Crucial m4 128GB CT128M4SSD2 / CT128M4SSD2CCA SATA3 2.5" SSD Review

The introduction ...

Today the Crucial m4 128 GB SSD CT128M4SSD2 with the latest firmware 000F is tested at ocinside.de and is compared against the bigger Crucial m4 256 GB SSD and a lot of more SSDs from other manufacturers.
We have also tested the SSD copy software and the USB-to-SATA cable from the Crucial CT128M4SSD2CCA data transfer kit in this review for copying a hard drive or SSD partial or complete to the SSD.
In this review we also check if it is worth to pay additional 10-15 Euros for the transfer kit and we see how fast the SSD is at SATA3 IDE, SATA3 AHCI and the USB SATA adapter.
Let us see if the Crucial m4 128 GB can keep up with the leading Crucial m4 256 GB SSD.

 

 

 

Thanks for the support ...

Many thanks for the support with the Crucial m4 128GB 2.5" SSD by the manufacturer Crucial.

The Crucial m4 128GB SATA3 2.5" SSD CT128M4SSD2 has at present a price of approx. 125 Euro (06/2012) and the Crucial CT128M4SSD2CCA hard drive replacement kit with cloning software has at present a price of approx. 135 Euro (06/2012).

The Crucial RealSSD m4 2.5-inch series contains at present the following types:
64GB CT064M4SSD2 for approx. 70 Euro (06/2012)
128GB CT128M4SSD2 for approx. 110 Euro (06/2012)
256GB CT256M4SSD2 for approx. 185 Euro (06/2012)
512GB CT512M4SSD2 for approx. 360 Euro (06/2012)
Whereby the performance of this Crucial m4 SSD Series alters depending on the capacity.
A higher capacity of this Crucial m4 SSD has a higher write performance up to the fastest Crucial m4 256GB SSD !

Here you can buy the Crucial SSD.

 

 

The supply of the Crucial m4 128GB SATA3 SSD ...

In this cardboard box comes the Crucial m4 SSD Hard Drive Replacement Kit:

 

 

That is contained in the delivery ...

Crucial delivered the m4 2,5" SSD CT128M4SSD2 well padded with a quick installation guide.
The CT128M4SSD2CCA Upgrade Kit additionally contained an USB to SATA cable (USB 2.0), a Cloning Software and a guide for the Crucial Data Transfer Suite Software in different languages:

 

The following picture shows the front of the 2.5" Crucial m4 128GB SSD, where one can see the SATA3 connections for data and power on the right side.
These connections are identical to conventional SATA3 hard disks and this SATA3 SSD can also operate with a slower speed at an SATA2 interface:

 

On the flipside one can see the label of the Crucial m4 SSD with some technical data:

 

Here one can see a picture of the 8-Channel Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 Controller ICs which is also used on Micron C400 / Crucial m4 SSDs.
And one can see the four of altogether eight 25nm Micron NAND components of the SATA3 SSD with 128GB capacity:

 

Here you can see the other four 25nm Micron NAND components and the 256MB DDR3 cache chip:

 

Here is another more detailed picture of the 8-Channel Marwell 88SS9174-BLD2 Controller IC:

 

 

The technical data ...

Manufacturer Crucial
Article number CT128M4SSD2
Capacity 128GB
Interface SATA3 6GB/s
Cache 256MB
Controller Marvell
Flash Type MLC - Multi-Level-Cell
Size 2.5" (100.5 x 69,85 x 9,50mm)
Weight 75 gramm
Speed Read up to 500 MB/s / Write up to 175 MB/s
Seek Time < 0.1ms
Power Consumption 0.065 Watt idle / 0.150 Watt average in operation
MTBF 1.2 million hours
Other RAID Support, SMART Support, Built-in EDC/ECC

 

Here is a Snipping screenshot of the CrystalDiskInfo 4.3.0 SSD and HDD information software:

 

 

SSD firmware update ...

At review date, the company Crucial offered the firmware version 000F for Marvell based m4 SSDs, which offers in comparison to the older versions a higher LPM (Link Power Management) performance without pauses and hesitations with certain host systems, a better stability on heavy load and an improved data protection in the event of an unexpected power loss.
The update of the Crucial firmware is very easy and possible in two different methods:
One way is to download the firmware from Crucial, unpack the contained ISO file, burn it on a CD, boot with this CD, select the SSD in the firmware update utility and confirm the firmware update several times.
Or download the firmware with the "Windows 7 Updater Application" from Crucial, unpack the EXE file to the Desktop, start the firmware update utility, let the system restart, wait until the update is finished and let the operating system restart once again, as explained with possible problems in the special Crucial m4 256 GB SSD firmware 000F review.
In the current review we updated the SSD with the firmware version FW000F.

