Introduction & Drive Details
Plextor has been quiet for nearly two years now. The last time we heard from Plextor was just before they were bought up by Toshiba. In January 2020, Plextor unleashed its M9P Plus Gen3x4 SSD on an unsuspecting industry. No one thought much of it because all focus at the time was directed toward fledgling PCIe Gen4 SSDs that were just hitting shelves at the same time. No one thought much of it, that is, until they tested it.
Plextor's M9P Plus absolutely destroyed every flash-based consumer SSD we had ever tested in terms of performance that matters. Gaming and consumer workload performance. Even Gen4 SSDs of the time were no match for Plextor's exquisitely executed NVMe juggernaut.
Well, Plextor is back again with a repeat performance. The Plextor M10P is without question the new performance leader, as evidenced in part by the above benchmark result run on our AMD 5900X based testbed. A sub-6 second performance from a flash-based SSD is a new lab record and significantly better than anything flash-based we've tested to date. Amazing.
The similarities between what Plextor did with its M9P Plus and its newest offering run deep. Both SSDs employ controllers that have been used extensively on competitors' offerings, but only Plextor has been able to make them deliver record-breaking performance. Plextor's know-how and focus on performance that matters is the reason for its ability to take existing hardware and get much more out of it than anyone else. Plextor's M10P employs an InnoGrit IG5236 "Rainier" controller in front of a Kioxia BiCS4 flash array.
Now, we've tested several InnoGrit IG5236 controlled SSDs, and they have all performed at a high level. However, none have been able to take on the WD Black SN850. Sure, they deliver the highest sequential speeds we had seen to date, but because of their Micron 96Layer flash arrays, they came up short in real performance that matters; gaming and consumer workloads or user experience. Chasing sequential eye candy with Micron 96L, or performance that doesn't matter except to the uneducated, has been exposed by Plextor's M10P as the primary culprit holding Rainier-controlled SSDs back from overthrowing the BiCS4 based WD Black SN850 as the true performance leader.
As we've seen so far in the consumer space and recently in the enterprise space, the best performing SSDs are all arrayed with 96Layer BiCS 4 TLC flash. Newer flash with more layers can deliver higher sequential speeds, but where the rubber meets the road, nothing has been able to deliver the goods like BiCS 4 based SSDs. The WD Black SN850, with its good but not great 7,000/5,000 MB/s sequential speeds, has been our performance champion from the day it hit our lab until now. Quite a long reign for a performance champion.
Well, today, we have a new performance champion, and the fact that it is Plextor and BiCS 4 based makes perfect sense to us because we've seen it happen this way before. We were caught a bit off guard because InnoGrit is part of the winning combination. After all, we hadn't considered that it might be paired with BiCS flash or even pair well with it. Well, the M10P provides real clarity as to what currently employed hardware can deliver when paired correctly and with expertise.
Now let's dive in and take a close look at what has compelled us to crown a new performance champion.
As expected from a Plextor SSD, the M10P is exquisitely put together. It is the first time we've seen a 2TB InnoGrit based SSD that is a preferred single-sided design. The drive comes naked with an optional heat sink. Just the way we like it. The heat sink is substantial and undoubtedly very effective. We chose to run it naked.
Like we've seen from the WD Black SN850, BiCS 4 flash sequential speeds top out at 7,000/5,000 MB/s, but as we've explained a million times, sequential speeds are not a reliable indicator of true performance. Think Optane 905p if you have doubts about our assertion.
Jon's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XIII HERO - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i9-11900KF - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 - Buy from Amazon
- RAM: XPG DDR4 D50 Xtreme 5000MHz 16GB (8GB x 2) - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: Zotac 2080Ti AMP Edition - Buy from Amazon
- Case: PrimoChill's Praxis Wetbench - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 1000W 80+ Gold Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Buy from Amazon
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, Anvil, ATTO
We can't quite hit stated sequential speeds, which is something we've seen before from other powerful SSDs like the 980 Pro, for example. Looking at the most important performance metric that can be gleaned from CDM results, 4K Q1T1 random read, we notice one aspect that BiCS 4 flash has over Micron 96Layer flash when paired with the IG5236. Significantly better random read performance, or performance that matters. M10P gets 89 MB/s, VP4300 gets 82 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities
Comparing scores here between the M10P and the Gammix S70 is the best synthetic example of how much better BiCS 4 flash runs than Micron 96Layer when paired with the IG5236 controller. Incredible performance where it is meaningful is what the M10P is all about. Outstanding.
