Crucial P1 solid-state drives bring NVMe closer to Joe Sixpack

NVMe drives used to be bits of kit reserved for the elite, but over the last couple years, we've seen the introduction of multiple entrants in the space promising speeds far higher than those attainable by SATA devices, yet priced competitively enough so that even Aunt Ginny can have one for her Facebork-and-Instacat machine. Crucial, Micron's consumer brand, just released its P1 solid-state drives aimed exactly at this market. Let's dig in.

The P1 drives come in 500-GB, 1-TB, and 2-TB capacities and use a PCIe x4 interface. The sequential read and write speeds of 2000 MB/s for reads and 1700 MB/s for writes (for the 1-TB model) won't give the Samsung 970 Pro pause, but they're still good enough to lap any SATA drive several times over. According to Anandtech, the 1-TB P1 can run random read operations at up to 170K IOPS and manages 240K IOPS when writing.

The site also notes that the Crucial P1 employs a Silicon Motion SM2263 controller and Micron's four-bit 3D QLC NAND. That makes it almost a carbon copy of Intel's 660p. The P1 uses a variable-size SLC cache in a bid to keep speeds up. The endurance figures aren't particularly high at 100 TB written for the 500-GB drive, 200 TB for the 1-TB model, and 400 TB for the biggest unit. Nevertheless, as our testing showed, SSDs' actual endurance tends to be far higher than listed, and the amount of data actually written to the vast majority of drives in consumer scenarios just isn't that high.

The Crucial P1 rings in at $110 for the 500-GB model and $220 for the 1-TB unit. While at first sight those prices would immediately place the P1 as an also-ran considering the lower amounts that Intel's 660p currently commands, it's worth considering that street prices for Crucial's drives are often way lower than MSRP. As an example, the Crucial MX500 500-GB SSD is currently going for around $85, even though it originally listed for $140.

Once the P1 drives start selling in earnest, we wager they may well become a no-brainer choice for entry-level NVMe storage. Crucial offers five-year warranty coverage and throws in a copy of Acronis TrueImage in the box.

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