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Plextor PX-M3S SSD Review Discussion


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#1 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 02:23 PM

Like their recent M2P SSD, the Plextor PX-M3S uses a Marvell 9174 processor, however where the M2P used Toshiba's 32nm Toggle NAND, the M3S is using 24nm Toshiba Toggle NAND. This translates into a modest boost in the spec sheet speeds over the M2P - the M3S can drive read speeds of up to 525MB/s and writes of 445MB/s, along with 70,000 IOPS. Plextor is shipping the M3S with their True Speed technology, which provides for better drive performance over time, along with custom firmware. To polish off the offering, Plextor is including a five year warranty, the longest available in the SSD space.

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#2 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 04:09 PM

Looks like it is a very nice and solid drive. The slight drop in speed is probably the same which happened when Sandforce 1200 drives transitioned from 32 nm to 25 nm.

However, I'm not so sure about the great price. In Germany the 128 M3S is offered for 180 (6 listed). That may change as the drive fully arrives at the market.. but for now it's way above the cost of e.g. Sandforce 2200 drives for ~130.

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#3 mike2h

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 04:34 PM

good chance(very) im wrong but this drive looks like it is designed to operate really well as a standard os drive for an average user(guess i should spend the time to learn what all the tests actually relate to for real world use ;)).
thx for the review!

#4 johnw42

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 08:15 PM

It would be interesting to see Enterprise IOMeter tests on this SSD. I believe it has the same firmware feature that the M2P had that is supposed to hold up well under continuous loads.

Actually, it would be good to see "Enterprise" IOMeter tests on all SSDs. Certainly some non-enterprise users are concerned about how SSDs hold up under continuous loads.

#5 Liam_xi

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 08:16 PM

Looks like a nice drive, but probably a lot harder to find then the M2P, and not that much faster, it actually has a drop in some areas.
I'm still in debate... should I get the M2P or M3S? (either 128GB or 256GB). The M3S seems to be cheaper, but I can't find it anywhere in stock yet...

#6 Brian

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 08:41 PM

@ETA - Yeah, can't comment on global prices, but it's very well priced here :)

@mike - it's a solid all arounder, with best performance in 4K tests

@John - we will be doing SS on this drive - ran into a snag and didn't want to hold up the entire review

@Liam - NewEgg has it...I'd be buying this drive on price alone.

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#7 h4lf

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 04:59 AM

@Brian, cool looking forward to the enterprise steady state results!

One thing I was wondering is whether there is any change to the "official" durability specifications of this drive due to the transitions to 25nm? Theoretically this should result in lower write cycles and assuming the firmware is the same then would it be safe to assume this drive is less "durable"?

#8 Brian

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 09:34 AM

I assume not considering the 5 year warranty. The write cycle endurance isn't always something SSD guys are terribly forthcoming with.

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#9 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 10:05 AM

Actually, it would be good to see "Enterprise" IOMeter tests on all SSDs. Certainly some non-enterprise users are concerned about how SSDs hold up under continuous loads.


To expand a bit further on Brian's comment, this is what we are looking to do on all drives going forward. The problem is, if you have a handful of drives that are *very* similar, it might only be worthwhile to run the entire battery of tests on one of them. Our current steady state test alone takes 3-4 hours. As we start looking at more enterprise drives though, its going to be steady state server tests. The latter group of tests would be peak steady state values (32,64, or 128 queue) instead of the graphing as is since it would have to level off at each part for a couple of hours.

But yea expect to see more content in that regard. Depending on what we settle on it could be consumer review published first and supplement data added later. Don't get me started on proper RAID testing with SS mixed in... I am a week into this one group of enterprise drives and haven't even started working inside a multiple drive array yet.

#10 mike2h

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 01:03 PM

does this drive use overprovisioning? sorry if it is noob question(which i am) but given that its capacity is stated as 128 vs 120 & intel uses same controller & does overprovision...

#11 johnw42

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 02:48 PM

mike2h:

All SSDs reserve some flash so that it has some extra room to work (for garbage collection, wear leveling, etc.)

All 128GB SSDs (i.e., advertised capacity) that I know of actually have 128GiB of flash, so that comes to about 7% of reserved space (1024^3/1000^3 = 1.0737)

The Intel 510 SSDs advertise 120GB and 250GB capacities. Since they have 128GiB and 256GiB of flash on board, that makes their reserved area 14.5% and 10%.

So it does appear that Intel reserved more flash for their 510 series SSDs than Plextor (or Crucial) did with the Marvell controller.

#12 mike2h

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 07:51 PM

tyvm for info!
so would any unallocated space on the drive be automatically used for reserve. or does that depend on each companys vers of the firmware?

#13 theoryzero

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 01:55 PM

How would this drive compare to the Crucial M4? I have a legacy system (X58 mobo) but will likely be upgrading to Ivy Bridge next year. Crucial M4 seemed like a nice blend of reliability and decent performance at a competitive price.

