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  • Chaitanya - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    I associate names like plextor and lite-on with optical discs. now they are into solid state media as well. wondering whats next. Reply
  • DaFox - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    Plextor was amazing back when optical drives were relevant. Reply
  • iamkyle - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    You mean, before they stopped manufacturing their own drives Reply
  • lexluthermiester - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    Quote; "back when optical drives were relevant."

    Last time I checked, optical drives are still in very common use for a wide variety of purposes. How are they not still relevant?
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    There was a time when a new CD-ROM or DVD-ROM would have people scouring the web for reviews because the new drive would offer greater and greater speeds.

    Nowadays, people just buy whatever's cheapest or goes good with their case. They MAY look at compatibility with discs beforehand, but often don't if they're looking at a $20 DVD-/+RW. If they do, that's a few user reviews and then bam, bought. If it's crap, they throw it away and buy another.

    This is far from the ancient times when a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM would warrant a full-on review with technical read-outs, minor speed differences against other models, etc. There's no point now because they're so cheap and there are no new advances being done in the field because USB storage (flash and hard drives) became so damn cheap along with the proliferation of online with digital storage.

    There's a new hotness in town and we should all queue up the Toy Story sad music for ODD's. I imagine all my ODD's talking in the dusty, plastic bin of forgotten tech. They scramble out and reminisce about the times I used to have with them. The old Lite-On DVD-RW chatting with a Plextor CD-RW. A 2x DVD-ROM by Creative talking to a Pioneer DVD-slot. Every now and then, a Zip drive crying, "Hai guyz! Im hear two!"

    And them all looking at him, patting him on the head, and saying, "Adults are speaking." Then lil' Zip drive'll look down and mumble something about how he used to be awesome. Meanwhile, my Sound Blaster, Sound Blaster 16, Sound Blaster AWE, Audigy, Audigy 2ZS, Aureal, Diamond 3dFX Voodoo, Voodoo 2 SLI, Matrox G200, they all chat amongst themselves about the days back when PC's were actually hard to build, compatibility was a shot in the dark and a prayer bound by McGuyver's chewing gum, and when installing Windows involved starting it and wandering away for 10 minutes (or less).

    The best days are behind us, I think. Strange how the easier things get, the less awesome they feel.
    Reply
  • erple2 - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    If these posts were rated, you sir, would receive a +1 from me. Trips down memory lane are always fun to do now and again. I remember amber buying my first Texel drive in the very early 90s because they were so Mich more reliable, and faster.

    Those were truly the halcyon days...
    Reply
  • speculatrix - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    +1

    So much of what used to be hard is now trivial, and the young generation really don't need to understand how computers work. Sure that's no bad thing for productivity, but means we're raising new generations who are unable to design the next generation of hardware.

    Here is Cambridge England I see the average age of engineers rising all the time. Companies struggle to find truly gifted embedded skills.
    Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Ah, the good old days of setting individual jumpers for a CPU's FSB, multiplier and voltage... Needing a dedicated cable that goes from your optical disk drive to your sound card JUST so you can play Audio...
    Setting IRQ's in the bios/windows... Fun days for the tinkerer.
    Now everything is just plug and play pretty much.
    Reply
  • versesuvius - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Let's see an Apple (McIntosh) user go down the memory lane. I suppose theirs turns out to be 1 centimeter in length. Something like:

    "It was always like this. We paid triple the amount a Windows user did. Then again we were always better than them. Steve Jobs may be gone, but we are still better than them. We are just better. Long live Steve."

    Just joking, of course.
    Reply
  • tjoynt - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    +1 Internets to you Sir or Mam! Thank you for bringing me down memory lane and reminding me how difficult and exciting it used to be. :) Now that everything pretty much Just Works, much of the fun and mystery is gone.

    Sure I follow the next hotness too, but building a computer today is like building with legos: just follow the pictures and snap it together. No more IRQ conflicts or DMA errors. RAM incompatibility is still a source of "fun" but that has always been annoying rather than interesting.

