Kevin OBrien

Plextor PX-M3S SSD Review Discussion

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

So the M3S has a firmware bug? Is there a new firmware available yet that fixes the issue with secure erase?

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The M3S is an interesting drive. It looks like it's geared more for laptop than desktop based on power consumption. The 128 GB. performance is quite different from the 256 GB. and 512 GB. models however, due most likely to the 256 MB. cache, which is a disappointment.

I had inquired why Plextor felt the M3S was a more reliable drive and their rationale was because it has a 5 yr. warranty. That unfortunately does not make an SSD more reliable. My Plextor products over the years have been pretty good so we'll see how the M3S shakes out. Maybe they need a M3P to get performance up where it belongs?

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So the M3S has a firmware bug? Is there a new firmware available yet that fixes the issue with secure erase?

I doesn't have a bug as far as I know - my comment was in relation to this bit why Storage Review hadn't mentioned the issue in the review and if there was a problem. Brian suggested that it might be a firmware problem and he could be right, but it might not be or it might occur in very specific circumstances. I've given the engineers a heads up so they can have look at it. But at the moment I'm just guessing and so I'd be interested to hear if the problem occurs with the new review drives. If it is an issue then we'll get it fixed as soon as we're able.

-Edited so that it's clearer what I meant-

Edited by PlextorGlobal Facebook

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I'm not claiming firmware at all, it could be anything. We test dozens of SSDs and sometimes issues happen.

@beenthere - for me the 5 year warranty doesn't make the drive more reliable, but it does give buyers peace of mind that the company is ready to stand behind the drive to back it up. To their credit Plextor does a ton of drive testing on each one before it leaves, probably mitigating most of the DOA risk.

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@Brian

Well I would think all SSD manufacturers are doing extensive testing prior to shipment but they have all shipped drives with issues including Intel. I would have expected Plextor to explain their M3S valadation process or provide some insight as to why they believe that the M3S is more reliable than their prior SSDs.

Many companies use extended warranties for marketing purposes even with no technical improvements to the product. It's a numbers game. If the extended warranty increases sales enough to more than compensate for the SSD failures, then it's added profit.

My past Plextor drives have been pretty good so I'm curious to see if the M3S is compatibility issue free and reliable. I do think they need to look at a M3P however to get performance where it should be and 512 MB. cache on the 128 GB. model so it's performance is reasonable as many people would be interested in the 128 GB. model.

Edited by Beenthere

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I'm not claiming firmware at all, it could be anything.

So what did you mean when you wrote this?

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.

Why was this not mentioned in the review? What exactly happened after you did a secure erase?

Edited by johnw42

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Why was this not mentioned in the review? What exactly happened after you did a secure erase?

Its hard to say exactly what the fault was or if there was even a fault. From the factory this SSD has a HPA setup, which I am guessing tweaks the OP area for the TrueSpeed feature. Something inside the firmware looks for this section and when we did a secure erase, it as you might be aware wiped it off completely. When the drive reinitialized it saw the HPA was gone and from what I can tell assumes the entire LBA map for the drive as a whole is the HPA and and makes the capacity show up as 0MB for the user. So in a sense we caused the failure. The drive still works great... just at a reduced capacity.

Working with hdparm we can't recreate the HPA of any size since it appears to be locked in that sense. This is where we are now with tech support. Before we spoke about it in our formal review we wanted all the facts on the situation. In this case it was it was an unforeseen consequence of the review process that caused this, not a normal "failure" in the sense of a faulty product.

We are hoping a firmware flash of the SSD fixes it and will report back when the dust settles.

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Its hard to say exactly what the fault was or if there was even a fault. From the factory this SSD has a HPA setup, which I am guessing tweaks the OP area for the TrueSpeed feature. Something inside the firmware looks for this section and when we did a secure erase, it as you might be aware wiped it off completely. When the drive reinitialized it saw the HPA was gone and from what I can tell assumes the entire LBA map for the drive as a whole is the HPA and and makes the capacity show up as 0MB for the user. So in a sense we caused the failure. The drive still works great... just at a reduced capacity.

