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  • Tor-ErikL - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    In europe plextor is one of the pioneers in the IT industry. They where one of the first to enter the cd-burner market way back in the days. They are generally known in europe to produce some of the finest quality products when in comes to cd-burners and back in the days it was the only burner to own ;) Reply
  • Tor-ErikL - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I'm not surprised that they come up with another good quality product here, they have always been more expensive than others but you always get a good quality product from them. Reply
  • Fujikoma - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    The last Plextor optical drive I had broke within months. It was very flimsy and the shipping to have it fixed was more than buying a replacment from another vendor that had the same build quality. Plextor's quality isn't any different than other cheap drive manufacturers even though their price is. Reply
  • Maiyr - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I am still using a PleXCombo 20/10/40-12A. My experience in no way mirrors yours. I got this thing and another drive in 2002/2003 and both are still going strong. No problems.

    Maiyr
    Reply
  • hansmuff - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Those were different times.

    I have two plextor drives:
    SCSI UltraPlex 40MAX, the best CD reader ever built.
    ATAPI 8/4/32 CD burner. Also a really excellent drive.

    Those were "expensive" back then. The ultraplex was $140, the 8/4/32 was ~$90.

    After those, drive prices tumbled and Plextor used cheapo OEM drives like everyone else and rebadged them.

    Both you and Fukikoma are correct.
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Was going to say something similar.

    It's like how Seagate has had good drives, but they do have bad batches, especially as they're refining their process.

    Quality should not be solely determined on the product. How a company responds to a defective, or poorly made product should extend into the definition of quality. It might not be product quality, but quality of the experience is more important.

    Like, I might get a bad part off Newegg, but they have great customer service that make it easy to ship it back and receive a replacement or a refund. I know they're only a middle man in the process, but the tradeoff is having a good product with good customer service, that reduces customer hassle.
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    The thing that makes me wonder what's going on with your post is the way you describe Plextor's quality as not being better than "any other cheap drive". The fact is, there are near a dozen DVD burner brands that cost less than $25 that are reliable pieces of hardware. They are inexpensive, but they aren't cheap.

    I'm another person with a Plextor drive that's been around for a couple of builds, and will soon go in a third. Do I think it will outlast my LG drive I bought a couple of years later? No, but Plextor help set reliability and top-notch performance standards that are the reasons we have inexpensive and reliable burners now.

    ;)
    Reply
  • andylawcc - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    ditto: Plextor made one of the best CD-Burner back then (talking only about, just late 1990).

    note to Mr. Vatto: you could have skipped that the line, we wouldn't know. ;p
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Note to our readers: Kristian is 17. When optical drives mattered (in terms of benchmarks), he would have been about 10. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I'm 18 now and have been for a few months ;-) Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    And you write pretty well considering your experience. Reply
  • This Guy - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Agreed. You don't have a qurky style yet that screams out you wrote a piece, but this is a tech site so that's a good thing.

    You do a bloody good job, 18 or not. I haven't read many pieces by people as young that are at your level. You come off as a pro.
    Reply
  • andylawcc - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    what "ImSpartacus" and "This Guy" said, good job Kristian! Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    I agree, Kristian is doing a very nice job.

    I say all the time maturity and age aren't necessarily related, and Kristian is one more example of what I'm talking about.

    The saddest thing about our society (in America and the rest of the "First World") is that the level of maturity has gone down, even though the actually average age in years has gone up. I quit a World of Warcraft guild a while back because of the lack of maturity - in the 30-something and older crowd, not the teenagers.

    ;)
    Reply
  • Arbie - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    And in what we can assume is a second language... I'm very impressed. Good job. Reply
  • Hourglasss - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I'm 17, How do I get your job? Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    As if that matters. Let me know when you start thinking in terms of decades instead of months. :) Reply
  • A5 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Man I'm old. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    O_o

    Fuckin dream job for a minor, amirite?
    Reply
  • earthrace57 - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    Wow...I am 14 and I would kill for that job :P

    But in all seriousness, I would never have known that you were 18, you should go tell whoever taught you to write that they did a good job.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    Then the thanks should go to the man himself, aka Anand :-) Reply
  • wvh - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    We're not criticising him, just teaching him the smell of old farts. Reply
  • tnicks - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Yep. I remember getting one of the first 2x burners back in the day from Plextor for ~$450 dollars. I still have nightmares of buffer underrun errors turning my $10/ea dollar blank cds into coasters. Reply
  • The0ne - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    Yep. Their products back then were high quality but came at a cost. To give an example, I tested and qualify Plextor CD/DVD drives for use in our system entirely despite the cost. That's how good and reliable they were.

    I am, however, shocked that the review started off about not knowing about the company though. Plextor has been around for ages with good products, although their presence has been little here in the US. I imagine most that don't know about the company would be young in age, very young.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Will you guys be keeping this drive in a production system to see how it does long term? Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I'm using it as a boot drive in my main system at the moment. So far so good. Reply
  • ac2 - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    Kristian, you say correctly say "64GB and 128GB capacities are often the most popular capacities right now"

    And yet AT continues to persist with reviews of 200GB and up drives in almost all instances... It may be what the manufacturers are sending you but we expect better...
    Reply
  • iwod - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I thought there is a New Marvell controller coming out soon? Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Marvell announced the 88SS9187 a couple of weeks ago but it will take a while before manufacturers release SSD based on it. Reply
  • bji - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Marvell is right across the street from me. Well, across the highway anyway. When I ride my bike to work I go through their campus.

