At the announcement on October 31, 2023, Micron’s latest NVMe solid-state drive (SSD), the Crucial T500, was a bit of a surprise: it’s another PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive.
Considering the plenty of PCIe 5.0 counterparts, including Micron’s own Crucial T700 that came out in late May, is this new internal drive already obsolete? Not really.
Despite the super fast performance, PCIe 5.0 SSDs are, for now, still very expensive and, I dare say, impractical to use. Besides the cost of the storage device itself, you’ll have to get a computer with the latest motherboard and other high-end components, namely the CPU and RAM, to match. The excessive heat could also render current PCIe 5.0 SSDs problematic in some applications.
All that makes PCIe 4.0 NVMe standard the sweet spot where you get excellent performance without digging a hole in the wallet. And that’s where the new Crucial P500 lands.
At street prices ranging from $50 to $120 for 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB — add another $10 or so for the heatsink version — the new SSD is an excellent buy. This brief review will convince you that it’s the just-right alternative to the big T700 older brother, even when you have a PCIe 5.0 motherboard.
Dong’s note: I first published this piece as a preview on October 31, 2023, when the Crucial T500 was announced, and updated it to an in-depth review on November 11 after thorough hands-on testing and real-world experience.
Crucial T500 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD: Fast enough to challenge PCIe 5.0
The T500 is not Micron’s first PCIe 4.0 SSD. Before this, it had already released the P5 Plus and others. But the new drive comes with a newer controller and flash memory and promises to deliver slight performance over the previous models. It’s slated to be Micron’s fastest PCIe 4.0 SSDs, which was the case in my trial.
The new drive comes in the standard M.2-2280 form factor — it’s 22mm wide and 80mm long — and is single-sided. The naked version is thin enough to fit anywhere. There’s also a version with a built-in heatsink designed for users with a desktop computer who want to crank everything up to the max without worrying about the heat.
Speaking of heat, the heatsink version of the T500 — like the case of any other heatsinked PCIe 4.0 SSDs — is much smaller than the T700. That’s because, as a PCIe 4.0 drive, it doesn’t produce as much heat.
Internally, the new drive is the first from Micron to use the newly launched Phison E25 controller, a scaled-down version of the one made specifically for PCIe 5.0 drives. For flash memory, it shares the same Micron 232L 3D TLC NAND, slated to deliver NAND I/O speeds of 2.4GB/s, as the T700.
As a result, in a way, you can think of the T500 as the PCIe 4.0 version of the T700. Both drives are geared towards advanced/gaming users.
Crucial T500 vs T700: Hardware specifications
|Micron Crucial T500||Micron Crucial T700|
|Capacities||500GB, 1TB, 2TB||1TB, 2TB, 4TB|
|Interface||PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 2.0
(compatible with PCIe 5.0/3.0)
| PCIe 5.0 x4
(compatible with PCIe 4.0/3.0)
|Design||M.2 (2280)||M.2 (2280)|
|Controller||Phison PS5025-E25||Phison PS5026-E26|
|NAND Flash Memory||Micron 232L 3D TLC NAND||Micron 232-layer TLC NAND|
|Security||AES-256 encryption, TCG Opal 2.01||AES-256 encryption, TCG Opal 2.01|
2TB: 7,400 MB/s
|2TB, 4TB: 12,400MB/s
2TB: 7050 MB/s
|2TB, 4TB: 11,800MB/s
|2TB, 4TB: 1,500K
|2TB, 4TB: 1,500K
(Terabytes Written or Drive Writes Per Day
|Software||Crucial Storage Executive||Crucial Storage Executive|
|Release Date||October 31, 2023||May 30, 2023|
(add $10 or so for the heatsink version)
(add $30 for the heatsink versions)
A familiar Crucial NVMe SSD
Besides some distinctive hardware specs above, the T500 is a familiar SSD. It’s virtually the same as any other Crcuial NVMe drive in terms of usage.
The drive comes with Storage Executive dashboard software that allows Windows and Linux users to manage different aspects, including monitoring real-time statuses, firmware updates, overprovisioning, and more.
As you might have noted from the table above, the Crucial T700 is similar to its older PCIe 4.0 brother, plus double the performance.
The drive supports the older PCIe 3.0 standard, but you must use it with the currently mainstream PCIe 4.0 to perform best. It works with PCIe 5.0, too. The new drive includes a re-branded version of Acronis True Image for drive cloning and data backups for folks who want to upgrade their computer.
Like the case of the T700, the T500 is available in both “naked” and heatsink versions. The latter is only applicable when your computer doesn’t already have a built-in heatsink for its NVMe M.2 slot. It’s worth noting that many PCIe 4.0 and most PCIe 5.0 motherboards — like the one I used for my recent Wi-Fi 7 client — come with heatsinks for their slots. In this case, the naked version is the appropriate option.
Crucial T500 SSD: Excellent performance
Coming from the T700, I wasn’t prepared to be impressed by the T500, but impressed I was! The drive did extremely well in my testing and real-world usage. It’s easily the fastest PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD I’ve tried.
I tested the new SSD using PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 5.0, and its scores trailed behind only the T700. Interestingly, when used in a PCIe 5.0, the T500’s performance improved noticeably, making it a good choice even for top-tier computer hardware.
While the T500, understandably, trails behind the T700 in synthetic test scores, I experienced virtually no difference between the two in real-world usage. I used both SSDs — as the boot drive — in the same machine for over a week and generally never knew one I was using at a given time.
That said, for general day-to-day operations, including a good amount of gaming — mine has been Diablo 4 — the T500 delivers the same experience as the more expensive T700. It’s a much better deal than its more powerful cousin.
What’s most interesting is the fact the T500 indeed produced much less heat. I made a “scientific” finger test to figure this out.
Specifically, I used both drives on my open test bed, with the T500 being the boot drive. During a heaving data copying operation between the two, I could rest my index finger on the T700 for no more than 15 seconds — it got too hot to be comfortable. In contrast, despite having a much tinner heatsink, the T500 never became hot to the point I needed to remove my thumb. The new SSD clearly produced significantly less heat, and that’s always a good thing.
Helpful Storage Executive software with useful settings and features
5-year warranty; run cool
A tad expensive at launch
The Crucial T500 is arguably the fastest PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD to date, enough to challenge the T700. That, plus the fact it produces less heat and is suitable for more affordable hardware build, makes it a much better storage option today.
While its suggested retail price is relatively high, you can expect the street price to be much lower. Find a deal during the holidays? Get one or two. You can always find a good use for one down the road.