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Plextor PX-M5S 256GB Solid State Drive Review - Specifications, Pricing and Availability

Plextor skips M4 and jumps straight to the M5 Series. The first product in this new series brings IMFT flash in and with it we should see a lower price.

| SSDs in Storage | Posted: Jul 23, 2012 2:21 pm
TweakTown Rating: 88%      Manufacturer: Plextor

Specifications, Pricing and Availability

 

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The Plextor PX-M5S comes in three capacity flavors and all three have a different performance envelope just like previous models based on the Marvell 88SS9174 controller. The capacity sizes offered are 64GB, 128GB and the model we have for testing today, 256GB.

 

All three capacity sizes list the same 520MB/s read speed, but the sequential write speed, as well as the IOPS performance differs by capacity. The 64GB model has a sequential write speed of 90MB/s, 128GB has 200MB/s and the 256GB has 390MB/s. Each capacity size also has an increasing volume of DRAM cache as you scale through the product line. The 64GB starts off with 128MB, 128GB has 256MB and the 256GB model gets an impressive 512MB of cache to increase write performance and handle data mapping.

 

Just a few months ago we concluded that the Plextor M3S and M3 Pro were in the running for the best 128GB SSD on the market today. Hopefully we'll be able to test the 128GB M5S when available in the middle of August, when production ramps up. With a brief look at the reported specs between the M3S and the M5S at the 128GB capacity size, we see the new M5S model gains 10MB/s in the sequential read category, but loses 10MB/s in the sequential write category. We'll just call that one a draw.

 

The larger 256GB capacity size shows the new M5S gaining 10MB/s of sequential performance in both the read and write category. The advantage in sequential performance goes to the M5S. IOPS performance is also increased for the new M5S over the M3S and brings it much closer to the performance of the M3 Pro 256GB.

 

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One of the reasons we like the Plextor line of SSDs products is the custom firmware. Plextor calls it True Speed, but we would call it a very aggressive background garbage collection (GC). When it comes to consumer SSDs, write amplification isn't too big of a deal because most of us aren't pounding the drive 24/7 and expecting it to last for 10 years like the enterprise sector. SSDs based on SandForce technology don't use background GC so their write amplification is tiny. They do get help from other proprietary tech as well, but nearly all of that technology was ported from their enterprise products. Plextor on the other hand embraces background GC and their drives are able to perform well even in environments with TRIM. If you are using RAID or an OS without TRIM then you want background GC to keep the drives performance at their best. Even in TRIM environments, having a good background garbage collection system will aid in retaining peak performance... but your drive will not last as long. Since this 25nm flash is rated for 3000 PE cycles we are talking about years of service, around 8 to 10 under average consumer workloads.

 

As we mentioned, the Plextor M5S offers performance higher than the M3 and very close to the M3 Pro model. Now it is time to talk about the price and availability. We were told the production ramps up in August so you can expect an August release to e-tailers. Plextor MSRP is set at $99.99 (64GB), $159.99 (128GB) and $299.99 (256GB). We are not sure if Plextor plans to reduce the price of the M3/M3 Pro products or if the M5 Series will drop in between the M3 and M3 Pro right from the start. Both of the M3 products have already dropped in price since their release so they have the advantage of the e-tail pricing structure already, launch at MSRP and then fight it out with competition products in a large scale SSD price war. We thing the lower cost IMFT flash will aid in making the Plextor M5 products act like a tank in the price war, getting out in front of the M3 products and going head to head with Team LSI SandForce. I think it will take a couple of weeks, but the M5 products should eventually cost less than the M3 products. I'm not a market analyst, but I play one on the internet. Plextor may have different plans for the M5S, but my best guess, at this time, leads me to believe this product is more about getting high quality Plextor SSDs down to competitive price points.

 

You may wonder why we'd make such a bold claim about the M5 Series price even when we have contradicting data from Plextor directly in the form of MSRP pricing. Here are two reasons; the M5S comes with a three year warranty, down two years from the M3 and M3 Pro. Our sample also shipped without a desktop adapter bracket. The adapter bracket may have been just an oversight since our sample was a pre-production model, but in years past, the early samples did ship with a desktop adapter bracket.

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