Sequential speeds at QD4 128K are not the M10P's forte, but as we've explained, sequential speeds have little to no bearing on real-world performance. A perfect example other than the M10P on this chart would be the 980 Pro. Now on to performance that matters and what makes the M10P our undisputed performance champion.
Real-World Testing: Transfers, Gaming, PCM10
Performance that matters. Our transfer block is composed of more than 61,000 files of all stripes, not easy to deal with. The M10P produces a new lab record for a flash-based SSD running on this hardware/software configuration. This is especially impressive when you consider the FireCuda can do 7,000 MB/s sequential programming (writes), the M10P, as we saw from our CDM results, can do "only" 4,650 MB/s. This gives even more perspective on the viability of synthetic results to predict real-world performance and why they should never be used to do so. Synthetic benchmarks only serve to verify stated factory performance metrics, nothing more.
Although not a record-breaking performance, the M10P is right in there with the best we've gotten with this hardware/software combination. Only 56 MB/s separates the M10P from the top spot on our chart. It's essentially as fast as we've seen to date. Although we didn't think to show it, we did run this test on our AMD system, and the M10P produced a result exceeding 4,600 MB/s.
Game Level Loading
Gaming is a performance metric that matters to most DIY consumers, especially to the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. As if retracing the path to victory its predecessor took to the performance crown, the M10P absolutely kills our gaming benchmark. Nothing else is even close. Again, this shows BiCS 4 is still the performance leader when it comes to performance that matters.
PCM10 Storage Tests
PCMark 10 Storage Test is the most advanced and most accurate real-world consumer storage test ever made. There are four different tests you can choose from; we run two of them.
The Full System Drive Benchmark and the Quick System Drive Benchmark. The Full System Drive Benchmark writes 204 GB of data over the duration of the test. The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23 GB of data over the duration of the test. These tests directly correlate with mainstream user experience.
PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark
Sorry WD Black, it's been a nice run, but Plextor's newest is the new sheriff in town. This is real performance that really matters, and Plextor's newest has proven itself as Elite. Not by a razor-thin margin either, but by TON. We could comfortably stop here and declare the MP10 our new performance champion, but WAIT, THERE'S MORE.
PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark
If we had to choose the most impressive result we've seen to date for any flash-based SSD on any benchmark we've ever run, this result is without question the one. This is unadulterated domination, TweakTown Elite performance without equal or even close to equal. Look at the difference between the VP4300 and our current test subject. Both have the same controller, but one is arrayed with Kioxia BiCS 96Layer TLC and the other with 96Layer Micron TLC.
Real performance, not marketing eye candy, is kind of a common thread we've seen over the years from every drive we've crowned performance champion. We can't think of any overall performance champion that has been, at the same time, synthetic eye candy champion. For whatever reason, this has never occurred. In the case of the latest crop of InnoGrit PCIe Gen4 controlled SSDs, everyone, except Plextor, has been chasing the sequential eye candy that comes inherently with 96Layer Micron TLC. From a marketing perspective, it will probably sell more SSDs to the uninformed masses, so it's likely the right move in terms of monetary motivation.
Now whether or not Plextor is employing Kioxia BiCS 4 because they care about real performance or whether it be because they are owned by Toshiba and are in a way tied at the hip to Kioxia, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that Plextor's M10P has given us our first taste of InnoGrit's IG5236 Gen4 controller paired with a BiCS 4 flash array. Now can others just dial up this combination with the kind of success Plextor has accomplished with the M10P? We have our doubts because Plextor has shown themselves capable of taking the same hardware employed by competitors and turning out something that delivers much more. Time will tell.
We rank SSDs in terms of overall user experience (performance where it matters most) as expressed by PCMark 10 storage tests. We consider a user experience score of over 7K to verify an SSD as TweakTown Elite. We aren't sure what to call a score of 9.8K, maybe Elite of the Elite? Whatever we decide to call it, one thing is glaringly apparent, and that is the M10P stands head and shoulders above everyone where it matters most.
Plextor's M10P is clearly the performance leader, but currently, it's not available for purchase in the Americas, so getting your hands on one is somewhat of a question mark. We believe the drive will be sold in our hemisphere in the near future, but we cannot say for certain. It is currently available in certain Asian markets. Whatever the case may ultimately be, we are satisfied to have found the new performance champion. Now its reign may be very short-lived because we have on its way a drive that we speculate will perform even better. That drive? The 1TB Plextor M10P. If it follows the established pattern set forth by other BiCS 4 based SSDs, the 1TB model will be significantly faster. We shall soon see.
- Single Sided
- User Experience
The Bottom Line
The new performance champion. Need we say more?