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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  • eddieobscurant - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    when is the samsung 950 pro review coming up?
  • Billy Tallis - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link


    I wanted to start with a more straightforward and predictable review to make sure I had the test rig set up correctly. The 950 Pro review calls for some deeper investigation than this one, since it's the first real mainstream consumer NVMe drive and there are custom drivers and stuff like that to investigate.
  • coolhardware - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Sweet action, looking forward to it! :-)
  • Coup27 - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Billy when you do the review for the 950 Pro would you be able to do a couple of paragraphs recapping over SATA Express, PCI Express, M.2, U.2 and anything else related to it? I've half kept up to date but I don't think they've done a great job of keeping it clear either.
  • Xichekolas - Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - link

    Mind having a section on Linux support/compatibility/etc in the 950 review? When you say "custom drivers and stuff like that to investigate" it makes me dread the buy-new-product-wait-a-month-for-kernel-support routine.
  • Billy Tallis - Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - link

    As I understand it, the custom drivers for NVMe is a thing everybody is doing to get around the limitations of Microsoft's driver, like not being able to send administrative commands to the drive (including the equivalent of secure erase). At least some of the features of Samsung's SSD Magician software will probably require their NVMe driver. I have yet to encounter a custom NVMe driver for Linux, only vendor-specific management tools.

    Anyways, the 950 Pro review's section on compatibility will be as thorough as I have time and resources for. I've done some work to equip our testbed to measure PCIe power consumption for the first time, which means I really should re-test the SM951 and XP941 for comparison's sake.
  • Cliff34 - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    Thanks for the review. But it seems like these days if the SSDs cannot differentiate themselves either in price (cheaper the better), speed (faster the better) and reliability (the longer the better), there's very little incentive to buy a SSD that's somewhere in the middle.

    If you want value, get the BX100 (or one that's on sale) or if you want speed, get the Samsung 850 Pro or the Sandisk Extreme Pro.
  • zodiacfml - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    Even Intel/Micron isn't sure if they can compete with Samsung.
  • MagickChicken - Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - link

    So am I right in thinking that this generation of consumer-grade SATA SSDs operates roughly 50% better than my current SSD, the Vertex 3?

    Seems like there'd be a higher increase in performance over four years considering how new the market was in 2011, though I'm certainly not going to knock the 50-60% drop in $/GB. Or is there a more significant change in the benchmarks that I'm not picking up on?
  • Billy Tallis - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    Some of the benchmark metrics are simply hitting SATA limits on bandwidth and latency. Others are constrained by the limited parallelism of interactive I/O, so the fundamental performance limits of NAND flash are showing through.

    Also keep in mind that pretty much all NAND production advances have been used to drive down cost, not to improve performance or reliability. We could be making SLC that's cheaper than the MLC used in early SATA SSDs, but the market prefers increased capacity and that's why we have TLC drives now and complicated slow error correction methods to keep them mostly working.

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