Final Words

In essence, the M5M is M5 Pro but in mSATA form factor. Performance wise the two are closely related, even though the M5 Pro has twice the raw NAND bandwidth. In most scenarios, however, we are not bound by the bandwidth between the NAND and the controller (it's usually either the SATA bus, controller or the NAND's program/read latencies that's limiting performance). Intel's SSD 525 comes out slightly faster than the M5M in our tests, but the M5M is still certainly one of the fastest mSATA drives available in the retail. Especially if you're dealing with lots of incompressible data, the M5M is a better option because you'll get consistent performance regardless of the data type. I'm very curious how a Samsung SSD 840 Pro based mSATA SSD would perform, though.

Price Comparison (4/17/2013)
Capacity 60/64GB 120/128GB 240/256GB
Plextor M5M $75 $110 $200
Plextor M5 Pro N/A $120 $230
Plextor M5S N/A $109 $190
Intel SSD 525 $110 $170 $290
MyDigitalSSD BP4 mSATA $60 $110 $180
Crucial M4 mSATA $85 $130 $210
Mushkin Atlas $90 $120 $190
ADATA XPG SX300 $80 $130 $260

Pricing is very competitive, especially when taking the performance into account. MyDigitalSSD's BP4 is slightly cheaper at 240/256GB but the M5M is faster and I would pay the extra $20 for it. At 120/128GB the M5M is actually one of the cheapest (mSATA) SSDs around so it's really a viable option for those who are in the market for an mSATA SSD. Of course, prices fluctuate so my advice is to compare the prices at the time of buying and base the decision on those; the table above may already be out of date tomorrow.  

The slowdown issue is definitely drawback but I wouldn't give it too much value as it's unlikely to affect the majority of buyers. Plextor's SSDs in general have been one of the most reliable from what I have seen (I've been using the M3 as my boot drive for nearly a year now) and the M5M should not be any different. Plextor is working hard on identifying the bug and getting it fixed and I'll update this when I got something to share.

We are now seeing more competition in the retail mSATA SSD market than we have seen before. The market definitely needs attention from OEMs such as Intel and Plextor to be competitive against the 2.5" market. Ultimately I believe many OEMs are now getting ready for M.2 (formerly NGFF) SSDs and mSATA is just a logical step in between. 

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  • kmmatney - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    " I strongly recommend having at least 25% free space with the M5M. The more you fill the drive, the more likely it is that you'll face inconsistent performance."

    Would this really effect the average user? Do you let the drives idle long enough so the normal garbage collection can kick in?
    Reply
  • msahni - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    Hi there,
    First of all Kristian thanks for the reviews. You've finally answered my queries about the best mSATA SSD to get. (from the Intel 525 review)

    Could you please advise what is the best method to leave the 25% free space on the drive for over provisioning to enhance the performance.

    Cheers....
    Reply
  • Minion4Hire - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    Anand answered that in another article. I believe you are supposed to shrink the partition, create a second partition out of the unallocated space, then delete the new partition. The act of deleting the partition brings the OS to TRIM that portion of the drive freeing it up for use as spare area. And since you won't be writing to it any more it is permanently spare area (well, unless you repartition or something) Reply
  • xdrol - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    Actually, Windows does not trim when you delete a partition, rather when you create a new one. Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    I have wondered for a long time if the extra free space is really necessary. Home users aren't benchmarking, drives are mostly idle. Not often do you transfer 100GB at a time or install programs. Reply
  • JellyRoll - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    Unrealistic workloads for a consumer environment result in unrealistic test results. How many consumer notebooks or laptops, hell even enterprise mobile devices, will be subjected to this type of load? Answer: Zero.
    Even in a consumer desktop this is NEVER going to happen.
    Reply
  • JPForums - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    It was stated a long time ago at Anandtech that their testing was harsher than typical consumer loads for the express purpose of separating the field. Under typical consumer workloads, there is practically no difference between modern drives. I don't know how many times I've read that any SSD is a significant step up from an HDD. It has pretty much been a standing assumption since the old jMicron controllers left the market. However, more information is required for those that need (or think they need) the performance to handle heavier workloads.

    Personally, everything else being equal, I'd rather have the drive that performs better/more consistently, even if it is only in workloads I never see. I don't think Kristian is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. He simply gives the readers here enough credit to make up their own mind about the level of performance they need.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    If the drive is nearly full and there's no extra OP, then it's possible that even normal (but slightly larger/heavier, like app installation) usage will cause the performance to become inconsistent which will affect the overall performance (average IOPS will go down). Performance will of course recover with idle time but the hit in performance has already been experienced. Reply
  • JellyRoll - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    Running a simple trace of an application install will show that this is not an accurate statement. This testing also does not benefit from TRIM because there is no filesystem during the test. This ends up making an overly-negative portrayal. Reply
  • JPForums - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Which test in particular are you referring to that has no access to TRIM, that otherwise would?

    As far as application traces go, I can confirm Kristian's statement is accurate on both a Corsair Force GT 120GB and a Crucial M4 128GB. Performance drops appreciably when installing programs with a large number of small files (or copying a large number of small files I.E. Libraries). As an aside, it can also tank the performance of Xilinx ISE, which is typically limited by memory bandwidth and single threaded CPU performance.
    Reply

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