    A year or two ago I was thinking how exciting the SSD controller concept was; I thought that there must be lots of neat algorithmic tricks that can be played to hide the performance issues with block-erase flash memory and it sounded like a very intruiging problem to work on.

    Too bad I didn't realize that Marvell would be working on SSD controllers (although I suspected they might). I should have popped across the highway and seen if I could get a job ... although, being a software developer with little experience in embedded controllers, it's unlikely they would have been interested.
    Reply
  • ecuador - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    He he, I read the article before the update and it sounded to me like it was written by a 15 year old! Little known Plextor... lol
    Good thing you updated, but in general when commenting on a company for an article do a little google search in case you are missing something ;)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Just because you can google a company to read about them (Kristian had already done that -- note the paragraph about them being a subsidiary of Shinano Kenshi Corporation), it doesn't mean everyone out there is familiar with the company. I sort of laughed when Kristian said he hadn't head their name until a few months back, but then, there were plenty of companies I wouldn't have known a thing about when I was 17. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    My point is that Plextor has not been in the spotlight for years. I was just surprised when the name came up because I seriously had not heard much about them. I consider myself to be pretty updated when it comes to the SSD front but I still had not heard the name Plextor until a few months back. That's why I wrote what I wrote. In SSD context, Plextor can be a new name for many, or at least it was for me :-)

    I admit that I did not know about their success in the ODD market in the 90s but then again, I was still spoon-fed at that time :-P
    Reply
  • christoi - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    On the second page, on the test setup it says "Intel Core i7-2500K." I assume it's an i5 from the 3.3ghz clock? Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Yeah, it's an i5. Thanks for the heads up, fixed it :-) Reply
  • BolleY2K - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    ...are the 5 year warranty and the included version of Acronis True Image, which allows the user to easily clone his existing OS drive to the SSD.

    These two things are not included in the packages of most other SSDs on the market and in my opinion add to the value of the M3 package, so should be mentioned in the review.

    Btw. I own the 128GB and am very pleased with it - easy installation (also due to the included software), good performance and entirely issue free so far. :-)
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    At least my version did not come with Acronis True Image. The included clone utility is called Echo and is made by NTI. Not that it matters as the tool worked flawlessly when I copied my boot drive to the M3 :-) Reply
  • BolleY2K - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Ah ok - I live in germany and over here you get Acronis. Well, as long as it works, it doesn´t matter how it is called I guess. ;-)

    I still think these 2 goodies should be mentioned and also kept in mind while discussing the price of the M3. Also the QA of these drives is very good - plextor states 20 hours of testing for every single SSD they ship and a RMA rate of 0,5%.
    Reply
  • ckryan - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I picked up a Plextor M3P, and here you get NTI.

    I went to try it out, and it did not play nice with Acronis which was on my system. After settting it up, the system reboots and loads a linux partition to do the copy operation... well, it didn't work, and then I couldn't get past the linux boot on subsequent restarts.

    I could just revert to a clone from a week prior on another SSD, but not everybody has it like that.

    The NTI Echo probably works quite well if you don't already have another clone suite installed like acronis.

    The M3P is totally bitchin' though.
    Reply
  • Jocelyn - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I got my 256GB M3 for $290 in February and the 128GB often hits $150-$160. Anyway, Thanks for finally doing a review on the M3 and I <3 Toshiba Toggle Nand!! Reply
  • Pr101 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Yeah, you just happened to do a review when other ssds were low in price/on sale and the Plextor was high/not on sale. I'd also use m4 prices of the ones that come with a 2.5 to 3.5 bracket for comparison. Anyway, nice review... Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I checked the prices one week apart (updated the prices so they wouldn't be that old) and Plextor was the most expensive throughout this period. Other drives are actually more expensive now than they were a week ago. But yeah, the prices fluctuate a lot so it's fairly hard to recommend one just based on prices. Reply
  • SetiroN - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    For its bundle, warranty and overall performance (never at the top but in every case amongst the top drives), I'd easily consider this the best drive on the market.
    As much as I understand the reliability concerns, Plextor is well known for their quality control, and for them to offer 5 yrs I'm pretty sure you can feel safe about it. This is not OCZ we're talking about.

    TBH I find it silly to ask for a $10 discount when competitors are offering much less in terms of warranty and bundling.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I'm not saying that the drive is not worth the extra $10, but it can be hard for a buyer to justify the extra. There are free utilities that do the cloning job as well (although shareware is usually easier to use). I also think that most consider 3-year warranty to be 'good enough'.

    Especially 64GB is all about price as you're already making a compromise by getting such a small SSD.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Shockingly after dealing with 2 failed attempts at using freeware (EASEus and another program) I ended up having sucess with the Windows 7 Image backup and built in drive manager.

    I was going from a new laptop 500GB HDD with about 92GB on it to a 128GB Crucial M4. First thing was to reduce the size of the partition on the 500GB to less than 128. This wasn't as easy as it sounded as apparently the page file gets randomly placed on the drive. in my case it was placed at the middle of the platter and so I couldn't shrink the 500GB partition down until I first temporarily set the page file to 0MB and then repartitioned. After figuring out that little quirk and repartitioning down to under 95GB I did a recovery image onto an external HDD (this was a laptop with a single drive bay).

    Then using the bootable recovery windows cd I simply swapped out the old 500GB drive for the new M4 SSD, booted with the recovery disk, pointed to the image on the external drive, and sat back and within the hour (very slow external HDD!) was back up and running perfectly.

