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Plextor M6S And M6M SSD Review: Revving Another Marvell Engine

How We're Testing Plextor's M6S And M6M

Our consumer storage test bench is based on Intel's Z77 Platform Controller Hub paired with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU. Intel's 6- and 7-series chipsets are virtually identical from a storage perspective. We're standardizing on older RST 10.6.1002 drivers for the foreseeable future.

Updates to the RST driver package occasionally result in subtle performance changes. They can also lead to some truly profound variance in scores and results as well, depending on the revision. Some versions flush writes more or less frequently. Others work better in RAID situations. Builds 11.2 and newer support TRIM in RAID as well. Regardless, results obtained with one revision may or may not be comparable to results obtained with another, so sticking with one version across all testing is mandatory.

Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge), 32 nm, 3.1 GHz, LGA 1155, 6 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost Enabled
MotherboardGigabyte G1.Sniper M3
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1866 @ DDR3-1333, 1.5 V
System DriveIntel S3500 480 GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: 0306
Drive(s) Under TestPlextor M6M 256 GB mSATA, SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: 1.00
Plextor M6S 256 GB SATA, SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: 1.00
Comparison DrivesAdata SP920 1024 GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: MU01
Adata SP920 512GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: MU01
Adata SP920 256 GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: MU01
Adata SP920 128 GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: MU01
Crucial M550 1024 GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: MU01
Crucial M550 512 GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: MU01
Intel SSD 730 480 GB SATA 6 Gb/s, Firmware: L2010400
Samsung 840 EVO mSATA 120 GB, Firmware: EXT41B6Q
Samsung 840 EVO mSATA 250 GB, Firmware: EXT41B6Q
Samsung 840 EVO mSATA 500 GB, Firmware: EXT41B6Q
Samsung 840 EVO mSATA 1000 GB, Firmware: EXT41B6Q
SanDisk X210 256 GB, Firmware X210400
SanDisk X210 512 GB, Firmware X210400
Intel SSD 530 180 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: DC12
Intel SSD 520 180 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 400i
Intel SSD 525 180 GB mSATA, Firmware: LLKi
SanDisk A110 256 GB M.2 PCIe x2, Firmware: A200100
Silicon Motion SM226EN 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: M0709A
Crucial M500 120 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: MU02
Crucial M500 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: MU02
Crucial M500 480 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: MU02
Crucial M500 960 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: MU02
Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: EXT0AB0Q
Samsung 840 EVO 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: EXT0AB0Q
Samsung 840 EVO 480 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: EXT0AB0Q
Samsung 840 EVO 1 TB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: EXT0AB0Q
SanDisk Ultra Plus 64 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: X211200
SanDisk Ultra Plus 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware X211200
SanDisk Ultra Plus 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware X211200
Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware DXM04B0Q
Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware DXM04B0Q
SanDisk Extreme II 120 GB, Firmware: R1311
SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB, Firmware: R1311
SanDisk Extreme II 480 GB, Firmware: R1311
Seagate 600 SSD 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: B660
Intel SSD 525 30 GB mSATA 6Gb/s, Firmware LLKi
Intel SSD 525 60 GB mSATA 6Gb/s, Firmware LLKi
Intel SSD 525 120 GB mSATA 6Gb/s, Firmware LLKi
Intel SSD 525 180 GB mSATA 6Gb/s, Firmware LLKi
Intel SSD 525 240 GB mSATA 6Gb/s, Firmware LLKi
Intel SSD 335 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 335s
Intel SSD 510 250 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: PWG2
OCZ Vertex 3.20 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 2.25
OCZ Vector 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: 2.0
Samsung 830 512 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: CXMO3B1Q
Crucial m4 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s Firmware: 000F
Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s Firmware: 1.02
Corsair Neutron GTX 240 GB SATA 6Gb/s, Firmware: M206
GraphicsMSI Cyclone GTX 460 1 GB
Power SupplySeasonic X-650, 650 W 80 PLUS Gold
ChassisLian Li Pitstop
RAIDLSI 9266-8i PCIe x8, FastPath and CacheCade AFK
System Software and Drivers
OperatingSystemWindows 7 x64 Ultimate
DirectXDirectX 11
DriversGraphics: Nvidia 314.07RST: 10.6.1002IMEI: 7.1.21.1124Generic AHCI: MSAHCI.SYS
Benchmarks
ULINK DriveMaster 2012v980, JEDEC 218A-based TRIM Test Script
Tom's Hardware Storage Bench v1.0Intel iPeak Trace-Based Benchmark
Iometer 1.1.0# Workers = 1, 4 KB Random: LBA=16 GB, varying QDs, 128 KB Sequential, 8 GB LBA Precondition, Exponential QD Scaling
PCMark 8Version 2.0.228, Storage Consistency Test
PCMark 7Secondary Storage Suite
  • bjaminnyc
    I know there are slight performance differences between models and manufacturers, for the home user the discrepancies matter very little other than lifespan. It all comes down to price point for non-commercial application, not sure where this really fits in the product stack.
    Reply
  • WithoutWeakness
    The Marvell 88SS9188 controller in the M6S is only capable of addressing 4 NAND channels at a time whereas the 88SS9187 (Crucial M500, Plextor M5Pro) and 88SS9189 (Crucial M550) are capable of addressing a full 8 channels. I would expect the Plextor M6Pro to use the newer 88SS9189 found in the M550 to be able to address 8 channels of NAND and support up to 1TB drives using 128Gbit NAND.
    Reply
  • Ipatinga
    Clean looks... ok update for the M5S... here hopping M6P will have something on its sleeve performance wise. I liked the Plextor software (its like a bonus for some people... ).

