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Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB Review: 19 nm NAND And Marvell's Latest

Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB Review: 19 nm NAND And Marvell's Latest
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Hot on the heels of its M5S, Plextor sent us the M5 Pro. Loaded with hot new technologies like 19 nm NAND and the latest Marvell controller, the company's flagship was certainly worth waiting for. How does it do against the established incumbents, though?

Just as we finished our Plextor M5S 256 GB Review, the company's 256 GB M5 Pro (PX-256M5P) showed up at our door. We couldn't get the highly-anticipated drive out of its box and onto our test bench fast enough, particularly since we had just seen the M5S do so well, and despite its position as Plextor's value-oriented model. Needless to say, we started testing with high expectations.

The M5 Pro is a more performance-oriented product, and the hardware inside its chassis indicates that we should expect the M5 Pro to surpass our expectations of previous Plextor drives. For instance, the M5S we reviewed previously uses 25 nm synchronous NAND from Micron and Marvell's 88SS9174-BLD2 controller, while the M5 Pro employs 19 nm Toggle-mode DDR from Toshiba and a more modern Marvell 88SS9187-BLD2 processor.

To see Toshiba's 19 nm MLC flash in a retail product this early is remarkable. Mass production only started in July at the Yokkaichi plant in Japan. Of course, the question is whether an even smaller node negatively impacts the write endurance of Plextor's latest and greatest, and we'll get into that in more detail.

The M5 Pro also comes with Plextor's customized firmware, which, as we saw in our M5S coverage, is both tweaked and tuned to augment performance in metrics that matter.

Beyond its performance advantage over the M5S, the M5 Pro also adds full drive encryption via AES-256 and the latest 128-bit error correction codes. A five-year warranty and accessory package round out the kit, reassuring customers of Plextor's confidence in its handiwork, similar to what we've seen from companies like Intel.

Plextor makes the following claim about its M5 Pro:

"The M5 Pro has a unique double-data protection system to protect the integrity and confidentiality of your data. To confirm that each piece of data is correctly stored with one hundred percent accuracy, the newest 128-bit error correction code is used; this is backed by a unique Robust Data Hold-out Algorithm in Plextor’s exclusive firmware. This algorithm ensures that even in the very long-term, data can be read with extremely high accuracy. For data confidentiality the M5 Pro supports full drive encryption with an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit algorithm using its US Government AES-validated Marvell controller. Using the latest 128-bit error correction system built into the latest Marvell controller  the M5 Pro is able to automatically check and correct the accuracy of data being read from the flash memory.

The drive was extensively tested during development using the world’s most advanced SSD testing facilities to guarantee a high level of stability. The final design was able to pass Plextor’s strict enterprise-grade Zero Error standard of 400 units surviving 500 hours of the toughest continuous testing without a single error or failure. Before leaving the factory, every individual M5 Pro SSD is required to pass a rigorous high temperature burn-in test and accelerated operating simulation."

Clearly, the company is aiming for reliability as a primary selling point. Plextor also claims a MTBF forecast of 2.4 million hours.

Plextor is selling the M5 Pro in three different capacities: 128, 256, and 512 GB. For reference, the performance figures in brackets, below, are for Plextor's M3P series.


PX-128M5P
PX-256M5P
PX-512M5P
Processor
Marvell 88SS9187-BLD2
DDR RAM Buffer Size
256 (256 x 1)
512 (256 x 2)768 (1 x 512 and 1 x 256)
NAND
Toshiba 19 nm MLC Toggle-mode NAND
Formatted Capacity

238 GiB

Interface
SATA 6Gb/s
Form Factor
2.5", 7 mm
2.5", 7 mm2.5", 7 mm
Command Set Support
TRIM, S.M.A.R.T., NCQ, ATA/ATAPI-8
Data Encryption
AES
WarrantyFive Years
Sequential Read (MB/s)540 [535]540 [540]540 [535]
Sequential Write (MB/s)340 [350]450 [420]450 [450]
4 KB Random Read (IOPS)91 000 [75 000]94 000 [75 000]94 000 [56 000]
4 KB Random Write (IOPS)82 000 [69 000]86 000 [68 000]86 000 [34 000]


There is a "Ninja" limited edition, souped-up version of the M5 Pro that comes in a red casing with engraved shuriken graphics, but we are sad to say it won’t be sold in the U.S. It's as rare as hen's teeth in any other market, so we can only provide you with a mouth-watering image of what it looks like.