    Sure some of those other pay-for programs are probably easier to use, but this one didn't require any additional software (other than downloading Windows recovery cd), and a bit of hair-pulling to work out the quirks.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I've used Clonezilla quite a few times, but I wish they would add a feature to allow you to shrink a clone to a smaller drive (assuming the data will all fit). You pretty much have to do the same thing you just mentioned: eliminate the swap file and hibernate file, resize the partition to less than your target size, then clone/ Reply
  • Rick83 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    It would be interesting to see not only power consumption measures, but also max-load efficiency values.
    In the "race-to-idle" scenario, that we want to see on mobile hardware, it can often be beneficial to consume a little extra power during a short time span, but then allow the entire system to idle as early as possible.
    Knowing the Watts per Throughput ratio could be helpful, and allow an easier comparison of effective/actual power consumption.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I totally agree. Power consumption during sequential/random write does not give the big picture. A fast drive with high peak power consumption may consume less power overall because it does the job faster than a slower drive with lower peak power.

    Ideally, I think it would be the best to measure how much power was used during our Heavy/Light test suites, that would be a more real life scenario. How to do that accurately is another question, but I'll definitely keep this in mind :-)
    Reply
  • James5mith - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Anyone who has been involved in computers since the time of the first CD burners knows Plextor. Their 16x10x40 CD-RW drives were the cream of the crop and highly prized. I still have one despite not having an IDE channel to plug it into. I just can't bring myself to toss it. Reply
  • Spawn73 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    You´d must´ve been living in a hole to not have heard of Plextor. They're famous for their high quality CD-burners.

    Couldn't the reviewer Wiki the company or something before making a blanket statement about a company being unknown?
    Reply
  • Kutark - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I thought it kind of odd that the author hadn't heard of plextor until a couple of months ago. IMO basically anybody who had been building their own comps since the mid 90's should at least have heard of the brand.

    I wonder how old the author is. This kind of reminds me of when you mention Everquest in a conversation and the WOW generation has no clue what you're talking about.

    BTW im not meaning to imply or say anything negative about the author, it just struck me as an odd thing to say.
    Reply
  • Kutark - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Well, had i read the comments i would seen that the author is 18, which explains quite a lot (again, not in a bad way) Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I thought the Plextor of old went bust years ago and the name was bought up by someone else?

    Basically standard goods with the Plextor name silkscreened on for 50% extra mark up.

    I just threw out my trusty Plextor 712SA drive after about 8 years hard use.
    Reply
  • Topweasel - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    No, as DVD burners became throwaway items (Sub $50) they started to offer re-branded parts, but higher quality ones. You could still tell from little things like the tray mechanism that they weren't Plextor. They also ran into a stumbling block with optics for DVD burners for the few they still manufactured. Since they are compared to the big ones, more of a boutique designer they had trouble at 16x+ of eeking out that last bit of quality. Which meant for their more expensive drives, they weren't king of the hill, meaning if reliability and not burning performance or burn quality were your concerns, then you wouldn't pay the extra amount. For the rebrands, they were actually price competitive even if they were like $5-$10 bucks more.

    Then came Blu-Ray drives. That did almost kill them. No one was/is buying them. Not like they would DVD drives. Internal drives also never hit the extremes that for example a DVD drive did at launch where they were $300-$400. So once again they were manufacturing expensive drives that no one was buying, and they couldn't even rebrand to make it more price competitive. That's why they went to SSD's, unlike OCZ that made the move because SSD's where much higher margin parts. Plextor did it to survive. But again they don't even have to make to many of these. Plextor makes its living as a low volume high quality high performance manufacturer. Even at their worse in 2008-2010, they were only just as good as everyone else. SSD's are just a product that they can produce that performance actually matters and higher prices are acceptable.

    But no Plextor today is the same Plextor of old. Just with a new focus, but same goal.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Plextor has the potential to sell some decent SSDs. I think the M3 Pro should be the base model with the 3M pricing and Plextor should work on a true Pro model. The Pro pricing is unacceptable and the M3 performance lacking IMO. Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Any reason to use 10.2 over 10.6? Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    From a user's standpoint, no. For reviews it's important to use the same set of software and drivers as an updated version may impact performance. In other words, we would have to test all SSDs again if we updated Intel RST to 10.6. That's why we are sticking with 10.2, at least for now. Reply
  • Maiyr - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    "Plextor as a brand is probably a new acquaintance for most people and I have to admit that I had not heard of Plextor until a couple of months ago."

    I must be getting old. That just seems crazy to me.

    Maiyr
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    With regards to idle power, the 256GB Crucial m4 shows half the idle power of the 256GB Vertex 4 in your chart, but they both have the same amount of synchronous flash.

    And since they are both using a Marvell controller (the V4 has a rebadged Marvell 88SS9187, the m4 has an 88SS9174), it is clear that the biggest factor in idle power consumption is NOT the amount and type of flash memory.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    You really need some proof that the Indilinx Everest 2 is just a rebadged Marvell 88SS9187, I've seen nothing that indicates so.

    Of course the controller draws power as well and it can lead to high power consumption, so NAND is definitely not the only factor - I was only pointing out that Toggle NAND is more power efficient. It's possible that a future firmware update will decrease the power consumption of Vertex 4, that happened with Vertex 3 at least.
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I know it is Anand's fault and you are just parroting his erroneous statements, but you guys really need to do better with your steady-state testing. Sandforce is actually among the worst at steady-state performance, and Plextor M3(P) is the best of the consumer SSDs at steady-state performance.

    anandtech.com should use some version of the SNIA steady-state testing protocol.

