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Crucial MX300 525GB review

Odd allocation sizes aside, this SATA SSD is a tempting choice

Price
£111
  • Affordable; Good capacity; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Write tolerance is only 160TBW; No default overprovisioning

Like every SATA SSD, the Crucial MX300 struggles to differentiate itself on performance. In fact, it did surprisingly poorly in our sequential read test, with a score of 449MB/sec. Don't get too hung up on that, though: its benchmark scores were on point in every other regard, with random 4K write speeds a particular strength. It still represents a tremendous boost compared to any mechanical disk.

The MX300 range comes in some slightly odd sizes. 275GB and 525GB capacities are offered, along with a limited-edition 750GB unit and high-end 1,050GB and 2,050GB models. The 525GB model we tested works out to just 25p per gigabyte, making it an excellent-value drive: for that we can thank Crucial's 3D TLC flash memory, which crams three bits of data into every cell, and then stacks cells on top of each other to create extremely dense memory chips.

Despite the unusual capacities, these drives don't overprovision by default. If you want to help your drive last longer, you can allocate between 1% and 50% of the drive's total capacity using the supplied Crucial Storage Executive software. You also get a copy of Acronis True Image HD 2015. This isn't a full backup system, but it's a potentially useful bit of hand-holding if you want to clone the contents of your old hard disk onto the new one.

One area where the MX300 scores over other drives is 256-bit AES hardware encryption. That means you can password-protect the entire drive, if that's supported by your BIOS, or use Windows BitLocker if it's available.

Don't be fooled into thinking of this as a professional-grade SSD, though. Officially it has a write tolerance of 160TBW: that's fine for a domestic drive, but a long way behind what you'd expect from an enterprise-class SSD. The three-year warranty is also merely par for the course.

But let's not cavil about what the Crucial MX300 isn't. It's a temptingly affordable SSD in a generous size, with decent - albeit slightly uneven - performance. You get hardware encryption, disk-cloning software, full control of overprovisioning - and even a 2.5mm spacer in the box. Really, you can't say fairer than that.

This review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 275

Verdict

While it's not quite up to the standards of enterprise-grade drives, this SATA SSD is generously-sized, attractively priced and has some interesting features.

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