Plextor is not a name that you would have immediately associate with SSD manufacture – they’re probably best known to old timers as a leading manufacturer of CD/DVD drives – but they’ve been in the business a while. Unlike Intel or Samsung who have made their mark with their own brand controllers and software, Plextor has opted to go for a third party Marvell controller. These controllers are used to great effect in the popular Crucial M4, but require some special firmware to really unlock their potential.
Thankfully, Plextor have opted to do just that and their earlier M3 series SSDs were some of the fastest available. With the M3 Pro, they look to offer a premium option that promises even greater performance. Let’s find out if they’re able to deliver on their word.
- 2.5″ Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
- Available in 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB capacities
- True Speed Technology for sustained performance over time
- Random read and write speeds of 70,000 / 69,000 IOPS
- 7 mm ultra slim form factor
- Uses server grade Marvell 88SS9174 controller chip
- Supports SATA III 6 Gb/s interface and highest quality Japanese NAND flash
- Boasts lowest annual failure rate (AFR) across industry
- Unrivalled 5 year on-site warranty and service support
- Storage capacity: 128 GB
- Sequential Read: 535 MB/s
- Sequential Write: 350 MB/s
- 4K Random Read: 75K IOPS
- 4K Random Write: 69K IOPS
- Cache: 256 MB DDR3
The M3 Pro comes in a light and unassuming blue cardboard box. On the front, you’ll see the drive pictured and titled, as well as other immediately important information like the capacity and included extras.
On the back there are some drier specifications in the requisite European and East Asian languages, as well as some exciting performance numbers – up to 535 MB/s sequential read and 350 MB/s sequential write.
Slide out the inner compartment and unfold it like a book, and you’ll see the drive ensconced in an anti-static bag and its optional 3.5″ adapter bay. There’s also a driver CD inside on the left hand side, a short manual and that’s about it. It’s a very neat and tidy package, and I do particularly like the protection imparted by keeping the drive inside its adapter bay.
The Plextor M3 Pro is a good looking and very thin drive, designed to be used in Ultrabooks where space is at an absolute premium. The drive measures 7 mm tall and comes in a cool grey colour. The bottom of the drive has a sticker with various digits including the model number (PX-128M3P), input voltage (5V @ 1.0A), date of manufacture (in our case, March 2012) and firmware (1.0).
If we were able to take the top off the drive, you could see the fairly straight-forward layout – the Marvell 88SS9174-BLD controller chip, SATA interface and 128 GB of Japanese NAND memory. Let’s move onto the fun part – benchmarking and testing!