 

 

Crucial Data Transfer Suite EZ Gig IV Software ...

The Crucial CT128M4SSD2CCA data transfer kit contains contains in addition to the Crucial CT128M4SSD2 SSD a copy software and the USB-to-SATA cable, which can easily copy a hard drive to a SSD.
The hard disk can be either transferred completely or in part to the newly acquired SSD with this backup software.

To do this, connect the SSD to the Apricorn SATAWire USB2.0 to SATA adapter cable and let Windows 7 install the drivers:

 

Then you start the Crucial data transfer Suite EZ Gig IV software either directly from the CD in Windows or boot from the CD or create a bootable USB stick with the contained CD.

Now select the "old" hard disk or SSD as source and the new SSD at the SATAWire as the target.
In the following example we copy as e.g. a Crucial m4 256 GB SSD with about 55 GB NTFS, FAT32 and FAT test data and three operating systems on the new Crucial m4 128 GB SSD:

 

Anyone who like to, can even adjust the 4 k alignment, adjust the sizes of each partition, perform a check after the backup with verify or make even a bitwise copy:

 

You can also select at least fairly rudimentary the data, that one do not like to transfer:

 

If everything has been confirmed, the copying begins, which process to copy all data 1:1 with Smartcopy.
For 128 GB data you have to plan about an hour data for it and for a full 256 GB hard drive copy, you need about over 2 hours.
For our 55 GB test data, the copy took approx. 25 minutes:

 

Unfortunately, with the Crucial data transfer Suite EZ Gig IV software one can only copy the data, if the SSD is connected to the PC with the USB-to-SATA Apricorn SATAWire adapter.
Who connects both drives internally without the adapter to the SATA3 port, receives an error message of the software, that you have to connect the Apricorn upgrade device (by the way even if one connect the adapter additionally to the PC):

 

The backup processed perfectly without failures and the SSD clone worked fine.
Also a test of the very important 4K alignment adjustment could be operated properly.
Of course the Windows must be activated again after the copy either over the Internet or with its license number by telephone with Microsoft.
Except the lack, to copy the drives directly over SATA ports, the missing manual selection of the partitions to copy and the missing language selection (only in english), the Crucial Data Transfer Suite EZ Gig IV Software solution with Apricorn SATAWire cable is especially good for PC beginners.

 

 

Benchmark values and test results ...

Let us continue with the benchmark results.
SATA3 drives are currently tested with an ASRock 890GX Extreme3 motherboard.
At present, Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition is used as the operating system.

The SSD drive speed was examined and compared with the following benchmark software:

AS SSD Benchmark 1.4.3704.27281 - Download
ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.46 - Download
CrystalDiskMark 3.00 - Download
HD Tach 3.040 - Download
SiSoftware Sandra 2011 - Download

 

AS SSD benchmark result ...

The SSD benchmark values offers a very good reference point of the maximal possible reading and writing performance, the speed with smaller files and the respective access time.
The 128GB Crucial drive achieved in AHCI mode an enormously high sequential read performance.

Also in IDE mode, with approximately 456.35 MB/s, the maximum transfer rate of the Serial ATA 2.0 interface was exceeded, so that a SATA3 interface is really the best choice for this SSD.
The write performance in IDE mode was approximately 195.66 MB/s, which is clearly below the previously tested Crucial m4 256 GB SSD with about 278.57 MB/s.
The overall score reached also in IDE mode very good 329 points, because for example the Crucial m4 256 GB SSD reached in IDE mode approx. 325 points and the Curcial 256GB C300 SSD reached in IDE mode 290 points.

Here is a Snipping screenshot of the AS SSD benchmark results (SATA3 IDE):

 

In AHCI mode also another result beneath the read performance was much higher than in the IDE mode and that is the important value "4K-64Thrd".
4K means that small 4K blocks are read and/or written and with the 4K 64Thrd this is distributed on 64 Threads at the same time.
Thus the benchmark program simulate for example a typical program start.
Since the weighting of this value is very high in the AS-SSD benchmark tool,the total score in AHCI mode is with 590 points much higher than the previous one in IDE mode.
In AHCI mode the Crucial m4 128GB reached even 493 MB/s read- und 200 MB/s write performance, which is of course below the 276.47 MB/s of the 256GB version.

