Plextor M5 Pro (256GB) Reviewby Kristian Vättö on August 31, 2012 11:32 AM EST
Plextor's strength lies in performance and quality. As we saw with the M3 Pro, they have a firmware team capable of delivering top-of-the-class performance: The M3 Pro was easily the fastest Marvell 88SS9174 based SSD and overall it was one of the fastest SATA 6Gbps SSDs we have ever tested. When looking at NewEgg reviews, Plextor's SSDs have only few one or two-egg reviews, which speaks for many satisfied customers. With the performance and quality combo, Plextor's SSDs are not as price competitive as some other SSDs are, although Plextor is aiming for wider audience with the M5S.
Due to our positive experience with Plextor's SSDs, I've been super excited about the M3 Pro's successor: the M5 Pro. Plextor is the first SSD manufacturer to use Marvell's new 88SS9187 controller, which is paired with Toshiba's brand new 19nm Toggle-Mode MLC NAND. I can't lie, I've been looking forward to reviewing the M5 Pro for quite a while. Ever since the M3 Pro review, I've been waiting for something faster. The M5S was merely an incremental update with different NAND and new firmware; it didn't bring any major performance improvements. The M5 Pro should eliminate the possible bottlenecks created by Marvell's 9174 but as there are currently no other Marvell 9187 based SSDs (OCZ Vertex 4 and Agility 4 may be, but there hasn't been any confirmation on the exact silicon), it's rather hard to know what to expect. Given the performance of the M3 Pro, the bar has been set high and if the M5 Pro is faster than M3 Pro, we may be looking at the fastest SATA 6Gbps SSD on the market. Lets start off with the specifications:
|Plextor M5 Pro Specifications|
|NAND||Toshiba 19nm Toggle-Mode MLC NAND|
|Raw NAND Capacity||128GiB||256GiB||512GiB|
|Number of NAND Packages||8||8||8|
|Number of Die per Package||2||4||8|
|4K Random Read||91K IOPS||94K IOPS||94K IOPS|
|4K Random Write||82K IOPS||86K IOPS||86K IOPS|
Plextor doesn't offer a 64GB M5 Pro at all. There was no 64GB M3 Pro either, so this is hardly a surprise. 60/64GB SSDs are more about price because the limited NAND bandwidth is already a bottleneck and users buying such small SSDs are already making a compromise. With 128GB SSDs selling for less than $100, I see no point in buying a 60/64GB SSD anyway - you get twice the capacity and much better performance for only $10-$40 more. On the other hand, there is no 512GB SKU in the M5S lineup, so you need to jump for the M5 Pro if you need more than 256GB.
|NewEgg Price Comparison (8/31/2012)|
|Plextor M5 Pro||N/A||$190 (MSRP)||$320 (MSRP)||$650 (MSRP)|
|Plextor M3 Pro||N/A||$160||$270||$650|
|Intel 520 Series||$100||$132||$230||$500|
|Samsung 830 Series||$85||$119||$230||$570|
|OCZ Vertex 3||$70||$85||$180||$500|
|OCZ Vertex 4||$65||$110||$190||$530|
US availability has been delayed until mid-September, so all we have for now are the manufacturer suggested retail prices (MSRPs). Usually MSRPs are noticeably higher than what street prices end up being but the M5 Pro is definitely not cheap. My guess is that the M5 Pro will take the price points of M3 Pro once it becomes available as that is what happened with the M5S and M3. However, the M3 Pro is not very affordable when compared to other SSDs, so you'll have to pay a premium if you want Plextor's Pro SSD.