Plextor's 256 GB M5S: A Little Pricey, But A Definite Contender
Plextor's M5S, which employs a Marvell controller and in-house optimized firmware, represents a real improvement to the M3S, and we can't help but think that this cost-optimized SSD could have been the fastest in our comparison were it equipped with Toggle-mode NAND. Despite its slower synchronous ONFi-compatible interface, the M5S performs exceptionally well, particularly during the low queue depth read tests, which are very relevant to most desktop users.
It also had little trouble besting Crucial's m4 in most cases. Although the Plextor M5S benefits from a larger cache than the Crucial m4, our benchmarks demonstrate that the Plextor firmware is more refined and able to deliver better results from the same Marvell processor.
The SSD market is very competitive, though, and ultimately, the way Plextor prices its M5S is going to determine whether it's successful. Right now, the 256 GB M5S is selling on Newegg for $250. That's just under $1/GB, which we really like. However, a 256 GB m4 can be had for $210, and a 256 GB Samsung 830 even manages to dip under $200 (an astounding $.77/GB). Both of those drives deliver compelling performance as well, so we think Plextor needs to bring its price down in response.
Of course, performance and pricing aren't the only variable influencing your purchasing decision. How about reliability? Support?
Plextor's name is synonymous with quality and innovation thanks to years of selling some of the most desirable optical drives. No doubt, it'll need to prove that it carries over the same approach to its solid-state storage offerings. Indeed, we've been battering this drive for more than three weeks now, and it hasn't given us a single issue. Samsung and Crucial both offer similar three-year warranties as Plextor, so they're on fairly even ground as far as confidence goes.
We know, however, that Plextor has put a lot of effort into differentiating the firmware controlling its Marvell processor, and the company promises it'll continue innovating in this space. For the time being, at the right price, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend Plextor's M5S to anyone looking for a fast SSD able to deliver blazingly fast desktop performance.