Crucial X9 Pro Portable SSD Review: Micron 176L 3D NAND Delivers Record UFD Consistency

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Crucial's flash-based retention lineup has had a unique attraction connected soul SSDs, pinch a scope of options catering to some mainstream and powerfulness users. On nan portable SSD front, nan company's X6 and X8 Portable SSDs person been charismatic fund options for nan mainstream consumers. However, these drives usage QLC and are not wholly suitable for powerfulness users (such arsenic contented creators) who require penning immense amounts of information arsenic quickly arsenic possible.

The institution introduced 2 caller products successful nan PSSD class successful July 2023 - nan USB 3.2 Gen 2 X9 Pro, and nan USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 X10 Pro. These 1 GBps and 2 GBps-class drives travel pinch a Type-C larboard and a Type-C to Type-C cablegram (Type-A adapter sold separately). The capacity specifications of these 2 products bespeak suitability for powerfulness users - for nan first time, nan institution is quoting constitute speeds for their PSSDs successful nan trading material.

Crucial sampled nan 2TB type of nan X9 Pro for review, and we put it done our rigorous direct-attached trial suite. This reappraisal takes a elaborate look astatine nan capacity and worth proposition of nan PSSD, pinch a peculiar attraction connected really it stacks up against nan existing players successful nan segment.

Introduction and Product Impressions

Flash exertion has seen accelerated advancements successful caller years (such arsenic nan improvement of 3D NAND and improvements successful TLC reliability). These person been accompanied by nan quality of faster big interfaces for outer devices. Together, they person contributed to bus-powered direct-attached retention devices increasing successful some retention capacity and speeds. The Type-C modular has besides achieved wide acceptance successful nan user market. Protocols specified arsenic USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 / USB4 and Thunderbolt riding connected apical of nan Type-C connector person enabled nan preamble of palm-sized flash-based retention devices tin of delivering 2GBps+ speeds. The 10 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface has go ubiquitous successful moder systems and has emerged arsenic nan saccharine spot for mainstream users.

One of nan superior challenges pinch high-speed retention devices is nan thermal aspect. Bridge-based solutions pinch aggregate protocol conversion chips thin to dissipate much powerfulness owed to nan further components. High-performance portable SSDs successful nan past person had nary action but to usage them - first, pinch SATA bridges, and past pinch NVMe bridges. The preamble of autochthonal UFD controllers tin of hitting 10 Gbps and 20 Gbps from Phison and Silicon Motion has opened up yet different action successful this category. The Crucial X6, equipped pinch nan Phison U17, was reviewed successful August 2021 and was 1 of nan first unit products to surpass nan SATA speeds obstruction by hitting 800 MBps speeds without utilizing a NVMe bridge. Around nan aforesaid time, Silicon Motion's SM2320 powered nan Kingston XS2000 to 20 Gbps speeds without a span successful nan middle.

Products based connected Silicon Motion's SM2320 person gained a batch of user mindshare because they person typically been capable to deed nan interface velocity limits for sequential accesses successful some nan 10 Gbps and 20 Gbps categories. However, consistency was an rumor arsenic nan first activity of products utilized Micron's 96L 3D TLC aliases BiCS 4 / BiCS 5 (up to 112L) 3D TLC NAND. The preamble of faster flash has since allowed portable SSDs (PSSDs) based connected nan autochthonal UFD controllers to deed higher speeds and support them moreover successful direct-to-TLC scenarios.

The X9 Pro we are looking astatine successful this reappraisal is simply a 38g 65mm x 50mm USB 3.2 Gen 2 PSSD made of anodized aluminum. It includes a lanyard spread (with nan LED adjacent nan hole, alternatively than adjacent nan Type-C port) and a rubberized soft-touch guidelines for protection against bumps. The sides are somewhat recessed for amended traction during handling. It is IP55 rated, and drop-proof up to 7.5'. The packaging is minimal - a short USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-C cablegram and a personification guideline successful summation to nan main unit.

The Silicon Motion SM2320 autochthonal controller and Micron's 176L 3D TLC NAND packages are seen successful nan board. Each package appears to person 8 1 Tbit dies.

CrystalDiskInfo provides a speedy overview of nan capabilities of nan soul retention device. TRIM and NCQ are not seen successful nan features list, though we person seen those disposable successful different PSSDs based connected nan Silicon Motion SM2320. Crucial indicated that TRIM support will beryllium enabled successful nan adjacent firmware update. We will spot successful nan adjacent conception that autochthonal bid queuing is progressive successful nan PSSD, and each S.M.A.R.T features specified arsenic somesthesia publication outs worked well.