Hint:
Who think now about changing its SATA port in the BIOS from native IDE and/or legacy IDE to AHCI, should change first for example (if possible) only one part of the SATA port, where the drive with the operating system is not installed.
Because if one like to save the new Windows installation, one must install the hard disk controller driver before changing SATA mode from IDE to AHCI - alternatively there are also Registry entries for it.
If you like to upgrade from HDD to SSD, you should not copy the content 1:1 only with a tool like Norton Ghost or Acronis Backup.
It is better to install a fresh Windows7 or adjust at least the SSD Alignment.
In case that you bought the Crucial m4 Data Transfer Kit (ends with CCA), it is possible to do this with the contained software.
We help you with questions to this topic or all other PC related questions at any time 24/7 in our PC Forum.

Here is a Snipping screenshot of the AS SSD benchmark results (SATA3 AHCI):

 

Here is a Snipping screenshot of the AS SSD iops results to measure the input/output speed (SATA3 IDE):

 

And here is a Snipping screenshot of the AS SSD iops results to measure the input/output speed, with a drastic rise in AHCI up to the manufacturer data of approx. 45k/35k (SATA3 in AHCI mode):

 

The USB-zu-SATA Kit transfer the data with such a slow USB 2.0 performance of 33 MB/s (SATA an USB 2.0):

 

The comparison of the AS SSD benchmark results is extended with each new HDD/SSD test.
Here we see several SSDs in comparison to the Crucial m4 128GB 2.5" SSD in IDE and in AHCI mode, whereby the diagram is updated shortly with new SSDs.
Currently, the Crucial m4 128GB SSD is even at the top, directly followed by the Crucial m4 256GB SSD.

Here is a comparison of the AS SSD benchmark values, which are getting updated with soon coming drives:

 

ATTO Disk benchmark result ...

The ATTO disk benchmark values gives a very good overview about the write and read rate on different file sizes.
Here we see once again a huge difference between legacy IDE and AHCI, especially with this SSD.

Here is a Snipping screenshot of the ATTO Disk benchmark values (SATA3):

 

Compared to this result, the read performance in AHCI mode is significantly increased with all transfer sizes.
Here we see can see a very good comparison of the conventional native IDE mode and the modern AHCI mode, which offers beside the higher performance also advantages like e.g. the support of NCQ (Native Command Queuing) or Hot-Plug.

Here is a Snipping screenshot of the ATTO Disk benchmark values (on SATA3 AHCI):

 

The ATTO disk benchmark values are compared with a small transfer size of 32KB and a large transfer size of 8192KB.
The bar chart already shows a first comparison to the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB hard disk drive, the OCZ Agility 120GB SSD and the Crucial 256GB C300 RealSSD and a several other SSDs, where the Crucial m4 can not reach the best 8192K result.

Here is a comparison of the ATTO disk benchmark values, which are getting updated with soon coming drives:

 

CrystalDiskMark result

With CrystalDiskMark one receives a balanced measurement of the performance with different transfer sizes.

Here is a Snipping screenshot of the CrystalDiskMark values (SATA3):

 

As seen in the previous 4K-64Threads results, the read and write 4K QD32 and the sequential read result is much higher when operating in AHCI mode.

Here is a Snipping screenshot of the CrystalDiskMark values (SATA3 AHCI):

 

The following diagram shows the CrystalDiskMark results once again compared with other SSDs and platter drives, which are extended step by step.
In the CrystalDiskMark comparison one can see significant differences between the to-date tested of the Solid State Drives and Hard Disk Drives, where the tested Crucial m4 128GB SSD is with the read performance in AHCI below the Crucial m4 256GB SSD / Micron RealSSD C400 256GB SSD.

Here is a comparison of the CrystalDiskMark values, which are getting updated with soon coming drives:

 