    Sure, we can focus on actually Getting Things Done now, but so can everyone else. Being a hardware geek is not as special anymore. Of course the complexity and flakiness of software will keep us well-rounded geeks well entertained (and employed) for quite a while to come. :)
    Reply
  • tjoynt - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    OT: another +1 Internet for the Lexx reference in your name. :) Reply
  • plext0r - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    You guys remember MITSUMI drives? I remember they were the most sought after for a long time. I still have a Plextor SCSI CD-RW drive sitting in my parts bin. :-) Reply
  • Belard - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Yep... but it was more than JUST about speed back in THOSE days... it was about reliability of the drive and its burns.

    My first optical burner was from HP, it was $600 *USED!* and each blank disc was $10 each. Since I already had a SCSI controller for my $1000 HP scanner (snif - it was bad-ass) it was easy to plug and go.

    The failure rates of burns on a 166mhz Pentium was about 60%... very EXPENSIVE. Doing burns required making sure NOTHING was going on in the back ground, no internet, no screen saver. A full disc burn took about 30 minutes... and yes, the drive and discs were hot.

    It was years before good IDE burners came out and they were priced at about $200. Even around 2000, it made a difference to buy a $120 SONY burner vs a $75 no-name brands some of my friends would buy. ie: my burners lasted until I upgraded, vs their drives lasting months.

    Nowadays, only 3-4 companies actually make burners. They have various labels on them... all of them costs about $15~24.

    And yes, optical drives are STILL important and useful.
    A REAL WindowsOS DVD is better than a DL version... And this is especially true with MS-Office. A disc version allows 2-3 system installs. The online version at about the same price only installs onto the PC you download it to. When that PC dies or you upgrade... well, that Office is STUCK on that computer.
    Reply
  • rarson - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Optical drives are an order of magnitude cheaper than they used to be, and for the most part, far less finicky and more reliable. If you buy decent media, you're pretty much guaranteed a perfect burn even at the highest speed setting (which is also an order of magnitude faster). Capacity has greatly increased. Heck, I was just thinking about how disappointing it is that I can't fit more data on a DVD when I realized that 12X+ Blu-Ray burners are less than a hundred bucks. That's cheaper than the first CD-R and DVD-ROM drives I owned... and they read and write over a dozen different optical formats.

    Forgive me if I don't wax nostalgic about "the good old days." Technologically, there is no better time than the present.
    Reply
  • Sufo - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    Hah, agreed. Add to that people reminiscing about when it was still "difficult" to build PCs. It didn't require more skill, just more patience and time. I get it, you want to feel like you're actually creating your PC, not just fitting the parts together, but honestly, that all you were ever doing. There are still great hardware challenges - if anything there are more now than ever with the lowered cost of FPGAs and other integrated circuits.

    I'm glad that I no longer have to take risks with my expensive PC hardware - I want it to be as trouble-free and reliable as possible and I can't wait for the day when I can look back at this current gen of hardware and laugh at how slow SSDs were.
    Reply
  • davepermen - Thursday, July 05, 2012 - link

    There was a time where you could not have pc's without them. Software delivery was only trough cds, os installation, again cds. music: cds.

    Nowadays, you can life without them. Which i do since years. And as we go more and more mobile, they will get even less "the default source to get data from".

    There was a time when 650MB was considered huge, and one could store and share everything on cds. Nowadays, not really.

    Windows installs much faster from usb stick.
    Software typically, when fitting on cds, gets downloaded. If it doesn't, well, still dowdnloading is the way to go, as cds don't matter then anymore anyways.

    So no, they are not relevant at all anymore. They where the nr1 way to distribute data at some point in history. That point is gone.
    Reply
  • iceman98343 - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    kristian:

    when are you guys going to re-review ocz vertex 4? FW 1.5 is out.
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    Finally the M3P review is posted! Thanks for the review, but hopefully Anand can get reviews posted in a more timely manner in the future (I understand that Kristian had the review done weeks ago, but Anand's policies or whatever delayed the posting of it)

    By the way, rumor has it that the soon to be released Plextor M5S will use the same Marvell 9174 controller, but will change to IMFT ONFi flash so it will be slower than the M3P (but presumably much cheaper).