The array beneath presents a comparative position of nan specifications of nan different 2TB 1 GBps-class PSSDs presented successful this review.

Comparative Direct-Attached Storage Devices Configuration
Downstream Port Native Flash 1x PCIe 3.0 x4 (M.2 NVMe)
Upstream Port USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (Female) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (Male)
Bridge Chip Silicon Motion SM2320 ASMedia ASM2362?
Power Bus Powered Bus Powered
Use Case 1GBps-class, sturdy palm-sized high-performance portable SSD pinch a Type-C interface 1GBps-class, IP67-rated rugged portable SSD for on-the-go contented seizure workflows
Physical Dimensions 65 mm x 50 mm x 10 mm 95 mm x 50 mm x 15 mm
Weight 38 grams 91 grams
Cable 22 cm USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (male) to Type-C (male) 49 cm USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-C
48 cm USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-A
S.M.A.R.T Passthrough Yes Yes
UASP Support Yes Yes
TRIM Passthrough Yes Yes
Hardware Encryption Yes Yes (256-bit AES, only via SanDisk Secure App)
Evaluated Storage Micron B47R 176L 3D TLC SanDisk BiCS 4 96L 3D TLC
Price $130 USD 360
Review Link Crucial X9 Pro 2TB Review SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD 2TB Review

Prior to looking astatine nan benchmark numbers, powerfulness consumption, and thermal solution effectiveness, a explanation of nan testbed setup and information methodology is provided.

Testbed Setup and Evaluation Methodology

Direct-attached retention devices (including thumb drives) are evaluated utilizing nan Quartz Canyon NUC (essentially, nan Xeon / ECC type of nan Ghost Canyon NUC) configured pinch 2x 16GB DDR4-2667 ECC SODIMMs and a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD - nan IM2P33E8 1TB from ADATA.

The astir charismatic facet of nan Quartz Canyon NUC is nan beingness of 2 PCIe slots (electrically, x16 and x4) for add-in cards. In nan absence of a discrete GPU - for which location is nary request successful a DAS testbed - some slots are available. In fact, we besides added a spare SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe SSD to nan CPU direct-attached M.2 22110 slot successful nan baseboard successful bid to debar DMI bottlenecks erstwhile evaluating Thunderbolt 3 devices. This still allows for 2 add-in cards operating astatine x8 (x16 electrical) and x4 (x4 electrical). Since nan Quartz Canyon NUC doesn't person a autochthonal USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 port, Silverstone's SST-ECU06 add-in paper was installed successful nan x4 slot. All non-Thunderbolt devices are tested utilizing nan Type-C larboard enabled by nan SST-ECU06.

The specifications of nan testbed are summarized successful nan array below:

The 2021 AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration
System Intel Quartz Canyon NUC9vXQNX
CPU Intel Xeon E-2286M
Memory ADATA Industrial AD4B3200716G22
32 GB (2x 16GB)
DDR4-3200 ECC @ 22-22-22-52
OS Drive ADATA Industrial IM2P33E8 NVMe 1TB
Secondary Drive SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D SSD 1TB
Add-on Card SilverStone Tek SST-ECU06 USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C Host
OS Windows 10 Enterprise x64 (21H1)
Thanks to ADATA, Intel, and SilverStone Tek for nan build components

The testbed hardware is only 1 conception of nan evaluation. Over nan past fewer years, nan emblematic direct-attached retention workloads for representation cards person besides evolved. High bit-rate 4K videos astatine 60fps person go rather common, and 8K videos are starting to make an appearance. Game instal sizes person besides grown steadily moreover successful portable crippled consoles, acknowledgment to precocious solution textures and artwork. Keeping these successful mind, our information strategy for portable SSDs and UFDs involves aggregate workloads which are described successful item successful nan corresponding sections.

  • Synthetic workloads utilizing CrystalDiskMark and ATTO
  • Real-world entree traces utilizing PCMark 10's retention benchmark
  • Custom robocopy workloads reflective of emblematic DAS usage
  • Sequential constitute accent test

In nan adjacent mates of sections, we person an overview of nan capacity of nan 2 PNY PSSDs successful these benchmarks. Prior to providing concluding remarks, we person immoderate observations connected nan drives' powerfulness depletion numbers and thermal solution also.

Performance Benchmarks

Source Networking