Talk about sibling rivalry! The Crucial P2 (starting at $ 49.99 for the 250GB model, $ 64.99 for the 500GB model we tested) is an internal PCI Express (PCIe) NVMe M.2 solid-state drive (SSD) from Micron. The company released it alongside the standout Crucial P5, which has just earned our editorial choice as one of the best mainstream M.2 SSDs out there. While this drive stumbled a little in UL’s PCMark 10 benchmarks, it performed well enough to specify other tests and warrant a second look. To our eyes, the P5 is the much better value of the two, and in a world where that drive exists and isn’t much more money, it’s hard to figure out any scenario other than random 4K speeds (or a good sized discount) Find. where the P2 surpasses it.
SSD trends turned upside down
Like most popular M.2 SSDs, the Crucial P2 supports the PCI Express 3.0 specification and not the latest version 4.0. It is a four-track (x4) DRAM-free drive (more on this later) in the form factor M.2 Type 2280 (80 mm long). It is based on 96-Layer-Triple-Level-Cell-TAND-NAND-Flash (TLC) and is available in only two storage volume sizes: 250 GB and 500 GB. (Check out our SSD dejargonizer to decode the acronyms that may be new to you.) Here’s how the two models break out …
Some of these core specifications are unusual. While it is typical that 500 GB capacity drives are faster than their smaller capacity cousins in the same SSD family, the P2 flies to the contrary. It is critical that the drive be rated for faster reads on the larger capacity model (typical), but faster writes on the smaller model (very not typical), and not in small quantities.
The relative pricing of the P2, especially compared to the P5, is also a little scratchy. The P2 is A good deal cheaper than the P5, at 13 cents per gigabyte on the 16 cents of the P5. However, once we hit the benchmarks, you’ll find that the performance gap is larger relative to the price difference.
However, the design of the P2 is standard for a budget-conscious drive. You only get a small sticker on the NAND cells which are on one side of the PCB …
Due to the single-sided NAND design, the drive is well suited for laptop upgrades that are very close to the M.2 module and are only suitable for single-sided modules.
The drive’s Terabyte Writed (TBW) rating, which is used to estimate the life-wear limit of writes before the drive begins taking cells out of service, is directly in line with the trend set by the Crucial P5. What matters is that the P2 is rated for 150 TB in the 250 GB variant and 300 TB in the 500 GB version. This is roughly what we would expect if consumer-level TLC drives were hit at this price point. Also standard: a five-year guarantee.
Crucial P2 owners can use the company’s storage executive software suite to manage their data and the health of their drive. As we’ve noted in previous Crucial reviews, Storage Executive is one of the better management tools out there. The company also provides access to Acronis True Image HD software for any disk migration task you may need to perform.
Testing the crucial P2: I could have been a P5
We test all of our SATA and PCI Express 3.0 SSDs on the PC Labs main memory test bench, which is based on an Asus Prime X299 Deluxe motherboard with an Intel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition processor. We use 16 GB DDR4 Corsair Dominator RAM clocked at 3,600 MHz and the system uses an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition as the discrete graphics card. (For more information on testing SSDs, see here.)
In this list we decided to compare the Crucial P2 with a recently published entry by ADATA, the Falcon, as well as the Crucial P5 mentioned above and a price-performance ratio, the also DRAM-free WD Blue SN550. The Sabrent Rocket Q and the Samsung SSD 970 EVO also made the cut as a representation of some newer and older technologies in the M.2 SSD spectrum.
PCMark 10 total memory test
First up is the full system drive benchmark of UL’s PCMark 10 memory test. This score shows how well a drive performed throughout the entire PCMark 10 run. This score is the sanctioned score displayed by the UL software at the end of each run.
At the beginning of our benchmarking suite, the P2 stumbled off the line and achieved the lowest score in the entire PCMark 10 memory suite that we have seen from a PCI Express M.2 drive so far.
Start Windows 10
Next up is a more detailed measurement derived from one of PCMark 10’s background “tracks”. This and the following tests derived from PCMark 10 simulate how fast a drive can start a particular program (or, in this case, boot Windows 10). The Windows 10 boot trace simulates a full operating system startup process and records how quickly the drive can deliver the data required for this task.
