Plextor jumped the gun at CES 2017 and pre-announced a product we won't see until the second half of the year. The upcoming M8Se series targets the NVMe mainstream and comes hot on the heels of the M8Pe that we loved in our initial review. Plextor will ship the M8Se model with Toshiba 15nm 3-bit-per-cell TLC and sell it at a lower price point than its predecessor.
The new mainstream NVMe SSD uses a new heatsink design for the add-in card that Plextor says will improve cooling by up to 20%. The card also features blue accent lighting (SSDs go faster with a hovering glow from light emitting diodes). Plextor will also sell a heatsink-less M8PeGN model in the M.2 form factor.
|Product||M8Se 128GB||M8Se 256GB||M8Se 512GB||M8Se 1TB|
|Form Factor||Add-in Card: M8SeYM.2: M8SeGN||Add-in Card: M8SeYM.2: M8SeGN||Add-in Card: M8SeYM.2: M8SeGN||Add-in Card: M8SeYM.2: M8SeGN|
|Controller||Marvell Eldora||Marvell Eldora||Marvell Eldora||Marvell Eldora|
|DRAM||512 MB LPDDR3||512 MB LPDDR3||1024 MB LPDDR3||2048 MB LPDDR3|
|NAND||Toshiba 15nm TLC||Toshiba 15nm TLC||Toshiba 15nm TLC||Toshiba 15nm TLC|
|Sequential Read||1,850 MB/s||2,400 MB/s||2,450 MB/s||2,450 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||570 MB/s||1,000 MB/s||1,000 MB/s||1,000 MB/s|
|Random Read||135,000 IOPS||205,000 IOPS||210,000 IOPS||210,000 IOPS|
|Random Write||80,000 IOPS||160,000 IOPS||175,000 IOPS||175,000 IOPS|
|Endurance||80 TBW||160 TBW||320 TBW||640 TBW|
|Warranty||3-Years Limited||3-Years Limited||3-Years Limited||3-Years Limited|
Plextor tells us to look for eight product SKUs with two different types of M8Se drives. This is similar to the M8Pe that comes in three variants; an add-in card, an M.2 with a heatsink and an M.2 without a heatsink. The M8Se with TLC doesn't have an M.2 model with a heatsink at this time, but that may change before the product launches in June or July. You can read our review from the M8Pe to see how even a thin heatsink improves performance on the Marvell Eldora controller. The only M8Se SSD with a heatsink at this time is the M8SeY add-in card. Plextor changed the design to reduce material costs but still managed to improve performance by up to 20%.
We’re taken aback by the amount of time Plextor will invest to fine tune this product--there are only a few changes from the shipping MLC version. The change from MLC to TLC is trivial, but we suspect Plextor will spend the time optimizing the SLC cache modes to increase performance. In the past, Plextor had a run of products we couldn't recommend, but the company turned that around in late 2016. We asked Jeffery Chang from LiteOn what turned the product development around.
"Plextor's current lineup takes heavy inspiration from [the company's] enterprise product line. There is more integration between the teams, and it's paying off with higher performance consistency."
Plextor hopes to reduce the entry cost of NVMe products, and we look forward to learning more about the Plextor M8Se series. If the timeline holds, we should have a full review just in time for Computex 2017.