Many NUCs can use NVMe (non-volatile memory express), and if what you’re looking for is high performance, they’re definitely the way to go. It’s no coincidence the acronym is pronounced “envy me”. NVMe doesn’t usually come cheap, though. So when I see a deal on a “budget ” NVMe SSD, I take notice. I haven’t tried Samsung SSDs…too expensive. A few months ago, I spent under $40 on the Adata XPG SX6000. I was happily surprised with the performance. I liked it so much I bought another one and used them in RAID 0, which yielded solid performance. I was officially hooked on NVMe.
For an idea of just how much of an improvement you get moving up the food chain, check out this video from hYPERs:
Quite a difference, huh? So when Crucial asked if I was interested in reviewing their “budget” NVMe SSD, I jumped at the change. I’d used their SATA SSDs and they were rock-solid with good performance. I couldn’t wait to see what they had to offer in the “envy me” arena.
They gave me a choice: I could test a single 1TB CT1000P1SSD8, or I could try a pair of the CT500P1SSD8 model, the 500GB version. I reviewed the specs for each, and while the 1TB drive did have some better read times, I chose the pair of smaller units.
I know what you’re thinking; I’m crazy for not jumping at a 1TB NVMe SSD, but I had good reason. This was about performance, and while a single SSD’s performance is important, what I really wanted to see was how the drives did in RAID.
They were kind enough to send these to me free of charge, to have and to hold. I still feel like a kid at Christmas when I know new tech is coming my way. I was especially excited about getting the pair of them, as I planned to install these in my Hades Canyon. Bigger, better, faster, more. It makes me smile.
The full data sheet can be found here, but here are the basics:
|Form Factor||M.2 Type 2280|
|Capacity||500GB M.2 SSD|
|Interface||PCIe NVMe Gen 3|
|Performance||1,900 MB/s Read, 950 MB/s Write|
|Package Contents||M.2 SSD, Acronis® True Image™ for |
Crucial cloning software and installation instructions
I appreciate the inclusion of Acronis True Image. After all, most people buying this will probably be migrating off of other storage, so it’s nice to have a tool to help with that. I didn’t need it for my purposes, but I appreciate them offering it for free to consumers. Crucial offers a five year warranty for their SSDs, a far cry from the ten years offered by Ortial on theirs. But with a name like Crucial I wasn’t too worried. Plus, what are the odds I’ll still be using these after five years?
At $80 US, this SSD is double the sale price of my ADATA drives, but FOUR times the capacity. Hey, I’ll take it.
Judging by the ratings on Amazon (4.8 out of 5) and Newegg, this is a very popular SSD. If you’ve been on Amazon for long, you’ve probably noticed it’s impossible to get the public to agree on anything.
Gotta go with Hades Canyon here.
Faster is faster, and Hades is the fastest system I have. It’s dual m.2 slots mean I can test and use the drives in RAID 0 for extra fastification (yes, I’m making up my own words now).
The use of these SSDs makes it Crucial all around, as I’m already running 32GB of their RAM. I’ve been running Crucial RAM in several of my NUCs for a while now, and have never had an issue with any of their sticks.
Installation is, well, easy. It involves one screw per SSD, and it’s more or less idiot-proof. If you’ve made it this far, I’m guessing you already know how to install an m.2 drive.
Hades Canyon includes a thick thermal transfer pad for the SSDs, so heat wasn’t an issue. The pad is attached to the case panel and presses down on any installed SSDs. This allows heat to be pulled from them and distributed through the case.
To test performance I decided to go with my old standby, Performance Test. It gets the job done, and offers an easy way to compare performance against other hardware. It also makes it easy to compare one SSD to two.
I installed Windows 10 Pro from scratch on a single drive, installed the latest drivers, and ran the tests.
Then I installed the second drive, switched to RAID in the BIOS, created a RAID configuration, and repeated the process.
When using RAID, there are a couple of extra steps involved. First, you need to change the chipset SATA setting in the BIOS to RAID. Then you need to create the RAID array:
Finally, when installing Windows you’ll need to load Intel’s RAID driver. To do that, first download the Intel Rapid Storage RAID driver, then point to it during setup:
Written instructions for this process can be found here.
You’ll note I referred only to Windows. That’s because Linux doesn’t generally like hardware RAID. You CAN configure Linux to use software RAID but it’s a bit more involved. I haven’t tried Linux with RAID myself, but I’ve read about it. For the purposes of this article I stuck with Windows 10.
I started with my favorite benchmarking tool, Performance Test by Passmark. For the sake of simplicity, let’s look at the results side-by-side:
The needle says it all. With a single NVMe SSD, it’s already showing faster results than any SSD I’ve tested before, in the 96th percentile. That’s crazy fast.
But when we look at dual SSDs in RAID 0 things get REALLY interesting. That’s the highest I’ve ever seen the needle go, into the 99th percentile.
Everything was fast with just the one drive. With two in RAID, it was a dream system. Running it through the usual real-world tests (web browsing, office applications, some random first person shooters, etc.) I never saw a hint of drag or delay.
User Benchmark showed similarly strong results for the RAID 0 configuration:
Finally, I ran Crystal Diskmark on both:
All-around impressive results!
What else can I say? These drives are fast, cheap, 100% reliable, and work wonders in a RAID configuration. A five year warranty means you’re covered for the usable life of the SSDs (probably), and the Crucial name gives you peace of mind that they’re well-made. They’re the fastest NVMe drives I’ve used in my (admittedly limited) testing. With Crucial’s P1 drives, you can upgrade your NUC with a fast SSD for not very much cash. My Hades Canyon is now complete with Crucial RAM and SSDs. I’m all kinds of pleased!