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Crucial boosts M4 SSD speed

Crucial boosts M4 SSD speed

Crucial's M4 SSDs have steadily come down in price over the last few months making them a tasty upgrade.

Those with Crucial M4 SSDs would do well to take a trip to the Crucial website, as the company has released a new firmware update for its range of Marvell based drives.

Crucial claims that the new 0009 firmware improves boot up times and PCMark Vantage scores while also improving write latency for better drive performance under heavy loads.

Crucial also suggests that the update should lead to improved throughput performance, with some users on the Crucial forum reporting up to 20 per cent gains in the CrystalDisk Mark benchmark.

You’ll have to do a little bit of work to bag this extra performance unfortunately, as you can only update the firmware of the M4 drives by making a bootable CD from an ISO image.

The files you’ll need for this are available on the Crucial website, along with a 20 step guide on how to complete the process. Thankfully, the update process isn’t destructive, so the data on the drive won’t be wiped during the firmware update.

We’ve been recommending the 64GB version of the M4 in our Gaming Workhorse build for a while now and with drives available for as little as £77.99 (or £140 for the 128GB version) there is little excuse not to get your hands on a drive.

Are you considering an SSD purchase soon? Are you seeing any performance gains from the 0009 firmware? Let us know your take on things in the forum.

40 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Ph4ZeD 30th August 2011, 13:34 Quote
OOOOO will definitely take a look!
TheStockBroker 30th August 2011, 14:26 Quote
I can only hope OCZ follow suit, I need moar speed from my Vertex 3!

TSB
Meaty Pete 30th August 2011, 14:31 Quote
Be changing the firmware when I get home. Does that mean it can beat the vertex 3 now?
Stotherd-001 30th August 2011, 14:33 Quote
Got one of these the other day... think I'll update the firmware before installing anything on it though.
bdigital 30th August 2011, 14:35 Quote
Edit: read the posted link properly now.

I did a bench last night, so il update the firmware and run another this week!
kenco_uk 30th August 2011, 14:42 Quote
http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=215639

I updated mine on day of release. Ensure you have backed up any important info, just in case. You need to have the sata port it's connected to set to ide and all other sata ports set to IDE/Compatible temporarily (or disable those that the ssd isn't connected to), otherwise the bootable cd update sticks on finding the drive.

I know my speeds went up a fair bit, but I guess it needs to run trim to get the full benefit. Is there a way to manually run it on these drives? Like how you can with the Intel SSD Toolbox on Intel drives?
Ph4ZeD 30th August 2011, 14:50 Quote
I can't actually get the firmware updated for my drive yet :(
AstralWanderer 30th August 2011, 15:24 Quote
The price has really dropped for the 128GB drives recently - there are a few other vendors offering good prices also (better once you take free delivery into account) for those who can't stomach Overclockers.
Vo0Ds 30th August 2011, 16:02 Quote
Seems SSD's are still climbing sharply in speed and capacity, think I'll wait 'till next year to partake...
salesman 30th August 2011, 16:49 Quote
I did this and it took me 5 minutes. Quite easy and painless, took longer to burn the iso to disc then it did to update the firmware. I read the 20 steps crucial has and I followed like 5 of them. Download, burn, restart, type yes, restart.

Bad part for me is I have the 64gb setup using SATA II port so I really do see a difference in boot times. One day I will have the SATA III port, one day.
samkiller42 30th August 2011, 17:02 Quote
I'm with salesman, Using a X58 UD5 things a re a little slower than our Sata 3 counterparts, but the update has made a difference, it is quicker than before.

+rep to Crucial.

Sam
Chris_Waddle 30th August 2011, 17:24 Quote
Just wondering; I have a 256gig version in my main machine and a 128gig in another machine. Can I use the same ISO for both drives or is it capacity specific too?

I'm pretty sure that the capacity doesn't matter, but better to be safe than sorry.
r3loaded 30th August 2011, 17:36 Quote
Here's a quick guide for updating the firmware from a USB drive.
  1. Format a USB drive with FAT/FAT32.
  2. Download Syslinux and extract the syslinux.exe file from either the Win32 or Win64 folder
  3. Run syslinux -m -a X: where X is the drive letter of your USB drive.
  4. Extract the contents of the BOOT folder in the firmware ISO to the root of the USB drive.
  5. Rename ISOLINUX.CFG to SYSLINUX.CFG
  6. Boot from the USB drive, and it'll ask for confirmation to upgrade the firmware. In my experience, it'll successfully update even if the controller is in AHCI mode.