Working with hdparm we can't recreate the HPA of any size since it appears to be locked in that sense. This is where we are now with tech support. Before we spoke about it in our formal review we wanted all the facts on the situation. In this case it was it was an unforeseen consequence of the review process that caused this, not a normal "failure" in the sense of a faulty product.

We are hoping a firmware flash of the SSD fixes it and will report back when the dust settles.

Thanks for explaining. From what you said, I do not see how you can say that it does not really count as a product failure. Every SSD should have the ability to be secure erased and continue to function with full capacity afterwards. If the HPA is erased in the process, the SSD should have the ability to restore it, either through firmware or external software. A secure erase should not change the SSD firmware, and it should not be required to flash the firmware after a secure erase. An SSD that cannot usefully be secure erased is a faulty product. Alternatively, an SSD with a firmware issue that prevents it from being usefully secure erased is a buggy product.

Edited by johnw42

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Well in this case we are going back and forth with R&D on figuring out a solution. It might just be a firmware update that is needed. We should know more soon hopefully. Without knowing the exact cause though we don't want to knock the hardware.

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Well in this case we are going back and forth with R&D on figuring out a solution. It might just be a firmware update that is needed. We should know more soon hopefully. Without knowing the exact cause though we don't want to knock the hardware.

No doubt it is a good thing for reviewers to work with manufacturers to fix problems with their products.

However, reviewers first responsibility should be to those who read their reviews. When a product does not function as it should, the reviewer should mention it in the review. It is not necessary to understand exactly why a product malfunctioned in order to explain the behavior that was observed during testing. I think most people would agree that the best way to handle such a situation is to explain (in the review) exactly what issue was observed, and (if applicable) mention that the reviewer(s) are working with the manufacturer to explain and find a solution to the issue.

Without such information, people reading the review could buy the product and have a bad experience that could have been avoided if the reviewer had been forthcoming in the review.

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True although in the case with single review items, we don't know if it was a fluke or a repeatable problem with the drive. We need to rule out that we caused the problem first ;)

In any event I understand where you are coming from. I really hope to have an update to this problem/issue soon.

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Are you still going to run this drive through your Enterprise IOMeter test suite? I'm very curious to see how it compares against the PX-M2P which fared so well (i.e. what would be better in a light-use server environment).

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If you own a Mac do yourself a favor and buy something from a different manufacturer. This drive tests 20-25% slower then advertised because Plextor says they are not "Mac Certified". You won't be happy with this drive. Also, Plextor has a 14 Money Back Guarantee that is a scam because in my case it took 11 days to receive the drive and their policy is from Invoice date not the date you receive it. They ship from CA and I live in South Florida. Basically they knowingly false advertise their benchmark testing (because the testing they advertise doesn't apply to Macs, but they have testing that does that they don't give you access to) and hide behind their bogus refund policy. I tried to return this drive after having it for 9 days in hand and they wanted nothing to do with it. In reality I had 3 days to figure out that this drive is not what they say it is. Their refund policy shouldn't apply to false advertising anyway. Don't go through the aggravation that I did! Spend your hard earned dollars elsewhere!! You live and learn I guess. :P

If you want to read more about my experience:

Edited by swalsh2333

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We just got a dedicated Mac OS testing platform in today which when fully operational will be used for supplementary benchmarks on Windows on Apple hardware and OSX benchmarks.

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We just got a dedicated Mac OS testing platform in today which when fully operational will be used for supplementary benchmarks on Windows on Apple hardware and OSX benchmarks.

Do they still sell Mac's ? I thought they retired after making $40 trillion in revenue last year? ;)

Edited by Beenthere

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LOL yea I suppose you could call it Apple hardware, Windows OS at the moment... kind of bypassed boot camp in its entirety and installed straight Windows 7 (after an SSD upgrade of course) :P

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