Plextor's M6V SSD was originally planned to be their first drive using TLC NAND, but that has now been put off to next year's M7V. Instead, Plextor is taking advantage of a surprise hit in the SSD controller market, Silicon Motion's SM2246EN controller. We've previously tested this controller in the ADATA Premier SP610, the Transcend SSD 370, the Mushkin Reactor, and the Crucial BX100. The SM2246EN was designed to be a low-power controller for low-cost drives, and it has been very successful in that segment. The controller doesn't support TLC NAND, so all of these drives are free of the higher power consumption and lower performance that have troubled low-end TLC solutions we've seen so far.

Drive NAND Capacites
ADATA Premier SP610 Micron 128Gbit 20nm MLC 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Transcend SSD 370 Micron 128Gbit 20nm MLC 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Mushkin Reactor Micron 128Gbit 16nm MLC 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Crucial BX100 Micron 128Gbit 16nm MLC 120GB, 250GB, 500GB, 1TB
Plextor M6V Toshiba 128Gbit 15nm MLC 128GB, 256GB, 512GB

The SM2246EN has been paired with a variety of NAND, so these drives don't all perform identically. The Plextor M6V is the first time we've seen this controller paired with Toshiba's 15nm MLC, which is significantly denser than Micron's planar NAND and competitive with Samsung's second generation V-NAND. Toshiba has had trouble getting the 15nm MLC out the door in large quantities, and the rest of Plextor's products are still using Toshiba 19nm or A19nm MLC.

Of the major SM2246EN drives, each one differs a bit from the others in terms of features. Transcend's SSD 370 and its aluminum-clad variant (the SSD 370S) use custom firmware to offer encryption, but is missing some power saving modes. Mushkin's Reactor was initially available only in the 1TB capacity, but the 512GB and 256GB models are now available from some retailers. Crucial's BX100 uses semi-custom firmware and features the partial power loss protection now typical of their mainstream drives. The Plextor M6V, by comparison, has just the basic feature set of a SM2246EN drive, augmented only by Plextor's PlexTurbo RAM caching software for Windows (but not Windows 10).

Plextor has opted to not make a 1TB version of the M6V, which would probably require more expensive packaging to fit on the PCB layout they're using. Our 256GB sample has 8 packages on front of the PCB and 8 empty pads on the back, which means that each package has two 128Gbit dies inside.

Plextor M6V SSD Specifications
Size 128GB 256GB 512GB
Controller Silicon Motion SM2246EN
NAND Toshiba 15nm Toggle MLC
DRAM Cache 128 MB 256 MB 512 MB
Sequential Read 535 MB/s 535 MB/s 535 MB/s
Sequential Write 170 MB/s 335 MB/s 455 MB/s
4kB Random Read 81k IOPS 83k IOPS 83k IOPS
4kB Random Write 42k IOPS 80k IOPS 80k IOPS
Warranty 3 years

The M6V also has siblings in smaller form factors: the M6MV (mSATA) and M6GV (M.2 SATA), both using the same controller and flash as the M6V. They shouldn't be confused with the M6M and M6G, Plextor's higher-performance mSATA and M.2 SATA drives, which like the rest of Plextor's SSDs use Marvell controllers and 19nm Toshiba flash. The M6MV doesn't have a 512GB configuration, but the M6GV does. Both of the smaller form factors use more expensive and denser BGA packaging for the NAND flash, and neither seems to be readily available for purchase yet.

AnandTech 2015 SSD Test System
CPU Intel Core i7-4770K running at 3.5GHz (Turbo & EIST enabled, C-states disabled)
Motherboard ASUS Z97 Deluxe (BIOS 2401)
Chipset Intel Z97
Chipset Drivers Intel 10.0.24+ Intel RST
Memory Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866 2x8GB (9-10-9-27 2T)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4600
Graphics Drivers
Desktop Resolution 1920 x 1200
OS Windows 8.1 x64
Performance Consistency
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  • Vepsa - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    Because not everyone needs or can afford a PCIe SSD. Or they have a computer that can't boot from one. I'd love two 250GB SSDs for my home server, but they have to be SATA or SAS because all its PCIe slots are full.
  • Mr Perfect - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    Yes, SATA it's still quite relevant. It's not exciting, but we can all use them.
  • hyno111 - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    There are currently no consumer PCIe SSD for laptops. SM951s are for OEM and may have trouble finding warranty. 950 pro is not out yet.
    Not to mention prices..
  • close - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    So it's integrated GPU if you want power savings and Titan X SLI if you want performance. Nothing in between?

    There are shades of gray (maybe less than 50 are distinguishable though). Where do I fit a PCIe SSD? Unless it's a PCIe card then it's out. Also the price is a downer as while it may bring huge performance benefits, they don't justify the price for most users.

    And don't forget that *any* computer out there will hugely benefit from even a cheap SSD while upgrading from that cheap SSD to an expensive one upgrading will bring less impressive improvements.
  • xenol - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    The practical performance for many operations on secondary memory do not make anything beyond a SATA based SSD worthwhile. Go look up anecdotal reviews of RAM Drives, and you'll find many operations, despite RAM Drives offering orders of magnitude better performance, offer at best 10% better performance. Is it worth spending nearly twice as much on a PCIe drive than it is to get an SSD with double the capacity for what amounts to a 10% performance increase? No.

    Also, most storage operations that happen during regular use of a PC are very tiny. Most of them are <128KB in size. At that point, bandwidth is insignificant, but latency is what matters. And that's where SSDs really shine over HDDs.
  • Impulses - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    It's all relative, there's plenty of common content creation scenarios where a PCI-E SSD makes a big big difference... Whether it's worth it or not is pretty subjective.

    Enthusiasts used to pay for stuff lime Raptor where the difference was relatively minor by comparison... Small (256GB) SM951 for me right now for the OS/apps, 2x1TB 850 EVOs for most else, why make it either/or? (on a desktop anyway)
  • xenol - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    If you're on an unlimited budget, then sure, go spend money on the bestest thing possible.

    But if you're on a limited budget, sacrificing a few things here and there because they don't add much to the pie are the decisions you have to make. If you're a gamer, PCIe SSDs are worthless. Go spend the difference on a better video card. If you're a content creator, it still depends on the content being created. The only time I can ever see a high speed SSD as necessary is if you're dumping a ton of data from somewhere. Otherwise, just throw more RAM at the problem. Besides that, the CPU is probably still the biggest bottleneck in those scenarios (a year or two ago, someone mentioned that Intel's Ivy Bridge E was the only part he could find that could do a 1:1 BD-ROM rip and encode, which means for a 2 hour video and assuming the entire 25GB was used, the CPU was pumping out ~120MB/s... You can easily sustain that on a hard drive)
  • StrangerGuy - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Define "enthusiasts". Long ago during Raptor days there were also a huge mass of so-called "enthusiasts" who recommended against Raptors because they were a big stinking waste of money compared to regular 7200 rpm drives. Enthusiasts aren't people who will mindlessly throw good money for some ultra niche hardware they don't need despite what you want us believe.
  • name99 - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    Oh don't be narrow-minded.
    In just the last month I have
    (a) replaced the HD in a friend's old MacBook Pro with an SSD (to speed up the machine)

    (b) had the HD in my 3-yr old iMac fail (not exactly fail, but enough SMART warnings that it's time to stop gambling on it staying alive), so I switched to booting off a 1TB SSD stuck in a USB-3 enclosure.

    Both of these were perfect use cases for a SATA SSD...
  • Coup27 - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    What on earth are you smoking? (dj_aris)

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