The Plextor M3 Pro 128GB is just full of surprises. If you are starting to get excited about this release, but have a little more coin to spend on a larger model we've already published performance benchmarks in our 24nm Flash Face Off article last week. Our full review of the 256GB M3 Pro will hit the site in a couple of days. While finishing this article Plextor released a new firmware update for the M3 Pro drives so we're going to go back into the Secret Bunker testing facility for some one-on-one time. We'll publish the updated results in the full M3 Pro 256GB review, so stay tuned.
In the introduction we talked about how Plextor is emerging as the big Marvell controller based SSD manufacturer - only time will tell if this is just a situation where luck played a big role or if Plextor is going to stay on top of the hill. Plextor certainly knows how to play the role of being the best on the market. Their innovative thinking made Plextor the leader for enthusiasts for several years in the optical reader market. Solid state drives, at least in the consumer space are headed to the same commodity product status within the next three to five years. That means the focus on speed and truly innovative features will slow while companies turn their attention to price reductions. Hopefully this time around Plextor does not slow development and presses on with their instincts to push the envelope of performance. Just to elaborate before you may get the wrong idea. Anyone looking for the highest quality optical drive should still look no further than Plextor; just the really remarkable breakthroughs like bit-to-bit disk duplication are few and far between these days.
Getting back on track. Plextor has managed to use that performance instinct to take the Marvell controller to heights we never thought we'd see. The ground gained in just the last year on the SandForce controllers is remarkable. I never thought I'd see a Marvell based drive using a variant of the same controller released two years ago on the Crucial C300 rut tit-for-tat with a SandForce based drive in enterprise tests.
The same can be said in the consumer day-to-day tests when the drives are filled to 50% capacity. The Crucial m4, another Marvell based drive took a real beating when compared to the SF-2200 series drives, yet somehow Plextor was able to make up ground there as well.
If there is any fault with the Plextor M3 Pro 128GB at this time, it is the price. The dual DDR3 cache doesn't help in keeping the cost down, but this is still the new kid on the block too. Over time the new to market pricing will wear off and we'll see a reduction. Hopefully Plextor will be able to compete on the price front with the SandForce drives just like it does on the performance side.
Given that the Plextor M3 Pro manages to keep pace with the Vertex 3 120GB at 50% fill and manages to outperform most if not all of the SF-2281 controlled drives in the file transfer tests, I'd say this is quite possibly the fastest 120/128GB drive available on the market today. We've yet to see the SanDisk Extreme 120GB, but that will come. Can you ask for 24nm Flash Face Off II? We're working on it, but until then the Plextor M3 Pro 128GB has my respect and endorsement.