If the Plextor M2 would have arrived in our office just a month ago, our outlook would have been a little different. Back in June 2010 when we spent time with the ADATA S501 we were ecstatic about the performance offered by the Marvell BKK2 controller. On its own the Plextor M2 256GB is very fast and a great successor to the drives offered in 2010. The controller's ability to deliver peak performance all the way up to a 75% full state is impressive and in my opinion the most significant single technical achievement for SSDs in 2011. The only problem is that we're talking about solid state drives and a handful of game changing advances are not enough; you need the total package, everything has to come together and more to reign supreme.
This is Plextor's second run in the SSD marketplace, but they are still making a few rookie mistakes. The biggest is the omission of a 2.5 to 3.5" desktop adapter bracket. The notebook market is huge and growing daily, but when it comes to 500 Dollar SSDs you're marketing to enthusiasts, power users and gamers, those guys aren't tossing expensive SSDs in off the shelf notebooks. Upgrading a thousand Dollar notebook with a 500 Dollar SSD will give you a serious performance increase; doing it to a 400 Dollar notebook will do the same, but users running 600 Dollar video cards, thousand Dollar processors and RAM at exotic timings are the real buyers of flagship SSDs and they can only cram that kind of processing power in a desktop. By not delivering a suitable adapter bracket for use in desktops, Plextor is virtually telling those users to shop elsewhere.
Plextor does make up for the desktop unfriendliness with their attractive price point, though. The Plextor M2 costs less than their direct competitors that use the same controller and capacity; the Intel 510 and Corsair Performance 3. Then comes the OCZ Technology Vertex 3, the 2011 party pooper for everyone. The Plextor M2 costs 10 Dollars more than the 240GB Vertex 3 that delivers 550MB/s read and 500MB/s write, performance that is much higher than the M2. The M2 does have a capacity advantage over the Vertex 3 and performance isn't dynamic like the Vertex 3 when filled with data or after heavy use. The Vertex 3 still just out muscles the M2 when it comes to IOPS and daily desktop tasks.
Despite the Vertex 3 raining on Plextor's best offering, to date we still see the Plextor M2 as having a place in the market. Power users looking to take performance to the next level with extravagant RAID arrays can rejoice in not needing to do regular spring cleaning, running the drives through HDDErase to regain performance. The Plextor M2 will also do very well in situations where TRIM is not available; legacy OSes like Vista, XP and MAC are prime targets.
As we discussed in the introduction, Plextor has turned into a company catering to the Average Joe, but it seems as if the M2 has some enthusiast DNA from Plextor's old days. Nothing is more Average Joe than legacy OSes, but nothing is more enthusiast than an array of SSDs running RAID. I highly doubt Plextor planned this, so it is quite ironic.
In order for Plextor to tap the Average Joe crowd, they are going to need to work on the pricing even more. When OCZ Technology started quoting MSRPs I didn't think it could be done, but we are seeing a steady decline, just as OCZ methodically planned. Plextor is going to have to follow suit to keep the enthusiast crowd excited about the M2, but Average Joe's are going to need more of a commitment from Plextor, more of a bargain on e-tail websites.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [Specifications, Pricing and Availability]
- Page 3 [The Packaging]
- Page 4 [The Plextor PX-M2 Series 256GB]
- Page 5 [Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - AIDA64 Random Access Time]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk Tests]
- Page 10 [PCMark Vantage - Drives with Data Testing]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - AS SSD]
- Page 12 [Benchmarks - Passmark]
- Page 13 [Final Thoughts]
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