    But I still have the Samsung 840 EVO on my list, after all, when the dust settles, they both perform very well in a notebook for a regular joe, but the EVO has the price to beat.

    Since my Crucial m4 is not dead... I will wait... mainly for prices to go even lower so I can get a higher capacity model instead of the best of the best.
    Reply
  • JOSHSKORN
    Why not compare the Samsung EVO 840?
    Reply
  • cryan
    13069953 said:
    The Marvell 88SS9188 controller in the M6S is only capable of addressing 4 NAND channels at a time whereas the 88SS9187 (Crucial M500, Plextor M5Pro) and 88SS9189 (Crucial M550) are capable of addressing a full 8 channels. I would expect the Plextor M6Pro to use the newer 88SS9189 found in the M550 to be able to address 8 channels of NAND and support up to 1TB drives using 128Gbit NAND.


    So we weren't able to get confirmation from Plextor or Marvell, but it's probably the case that the 9188 is a cut down four channel version of the 9189. It's all the more annoying, because this is the third review in a row with new Marvell silicon but no actual info from Marvell.

    We have a pretty good idea of this from looking at the 9174 4 channel used in the UltraPlus vs the 8 channel 9175 used in.... pretty much everything else ever made... that the 9188 is a four channel version of the 9189. But we don't know how many CEs per channel it has, or much else for that matter.

    However, we do know Plextor's M6 Pro will have a 1 TB version, also with A19 flash. Plextor reps told me as much at the 2013 Flash Memory Summit. That was last August though, so I think there have been some delays -- either with Marvell, Toshiba, or both.


    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    Reply
  • cryan
    13071551 said:
    Why not compare the Samsung EVO 840?

    If you're referring to the 128 KB sequential and 4 KB random performance, I'm trying to keep those clean. I'd much rather throw down on matchups like this in more important metrics. However, with TRIM testing out this go around, the EVO v. M6 angle got downplayed. It's an oversight.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    Reply
  • Zeroplanetz
    I really wish write speeds would actually make a jump.
    Reply
  • cryan
    13073455 said:
    I really wish write speeds would actually make a jump.

    For sequential writes, you can't do much better than 500 MB/s. The fastest M6M/M6S hits 440 MB/s, and so there just isn't much room left to grow unless you switch to PCIe-based storage or add a couple drives in RAID.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan

    Reply
  • michaelrhaley
    Great article! I'd like to see a summary comparison of your top ten drives listed in Tom's best SSDs for the money using your new benchmark. Most important is your omission of Samsung 256G Pro which has been your leader for 8 months cited now as "face meltingly fast". Any performance benchmark must include the Samsung leader. Love to see this right away from you!
    Sincerely, Michael
    Reply
  • kalmquist
    Currently, the 128GB M6S is selling for $100 on Newegg, the 256GB M6S is selling for $165. The 512GB M6S is not listed.

    Hard to justify buying these over the Samsung 840 EVO ($85 and $154). Actually, for most uses my first thought would be the Crucial M500 ($75 and $120). The M500 doesn't win on either performance or power consumption, but it is good enough that these will not be major issues for the typical user.
    Reply