Display 23 Comments.
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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    grantwar , September 28, 2012 10:35 AM
    I'd love to see how this drive fares against the samsung 840 Pro.
  • 13 Hide
    SpadeM , September 28, 2012 10:56 AM
    grantwarI'd love to see how this drive fares against the samsung 840 Pro.


    Here you go:
    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/665?vs=646
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 28, 2012 4:43 AM
    You have the wrong Marvell controller listed for the crucial M4 and the Plextor M5S. This controller is new.
    The old one was the 88SS9174-BKK2.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/plextor-m3-crucial-m4-octane-performance-pro,3178.html
  • 9 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , September 28, 2012 5:17 AM
    can we have a benchmark of the time it takes to install a fresh copy of Win7+SP1 on a SSD ? Because thats the first thing a user will do after buying a new drive.
  • 4 Hide
    echondo , September 28, 2012 5:54 AM
    mayankleoboy1can we have a benchmark of the time it takes to install a fresh copy of Win7+SP1 on a SSD ? Because thats the first thing a user will do after buying a new drive.


    I believe we can all assume it will take around 10-15 minutes. My old SATA2 Vertex drive can have Windows installed with all the Windows updates I want in around 20 minutes, it would be less time but I have to install all my drivers first for my motherboard :p 
  • 0 Hide
    fat-chunk , September 28, 2012 10:24 AM
    Long live SSDs!
  • 15 Hide
    grantwar , September 28, 2012 10:35 AM
    I'd love to see how this drive fares against the samsung 840 Pro.
  • 13 Hide
    SpadeM , September 28, 2012 10:56 AM
    grantwarI'd love to see how this drive fares against the samsung 840 Pro.


    Here you go:
    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/665?vs=646
  • 6 Hide
    JeanLuc , September 28, 2012 12:30 PM
    I was on Youtube the other day on the Corsair channel and they were showing the advantages of 'Ram cache' which was lights years faster then SSD's in therms of throughput. Could Toms consider doing an article into Ram cache as I think it would be of interest to people who have 16-32Gb systems (since DDR3 is cheap at the moment) can spare the extra system ram to cache files and software.
  • 6 Hide
    merikafyeah , September 28, 2012 12:35 PM
    SpadeMHere you go: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/665?vs=646

    Wow. The 840 Pro beat the M5 Pro in virtually everything according to that data. The 840 Pro does cost significantly more though.
  • 4 Hide
    merikafyeah , September 28, 2012 12:41 PM
    JeanLucI was on Youtube the other day on the Corsair channel and they were showing the advantages of 'Ram cache' which was lights years faster then SSD's in therms of throughput. Could Toms consider doing an article into Ram cache as I think it would be of interest to people who have 16-32Gb systems (since DDR3 is cheap at the moment) can spare the extra system ram to cache files and software.

    TheSSDReview did something similar:
    http://thessdreview.com/our-reviews/romex-fancycache-review-ssd-performance-at-13gbs-and-765000-iops-in-60-seconds-flat/

    No point in even comparing RAM to SSDs, as even "slow" RAM is faster than even the best SSDs by about the same amount as the best SSDs are faster than floppy disks.
  • 0 Hide
    aicom , September 28, 2012 5:09 PM
    This review would have been impressive if it was published 2 weeks ago. With the 840 Pro out, it simply blows the M5P out of the water. Too bad it wasn't included in the benchmark charts here.
  • 0 Hide
    richard hart , September 28, 2012 5:27 PM
    @ rafale. Thanks for spotting that mistake. Its now been corrected.
  • 0 Hide
    bobdylan11 , September 28, 2012 9:42 PM
    woot, installing mine at this moment
    450 for 512gb
    good luck beating that "stat", samsung
  • 0 Hide
    KenZen2B , September 29, 2012 4:37 AM
    merikafyeah 09/28/2012 2:41 PM Insert quote.
    Report
    -1+ .
    JeanLuc :

    I was on Youtube the other day on the Corsair channel and they were showing the advantages of 'Ram cache' which was lights years faster then SSD's in therms of throughput. Could Toms consider doing an article into Ram cache as I think it would be of interest to people who have 16-32Gb systems (since DDR3 is cheap at the moment) can spare the extra system ram to cache files and software.