    I am hoping that Plextor is working on an M5P that will use Toshiba toggle flash and the new Marvell 9187 controller, but that is just a hope on my part. I have NOT even heard a rumor whether that is true.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    M5S is no longer a rumor: http://www.plextoramericas.com/index.php/ssd/px-m5...

    ONFi seems likely as sequential speeds are lower (due to less bandwidth between the NAND and controller) but random speeds are slightly higher. There is no press release about the M5S so I'm not sure if the product page has just slipped or something. I'll contact Plextor and ask what's the deal and what is the difference between M3(P) and M5S. Keep your eye on Pipeline for updates ;-)
    Reply
  • magreen - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    There are only two Toolbox features I ever use for my Intel SSDs: Manual TRIM, b/c I use XP and Vista, and secure erase.

    Plextool doesn't do manual TRIM at all. And its secure erase is almost nonexistent b/c you need an external enclosure.

    That defeats the whole point of having a toolbox, in my mind.
    Reply
  • Coup27 - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    I agree. I welcome another SSD toolbox into the mix, but with its current feature set, it is largely pointless. Manual TRIM for a toolbox utility is essential.

    I presume that Samsung make Toshiba's NAND for them? I did not know that.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    Samsung and Toshiba both make their own NAND. Toshiba does have a joint venture with SanDisk though (similar to what Intel and Micron are doing). Reply
  • Coup27 - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    "The NAND is once again from Toshiba and there are a total of eight NAND packages on the PCB. These are 32GiB quad-die packages and are manufactured using Samsung's 24nm process"

    I don't understand this then?
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    That's a typo/error. Fixed now :-) Reply
  • csroc - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    At least the author knows who Plextor is this time! Reply
  • pheadland - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    OCZ also has an SSD toolbox, and it more functionality than the Plextor one. Reply
  • Belard - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Last time I checked... its just a ROM/FIRMWARE upgrade tool.

    Hence, I buy and tell friends to get Intel drives. I'll gladly pay the extra $20~30 for the reliability, support and upper-class performance. Sure its NOT #1, but I'll take a slight performance hit over BSODs and full out failures.

    I had to explain to a client his SSD that Dell installed in his high end Dell is a Samsung that doesn't support TRIM... its new enough to be SATA3/6Gbs - and yet its performance is already SLOWER than my own intel G2 M25 drive (SATA 2).

    The Intel tool box if full featured. 3.0x is quite nice.
    Reply
  • KAlmquist - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    I ask because the write performance of SSD's can vary a lot depending on how full the drive is. The Vertex 4 even uses a different block allocation algorithm if the drive is less than half full. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    Storage Bench is run on a clean drive. Reply
  • KAlmquist - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    So it measures how the drives perform when they have a lot of free space. Thanks. Reply
  • fausto412 - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    I am almost settled on Samsung 830 but even the capacity becomes an issue.
    256gb is what I want but that price is more than I want to pay.

    Can someone explain how TRIM works?

    My windows drive is fine with Battlefield 3 and Bad Company 2 installed...it is the media files that need relocation. I have read I can change the my pictures and my videos system folder locations.
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    Can someone explain how to use google to find the answers to basic questions? Reply
  • Belard - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    go to your browser, type in G O O G L E . C O M (each letter is a key) and press enter key.