    Using HDTach is just crazy, since it writes a stream of zeros that is easily compressed by Sandforce SSDs, and thus does not give a good indication of steady-state performance (which SNIA specifies should be tested with random data streams). Besides, the workload of sequential writes spaced across the entire SSD is not realistic at all.

    Here are a couple reviews that do a decent job of steady-state testing (could be better, but at least they are far superior to anandtech.com's terrible testing protocols):

    scroll down to "Enterprise Synthetic Benchmarks" and look at the "... steady average speed" graphs for steady-state performance:
    http://www.storagereview.com/plextor_pxm3p_ssd_rev...

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/storage/display/m...
    Reply
  • bji - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Jarred and Kristin, I know you guys are reading these comments ... I think you would do very well to respond to this comment. You guys are doing great articles but this looks like something you should definitely consider if you want to be more accurate on steady-state performance.

    I personally very much care about this issue as the last thing I want is for my drive to fall into JMicron style performance holes. One of the factors that I used in deciding to get the Intel 520s that I got a few weeks ago was the fact that your tests showed that under torture situations the performance is still good. If your tests are not accurate, then I think you really need to address this.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I use a variety of sources for SSD reviews. Storage Reviews uses some different metrics that may be of interest to those trying to make sense of SSD performance as the benches often do NOT mirror real world performance.

    To me the Plextor M3 just isn't where it needs to be. The M3 Pro should be the entry level Plextor SSD IMO. It's performance is a little better but currently it's over-priced. It should be priced as the M3 is now.

    http://www.storagereview.com/reviews
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Note that we don't use the HDTach approach for SandForce TRIM testing and instead fill the drive with incompressible data, throw incompressible random writes at the drive, and then use AS-SSD to measure incompressible write speed afterwards.

    Note that fully random data patterns are absolutely not indicative of client workloads at all. What you are saying is quite correct for certain enterprise applications, but not true in the consumer client space (this is also why we have a different enterprise SSD testing suite). IOs in the consumer space end up being a combination of pseudo-random and sequential, but definitely not fully random and definitely not fully random over 100% of the LBA space.

    SandForce actually behaves very well over the long run for client workloads as we've mentioned in the past. We have seen write amplification consistently below 1x for client workloads, which is why the SF drives do so very well in client systems where TRIM isn't present.

    Our current recommendation for an environment like OS X however continues to be Samsung's SSD 830. Its firmware tends to be a lot better behaved under OS X (for obvious reasons given Samsung's close relationship with Apple), regardless of write amplification and steady state random write behavior.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    "Note that we don't use the HDTach approach for SandForce TRIM testing and instead fill the drive with incompressible data, throw incompressible random writes at the drive, and then use AS-SSD to measure incompressible write speed afterwards."

    What?

    Are you really saying that you test Sandforce SSDs differently from non-Sandforce SSDs, and then you compare the results?

    Surely the first rule any decent tester learns is that all devices must be tested in the same way if you are to have a prayer of comparing results.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    We don't directly compare the TRIM/torture-test results, they are simply used as a tool to help us characterize the drive and understand the controller's garbage collection philosophies. HDTach (or an equivalent) is typically for doing that on non-SF drives because you can actually visualize high latency GC routines (dramatic peaks/valleys).

    The rest of the numbers are directly comparable.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    So your reviews should not make comments comparing the steady-state performance of Sandforce drives to non-Sandforce drives, since you have no objective basis of comparison.

    SNIA guidelines for SSD testing clearly state that the "tests shall be run with a random data pattern". Other review sites that do steady-state testing comply with this protocol.

    anandtech.com is urgently in need of improving its steady-state test protocols and complying with industry standard testing guidelines, since currently anandtech.com is making misleading statements about the relative performance of SSDs in steady-state tests
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    As I mentioned before, we have done extensive long term analysis of SandForce drives and came away with a very good understanding of their behavior in client workloads - that's the feedback that's folded into reviews. For client workloads, SF drives have extremely good steady-state characteristics since a lot of data never gets written to NAND (I've mentioned this in previous articles, pointing to sub-1x write amplification factors after several months of regular use).

    We use both incompressible and compressible data formats in our tests, as well as have our own storage suites that provide a mixture of both. No client system relies on 100% random data patterns or 100% random data access, it's simply not the case. We try our best to make our client tests representative of client workloads.

    Our enterprise test suite does look different however, and included within it is a random write steady state test scenario. Even within the enterprise world it is not representative of all workloads, but there are some where it's an obvious fit.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    "As I mentioned before, we have done extensive long term analysis of SandForce drives and came away with a very good understanding of their behavior in client workloads - that's the feedback that's folded into reviews."

    And as I have explained before, your tests are flawed. You do NOT have a good understanding, because you are unable to specify the actual data that was written to the SSDs during your testing. You are just guessing.

    All other studies that have looked at compressibility of data written to Sandforce SSDs in typical consumer workloads have shown that most data is incompressible. The only common data that is compressible is OS and program installs, but that is only done once for most users. Probably your testers were installing lots of programs and OS's and running benchmarks that write easily compressible data, but that is not typical of most consumers. But the bottom line is that you seem to have no idea of what was actually written in your "analysis". So you really do not have a good understanding.

    Day to day, most home users write Office documents (automatically compressed before saving), MP3 files, JPGs, compressed video files, and hibernation files (automatically compressed in Win7). All of these are incompressible to sandforce.

