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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  • scottwilkins - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    @bji: while not "immature", SSD is stil much younger than Winchester drive technology.

    @sheh: I wouldn't keep data on a Winchester longer than I would on an SSD. IMHO.
    Reply
  • B3an - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Irrelevant. You'll get many years out of any SSD, enough for any consumer. The people who buy these sort of performance SSD's usually upgrade again within 2 or 3 years anyway. I upgrade every 18 months. Reply
  • Neutron bomb - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

    Yes, flash memory loses its charge eventually, but eventually may be a very long way off. Does anyone know just how long it takes before flash memory begins to lose its charge? Reply
  • Beenthere - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Actually SSD tech is very IMMATURE TECH and this is proven weekly with the need for frequent firmware updates, compatibility and reliability issues, lost data, lost drive capacity, frequent RMAs, missing TRIM function, etc.

    Just because half-baked SSDs have been sold for a number of years doesn't mean that the tech is sorted, reliable or standardised. In fact the tech changes almost monthly and has proven to be quite unreliable/incompatible.

    Anand himself stated about a year ago that SSD tech was "immature" and that statement is still true today. He suggested back then to wait 6-12 months from the time an SSD was released to see how it pans out.

    Unfortunately the same advice is still appropriate today - to wait 6-12 months as the SSD makers are rushing half-baked crap to market for undeserved profits instead of conducting thorough validation of their products. It doesn't matter what the brand, they are all shipping half-baked SSD products in one form or another and consumers have no means to know what to expect from any given product.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Yeah... what a bunch of bull. Please show me any reputable source showing that late-model SSDs have failure/return rates higher than any other electronic good. You're behind the times; SSDs have gotten cheaper, and the issues have mostly been sorted. The major issues were pretty much isolated to Sandforce drives anyway.

    No, SSDs aren't perfect, but nothing is. HDDs go bad, have issues, are DoA as well, just like any consumer electronic. Your propoganda aimed at scaring people away from SSDs is disingenuous at best.
    Reply
  • mura - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    I have been using SSD extensively for the last two years - and (knock on wood) none of them has failed me yet. (4 x Intel X25V, 2 x Samsung 470, 2 x Samsung 830, Kingston V200+, Intel X18M, just to name a few - I don't remember the others exactly).

    They work in desktop computers, workstations and notebooks, and even in my office server. These machines FLY.

    Oh, and to mention, almost all of these were bought, because some HDD has started producing bad sectors(mostly within the warranty period, but I did not want another slow and crappy product).
    Reply
  • cosminmcm - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Come on guys, this is beenthere, why do you even bother? Reply
  • waldojim42 - Sunday, September 02, 2012 - link

    As an owner of a Plextor M3 256GB drive (no S or P - this was made before then) I suffer none of the issues you commented about. I have never touched the firmware, it has been perfectly reliable, lost no data, and has yet to make me even consider an RMA. This is why people like me are willing to pay more for a quality product.

    When you talk about the immature drives, remember to differentiate a bit. The CHEAP drives are immature. Intel, Samsung, and Plextor all make top notch drives that easily rival the die hard 15K SCSI drives.
    Reply
  • poccsx - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    A-men to that Reply
  • dishayu - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    This is my first SSD for sure! Thanks for the review, although it took so much more time than expected. Reply

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