Specifications, Pricing and Availability
The Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2 is an interesting and unique solid state controller. At this time there are three versions of the 9174 that we know about. The first was used exclusively in the Crucial C300 that held the title of the first SATA 6G controller on the market. Later Crucial once again pioneered a new revision that is currently in use in the m4. The middle sibling is the BKK2 used in the Plextor PX-M2, Corsair Performance 3 and Intel 510 Series of products to name a few. Most of these products based on the BKK2 can be traced back to those early display samples found at Computex, thus they can be traced back to LiteON / Plextor.
What makes the Marvell BKK2 so unique is the controller's ability to perform at the same level no matter how much data is on the drive. This is quite a rare occurrence since most SSDs lose both read and write performance as the drive fills with data and even when used over a period of time. The Plextor PX-M2 might not be the fastest drive out of the gate, but its long term endurance ensures it will take a podium position after a long marathon.
Plextor has announced three capacity sizes for the M2 Series. All three capacity points have different performance envelopes due to the density of the flash used. Today we are looking at the flagship 256GB drive that has a maximum sustained read speed of 480MB/s and a maximum sustained write speed of 330MB/s. Plextor's documentation lists all models as having a 128MB cache buffer and they all use SATA 6G connectivity for maximum performance.
As for the rest of the specifications, everything appears to be on the level with other next generation solid state drives on the market. The only area of concern is the conservative IOPS ratings. In order to process all of the internal garbage collection, IOPS took a bit of a performance hit. In the grand scheme of things the sacrifice worked out well, especially for users working without TRIM, MAC OS, RAID and legacy operating systems.
When it comes to pricing, Newegg currently lists the Plextor PX-256M2S at 559.99. This is around 10 Dollars more than the OCZ Vertex 3 240GB drive, but 100 Dollars less than the Corsair Performance 3 256GB and around 50 Dollars less than the Intel 510 250GB drives. The latter use the same BKK2 controller, so this makes the Plextor the lowest priced Marvell 9174-BKK2 25X GB drive available on the market today.
When it comes to accessories, the Plextor M2 Series has some high points with the software bundle that includes Acronis True Image Home and Plextor's propriety Instant Restore. An extensive paper manual is also included as are mounting screws. The low point of the bundle, though, is the lack of a 2.5 to 3.5" desktop adapter bracket that we feel should be standard with 2.5" form factor SSDs since a large volume of these drives are being used in high performance desktops.