Plextor Iterates Its Line-Up With New Components
Plextor began with its M1 drive family a long time ago. As it transitioned to the M2s, it adopted SATA 6Gb/s thanks to Marvell's classic 9175 controller. The M2 gave way to the M3, the M3 turned into the M5, and now we're seeing the first M6es. All of that is to say Plextor's nomenclature is indicative of evolutionary steps forward. The M6 brings the previous generation up to 2014 standards. It swaps in an updated controller, the latest Toggle-mode flash, and continues a trend of refining firmware to keep enthusiasts as current as possible with the latest fixes and optimizations.
And that's alright by us. The M6M and M6S aren't Plextor's flagship SSDs, yet they offer M5 Pro-like performance, a feat made more impressive by the transition to Toshiba's 128 Gb Toggle-mode flash.
Our exercise in stress testing wasn't a walk in the park, though. I spent almost 300 hours collectively benchmarking the M6M and M6S. The sole hitch involved our specialized TRIM metric; both drives simply refused to work with ULINK's DriveMaster 2012 suite. Now, taking measurements with the DM2012 isn't anything like the rest of our tests. It basically takes over the SATA controller and has its way with the entire storage stack.
Plextor's contenders were well-behaved through the rest of our benchmarks, and I don't have any reservations about using them in the real world. But if we handed out numerical scores, I'd need to dock both M6 drives for this one compatibility issue that couldn't be worked around.
Although we're unable to present our TRIM test results, Plextor still deserves recognition for its dedication to taking familiar components and adding the company's own optimized spin. Every time it revises its basic SSD formula, there are improvements. Granted, the M6S and M6M target the mainstream space, so they don't serve up a long list of value-added features. You don't get power-loss protection, Opal 2.0 or eDrive encryption support, or fancy accessories, though you can download the Plextool utility straight from Plextor's website. Better still, if you track down an older version of the software, you can secure erase your drive through Windows 8. That's a capability most tools don't offer.
Plextor's engineers clearly known their way around Marvell's controllers and Toshiba's Toggle-mode NAND. As a result, they're able to nudge the M6 family close to Crucial's M550 platform, which earned our praise in The Crucial M550 SSD Review: Striking Back With More Performance and Adata Premier Pro SP920 SSD: From 128 To 1024 GB, Reviewed. When you compare the 256 GB-class offerings, Plextor definitely makes a statement.
The big question mark is pricing. Plextor uses $250 as a suggestion for its 256 GB model. But before you write that off as ridiculous, MSRPs are rarely reflective of what you find on the street. Real-world pricing should be quite a bit lower. How much so? That's impossible to say; as of press time, the drives aren't available. I have to imagine that they'll need to show up under $200 to compete. After all, Crucial's 480 GB M500 is selling for $240 straight from the company store. Plextor's 256 M6S readily competes with that SSD's performance. The same holds true for a match-up with Samsung's 840 EVO. Now we just want to see Plextor stand up to the value offered by those strong entries.