Plextor is more commonly known for their excellent optical drives, especially in this region where any performance enthusiast knows that Plextor drives are the ones to get for reliable burning. So when I was approached to review their new M3 Pro SSD, I was pleasantly surprised (even though I shouldn’t have been) to see that it comes with some really exciting features.
Firstly, the Plextor M3 Pro is unlike most other SSDs reviewed in the past, in that it uses a Marvell Controller. Secondly, unlike Intel’s NAND Flash that’s used in most drives, we’re seeing Toshiba’s Toggle Mode Flash chips. Last, but not least, is Plextor’s own firmware which provides a host of performance improvements including their True Speed technology.
While SSDs are enjoyed by PC enthusiasts who love fast performance, it’s also favored by laptop enthusiasts who want lower power consumption in addition to just raw performance increase. Plextor has not only these two markets covered, but have also designed the M3 Pro to be completely future proof. With a height of just 7mm, the M3 Pro is one of the first SSDs on the market that can fit right into an ultrabook. Furthermore, the M3 Pro uses an incredibly low 0.1w when idling, and 5w when active. Our comparative Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD uses 0.46w when idle and 2.05w when active.
So basically when idling, the Plextor M3 Pro draws almost 98% lesser power than one of the fastest SSDs on the market; 76% when active. You do the math on how much battery life this can save on your laptop.
Inside the brushed aluminum SSD we find the Marvell 88SS9174 controller, two 256MB SDRAM chips for cache and, of course, eight synchronous 32GB Toshiba Toggle Mode NAND flash in 24nm size. Each of the chips is attached to the external aluminum casing via a thermal pad for efficient heat dissipation.
The last bit I want to talk about the Plextor M3 Pro is that it comes bundled with a 3.5mm bracket (plus screws), a molex to SATA power cable as well as a copy of Acronis True Image for backing up the data from your old hard drive.
For testing the Plextor M3 Pro the following setup was used:
For comparison I have used the Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD which uses a SandForce SF-2281 with asynchronous NAND flash. I have also tested both hard drives at near 50% usage capacity to give real life performance examples as well.
The PCMark 7 Storage benchmarks are some of the most stressing tests designed for modern hard drives and solid state drives. There are a number of tests performed, focusing on different aspects of the drive and eventually churn out a score based on the overall performance of the drive. Below I have shown the total PCMark 7 storage score for multiple hard drives and SSDs.
I have used ATTO Disk Benchmark to get the sequential read and write speeds, Crystal Diskmark for 4K speeds and HD Tach for burst speeds.
Windows 7 Boot Time
For the Windows 7 boot time, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit on these hard drives, with just the basic drivers installed for the motherboard and graphics card. No antivirus or any other applications were installed since any programs installed by users are arbitrary and will change startup time. The time measured in seconds below is after POST (when the ‘Starting Windows’ logo appears) till the time I see the desktop and mouse.
The Plextor M3 Pro is without a doubt an extremely impressive SSD. With a custom firmware that implements True Speed, Plextor have unleashed the full potential of the Marvell controller. The M3 Pro successfully maintains it's speed even when the hard drive is half full, thanks to the synchronous NAND flash. Coupled with TRIM support, an impressive disk cloning software, easy installation, low profile height and 5 years warranty, the Plextor M3 Pro stands shoulder to shoulder with the giants of the SSD industry and is an easy recommendation for your laptop or desktop.