NVME is the reigning kind of solid state storage and prices are getting more affordable than ever. Today, we’re looking at the very first NVME drive from Crucial, one of the world’s leaders in DRAM and SSD manufacturing, with the P1 NVME M.2 solid state drive. We’ve seen an impressive showing from Crucial so far this year. Does the P1 continue the trend? Join us as we find out!
- MSRP: 500GB - $109.99, 1TB - $219.99, 2TB - TBD
- Form Factor: M.2 Type 2280
- Interface: NVMe/PCIe Gen3 x4
- 500GB: 1900 MB/s
- 1TB: 2000 MB/s
- 2TB: 2000 MB/s
- 500GB: 950 MB/s
- 1TB: 1700 MB/s
- 2TB: 1750 MB/s
4K Random Read IOPS
- 500GB: 90k
- 1TB: 170k
- 2TB: 250k
4K Random Write IOPS
- 500GB: 220k
- 1TB: 240k
- 2TB: 250k
- Endurance: 100TBW (500GB), 200TBW (1TB), 400TBW (2TB)
- MTTF: 1.5 million hours
- Included Software: Acronis True Image, Crucial cloning software
- Warranty: Limited 5-year
The P1 is Crucial’s first NVME solid state drive, a fact that caused me to do a double take when it floated across my desk. The company has been delivering high quality SSDs and DRAMs for as long as they’ve been around, so I’d taken it for granted that they’d have a product in this sector. Nevertheless, it’s good to finally see them enter the fray and add more competition to the market, hopefully lowering prices even further for new system builders.
The P1 uses Crucial’s new 64-layer QLC NAND flash. QLC NAND is new to the storage scene, offering improved densities over SLC, MLC, or TLC. This technology “stacks” data, allowing it to be rapidly read using less energy. As a rule, QLC NAND offers fast reads than writes which represents the majority of use cases for mainstream gamers and PC enthusiasts today. The downside to this stacking is that endurance takes a hit as the passing of electricity more quickly degrades QLC NAND cells.
In this case, we reviewed the 1TB variant which features an endurance rating of 200 terabytes written (TBW) with rated speeds of 2000 MB/s and 1700 MB/s in sequential reads and writes. The drive also makes use of an SLC cache to boost speeds, though like all cache this is expended in large operations, which leaves us with slower QLC transfer rates. Random IOP performance ratings come in at 170k and 240k. These, of course, scale up and down with the capacity of each drive.
Looking at pricing, the 500GB drive represents the best value, falling directly in line with its competitors in that price bracket at $109.99. The 1TB drive being reviewed is more expensive, coming in at $219.99. Compared to its closest competitor, the Intel 660p which also uses QLC NAND flash, it offers improved sequential read and write speeds at 500GB and improved speeds across the board at 1TB capacities.
At the same time, these speeds and endurance do fall a bit short of TLC NAND which can be had for a similar price. We put the P1 to the test to see for ourselves whether QLC was a good choice for gamers. Let’s see how it did!
Test system: i9-9900K (stock), ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate Motherboard, NZXT Kraken X72 360mm CPU cooler, 32GB ADATA XPG D41 DDR4-3200 DRAM, NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition, 1TB Samsung 970 PRO NVME SSD, 1TB WD Black NVME SSD, 1TB WD Blue 2.5” SATA SSD, 1TB, Crucial MX500 2.5” SATA SSD, 10TB WD Gold HDD, Corsair HX-1050 1050-watt PSU, Fractal Define R6 Case (open top panel).
When testing SSDs, we first begin by looking at synthetic benchmarks to cross check the manufacturers claims on speed. We then move into real world file copy tests using a large, heavily modified Skyrim directory. Finally, we look at game loading times in a variety of popular MMORPGs. Since MMOs, particularly in capital cities where our tests are conducted, require large first-time, no-cache loads, this makes for a particularly good test of real world performance implications.
Beginning with ATTO, we find that the Crucial P1 performs almost exactly at expectation. This is a good sign and what we expected based on our history with Crucial devices. It also highlights the differences between the different drives. To be very clear, at this level of speed, these aren’t differences you’ll notice in games. At this point, you should be concerned with how you’ll use the drive outside of games and the price.
As usual, CystalDiskMark brings things back down to earth. CDM tends to be a bit harder on drives and also adds in random access in queues of 1 and 32 here. At a queue depth of 1, the P1 performed remarkably well on its random access test, coming in at 221.4 MB/s. This puts it in second place, just shy of the 970 Pro. Extending that depth to 32, however, strains the drive and we begin to see it fall behind.
Ultimately, however, these are synthetic tests. What we really care about is real world performance. Looking at file transfer speeds, the P1 1TB comes in at 1218 Mb/s. The results are a bit behind our other competitor drives. Given the P1’s lower price, however, we consider this a reasonable gap.
If you’re a gamer, especially in competitive games, you want a drive that’s responsive and won’t spend unnecessary time loading. Like all of the NVME drives we’ve tested, the P1 does very well hear, coming within seconds of its competitors. The reinforces our conclusion that game load times alone aren’t enough to decide one drive over another. Price and alternate uses are just as important.
Discussion and Final Thoughts
Looking at these results, the Crucial P1 demonstrates its best value at the 500GB/$109.99 price point. There, the drive’s pricing puts it in line with others of a similar capacity and level of performance. It’s also there, given the competitive dollar-for-dollar pricing, where the value of a longstanding brand name and extended five year warranty is enough to push potential buyers over the edge. It’s when you step up to the 1000GB model that the price point comes into starker contrast, particularly when there are TLC drives available that offer greater speed for less. If you’re willing to spend a little bit more, drives like the WD Black open up, offering much better speeds and endurance ratings.
As it stands, we would have no hesitation recommending a good hard look at the 500GB P1, especially if you plan on using it for an OS drive and a handful of games. At $109.99, it’s quite an upgrade in file transfer speeds alone from a SATA SSD. At the 1TB level, we’d suggest waiting for a sale. While the drive performs perfectly well for most users, the price point simply puts it in too competitive a space to stand out.
If you’re a gamer, these are drives to look at, especially leading into the holiday sale season.
- 500GB is a good balance of price and performance
- 5 year warranty
- Crucial support and service
- Includes Acronis True Image
- 1TB speeds aren’t competitive enough at the price point
- QLC endurance falls far short of TLC
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.