I've seen a slight improvement in general loading times on the Thinkpad with this new firmware. :)
DirtyH 30th August 2011, 18:27 Quote
worked perfectly!!


made a bootable usb stick with YUMI http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-multiboot-usb-creator/

followed instructions and updated firmware

results:

before (firmware 0002)
http://www8.pic-upload.de/30.08.11/55ktjb71r85t.png

after (firmware 0009)
http://www8.pic-upload.de/30.08.11/vmw6byg8dqkg.png
Waynio 30th August 2011, 18:34 Quote
Quote:

Wow that's a nice surprise for owners :). I took the plunge & gamble for a corsair force 3 though but so far so good :).

I was a bit worried going for a sandforce drive after seeing so much negative about them but mine seems nice, didn't bother updating the bios on it either, thought I'd see if it's fine before doing that & it seems to be with good speeds.
PabloFunky 30th August 2011, 18:35 Quote
The speeds are a nice bonus, but the fact that the drive actually works correct from cold boots, is worth 100 speed increases .
mrbens 30th August 2011, 18:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by salesman
Bad part for me is I have the 64gb setup using SATA II port so I really do see a difference in boot times. One day I will have the SATA III port, one day.

Get a PCI-E card for about £17 that has 2x SATA 6G/b ports :)
cgthomas 30th August 2011, 19:51 Quote
[QUOTE=mrbens]
Quote:
Originally Posted by salesman
Bad part for me is I have the 64gb setup using SATA II port so I really do see a difference in boot times. One day I will have the SATA III port, one day.

Get an ASUS U3S6, only £24 and has 2 SATA III and 2 USB III and works like a charm with Crucial SSD's.

If, like me, you have a PCIe card with SATA III you will need to diconnect your SSD and plug it into your mobo SATA (even if it's SATAII - it doesn't matter). When you're done you can reconnect to your SATA III card.

Using ATTO benchmark, before the upgrade I reached approx. 360 MB/s burst. Now I reach 400 MB/s
And I do notice that my programs open a bit quicker now
mrbens 30th August 2011, 20:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgthomas
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbens
Quote:
Originally Posted by salesman
Bad part for me is I have the 64gb setup using SATA II port so I really do see a difference in boot times. One day I will have the SATA III port, one day.

Get a PCI-E card for about £17 that has 2x SATA 6G/b ports
Get an ASUS U3S6, only £24 and has 2 SATA III and 2 USB III and works like a charm with Crucial SSD's.

Yes, I actually have one of those in my main PC for my USB3 external drive :)

And use 3x of the £17 ones in my 12 drive unRAID server.
Bungletron 30th August 2011, 23:18 Quote
Will try this now I spose, AS SSD is the bench to use is it?
Jqim 30th August 2011, 23:50 Quote
The thought of installing windows and trying to keep my files. Then having scary partitions is enough to stop me from buying a ssd.
Bungletron 31st August 2011, 00:08 Quote
Hmm, for my 256gb M4 I would have to say inconclusive.

I did 2 runs of AS SSD on 0002 firmware, upgraded the firmware then another another 2 on 0009, the drive is the system disk running Windows 7 on the Intel controller on an Asus P8Z68-V pro.

0002:

http://i.imgur.com/i85tY.jpg http://i.imgur.com/Xr0OL.jpg

0009:

http://i.imgur.com/v0Eov.jpg http://i.imgur.com/begxf.jpg

Overall scores are up but score on 64k write and access time write are actually down, the improved results are not 20% either. Will see how it handles over the next few days, its still blisteringly quick and the firmware update was a breeze, I do think it is ridiculous how my post time is actually way longer than my OS boot time since getting an SSD but I will take any performance where I can find it!

*EDIT* sorry the sequential is 20% better, just not counting it right, it was quick, it is now quicker but it is hard to tell!
kenco_uk 31st August 2011, 10:21 Quote
To cut down on post time, unless you need it, you can disable the Marvell and JMicron oprom settings in bios so they aren't displayed - saves a few seconds.
TheStockBroker 31st August 2011, 10:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jqim
The thought of installing windows and trying to keep my files. Then having scary partitions is enough to stop me from buying a ssd.

Please understand that I'm not mocking you; but if you've such a fear of something so rudimentary as an OS re-install, then you probably don't fall into the 'enthusiast' category of computer users that the current generation of SSDs are aimed at.

Also, if you buy a half-decent drive, the partitioning thing is a non-issue as hidden space is kept and maintained by the drive controller(s) so you can just use the drive as you would a HDD and fill to 100% available capacity.

