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Hands-on review: Crucial T500 Gen4 NVMe 2280 M.2 SSD
Thu, 21st Mar 2024

The standard M.2 2280 form factor means that the Crucial T500 SDD will fit in the Sony PlayStation 5 as well as most modern desktop PC motherboards. The "22" refers to the SSD's 22mm width and the "80" to the 80mm length, so it's about the same size as a stick of chewing gum. Handheld gaming PCs like Valve's Stream Deck require smaller M.2 2230 drives. 

The T500 SSD supplied for testing had a factory-fitted heatsink. It's a chunky unit that looks more than capable of keeping things cool. PlayStation 5 owners will be happy with the included heatsink, but desktop PC users may not find it quite as handy. The T500 is available without the heatsink, which some PC users may prefer. 

Sony's specification for PlayStation 5 NMVe storage expansion states that the drives need a data speed of at least 5500 MB/s and a heatsink. Third-party heatsinks are available, but the integrated unit on the T500 makes things a lot easier. Fitting the T500 to the PlayStation 5 simply requires the unclipping of a plastic side panel, unscrewing the SSD cover and inserting the drive. This is then screwed in place and the cover and panel replaced.

As well as being faster and smaller, M.2 NVMe SSDs are a lot easier to fit in a PC when compared to traditional 3.5" SATA drives. There are no mounting brackets or data and power cables to deal with. All that's needed is to insert the M.2 drive into the correct slot on the motherboard and then either clip or screw the drive down. With new motherboards having four or more M.2 slots, there's little reason to use older SATA drives unless you need lots of cheap storage.

The T500 is a great update for desktop PCs, but it's worth noting that the integrated heatsink does increase the thickness of the SDD's mainboard used to attach it to the motherboards. The heatsink is a sheath that fits over the entire drive, the piece on the underside adds a millimetre or so to the thickness. Some motherboards, such as those from Asus, use clips instead of screws that may not rotate into place properly due to this added thickness. Gaming motherboards often come with M.2 heatsinks that blend into the motherboard's aesthetics, these may need to be discarded to use with the T500.

The T500 SSD's touted 7400 MB/s maximum data transfer speed (which is usually a read speed), this would be towards the top end for PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD, the usual speed being around 5000 MB/s. 

Of course, many factors come into play when it comes to data speeds. Some motherboards share bandwidth between the SATA and M.2 sockets, which is always worth watching out for. 

I tested the T500 SSD with an Asus ROG Strix Gaming Z790-E WiFi motherboard. The drive managed a maximum data transfer speed of just over 7000MB/s, which is about 14 times faster than a traditional SATA6 drive. I got the same result in both the board's PCIe 4.0 and the PCIe 5.0 M.2 slots. Whilst it may not be the top speed, I'd still consider that I'm getting my money's worth.

Fast storage drives are a requirement for PlayStation 5's due to the console's architecture requiring the fast delivery of data. With PCs, it's not been essential, only a matter of convenience. But things are changing. If you install a game like Ubisoft's Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora on a regular SATA drive, you will get a warning suggesting you use an SSD instead.

Windows 11 takes things even further with the DirectStorage API. Developed for the Xbox Series X|S consoles, DirectStorage enables games to take better advantage of the data transfer speeds afforded by PCIe NVMe SSDs like the Crucial T500.  At the moment, only a few games, such as Forspoken and Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart, support this new technology, but there are more on the way, such as Horizon: Forbidden West.

Crucial are industry veterans when it comes to PC memory and solid-state data storage solutions. I have Crucial SSDs that have been in service for over 20,000 hours and are still going strong. I'd expect the same with the T500. 

The Crucial T500 Gen4 NVMe 2280 M.2 SSD with heatsink is a perfect storage upgrade for the PlayStation 5. PC users with compatible machines will find also the drive very fast and useful for storing essential data and, of course, the latest games.