    TheSSDReview did something similar:
    http://thessdreview.com/our-review [...] onds-flat/

    No point in even comparing RAM to SSDs, as even "slow" RAM is faster than even the best SSDs by about the same amount as the best SSDs are faster than floppy disks.

    I have read the article and have these thoughts on the subject.
    1) Why have mobo manufactures not placed an extra four memory slots on their mobo to handle this concept ?
    2) Why have RAM manufactures not teamed up with mobo manufactures to supply them with 256 GB memory sticks ?
    3) Has the industry, video and others, (movies, ads, special effects, cartoons, simulations, etc.) moved to this type of strategy to increase their productivity ?
  • 1 Hide
    luciferano , September 29, 2012 6:14 AM
    KenZen2Bmerikafyeah 09/28/2012 2:41 PM Insert quote. Report -1+ .JeanLuc :I was on Youtube the other day on the Corsair channel and they were showing the advantages of 'Ram cache' which was lights years faster then SSD's in therms of throughput. Could Toms consider doing an article into Ram cache as I think it would be of interest to people who have 16-32Gb systems (since DDR3 is cheap at the moment) can spare the extra system ram to cache files and software. TheSSDReview did something similar:http://thessdreview.com/our-review [...] onds-flat/No point in even comparing RAM to SSDs, as even "slow" RAM is faster than even the best SSDs by about the same amount as the best SSDs are faster than floppy disks.I have read the article and have these thoughts on the subject.1) Why have mobo manufactures not placed an extra four memory slots on their mobo to handle this concept ?2) Why have RAM manufactures not teamed up with mobo manufactures to supply them with 256 GB memory sticks ?3) Has the industry, video and others, (movies, ads, special effects, cartoons, simulations, etc.) moved to this type of strategy to increase their productivity ?


    1) mobo manufacturers would have nothing to connect these RAM slots too. They need DDR3 controllers and they'd need more of them, so where are those going to come from? The only thing that I can think of is some sort of integrated PCIe device and it would make the motherboard quite expensive.

    2) 256GB memory sticks would cost thousands of dollars. Even 16GB memory sticks and especially 32GB memory sticks can already be extremely expensive and difficult to make. We can't just make chips that have more memory capacity in a given size than current memory procces nodes can work with, so any such memory module with 256GB of RAM would be huge, to say the least.

    3) It's too expensive.

    Basically, cost is the main inhibitor for all three of your questions.
  • 0 Hide
    merikafyeah , September 29, 2012 12:11 PM
    Maybe it's for the best that they don't release the Limited Edition Shuriken model worldwide.
    Some people might be tempted to throw their SSDs like tech ninjas.
  • 0 Hide
    hrath , September 29, 2012 3:22 PM
    wow that looks epic :) 
  • 0 Hide
    g00b , September 30, 2012 7:52 PM
    I think the first page meant Flash instead of DDR.

    "... reviewed previously uses 25 nm synchronous NAND from Micron and Marvell's 88SS9174-BLD2 controller, while the M5 Pro employs 19 nm Toggle-mode --DDR-- from Toshiba and a more modern Marvell 88SS9187-BLD2 processor."
  • 2 Hide
    g00b , September 30, 2012 7:54 PM
    Ok. I'm partly an idiot :) .

    Toggle-Mode Double Data Rate NAND Flash
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 2, 2012 3:30 PM
    But how does the M5Pro compare with the Corsair Neutron GTX ?
  • 2 Hide
    Onihikage , October 2, 2012 7:19 PM
    Quote:
    I have read the article and have these thoughts on the subject.
    1) Why have mobo manufactures not placed an extra four memory slots on their mobo to handle this concept ?
    2) Why have RAM manufactures not teamed up with mobo manufactures to supply them with 256 GB memory sticks ?
    3) Has the industry, video and others, (movies, ads, special effects, cartoons, simulations, etc.) moved to this type of strategy to increase their productivity ?


    Luciferano has already commented, but I thought I'd make input on the first point. There are mobos with an extra four slots, enabling up to 64GB of RAM (such as the ASUS P9X79 PRO) but these are uncommon and expensive. Higher RAM capacities under today's technology will almost always require you to be using server hardware; the PC form factor just won't cut it.
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