    Faustso: buy a smaller drive for your OS and work Apps (MS Office) and use a HD for your games and videos and porn. Also use the HD to store an image of the SSD in case of failure.
    Reply
  • iwod - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    Looks like we need 12Gbps ASAP. The Firmware design are starting to bring in less improvement %. And Idle / Active Power consumption needs to stay low as well. Reply
  • Belard - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    PCI-e Drives are for that. But its stupid that none or most are non-bootable. Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    can you do a re-review of vertex4 120GB with the newly released 1.4 firmware? Reply
  • macuser2134 - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    +1. You absolutely need to do this ASAP. Vertex 4 with the latest firmware update needs to be re-tested and updated in the AnandTech storage bench. Reply
  • iceman98343 - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    you are late. vertex 4 1.5beta was released on Friday. Reply
  • casteve - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    "I find it to be more hassle to put the drive inside an enclosure than to simply secure erase the drive with other methods."

    Buy an eSATA bracket with power for $10 from your favorite e-tailer.
    Reply
  • NCM - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Based on the previous favourable review of the Plextor I bought and installed a 256GB M3 (plain) as the boot/app drive in a new Mac Pro workstation a couple of months ago, with TRIM turned on for this non-Apple drive via the Trim Enabler freeware utility. Most files are stored on our server, so capacity isn't really an issue. However I've found that our 128GB drives stand to run somewhat full, so 256GB gives plenty of storage headroom.

    It's been running very satisfactorily, with the responsiveness you'd expect of an SSD machine.

    Just last week I bit the bullet and bought a 512GB M3 Pro for my own 13" MacBook Pro. The slight extra cost of the M3 Pro isn't meaningful in an almost $700 drive, so I saw no reason not to get the better version. I preferred the Marvell controller over Sandforce due to the incompressible data performance, and chose Plextor over a Samsung 830 due to lower power consumption in the laptop application.

    My original 500GB conventional drive contains over 300GB, and while it might have been possible to prune that enough to squeeze into a 256GB, the SSD would then have run very full, affecting SSD garbage collection/TRIM. It's also necessary to leave enough free space for the hibernation RAM image, as well as for VM pages. So the 512GB version it was.

    The process is straightforward. I used Apple's Disk Utility to clone the existing drive to the Plextor mounted in a Newer Tech external FW800 dock, test booted, then installed it in the MBP. TRIM is enable as above.

    Performance improvement is as you'd hope, particularly since the original drive was only 5400 rpm. Another upside is the shock resistance of an SSD for mobile applications.

    The only real downside is the hole-in-the-wallet effect!
    Reply
  • NCM - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Three things I forgot to include in my post above:
    - The Plextor needs to be reformatted for the Mac. You use Apple's Disk Utility to handle that, as with any other drive.
    - Cloning the original drive using DU's Restore function will also automatically clone Lion's hidden Recovery partition.
    - Absolute SSD performance is limited by my 2010 MBP's 3 Gb/s SATA interface, so I could have bought a cheaper last generation drive. However I hope to be keeping this pricey SSD long enough for it to see at least one more host computer, and that will support faster transfers.
    Reply
  • Belard - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Pretty much ALL new SSDs are SATA3.0 / 6GB/s... so its not really an issue.

    Its older tech or mix tech models that are SATA2.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Not with the regular updater at least. In theory, someone could modify the installer and make it possible though. Reply
  • Kyanzes - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    "relatively unknown brand" :)

    Okay.
    Reply
  • bobsmith1492 - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Yes they are relatively unknown. Yes they used to be more well-known but only for optical drives. Reply
  • eanazag - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    I would like to see a 2.5" HDD at 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm sample data for a baseline included in the reviews. I don't care if they ever get updated after that. I would just like to be able to quickly see where the mechanical drives chime in.

    Performance would data would be icing, but power data is nice.

    If I upgrade my users to a drive off this list, which is very likely. I'd like to be able to tell them if they are going to take a hit on battery life or a boost.
    Reply
  • Belard - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    They stopped doing that some time ago because it messes up the charts somewhat. Basically, they just don't compare... and that was before the SATA 6Gbps drives came out.

    Here is a early 2011 review with a WD VelociRaptor (The fastest HD money can buy for a consumer drive). And yet, its a sliver. Only SSDs that perform almost as slow are the bottom end SSD. And keep in mind, the Raptors are 2-3 times faster than a 5400RPM drive.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4346/ocz-agility-3-2...