While the drive gets a slight boost here and does better than newer versions like the ADATA Falcon, it’s still behind the curve and nowhere near enough to keep up with the similarly priced P5.
Next up is a test launch to launch the game, which simulates how fast a drive can read small, random 4K packets of shallow depth. 4K is one of the most common file block sizes for game installations, although this composition will depend on the title you are playing.
The takeaway here could be something like “The beating will continue until morale improves!” The P2 lagged behind the rest of the package on all three play load lanes.
Start creative applications
Here the drives undergo a very important test for creative types. As anyone who works regularly in programs like Adobe Premiere or Photoshop can tell you, a constant pinch point is the time it takes for these programs to start.
In this test, the P2 stabilized a bit at Photoshop’s loading speeds, but that doesn’t say much as almost every PCI Express drive we’ve tested so far appears to be doing roughly the same thing on this track. The fact that Premiere Pro bandwidth drops below 60Mbps says more about these results than Photoshop’s ability to stay within acceptable results.
These copy tests are also derived from PCMark 10 traces. While these numbers may look low at first when compared to the even numbers for sequential throughput seen in benchmarks like Crystal DiskMark 6.0 and AS-SSD, that’s because of the way this rating is calculated as well as the The nature and differences between the source data.
Another set of results below, and some of the lowest scores we’ve seen in the PCMark 10 suite for this test set for a drive in its class.
Crystal DiskMark 6.0
Based on numbers derived from PCMark 10, the sequential tests of Crystal DiskMark 6.0 simulate best-case transfers of large files in a straight line.
The drive doesn’t really disappoint in this test and works almost up to a T within the specification set by the manufacturer.
In contrast, the utility’s 4K tests (or “Random Read / Write”) simulate typical processes that occur when loading programs / games or when booting sequences.
Finally a ray of light! The P2 actually does quite well on 4K writing results, but this win is short-lived as its 4K reading results were secondary in this lot and they are more valuable in everyday use cases than writing.
AS-SSD copy tests
Last: A series of file and folder transfers made in the AS-SSD SSD benchmarking utility. These three tests involve copying large files or folders from one location on the test drive to another.
The drive actually manages to post reasonable results here within range. Not an absolute “win” in any department, but a solid performance to finish the benchmark run.
Crucially, competes with itself … and the P5 wins
Given the uneven performance, especially in the general and tight launch-specific tests of PCMark 10, the Crucial P2 is nowhere near the powerhouse of the Crucial P5. For us, the $ 15 you would save on the cheaper P2 isn’t worth the drop in performance.
If we had to speculate, the crucial piece of missing hardware here on the Crucial P2 is a DRAM chip. As a DRAM-free drive, the P2 competes less with the P5 (which has built-in DRAM) and more with DRAM-free options like the WD Blue SN550. In this comparison, however, the P2 still falls short, as the WD Blue SN550 is regularly used with drives with more functions, more DRAM (i.e. any DRAM at all) and higher prices. Perhaps Crucial engineers have just had more success designing firmware for a drive like the P5 with built-in DRAM, and over time, upgrading the P2’s performance could be as simple as a firmware update. Until then, however, both the Crucial P5 and WD Blue SN550 remain better options.
In fact, the Editors’ Choice Crucial P5 is one of the most affordable SSDs we tested in 2020, both in terms of raw performance and price competitiveness against other drives like the WD Blue SN550 and ADATA SX8200 Pro. Our recommendation? Put the extra cash (which could be little more than a fancy hamburger) and get the P5 instead, a drive with a lot more meat.
Critical P2 specifications
|Internal or external||Intern|
|Interface (computer side)||PCI Express|
|Internal form factor||M.2 type 2280|
|Capacity (tested)||500 GB|
|Bus type||PCI Express 3.0 x4|
|Rated maximum sequential read||2300 Mbit / s|
|Rated maximum sequential writing||940 Mbit / s|
|Terabytes Written (TBW) rating||300 TBW|
|Guarantee length||5 years|
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