Introduction

Plextor's strength lies in performance and quality. As we saw with the M3 Pro, they have a firmware team capable of delivering top-of-the-class performance: The M3 Pro was easily the fastest Marvell 88SS9174 based SSD and overall it was one of the fastest SATA 6Gbps SSDs we have ever tested. When looking at NewEgg reviews, Plextor's SSDs have only few one or two-egg reviews, which speaks for many satisfied customers. With the performance and quality combo, Plextor's SSDs are not as price competitive as some other SSDs are, although Plextor is aiming for wider audience with the M5S

Due to our positive experience with Plextor's SSDs, I've been super excited about the M3 Pro's successor: the M5 Pro. Plextor is the first SSD manufacturer to use Marvell's new 88SS9187 controller, which is paired with Toshiba's brand new 19nm Toggle-Mode MLC NAND. I can't lie, I've been looking forward to reviewing the M5 Pro for quite a while. Ever since the M3 Pro review, I've been waiting for something faster. The M5S was merely an incremental update with different NAND and new firmware; it didn't bring any major performance improvements. The M5 Pro should eliminate the possible bottlenecks created by Marvell's 9174 but as there are currently no other Marvell 9187 based SSDs (OCZ Vertex 4 and Agility 4 may be, but there hasn't been any confirmation on the exact silicon), it's rather hard to know what to expect. Given the performance of the M3 Pro, the bar has been set high and if the M5 Pro is faster than M3 Pro,  we may be looking at the fastest SATA 6Gbps SSD on the market. Lets start off with the specifications:

 
Plextor M5 Pro Specifications
Model PX-128M5P PX-256M5P PX-512M5P
Controller Marvell 88SS9187
NAND Toshiba 19nm Toggle-Mode MLC NAND
Raw NAND Capacity 128GiB 256GiB 512GiB
User Capacity 119.2GiB 238.5GiB 476.9GiB
Number of NAND Packages 8 8 8
Number of Die per Package 2 4 8
Sequential Read 540MB/s 540MB/s 540MB/s
Sequential Write 340MB/s 450MB/s 450MB/s
4K Random Read 91K IOPS 94K IOPS 94K IOPS
4K Random Write 82K IOPS 86K IOPS 86K IOPS
Cache (DDR3) 256MB 512MB 768MB
Warranty 5 years

Plextor doesn't offer a 64GB M5 Pro at all. There was no 64GB M3 Pro either, so this is hardly a surprise. 60/64GB SSDs are more about price because the limited NAND bandwidth is already a bottleneck and users buying such small SSDs are already making a compromise. With 128GB SSDs selling for less than $100, I see no point in buying a 60/64GB SSD anyway - you get twice the capacity and much better performance for only $10-$40 more. On the other hand, there is no 512GB SKU in the M5S lineup, so you need to jump for the M5 Pro if you need more than 256GB.

NewEgg Price Comparison (8/31/2012)
  64GB 128GB 256GB 512GB
Plextor M5 Pro N/A $190 (MSRP) $320 (MSRP) $650 (MSRP)
Plextor M5S $70 $85 $200 N/A
Plextor M3 Pro N/A $160 $270 $650
Plextor M3 N/A $130 $250 $400
Crucial m4 $73 $110 $210 $400
Intel 520 Series $100 $132 $230 $500
Samsung 830 Series $85 $119 $230 $570
OCZ Vertex 3 $70 $85 $180 $500
OCZ Vertex 4 $65 $110 $190 $530

US availability has been delayed until mid-September, so all we have for now are the manufacturer suggested retail prices (MSRPs). Usually MSRPs are noticeably higher than what street prices end up being but the M5 Pro is definitely not cheap. My guess is that the M5 Pro will take the price points of M3 Pro once it becomes available as that is what happened with the M5S and M3. However, the M3 Pro is not very affordable when compared to other SSDs, so you'll have to pay a premium if you want Plextor's Pro SSD. 

Inside the M5 Pro and Test Setup
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  • poccsx - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Our it shop has installed about 50 Agility 3s. 2 were DOA and the rest have been fine. Agree with you on the PITA firmware update process. Reply
  • stalker27 - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    I was wondering if Plex kept their reputation, where I'm from they kinds faded away from the market. Reply
  • ksherman - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    With the M5S only seeming to be marginally slower than the Pro series, but a good bit cheaper, what would I be missing if I opted for an M5S drive? Reply
  • DukeN - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    The e-Penis factor. Reply
  • stalker27 - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    Is it vital? Reply
  • Zak - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    5 year warranty versus 3 year? Reply
  • poccsx - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I don't know about you guys but I don't have anything in my computer that's older than 3 years. Reply
  • Beenthere - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    The Pro version should be the only version Plextor releases IMO and they should be priced as the base model -which they are. The non-Pro versions are basically models without proper firmware to facilitate best performance. The base models are just under-achievers used to justify higher prices for the Pro models. Not cool IMO.

    BTW the minute theoretical gains do not make any substantial gains in typical operation so just buy whatever is on sale if you're ready to jump in a be an unpaid SSD beta tester as this is still very "immature tech" as Anand has stated.
    Reply
  • bji - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    SSDs are not immature tech. Two years ago they were. I personally have not bought a mechanical hard drive in 2+ years and I don't ever intend to do so again. Reply
  • sheh - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    You should beware of longer term data retention. Reply

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