TSB
x5pilot 31st August 2011, 11:38 Quote
Ask a silly queston...
Dont suppose this will work with the Cruical C300 128MB SSDs?
andrew8200m 31st August 2011, 11:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by x5pilot
Ask a silly queston...
Dont suppose this will work with the Cruical C300 128MB SSDs?

Unfortunately not mate
x5pilot 31st August 2011, 11:59 Quote
Thanks Andrew...
I did a firmware update from thier list of available C300 releases. Better than nothing.
Denis_iii 31st August 2011, 13:14 Quote
Do all SSD's require a bootable CD to upgrade firmware?
I will consider an SSD once the +500MB read/write SSD's are sub £1/GB
Bungletron 31st August 2011, 14:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denis_iii
Do all SSD's require a bootable CD to upgrade firmware?
I will consider an SSD once the +500MB read/write SSD's are sub £1/GB

I think I have used bootable cds to firmware upgrade not only my M4 ssd but Seagate HDD's too, might be a tough thing to do in Windows since the hardware controller always picks up a new piece of hardware once the firmware changes, but be difficult to do this if if upgrade was on your system disk.

I paid £250 for my 256gb M4, I think the prices are going up...
TheManicGibbon 1st September 2011, 21:50 Quote
Looking at the instructions, do I have to use a CD, or can I use a DVD? Or does the USB method work just as well? I don't have any CDs lying around atm :p
PabloFunky 2nd September 2011, 06:31 Quote
Using a dvd is fine, i know as thats what i used.

I use a standard port on my gigabyte ud9 in ide mode to update it, as i know this works without causing issue, so i use this method for future flashes on my crucial ssds, but have to flash my corsair one in ahci mode.
phuzz 2nd September 2011, 10:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheManicGibbon
Looking at the instructions, do I have to use a CD, or can I use a DVD? Or does the USB method work just as well? I don't have any CDs lying around atm :p

I just used r3loaded's method from further up this thread and it worked fine* from a USB stick


*(although I did have to set my drive to ATA rather than AHCI to flash it, and the sysliux command had to be run from a cmd prompt with admin rights)
Ph4ZeD 2nd September 2011, 11:39 Quote
I used a memory stick and got it flashed easy :)
kenco_uk 2nd September 2011, 14:51 Quote
I didn't do a before but I'm pleased with the after.

http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=299&pictureid=21830
Bungletron 2nd September 2011, 15:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
I didn't do a before but I'm pleased with the after.

http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=299&pictureid=21830

Every 0009 firmware upgrade appears to be trumping mine, the boost on 64GB and 128GB drives is stellar!
kenco_uk 3rd September 2011, 23:32 Quote
Bungletron, have you updated to the 0606 bios and then installed the newest intel rapid storage drivers?
omser 23rd September 2011, 18:42 Quote
Upgraded to Crucial 128GB M4 SSD from a Cruxial 64GB SSD. Updated firmware to version 009 without any problems. Decided to use 64MB SSD as an extra drive so installed on my other sata 6Gb connection and reformatted it and it appears to work ok But ! now when i go into "my computer" i have an extra drive listed tagged as "System reserve" sized at 99.9GB with 76.2GB used. Click on the drive and no files show even with "show hidden and system files" selected. When i remove the 64GB SSD then the mystery drive disappears. I have a akasa usb3 hard drive caddy attached to my rig and when i put the 64Gb ssd into it and power it up the same thing happens ie the mystery drive re appears. Does anyone have any ideas on this. I'd like to hear them plse...
adidan 27th September 2011, 09:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by omser
i have an extra drive listed tagged as "System reserve" sized at 99.9GB with 76.2GB used.
Is this W7 and are you sure it's Gb and not Mb?

I think that happens if you install windows with both drives connected, installation should just have the main drive connected and then secondaries added after. I can't tell whether you had it installed or not at the time.

I think that's it, if it's the problem I'm thinking of.

If it is someone else had the same issue here that I've only had a brief scan of but I think it's a workaround if you don't want to reinstall.
kenco_uk 27th September 2011, 11:11 Quote
Aye, it'll be the 100MB partition automatically created by your previous installation on the 64GB drive. It sounds like it's had a drive letter assigned to it - it's normally a hidden partition with no drive letter. It holds files that are used for the setup process, amongst other things.

You might find if you unplug the 64GB drive that you are no longer able to boot - if this happens you can usually repair the files required by running the startup repair off the install dvd.
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