EDIT: Reason I'm asking is if I compare the benchmarks of the M3S to that of the M4 (Firmware 0009) review it looks like the Plextor is quite a bit better in a lot of ways. I'm not sure if the test bench PC isn't comparable or what. Given Newegg is selling the 256GB M3S for $325 vs. $370 for the 256GB M4 I'm definitely intrigued.

Edited by theoryzero, 08 December 2011 - 04:18 PM.

#14 Brian

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 09:21 AM

M3S is a tremendous value, I'm really nto sure how Plextor has managed to get the price so low...the NAND saves them some money of course, but the street prices are very aggressive, especially in the 256GB model. I'd be a big buyer of the M3S at these prices.

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#15 mike2h

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 12:55 PM

think they are using lower tier nand?

#16 mabolitz

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 05:05 PM

Does less over provisioning imply shorter lifetime and fewer pre-erased blocks? Should the consumer expect to pay the same for a 240GB vs a 256GB SSD? Is the extra capacity just the result of a different design compromise or is there a difference in the NAND memory or the way it is used that allows for less over provisioning? What about controllers that use compression (Sandforce). Does the use of compression effectively result in more over provisioning, or is the stated capacity 'after compression' meaning you could actually store more than the stated capacity (if the data is compressible)?

Edited by mabolitz, 09 December 2011 - 05:07 PM.

#17 Brian

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 07:38 PM

@mike - possibly, though I doubt it, Toshiba's 24nm Toggle NAND is their good stuff.

@mab - The different controllers handle OP differently, you may of course OP more if you're worried about endurance. The compression in SF drives doesn't affect usable space.

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#18 johnw42

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 01:13 PM

@John - we will be doing SS on this drive - ran into a snag and didn't want to hold up the entire review


What is the ETA on the steady-state tests for the M3S? I just checked back now that it has been a week, but I did not see any updates. Will there be a post about it when the article is updated? Or will it just be a quiet update (and I need to keep checking periodically)?

#19 Brian

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 01:45 PM

We need to get another drive from Plextor and we're working through it now. When we were switching from our standard benchmarks to the SS benchmarking, we went through a secure erase process that might have caused a firmware glitch.

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#20 johnw42

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 06:01 PM

We need to get another drive from Plextor and we're working through it now. When we were switching from our standard benchmarks to the SS benchmarking, we went through a secure erase process that might have caused a firmware glitch.


So you secure-erased the M3S and then the SSD stopped working properly? That is something that should definitely be mentioned in a review. A secure erase should not kill an SSD (only the saved data!).

#21 PlextorGlobal Facebook

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 12:03 AM

Hi this Bob from Plextor's Facebook team,

@Mike, Brian is right about the quality of the NAND - from what I understand the decision (I wasn't involved with it) to go with aggressive pricing on this drive is for two reasons: We're working very closely with Toshiba on this one and were able to get the flash more competitively. And as much as anyone else we're aware of the global economy, so the in some places the M3S marketing will highlight the SSD as a drop-in performance upgrade for a desktop/laptop (more economical than buying a new machine).

@mabolitz The compression on SF based drives in a technique to improve controller performance in terms of speed, with it SF drives can reach maximum performance with highly compressible data. The Marvell controllers we use don't implement it, but this means that performance doesn't vary so much for different types of data and that the performance quoted in our marketing should be more accurate. You can also use drive compression to get more on your SSD, but there is an active discussion going on about the pros and cons of that especially with different controllers.

@johnw42 storagereview were probably being kind as it's a new product, but it should have been caught in testing.

@Liam_xi the drive is in full production so if you go for the M3S it shouldn't take long to filter down through the supply line

@Brian I hope that we haven't hijacked the thread too much, looking forward to the updated review.


If we can be helpful we'll try and respond to comments we see in Storage Review.

In the meantime please do feel free to join Plextor Global Facebook and I'll try and keep the M3S updates flowing on that

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#22 Brian

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:27 AM

Hah, thanks for checking in, we always welcome participation from manufacturers.

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#23 mike2h

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:51 AM

what brian said. appreciate the info.

#24 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 05:19 PM

Thanks Bob!

MrS

#25 Milton

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 07:02 PM

I was in the market for a 256 GB SSD and bought the PX-M3S for $325 on Newegg - this offer was too good to pass. I use Encryption and thus explicitly looked for a drive without sandforce.

So far I had no problems with the drive, it is maxing out my SATA2 interface both in read and write and feels very snappy. I'll see how fast it can go once I upgrade to SATA3.

One thing I found curious was how very lightweight the drive is. My previous Intel G2 Postville was much heavier. This might be good for notebook users.

The only aspect I'm missing is the Intel SSD toolbox, it was very neat to be able to manually start the trim process.

Otherwise I hope this SSD will last as long as my old Plextor 2410 did...



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