    But none of that is really relevant to the question of how to test SSDs. The fact is that the only non-arbitrary way to do it is to use random, incompressible data patterns. There is a reason the industry standard SSD test protocols defined by SNIA specify mandatory random data patterns -- because that is the only completely objective test.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Again - we do use incompressible data patterns for looking at worst case performance on SF drives.

    There's no impact on incompressible vs. compressible data with these other controllers, so the precondition, high-QD torture, HDTach pass is fine for other drives.

    As far as our internal experiment goes - we did more than just install/uninstall programs for 3 - 8 months. Each editor was given a SandForce drive and many of them used the drives as their boot/application drive for the duration of the study. My own personal workstation featured a SF drive for nearly a year, average write amplification over the course of that year was under 0.7x. My own workload involves a lot of email, video editing, photo editing, web browsing, HTML work, some software development, Excel, lots of dealing with archives, presentations, etc... I don't know that I even installed a single application during the test period as I simply cloned my environment over.

    We also measured fairly decent write amplification for our own server workloads with Intel's SSD 520.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    And still you are avoiding the issue, which is your reviews have been stating that Sandforce SSDs have better steady-state performance than other SSDs like the Plextor M3, when you have no objective test results to back up such statements.

    I provided links to two other reviews that showed that the Plextor M3 has substantially better steady-state performance than several Sandforce SSDs. Those reviews (mostly) used the recommendations in the industry standard SNIA SSD test protocols.

    All you have is arbitrary measurements, and NOT EVEN THE SAME TESTS RUN ON the Plextor M3 and Sandforce SSDs, and you make the claim that Sandforce is better. That is really not at all credible.

    Such misleading states are doing an injustice to your loyal readers. Please do the right thing and correct your misleading claims about the relative steady-state performance of Sandforce SSDs, and also start work on developing an objective, consistently-applied steady-state test for future reviews.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Neither of the reviews you linked to provided steady state data for client workloads.

    Keep in mind that we run a ton of data internally that shapes our conclusions.

    Here's a chart of high queue depth, steady state performance (sequential precondition, 4KB random write QD32):

    http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph5719/45462...

    The precondition is with incompressible data (iometer 1.1.0-rc1, fully random data pattern) as is the 4KB random write pass.

    I'm not sure how others measure steady state random write but most controllers, with standard 7% spare area, fall off significantly after being exposed to random writes for an extended period of time.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    The reviews I linked to follow the industry-standard SNIA guidelines for measuring steady-state performance, at least, an abbreviated version of the guidelines.

    In contrast to anandtech.com, which has completely arbitrary non-random workloads, in violation of the SNIA guidelines. Even worse, anandtech.com runs different tests on Sandforce SSDs than on non-Sandforce SSDs, and then claims that one SSD is better than another based on the results of different tests!

    That is highly misleading and doing an injustic to your readers. anandtech.com really needs to do the right thing here.
    Reply
  • rw1986 - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    Jwilliams -- can you offer any supporting evidence to your claim that the Everest 2 is a "rebadged Marvell 88SS9187"? You mention this in several threads but you have not offered any evidence to support that notion...why should we believe you? Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    For those who are not familiar with the SNIA SSD testing protocols and specifications:

    http://www.snia.org/tech_activities/standards/curr...

    http://www.snia.org/forums/sssi/pts
    Reply
  • kyuu - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    Yeah, we get it. Thanks.

    Myself, I think that Anand's finding on low write amplification on the Sandforce drives after long-term, real-world usage is more important, and more relevant, than some arbitrary and artificial benchmark standard. Just because some organization says such and such doesn't mean that any alternative is automatically bunk, or that reviewers aren't credible if they don't follow their procedures to the tee.
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    Actually, it does mean that reviews are not credible if they don't follow the appropriate SNIA SSS guidelines. The SNIA SSS test specifications were developed by contributors from more than 20 companies in the industry and were carefully reviewed and compiled to form an objective standard for characterization of the performance of solid state storage devices.

    The reviews from anandtech are not credible at all, because they do not follow any objective standards at all, let alone the SNIA SSS protocols. Anand even admitted that they do not even run the exact same tests on all SSDs. This makes the results completely arbitrary and unreliable.
    Reply
  • LokutusofBorg - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    You're a walking, talking example of logical fallacies. And you lost all credibility when you claimed the Vertex 4 is a Marvell controller without proof.

    Anand has been setting the bar for SSD analysis and testing for years now, and you suddenly come into a comments thread and start sounding the warning that his tests are flawed?

    The TRIM/torture tests in every review obviously don't try to compare SSDs against each other. All other tests are objective and run the same on each SSD being compared in the graphs. Anand clearly stated this, and you deceptively or ignorantly misinterpreted what he said. Anybody with half a brain reading these comments can see that you need to spend less time typing and more time reading.
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5741/ocz-confirms-oc... Reply
  • Bobsy - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Am I glad to see these comments about Plextor being well-known and highly reputable. I remember upgrading my 486 DX2-66 computer with a Plextor optical drive (4X read-only) that I had paid $400. Plextor hardware was leaps and bounds ahead of anything else at the time. The opening comments from the author made me smile and it was obvious that the author was a young person. It is true that we have not heard about Plextor much in quite some time, at least not in terms of their products being the best. Reply
  • epobirs - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Kind of sad to see a review where Plextor is treated as an unknown. For quite a long time they were the brand against which all others were judged. For one simple reason: ifPlextor said their drive functioned at speed X, it did. If other companies were claiming a new high performance mark and Plextor hadn't produced a matching product yet, it often meant those other companies were lying about their performance.
    Reply
  • cjcoats - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I'm a scientific user (environmental model), and I have a transaction-pattern I've never seen SSD benchmarks use:

    My dataset transactions are of the form "read or
    write the record for variable V for time T"
    (where record-size S may depend upon the variable;
    typical values range from 16K to 100 MB).

