Plextor M5 Pro SSD Review

Plextor brings the M5 Pro with the new Marvell Monet controller powering its banks of high performance Toshiba Toggle NAND. This is the debut of the first SSD with 19nm Toshiba Toggle NAND, the debutof the new Marvell Monet 88SS9187-BLD2 controller. We take a look and see what these new components bring to the table.

Plextor M5 Pro Basics

Plextor has a long history in the storage market. Plextor has been developing and selling CD-ROM, DVD players, and other optical storage mediums since 1989. Now developing SSDs has become a core part of its business as well and has released yet another SSD in its PX-M Series, the Plextor M5 Pro.

The M5 Pro brings forth some new technology with its 19nm Toshiba Toggle NAND. Toshiba Toggle is the highest performing NAND available to manufacturers, but it does carry a price premium for that distinction. The die shrink to 19nm has reportedly been done with no loss to the underlying endurance of the NAND itself, yet an accompanying throughput increase per die.

The new "Monet" 88SS9187-BLD2 controller is the newest offering from Marvell, and offers class-leading features during a time when LAMD has entered the market to compete while SandForce has been quiet on the release of its next controller. This 8-channel NAND flash controller is the third iteration from Marvell and sports dual-core architecture.

The PX-M Series of SSDs have gained Plextor a stellar reputation among enthusiasts with its focus on reliability and high performance. Taking things to the next level with the Plextor M5 Pro is only a natural progression from its earlier models. The Plextor M5 Pro sports throughputs up to 540/450 MB/s in sequential read and write speed for the 256GB model we are testing. Adding in a blistering 94,000 random read and 86,000 random write IOPS truly puts the spotlight on high performance.

Article Image

Plextor has been quite the fan of using Marvell controllers, and Marvell allows Plextor full control over the firmware of its SSDs. Plextor leverages the advantage of having its own experienced team of firmware engineers to develop SSDs.

This is in stark contrast to SandForce controllers, which only allow the manufacturer to adjust very few settings and little to no access for firmware modification. Plextor uses this ability to focus on speed and reliable performance with its True Speed technology and built in data protection features. We will cover these approaches more in depth on the next page.

Plextor has only recently entered the SSD market, and that choice was definitely a wise one. With the decline of optical storage for digital data in the mainstream Plextor has begun the shift to the storage medium of the future. Even car stereos now have internal drives and USB ports and movies come over the Net. Small USB sticks with serious capacity are definitely affecting the optical storage market as well. Optical data storage isn't dead yet, but its days of mass proliferation are definitely numbered.

As Plextor's product line matures, its SSDs have gained accolades from many corners for reliability and performance, so let's take a look and see how Plextor's latest SSD performs in our testing.