    RANDOM READ (MB/s)
    00.68 = Raptor
    58.10 = Intel X25-M G2 (still a very good drive)
    93.50 = Crucial C300 (early 6Gbps drives)

    Sequential READ (MB/s)
    145.30 = Raptor
    226.30 = Intel X25-M G2 (still a very good drive)
    307.20 = Crucial C300 (early 6Gbps drives)
    392.20 = Intel 510 SSD (6Gbps)

    A modern high end SSD is about 100x faster in random R / W operations over any HD.

    Oh, here is a GOOD older 2010 review which includes a Seagate 5400 RPM 2.5" drive. OUCH!
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3690/the-impact-of-s...

    See how the chart becomes somewhat meaningless? And thats with 3Gbps drives!

    Imagine looking at a chart comparing a 16mhz 286 to a quad core 3400mhz i5 CPU.
    Reply
  • hechacker1 - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Probably, assuming there isn't some checksum that can't be cracked to flash the drive.

    In my experience, almost all drive firmwares can be flashed.
    Reply
  • sulu1977 - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Speed and performance of such a device is important, but not as important as reliability. Reliability is hands down my top priority. Just wanted to mention this. Reply
  • octoploid - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    There is already an unofficial tool available that can transform a normal M3 into an M3-Pro:
    http://bbs.pceva.com.cn/thread-47279-1-1.html
    Reply
  • etamin - Wednesday, July 04, 2012 - link

    Not sure if anyone mentioned this but the Vertex 4 (now firmware v1.4) can really use an update in both the charts (on newly reviewed SSDs) and in the SSD bench. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, July 05, 2012 - link

    Just spoke with Anand, he promised that the updated results will be in Bench later this week. I'll also do a quick article about the results, should be up early next week or so unless something comes up (hint: I have a package coming from Plextor which needs urgent attention ;-) Reply
  • etamin - Thursday, July 19, 2012 - link

    Awesome! just saw the updates in the Plextor M5S review! Reply
  • SSD_Privacy - Monday, July 09, 2012 - link

    In the review you explain the features of Plextool,, but you do not say whether you actually used it and whether it actually erases data. This is very important as a study done at UCSD www.usenix.org/events/fast11/tech/full_papers/Wei.pdf showed that some SSD drives do not erase data even when they report that they have.

    This is a subject that this site has never addressed or even acknowledged.
    Reply
  • msawyer91 - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    As a freelance software developer of a tool called WindowSMART 2012, which assess the health of hard disks and SSDs, and alerts you via email and on Apple and Android mobile devices, I had a need for SSDs.

    Since each SSD controller manufacturer (i.e. Marvell, SandForce, Micron) implements SMART attributes differently, I had a need to acquire SSDs (at quite an expense). I trolled the waters looking for the best deals. Some SSDs I looked to buy, knowing I would be selling them on eBay once I was done testing them. Others I was electing to keep, choosing to upgrade laptops to boost their speed. Throw in a caddy from newmodeus.com and I instantly had a dual-drive laptop--SSD for the OS and hard drive for the data. Talk about breathing some new life into a computer!

    A few months ago I found this very SSD, the Plextor M3 256 GB, on Newegg. It was on sale for $199.99, and I couldn't pass it up. It had a solid 5/5 egg rating from over 300 reviewers, and finding an SSD at less than a dollar per GB? I was sold. I installed it in a laptop that's functioning as a SharePoint 2010 test server. With the SSD alone, I was easily trimming 10 seconds off of initial page loads. SharePoint is a beast, and a laptop isn't exactly the best suited machine for SharePoint. But for testing and tinkering, it suited my needs.

    And this Plextor SSD made that laptop (an HP G60-230US) a whole lot faster. Well done Plextor! You've got a winner in this SSD.

    If you want to check out the WindowSMART 2012 tool I put together, you can find it at http://www.dojonorthsoftware.net/TBM/WindowSMART.a...

    Matt
    Reply

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