    The datasets have a matching form:

    * a header that indexes the variables, their
    records, and various other metadata

    * a sequence of data records for the time
    steps of the variables.

    This may be implemented using one of various
    standard scientific dataset libraries (netCDF,
    HDF, ...)

    A transaction basically is of the form:

    Seek to the start of the record for variable
    V, time T

    Read or write S bytes at that location.

    NONE of the SSD benchmarks I've seen have this
    kind of "seek, then access" pattern. I have the
    suspicion that Sandforce based drives will do
    miserably with it, but have no hard info.

    Any ideas?
    Reply
  • bji - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    SSDs have no "seek". Your program's concept of "seek" is just setting the blocks that it will be reading to those at the beginning of a file, but from an SSDs perspective, there is little to no difference between the random access patterns used for a particular operation and any other random access patterns. The only significant difference is between random and serial access.

    My point being, your case sounds like it is covered exactly by the "random write" and "random read" benchmarks. It doesn't matter which part of the file you are "seeking" to, just that your access is non-sequential. All random access is the same (more or less) to an SSD.

    This is most of the performance win of SSDs over HDDs - no seek time. SSDs have no head to move and no latency waiting for the desired sectors to arrive under the head.
    Reply
  • cjcoats - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    I guessed you'd understand the obvious: seek() interacts with data-compression.

    A seek to a 500MB point may depend upon sequentially decompressing the preceding 500 MB of data in order to figure out what the data-compression has done with that 500MB seek-point!

    That's how you have to do seeks in conjunction with the software "gzlib", for example.

    So how do SandForce drives deal with that scenario ??
    Reply
  • Cerb - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    Nobody can say exactly the results for your specific uses, but it would probably be best to focus on other aspects of the drives, given performance of the current lot. You might get a 830, while a 520 could be faster at your specific application, but you'd more than likely be dealing with <10% either way. If it was more than that, a good RAID card would be a worthy addition to your hardware.

    If you must read the file up to point X, then that's a sequential read. If you read an index and then just read what you need, then that's a random read.

    Compression of the data *IN*SOFTWARE* is a CPU/RAM issue, not an SSD issue. For that, focus on incompressible data results.

    TBH, though, if you must read 500MB into it to edit a single small record, you should consider seekable data formats, instead of wasting all that CPU time.
    Reply
  • bji - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    They don't use streaming ciphers. They use block ciphers that encrypt each block individually and independently. Once the data makes it to the drive, there is no concept of 'file', it's just 'sectors' or whatever the block concept is at the SATA interface level. As far as the SSD is concerned, no two sectors have any relationship and wear levelling moves them around the drive in seemingly arbitrary (but designed to spread writes out) ways.

    Basically what happens is that the drive represents the sequence of sectors on the drive using the same linear addressing scheme as is present in hard drives, but maintains a mapping for each sector from the linear address that the operating system uses to identify it, to whatever unrelated actual block and sub-block address on the device that it is physically located at. Via this mapping the SSD controller can write blocks wherever makes the most sense, but present a consistent linear sector addressing scheme to the operating system. The SSD can even move blocks around in the background and during unrelated writes, which it definitely does to reduce write amplification and once again for wear levelling purposes. The operating system always believes that it wrote the sector at address N, and the SSD will always deliver the same data back when address N is read back, but under the covers the actual data can be moved around and positioned arbitrarily by the SSD.

    Given the above, and given that blocks are being written all over the flash all the time regardless of how linearly the operating system thinks it has arranged them, there really isn't any concept of contiguously compressed blocks and having to start back at the beginning of some stream of data to uncompress data.

    Keep in mind also that the Sanforce drives do de-duplication as well (as far as I know), which means that for many blocks that have the same contents, only one copy needs to actually be stored in the flash and the block mapping can point multiple operating system sector addresses at the same physical flash block and sub-block segment that has the data. Of course it would have to do copy-on-write when the sector is written but that's not hard once you have all of the rest of the controller machinery built.

    SSD controllers must be really interesting tech to work on. I can't imagine all of the cool algorithmic tricks that must be going on under the covers, but it's fun to try.
    Reply
  • BolleY2K - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Don´t forget about the Yamaha CRW-F1... ;-) Reply
  • Metaluna - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    Heh I still have one of those Yamahas, along with some old Kodak Gold CD-R's. I have no real use for them anymore but hate to toss them. Reply
  • Hourglasss - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    You made a forgivable mistake with OCZ's Vertex 4. You said the M3 was the fastest non-sandforce drive. The Vertex 4 is made with OCZ's new everest-2 controller that they developed in-house after acquiring indillix (don't know if they spelled that right). So the M3 is fast, but it's second for non sandforce. Reply
  • zipz0p - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I am glad that I'm not the only one who noticed this! :) Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    Oops! Thanks, fixed it now. I added the Vertex 4 scores right before this went live so that's why Vertex 4 is not included in any of the analyses. Reply
  • wvh - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Back at the end of the '90s we used to burn a lot of CDs at university, and only the Plextors lasted and rarely burned coasters. It was the brand to have. In fact, the only writer that hasn't broken down on me yet is my Plextor.

