much faster. Boot times for Windows 7 on my desktop starts at a snail paced minute and 20 seconds for the Seagate hard disc drive while the Intel SSD comes in at a respectable 30 seconds or so.
The Crucial M550 beats the Intel SSD test with a good 23 to 24 seconds for the average boot time using the BootRacer program to measure boot times. Boot times are measured using the BootRacer program that starts as a service when windows is first running and starts a clock that stops when the logon is registered.
Other tests I ran were Futuremark’s PCMark7 storage to give a definite score for storage performance between the three drives using read and write times for a variety of files. The Seagate HDD received an average score of 1711 while the Intel SSD test had an average of 5203 and the Crucial M550 scored 5414.
The higher the score the better the performance for both the Futuremark PCMark7 and the 3DMark11 tests I performed but the graphics performance tests were pretty much the same for all three drives. The Seagate HDD was only about 30 points behind the Intel SSD and the Crucial only beat the Intel SSD by about 18 points.
Graphics performance did not improve that much and just performing some simple computer cleaning and maintenance could easily get scores up that much in any of the configurations I used for testing. The main difference and reason for using a solid state drive is the speed advantage of read and write to a hardware device that does not spin.
The tests I performed using AS SSD Benchmark that reads and writes to the drives and produces a score for both as well as a combined score showed better results for the Crucial SSD over the Intel SSD. The Seagate drive was abysmal in the test and took more than an hour and a half while the Crucial and Intel tests took less than two minutes.
The time it took for the tests shows the difference in read and write between a solid state drive and a hard disk drive with the much longer time showing how slow a hard drive is. The tests used by AS SSD simply read and write files to the drive and time how long they take and the same tests took an hour and a half versus minutes.
The Intel SSD had an average read of 210 megabytes per second while the write speed was 211 MB/s and the Crucial SSD had a read speed of 352 MB/s and a write speed of 351 MB/s. The Seagate HDD had an average read speed of 12 MB/s and a write speed of 10 MB/s which is about right for the much slower drive.
The Crucial SSD test shows that it is slightly faster than the Intel SSD and this is why on all my testing it did perform better than the Intel SSD. Adding a solid state drive will improve your computers startup time and improve the response time from programs and games by speeding up how fast the program responds and opens.
In programs like Photoshop and Premiere Elements the program responds faster to commands and takes less time to render images and videos. When rendering videos the time difference can be substantial so using the solid state drive as the scratch drive that stores video information is important.
While graphics operations like gaming are not much faster as they depend more on memory and your processor the solid state drive makes the programs themselves able to respond faster. Scores on all my tests show that Crucial M550 does perform better than Intel’s 520 SSD and is far superior than a hard disc drive of any brand.
Buying and installing a good solid state drive can make the difference between working on a computer and enjoying the work you have to do. I truly enjoy the time saved using a solid state drive and the Crucial M550 does make an excellent choice for a fast and responsive drive that will speed up your computer.
I highly recommend the Crucial M550 solid state drive and my SSD test confirms that it does perform better than comparable drives in the same price range. The Crucial M550 256GB SSD is available from Crucial and sites like Newegg for about $170 that comes with a three year warranty.
Fast performance for a boot drive
Better read and write speeds than previous Crucial models
Above average scores when compared to other brands
Higher capacities cost more per GB