Final words and conclusion
We have to admit that we did not expect the Crucial M4 to come at the top of our charts. The design and technology is now nearly two years old and there is only so much that firmware updates can do about a drive's performance. Despite that, it is the fastest retail SSD which Crucial has to offer for nearly two years now, for several good reasons. The Marvell 9174 based drive can still hold its ground against newer designs and controllers, offering excellent real-world performance, even if the design is old. The age of the drive actually is a positive thing when it comes to stability and firmware support, as even the smallest of bugs should have been ironed out by now.
The greatest advantage of the Crucial M4 drive is not its top-end performance, which may be high by all means but not the best possible nowadays; the greatest advantage of the M4 is the Marvell 9174 controller, with its excellent stability and proven long-term reliability. It is no coincidence that nearly all drives based on the Marvell 9174 controller were being marketed as "professional-grade" products. With a retail price of just under 200 USD for the 256GB model, the Crucial M4 currently offers very good value for money. For just 12 USD more, the data transfer kit bundle can be purchased as well, including the software and the SATA to USB interface cable.
Summarizing, the Crucial M4 still remains a very fast SSD even so many months after its release, with the drive being still capable of competing with newer devices in terms of performance. However, its proven reliability and good value should now attract more customers than the drive's performance.