    This isn't a shill ad – it's just a CD-writer after all – I'm just surprised to hear you've never heard of Plextor.
    Reply
  • hrrmph - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I may have missed it, but more emphasis on the inclusion (or lack) of toolbox software and what functions it provides would be appreciated. Preferably near the beginning of the review.

    When I look at ranking SSDs, the inclusion of toolbox software that supports Secure Erase and possibly even 'settable spare area' is important to me.

    I find manual (non-toolbox) methods of Secure Erase to be overly complicated and time-consuming.

    So the inclusion of toolbox software that supports Secure Erase, and thus easy maintainability is important.

    Settable spare area is also nice, because I'm willing to buy an SSD that is the next size up just to get some more spare area, because reliability is extremely important to me.

    So when reading a review, while it's nice to know that the manufacturer took the time to provide good firmware and good validation (I'm not sure that validation was well-covered in this review either), it's also very nice if I can quickly 'suss out' whether the manufacturer took the time to make a good toolbox.

    To my knowledge, only Intel, OCZ, and Samsung provide a toolbox that allows for easy Secure Erase from inside Windows, assuming the drive is connected to a machine as a secondary drive.

    Similarly, I think that only Samsung is allowing settable spare area in their toolbox.

    I usually eliminate OCZ from consideration these days because Intel and Samsung provide very adequate alternatives, and most importantly, I saw OCZ forum moderators horribly and publicly abusing some of the other OCZ customers. So while I wasn't abused by OCZ when I was a customer of theirs, I saw the potential.

    Coming back to reviews, AT still writes the best reviews in my opinion. I like the non-emotional tone, and the long length, detail, and insightful analysis included in the reviews make them stand out from the crowd.

    Other review sites tend to miss even basic points, or worse, they get breathlessly emotional and sensationalist over small differences in the various products. I think AT knows when something is worth getting worked up over, and when it's just run of the mill.

    My understanding of the review, is that the Plextor M3 256GB is run of the mill.

    I hope I'm not missing something here :).

    -

    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    i agree wholeheartedly - Samsung's toolbox is definitely the new gold standard here. I've been pushing folks behind the scenes to ramp up the quality of their options as well. I want to start paying more attention to it as it's a huge part of the user experience.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    Unfortunately, there is no toolbox software included in Plextor M3. I have to say I'm not a fan of secure erase either, especially during write tests because this is starting to feel like work!

    I'll definitely try to concentrate more on the software in future reviews as several readers have requested it :-)
    Reply
  • Coup27 - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    I'm a massive Samsung fan and I have a contact there who says Samsung will be releasing an updated ssd magician either this month or next which will also report ssd life like Intels do. Think they realised disabling the smart values to do it yourself was a mistake, esp if u want to put one in a server. Reply
  • cooldadd - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Kristian, I commend your writeup. New and capable talents are welcome in this arena... You will certainly have a chorus of voices with earlier/other perspectives, but they in their own way will bring you "up to date" on history prior to your entry into the mix!

    We are living in an amazing frenzy of technical advancement. Thirty years into the development of the telephone, for instance, not only would few people have been able to have technical discussions over its progress, but there was no popularly-available medium in which to discuss it!

    I discovered AnandTech when it was new, sixteen years into my mainframe career, started by a young person like yourself who happened have a sharp technical curiosity and an ability to write well. I hope your contributions will follow in similar fashion.
    Reply
  • Bozo - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    I must be getting old...
    Back when burnable CDs came out you needed a SCSI burner like 'Smart & Friendly' to make more good CDs than coasters. Then Plextor introduced one of the first PCI burners that actually made more good CDs than coasters. It was the CD burner to have if you were serious about making usable CDs.

    I feel old.
    Reply
  • sbmeirow - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    If you haven't heard of Plextor, then you are a newbie, and I don't read articles written by n00b's. Reply
  • Coup27 - Friday, April 06, 2012 - link

    Idiot. Reply
  • magnetar - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    ... that the Intel 510 SSD also uses the Marvell 9174 controller. I'm pleased that the 510 is still included in many SSD reviews at AnandTech, although it is dismissed as old and slow by some enthusiasts.

    The Samsung SSD Magician is the "gold standard" of SSD support programs? Personally I prefer Intel's SSD Toobox, the 3.0 version of course. I use both, and they are excellent, I've never had a problem with either of them. I like Intel's Toolbox UI over Samsung's Magician, the latter running in the background when not in use for some reason. Magician has more functions than the Toolbox, so has it beat in that aspect. Both allow firmware updates in the Windows environment... priceless!
    Reply
  • LokutusofBorg - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    Yeah, I noticed this too. That part of the article should be updated to say "Intel's 510 and 520 series..." or some such. Reply
  • sunsin - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    Kristian, I compared the result with Intel SSD 520
    Intel SSD 520 240GB Clean 284.5 MB/s After Torture 162.9 MB/s After TRIM 162.9 MB/s
    Plextor M3 256GB Clearn 328 MB/s After Torture 302.1 MB/s After TRIM: 327.1 MB/s

    The Plextor M3 has way better performance than Sandforce based SSD where the TRIM will never restore the clean performance. This does mean that Plextor will be better option for long term use.

