Budget Crucial v4 SSD targets 3Gbps SATA upgrades

Adding a solid-state drive is often the best way to boost the performance of an aging system, especially if it's a laptop. Now, Crucial has a new model specifically for that purpose. The Crucial v4 SSD is designed for systems with older 3Gbps SATA ports, and it looks pretty affordable. The official press release quotes suggested retail prices of $50, $70, $100, and $190 for 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB versions of the drive, respectively. That's less than a dollar per gig for the higher-capacity flavors.

Obviously, the v4 isn't as fast as Crucial's m4, which takes advantage of the extra bandwidth provided by 6Gbps SATA ports. The budget model is rated for maximum throughput of 230MB/s with 128KB sequential reads and 190MB/s with sequential writes. Its random I/O performance ratings top out at 10,000 IOps for random 4KB reads and 4,000 IOps for writes. To put those numbers into perspective, the m4's sequential throughput is pegged at 500/260MB/s for reads and writes, with random I/O ratings of 45,000/50,000 IOps. Both SSDs are covered by three-year warranties.

Right now, the v4 is available only through Crucial's online store. I suspect the drive will end up being even cheaper when sold through outlets like Newegg. That vendor currently has the 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB m4 drives priced at $70, $120, and $220, respectively. It's worth paying the $20-30 premium for the m4 given the extra performance on tap, but we'd have no qualms about replacing an aging mechanical hard drive with the v4. Indeed, the SSD in my own notebook is an older 3Gbps model based on Indilinx's original Barefoot controller.

Unfortunately, there's no word on which controller lies at the heart of the v4 SSD. We suspect it's the same Marvell chip that underpins the m4, but we've asked Crucial to confirm. Like the m4, the v4 is built using 25-nm MLC NAND.

Update: Crucial has confirmed that the v4 uses a Phison PS3105 controller with custom Micron firmware. The chip has eight channels, according to Phison's site, but we haven't heard much about it.

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