There was a time when adding large amounts of storage to your PC required the use of 3.5 inch hard drives. However, they’re large, clunky, and slow, so you feel like you’re dragging your files through a molasses swamp. But they did the job.
Luckily, while you can still buy mechanical hard drives, they’re better suited for something like a NAS than a desktop PC or laptop. This is partly due to the affordable nature of the best SSDs right now. The faster the storage, the more you’ll pay for smaller capacities. But SATA SSDs are still very much around, and that’s where the Crucial MX500 SSD comes in. What we have here is a 2.5-inch SSD that runs quietly and has no moving parts, with a capacity up to 4 TB. Other sizes are available at more attractive prices.
Not so long ago, such a storage device would have been unheard of, but is it worth it now?
About this review
This review was conducted using a Crucial MX500 4TB provided by Crucial for this review. No one at Crucial has seen or contributed to the content of this notice prior to its publication.
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Crucial MX500 SSD Pricing and Availability
The 4TB version we have here is the highest capacity and most expensive in the MX500 range. It’s available now on Amazon for around $350. For most people, the 2TB version would be the go-to at around $170.
The MX500 goes as low as 250GB if you just need a little extra storage, with 500GB and 1TB versions available in between.
Crucial MX500 SSD Specifications
|Maximum read/write speed||560MB/s / 510MB/s|
|Abilities||250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB|
Performance and software: good, but not great
The MX500 is a fairly modest product. It’s a SATA SSD, so you’re not buying it for the fastest performance. It’s next-generation mass storage, several times faster than a mechanical hard drive while being smaller and more reliable.
In the box, besides the SSD, you also get a plastic holder. Nothing tells you what it’s for, but given the adhesive on one side, it looks like it’s some sort of spacer. Attach it to one of the panels of your PC case and it will provide a non-metallic bed to rest the SSD on.
For performance, you are limited by the SATA 3.0 specification. The absolute maximum is around 600MB/s, so ideally you want to be as close to that as possible.
The image below shows the results of a benchmark in CrystalDiskMark 8, testing both sequential and random performance.
For read speeds, the MX500 matches the tastes of the Samsung 870 EVO, arguably the best SATA SSD you can buy. Write speeds are a little disappointing, though, trailing Samsung’s by around 25MB/s in our tests. It’s not a big deal and you won’t notice it on a daily basis. But the competition is even faster. The same goes for random read and write scores, both behind Samsung’s performance.
The story is pretty much the same in ATTO Disk Benchmark. That’s not bad at all, but it just doesn’t match the pace of the 870 EVO on the full curve of different file sizes when it comes to write speeds. Read speeds are nearly identical to Samsung’s, but about 30MB/s slower for writes.
It scores 852 in the 3DMark storage benchmark, which tests a variety of gaming-oriented scenarios. In reality, the MX500 4TB was a fantastic mass storage drive for games, loading them quickly and providing a huge locker to store a large Steam library. When it comes to temperature, it typically operates at 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit).
Of course, performance varies between different capacities and even between different units. The bottom line is that the MX500 is good, but it’s not the best in its class.
The software side is the only real subject of criticism. There’s a companion app for all Crucial SSDs, and it works great – or it does for the P5 Plus, which I’m currently using to boot into Windows 11. The MX500 doesn’t seem to register.
Well… most of the time it’s not. Restarting the PC seems to make it appear, but as soon as another tab is selected in the app, it disappears again. This isn’t a big deal most of the time, but it’s an easy way to make sure the SSD has the latest firmware. The alternative method to install it is much worse.
This involves downloading the firmware from Crucial’s website and installing it manually. It’s not necessarily a difficult question, but Crucial has decided to offer the firmware as an ISO, which means that to install it you need to burn the ISO to a bootable flash drive, reboot your PC into the BIOS/UEFI, tell it to boot from that USB, boot, then flash the firmware. It’s so complicated that most average users just shouldn’t care. By comparison, Samsung has its excellent Magician app. The overall experience here just isn’t as polished.
Maybe I’m just experiencing some bugs with the companion app. I hope that’s the case, and that it will work out.
Who should buy the Crucial MX500?
You should buy if:
- You are looking for good quality mass storage
- You are upgrading an old PC or laptop
- You have a large library of games
You should not buy if:
- Looking for fast storage to boot an operating system
- You want the absolute best performing SATA SSD
The Crucial MX500 is a perfectly good SATA SSD. It won’t win any sprint races against the best in this category, but Samsung has set the bar high. Aside from the weirdness with the companion app and the frankly awful manual way of installing new firmware, it’s a thumbs up.
The question is more about who storage you should buy. 4TB is tempting, but it’s also around $350, so you’ll need a pretty big budget. The 2TB is an easier recommendation with a more attractive price. Performance will be essentially the same across all capacities, so go with whatever your budget and needs allow.
Of course, a 4TB mechanical hard drive is still much cheaper, but it’s also much slower and consumes more power. In any modern PC, you should try to use all SSDs if you can, and that’s a perfect choice.