    In addition, you mentioned that Sandorce based SSD will be a better choice for OS without official TRIM support, please provide some comparative figure to support this. The After Torture performance for Plextor vs Sandforce can be 302.1 vs 162.9 MBs. The win by 80%. Please explain why you always suggest Sandforce based SSD For OS without TRIM?
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    First off, we use different methods for TRIM testing on SF and non-SF drives. Non-SF drives are filled and tortured with compressible data as that is what HD Tach uses. SF drives, on the other hand, are filled and tortured with incompressible data and then benchmarked with AS-SSD which uses incompressible data as well. The length of the torture can vary as well. Hence you can't directly compare the results.

    In the case of Intel 520 and Plextor M3, Intel 520 was tortured for 60 minutes and it still managed a speed of 162.9MB/s. The numbers you have for Plextor are after 20 min torture. I also included a graph of 60min torture and the average write speed dropped to 54.9MB/s. Does this make sense to you now?

    SandForce's advantage is extremely low write amplification: http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph5529/44082...

    When you write less, there is also less garbage collection to do. Here is one graph that Anand linked earlier which compares TRIM/GC of drives: http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph5719/45462...

    However, like I noted in the TRIM part, there should be absolutely no problem in running M3 in an OS without TRIM. IF you are an extreme user and you'll be constantly hammering the drive under OS with no official TRIM support, then a SandForce drive may be a better solution. Most people's workload isn't like that and any decent SSD should do the job.

    I maintain a huge SSD sticky at MacRumors and I've only seen a few users complain about performance degradation, and nowadays we would consider those SSDs to be ancient anyway. Besides, if the performance degrades, you can always enable TRIM temporarily in OS X and TRIM the drive, then disable TRIM.
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Monday, April 09, 2012 - link

    Note that the "Steady State 4KB Random Write Performance" graph has highly misleading results.

    The steady-state 4KB QD=32 random write performance of the Vertex 3 when tested with random data streams (as the industry-standard SNIA protocol specifies) is only about 30MB/s, not 159MB/s as anandtech.com's graph incorrectly shows. You can see the correct results in either of these reviews:

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/storage/display/m...

    http://www.storagereview.com/plextor_pxm3p_ssd_rev...

    It is disappointing for anandtech.com to get a simple test like this so very wrong.
    Reply
  • kissfan003 - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    Plextor an unknown... Dang, I'm old... They were the best optical drive "back in my day"... Reply
  • ejiggyb - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    Plextor used to be the only one for me, way back when Adaptec software was the king. That became Roxio. I had 3 different models they all became junk after a little use. They would automatically change speed if i was ripping a CD down to 2 speed unless I held the open button for a few seconds before I put in the CD. I spent a pretty penny for all them. To bad, I was a huge fan. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    "As far as brand awareness for Plextor, I believe the reason for their relative obscurity of late has been the lack of media awareness and contacts. Their journey to become an SSD manufacturer has been rather abnormal. When you think of the history of other SSD manufacturers, they were mostly known for RAM before entering the SSD world."

    While I wont argue that Plextor is/is not in the RAM business. Since when in the context of this article has Plextor been known for it's RAM products ? The general audience here being computer enthusiasts, and not Electronic Engineers. Even then, being in embedded design myself ( as a very serious hobby ) I can not say with all honesty that I have even heard of a Plextor memory chip/stick.

    I think most/all power users that have been around over the last 10+ years would agree that Plextor is most noted for it's optical drives. Specifically the bit for bit copy models. Like another reader, I own a UW SCSI UltraPlex myself, and it is still going strong to this day. Though admittedly, it has not been very useful for years.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    I was specifically talking about other SSD manufacturers. Think e.g. OCZ and Crucial, both are RAM manufacturers. Plextor's journey is abnormal because they never made RAM or other components, only ODDs. I was not claiming that Plextor is a RAM manufacturer. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    Ah ha. I see now. *Other* SSD manufactures . . My mistake.. Sorry.

    So looking at things from that perspective.

    Plextor started off as the go to brand for many people where optical drives were concerned. Their CD writers / readers were second to none.. Often far exceeding the competition in performance, and features.

    Now days, like anyone else. It seems Plextor is only interested in making throw-away ( reference design ) products. No more pride in the brand.

    Going by the information given to us in your review, it seems perhaps Plextor is trying to put effort into at least this product, With great results ( so it seems ). Perhaps even trying to regain their good name of the past,

    With the above said, I think I would have to give Plextor a pass. Simply because their recent track record says one thing to me( by recent i mean the last several years ). *Money*. Not the end user, not even their good reputation. That goes back to your comments about the cost as well.

    Happily, I would love to be proven wrong. However, I would not hold my breathe passed 6 months where software support is concerned.

    Thank you for your non condescending response Though, I probably deserved it heh.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, April 08, 2012 - link

    ". Not the end user, not even their good reputation"

    Er . . .

    No concern for the end user, or even their good reputation:
    Reply
  • sunsin - Monday, April 09, 2012 - link

    Kristian, Thanks for the clarification. One further question, in the Intel 520 review, the performance of Sandforce based SSD after TRIM cannot recover to clean state. Isn't this something of concern? The M3 can recovery its clean state performance either via GC or TRIM but this is not possible with Sandforce based SSD. Would this count as one strength on M3's Truespeed implementation? Reply
  • falk09 - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    It's mentioned that the Razor Blade had a Lite-On SSD. Lite-on and Philips "owns" the Plextor-brandname when it comes to this types of products - under the PLDS-name - see /www.pldsnet.com. The Lite-On SSDs are the same as the Plextor SSDs. So it's more that Plextor is a high-end marketing-name for Lite-On?

    Plextors M3P should be reviewed. Great SSD. Fastest of the Marvell-based SSD it seems...
    Reply

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