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Crucial’s P5 is the company’s first PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD with hardware-based AES 256-bit security, but performance falls short of competitors.
- Competitive pricing and specs
- Hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption
- Available in capacities up to 2TB
- Blacked-out aesthetics
- 5-year warranty
- Software suite
- Lower than average performance
- High heat output
- Runs hot and lacks heat spreader
While we have been awaiting the arrival of a high-end NVMe SSD from Crucial for a few years, the company only teased us with the entry-level P1 last year. It isn’t until halfway through 2020 that Crucial’s first high-end NVMe SSD, the P5, hit the market. But now that the P5 is out, it’s about time we put it through its paces. With a very robust design, it can dish out impressive performance numbers on paper, but it isn’t quite the best SSD going for the price.
Crucial’s P5 has been a long time coming and check’s almost all the boxes for a high-end enthusiast-class PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD today. With Micron’s third-generation, 96L TLC NAND flash and brand new proprietary six-core NVMe controller, Crucial’s P5 comes with some serious hardware that not only helps it hit some great performance numbers, but it also protects the stored data with full hardware-based encryption. Not only does it perform well, but it also has the looks to match. Crucial designed the P5 with a blacked-out aesthetics so that it will blend into any build for gamers and professionals alike.
Crucial P5 Specifications
|Product||P5 250GB||P5 500GB||P5 1TB||P5 2TB|
|Capacity (User / Raw)||250GB / 256GB||500GB / 512GB||1000GB / 1024GB||2000GB / 2048GB|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3|
|Controller||Crucial NVMe Architecture||Crucial NVMe Architecture||Crucial NVMe Architecture||Crucial NVMe Architecture|
|Memory||Micron 96L TLC||Micron 96L TLC||Micron 96L TLC||Micron 96L TLC|
|Sequential Read||3,400 MBps||3,400 MBps||3,400 MBps||3,400 MBps|
|Sequential Write||1,400 MBps||3,000 MBps||3,000 MBps||3,000 MBps|
|Random Read||210,000 IOPS||390,000 IOPS||430,000 IOPS|
|Random Write||355,000 IOPS||500,000 IOPS||500,000 IOPS||500,000 IOPS|
|Security||TCG Opal 2.0, IEEE 1667, eDrive||TCG Opal 2.0, IEEE 1667, eDrive||TCG Opal 2.0, IEEE 1667, eDrive||TCG Opal 2.0, IEEE 1667, eDrive|
|Endurance (TBW)||150 TB||300 TB||600 TB||1,200 TB|
Crucial’s P5 comes in capacities of 250GB up to 2TB, and current street prices range from $0.15-$0.22 per GB. Crucial says the P5 delivers sequential performance of up to 3.4 /3 GBps read/write as well as up to 430,000 / 500,000 random read/write IOPS when hammered to the max. All capacities can hit the read spec, but write performance degrades as capacity decreases. At the 500GB capacity point, write performance is rated for up to 1.4 GBps.
The P5 comes backed by a five-year limited warranty, or up to the rated write endurance per capacity. Endurance shouldn’t be much of a concern because the P5 has a half-dozen layers of adaptation, retry, and correction in its multistep data integrity algorithms, as well as LDPC Error Correction Code (ECC). Similar to WD’s approach, the stronger and less efficient correction capabilities are typically used for high bit-error pages as the SSD reaches its end of life, thus optimizing for performance and efficiency during its full lifespan.
For those needing assurance on write life, these algorithms ensure that the Crucial P5 sustains up to 150TB of writes per 250GB of capacity, which is a solid 1.2 PB of writes for the 2TB model. Additionally, Crucial also overprovisioned the P5, setting aside 9% of the overall NAND capacity for controller use, including RAIN (Redundant Array of Independent NAND), which dedicates some of the NAND strictly to parity rather than user addressable space. The parity ratio at 2TB is 128:1, and this ratio halves as capacity halves.
The drive also features Integrated Power Loss Immunity, but the SLC caching helps in many cases, too. The Dynamic Write Acceleration (SLC cache) works a little bit differently than most SLC caches we have come across in the past – Crucial built some new tech into the P5.
Most Phison-based SSDs recover their SLC cache quickly, so it acts more like a buffer. Micron’s P5, on the other hand, retains parts of both OS and user data in portions of the cache for read requests. It also adjusts in size not only based on the amount of capacity used, but also based on the workload so it can optimize write amplification and performance. Additionally, during testing, we saw that it can simply remap its cache on the fly to ensure fairly consistent performance after hammering it time and time again, which is quite clever.
We couldn’t get the P5 to complete a secure erase with both our motherboard’s UEFI or the 2018 version of Parted Magic’s secure erase tool, at least at first. However, after downloading the latest 2020 version of Parted Magic, we successfully secure erase the P5 without fail. Trim and S.M.A.R.T. data reporting functioned as expected, too. Crucial’s P5 comes with AES 256-bit hardware encryption supporting the TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE 1667 feature set and is also configurable with Windows BitLocker since it is eDrive-compliant.
Furthermore, Crucial’s P5 features NVMe Autonomous Power State Transition (APST) like most competing solutions for better efficiency and there is Adaptive Thermal Protection that is linked to the temperature sensors in the NAND components themselves rather than the controller. Adaptive Thermal Protection will throttle performance when the NAND exceeds 70 degrees Celsius. The drive will not shut down until it hits roughly 85 degrees.
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Crucial ships the P5 bare of any accessories. However, you can download Crucial’s Storage Executive, the company’s SSD toolbox software. You use this software to update your SSD’s firmware when a new version is available, adjust the security settings, or monitor your drive. It can also enable/disable the Momentum Cache, which buffers random writes to the SSD in a portion of the host system’s DRAM. This speeds performance and writes data to the drive in a less-damaging sequential manner. The company also provides Acronis True Image cloning software so you can clone over your existing operating system and user data over to your new Crucial SSDl.
A Closer Look at Crucial P5
Like WD’s Black SN750 and Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus, Crucial’s P5 comes in an M.2 2280 single-sided form factor at all capacities. With all components on a single side of the PCB, the P5 is compatible with almost any mobile device that fits an M.2 2280 NVMe SSD. The finish quality on the P5’s black PCB is very good too, especially when compared to the rather rough finish of the PCB on the P2. The sticker design is clean and classy, but the controller IHS bubbles through, taking away from the clean looks.
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Speaking of which, while the P1 leveraged a Silicon Motion SM2263EN NVMe controller and the P2 used Phison’s E13T, Crucial’s P5 features the company’s first, and quite beastly, consumer NVMe SSD controller. The controller interfaces with the host over a PCIe 3.0 x4 link and communicates via the NVMe 1.3 protocol.
The package measures 17x17mm, which is quite large compared to Phison’s E12 and especially the E12S, measuring 16x16mm and 12x12mm, respectively. The reasoning for the size becomes apparent when we dig down deeper into the architecture.