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Plextor M3 256GB SSD review

A solid performer with a long-life warranty

Our Verdict

For

  • Good performance
  • 5-year warranty
  • Reasonable price

Against

  • Not the fastest out the blocks

We looked at one of Plextor's first 6Gb/s rated drives - the PX-128M2S - last year. And barely nine months later, the next generation is upon us, in the shape of the M3 series. According to Plextor's own blurb, these are its most advanced drives yet.

The Plextor M3S SSD comes in 128GB (510MB/s read, 210MB/s write) and 256GB (510MB/s read, 360MB/s write) flavours, both of which are available now. The flagship M3S 512GB model (525MB/s read, 445MB/s write) will be appearing soon.

The new drives come with an up-rated Marvell controller, four times as much cache as the previous generation (in the 256GB and 512GB models), and faster NAND to complete the upgrade. So what do they look like when you throw some data down their tubes?

Marvell-ous

The new M3 series uses the same Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2 controller as the M2S series – and a load of other drives come to that – but with a twist: Plextor has made a raft of upgrades to the firmware. This, combined with 24nm Toshiba Toggle MLC NAND and a large 512MB cache (256MB in the 128GB model), gives the Plextor M3S 256GB pretty impressive performance.

Eight 32GB 24nm Toshiba Toggle NAND chips give the drive its capacity. These sit on the topside of the PCB, along with the two 256MB Nanya DDR3 1333 chips that make up the cache. The controller is positioned all on its lonesome on the underside of the board.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Sequential read/write (incompressible)
AS SSD: MB/S: Bigger is better

Plextor PX-256M3S
Read: 468
Write: 346
Vertex 3 MAX IOPS
Read: 506
Write: 234
Samsung SSD 830
Read: 499
Write: 391

4K random read/write performance
AS SSD: MB/S: Bigger is better

Plextor PX-256M3S
Read: 24
Write: 46
Vertex 3 MAX IOPS
Read: 18
Write: 42
Samsung SSD 830
Read: 20
Write: 53

Under test conditions using the ATTO benchmark, the drive came pretty close to Plextor's own figures for sequential reads at 507MB/s, and did marginally better than the quoted figures for sequential writes at 365MB/s.

The more demanding AS SSD incompressible data benchmark saw it fall behind both the Vertex 3 Max IOPS and Samsung SSD 830 in the sequential read/write test, but it did much better in the 4K random read/write tests.

A bit of real world testing saw the drive take just four and half minutes to copy a 50GB folder of mixed file sizes and types, while loading Office 10 Pro took a smidgen under five minutes from key code entry to being ready for use.

Plextor is also shipping the M3S with its proprietary True Speed technology. This supposedly provides better sustained drive performance over time and, together with advanced wear levelling and bad block management, keeps the drive running closer to fresh-out-the-box than many of its competitors'.

The M3 series carries on from the previous generation, offering strong performance compared to the Samsung SSD 830 and OCZ's Vertex 3 Max IOPS. It's competitively priced as well, and at around £300 it may well ruffle a few feathers.

Plextor backed its previous range of SSDs with the usual three-year warranty, but the M3S series is backed for an unusually generous five years.

Verdict

Plextor's new drive is a rather impressive offering. It may not be the fastest kid on the block, but it's powerful enough and that price tag makes it a pretty attractive choice too.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeSolid State Drive
Product FamilyPX-M3 Pro
Drive InterfaceSATA
Drive Width2.5"
Drive Interface StandardSATA/600
Brand NamePlextor
Drive TypeInternal
Storage Capacity256 GB
Maximum Read Transfer Rate540 MBps
Maximum Write Transfer Rate420 MBps
Height7 mm
Width69.9 mm
Depth100 mm
Product SeriesPX-M3 Pro
ManufacturerPLDS Corporation
Product NamePX-M3 Pro MLC Solid State Drive
Manufacturer Part NumberPX-256M3P
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.pldsnet.com
Marketing Information

Get greater speed with the highest performing professional SSD

Plextor knows as "the Rolls-Royce of optical display drives" is setting a new benchmark for solid state disks with the M3 Pro. High performance, no slow-down technology, and an ironclad 5-year warranty make the M3 Pro SSD the ultimate notebook upgrade!

From storage legends Plextor comes a powerful new solid state drive. The M3 Pro will be the new storage benchmark against which others are measured, bringing even greater speed to the powerful combination of Plextor's 5-year warranty and True Speed sustained long-term performance.

Outperforming competitors with sustained random read and write speeds of up to 75,000/69,000 IOPS and PCMark7 storage scores of 5441 points. Beating SSD slowdown with advanced True Speed Technology. Reassuring with its 5-year ironclad warranty. The Plextor M3 Pro SSD raises the bar for high performance SSDs.

Limited Warranty5 Year