HD Tach result

With HD Tach one can measure the gradient of the performance, but the SSD transfer is not comparable with a conventional HDD.
HD Tach measured with the Crucial m4 128 GB SSD and firmware 000F in AHCI mode a constant read and write rate with extremely low access times of approx. 0.1ms.
To compare these results you can move the mouse over the following drives to see their respective benchmark results:
Crucial m4 128GB 2,5" SSD at SATA3 AHCI, Crucial m4 128GB 2,5" SSD at SATA3, Crucial m4 256GB 2.5" SSD FW 000F at SATA3 AHCI, Crucial m4 256GB 2.5" SSD FW 0309 at SATA3 AHCI, Crucial m4 256GB 2.5" SSD FW 0002 at SATA3 AHCI, Crucial m4 256GB SSD FW 0309 at SATA3 IDE, Crucial m4 256GB 2.5" SSD FW 0002 at SATA3, ADATA S511 120GB SSD at SATA3 AHCI, ADATA S511 120GB SSD at SATA3 AHCI, Crucial C300 64GB 1.8" SSD at SATA3, Crucial RealSSD 256GB 2.5" SSD at SATA3, Crucial RealSSD 256GB 2.5" SSD at SATA2, MX-DS Fusion 60GB SSD SATA3 IDE, MX-DS Fusion 60GB SSD SATA3 IDE, MX-DS Turbo 120GB SSD at SATA3 AHCI, OCZ Agility 128GB SSD, Samsung Series470 128GB SSD AHCI, Samsung Series470 128GB SSD Legacy IDE, Hitachi 7K1000.C 1TB disk drive and Toshiba MK8007GAH 1.8" disk drive.

Here is a Snipping screenhot of the HD Tach benchmark values:

 

The comparison of the HD Tach benchmark results shows very impressive the fast reading speed, writing speed and the average access time of the Crucial m4 128GB 2.5-inch SSD.

Here is an impressive comparison of the HD Tach benchmark values, which are getting updated with soon coming drives:

 

SiSoftware Sandra benchmark result

Of course, SiSoftware Sandra benchmark should not be missing in this test series.
SiSoftware offers with their SiSoft Sandra program a very comprehensive tool, which contains a lot of tools to get very reliable test results of all hardware components.
The average access time of the Crucial m4 128GB SSD was in SiSoftware Sandra with 60us extremly low and the drive index of 444.53 MB/s was also in IDE mode higher than in the previous benchmarks.

Here is a Snipping screenshot of the SiSoftware Sandra benchmark values (SATA3 IDE):

 

In AHCI mode SiSoftware Sandra measured 496.15 MB/s at the read performance.
Here is a Snipping screenshot of the SiSoftware Sandra benchmark values (SATA3 AHCI):

 

Here is a comparison of the SiSoftware Sandra benchmark values, which are getting updated with soon coming drives:

 

 

Result and general impression ...

The Crucial m4 2.5" 128GB SATA3 SSD CT128M4SSD2 achieved with the at testing date most current firmware 000F on SATA3 port in AHCI mode very low access times, a very high read performance and high write performance, where the write rate is much slower than the Crical m4 with 256GB capacity.

The Crucial CT128M4SSD2 128GB MLC Solid State Drive with Marvell Controller and 25nm Micron NAND was tested both in the current AHCI mode, and in legacy IDE mode, whereby the AHCI mode showed as seen in previous SSD tests clear advantages.
In legacy IDE mode on the SATA3 Controller we measured especially much lower 4k-64Thrd values.
One should thus operate this Crucial m4 2.5" 128GB SATA3 SSD necessarily in AHCI mode.

The enormously high speed of the SSD became clear with everyday tasks at the PC, because a Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate boot procedure took only unbelievable 7 seconds and the complete boot time inclusive BIOS post and Windows 7 start took thereby only approx. 22 seconds.

All in all is the new Crucial m4 128 GB SSD with the latest firmware a very good choice for users who search an inexpensive SSD with a very high reading performance.
Who like to achieve even a slightly higher write performance, should buy the bigger Crucial 256 GB.
The best data transfer rates can be reached with a current Windows 7 PC and the SATA3 interface mode set to AHCI.

The extra charge of about 10-15 Euro for the Crucial CT128M4SSD2 SSD with the data transfer Kit (article CT128M4SSD2CCA) is worth mainly for users who have no software for hard disk copy, or upgrade from a hard drive to an SSD without reinstall, or a notebook SSD upgrade via the USB port.
The included cloning software and the USB 2.0 SATA adapter are easy to use and with the additional short multilanguage guide it is also possible to understand for users without English skills.
Especially the optional customization for the 4K alignment is very useful.
However, somewhat annoying was the verification if one actually has connected the SSD to the USB-SATA adapter.
This makes it impossible to use the Crucial Data Transfer Suite EZ Gig IV software for a 1:1 copy on the internal SATA port.
It is necessary to connect the SSD for the backup copy with the much slower USB 2.0 performance.
Of course we understand that vendors like to integrate a copy protection, but it should be sufficient for a protection to verify, if the USB adapter is connected to the PC also without a SSD connected to the adapter.

 

Discuss in our forum and exchange experiences ...

Here you can buy the Crucial SSD ...

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