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Plextor M5M mSATA SSD Review (256GB) – The M5M Displays Incredible PCMark Performance

Plextor M5M mSATA SSD Featured PikAt under 7grams, a third the size of a business card and performance equal to that of any 2.5″ notebook SSD, there was little doubt of the success that the mSATA SSD would achieve.

Lenovo was the first to introduce the mSATA SSD to the consumer and today, there doesn’t seem to be an ultra available that doesn’t have a mSATA SSD installed in some way.

Yesterdays trend was to have the mSATA SSD installed as a 3Gbps secondary device whereas, today’s flavor of the day seem to be using small capacity mSATA drives as caching SSDs, mainly through limitations of the mobile chip set configurations. Considering this, does it really make sense to market a product using the SATA 3 port for the hard drive and leaving that of the mSATA to bottleneck at SATA 2 speeds?

PLEXTOR M5M 256GB MSATA SSD

We got our first look at the Plextor M5M mSATA SSD at CES Las Vegas 2013 and have been hoping to get one in our hands for some time, considering our wealth of past mSATA SSD reviews. The M5M was pretty much the only we hadn’t seen. Plextor has cemented their reputation on being able to fine tune their firmware through a solid relationship with Marvell (and only Marvell) along with the use of the finest Toshiba toggle mode memory.

Plextor M5M mSATA SSD Front2

The M5M is a retail SSD, available in capacities of 64, 128 and 256GB and it is a SATA 3 mSATA SSD, fully backward compatible with SATA 2. Performance is variable, dependent on capacity, and all sizes are listed at 540MB/s read with graduating write performance of 160MB/s (64GB), 320MB/s (128GB) and 430MB/s(256GB). Random 4k IOPS are listed up to 80,000 IOPS read and 77,000 IOPS write with Plextor True Speed technology ensuring long term sustained performance.

The M5M has AES 256-Bit encryption, a three year standard warranty and something that many don’t know is that each drive is subject to rigorous testing and burn-in, as well as accelerated usage simulations for ultra-stability. A quick check of Amazon shows the M5M priced at $74 for the 64GB, $114 for the 128GB and $219 for the 256GB capacity, bringing the M5M below the $1/GB mark for the two higher capacities.

M5M COMPONENTS

Plextor relies on Marvell and Marvell only for their SSDs. They believe that this consistency enables their engineering team to create the best possible product that they can. The 256GB version of the M5M utilizes the Marvell 88SS9187 controller along with four pieces of Toshiba 19nm toggle mode mlc NAND flash memory and a Micron 512MB DDR3 DRAM cache chip

Plextor M5M mSATA SSD PCB Front

Although the total RAW memory totals 256GB, and this is the advertised capacity, formatting of the M5M does leave the user with a total of 238GB of available storage space. For our purposes today, we will be using a mSATA to SATA 3 adapter to ensure that our testing methodology remains consistent.

Plextor M5M mSATA SSD PCB Back

  • jsfitz54

    Thank you!

  • Thank you for the review! I know it’ll be an unfair comparison but I was wondering if we can compare this mSATA SSD to a Samsung 840 Pro since it’s in the same price range :).

  • danwat1234

    “Although the total RAW memory totals 256GB, and this is the advertised capacity, formatting of the M5M does leave the user with a total of 238GB of available storage space”
    You mean 258GiB?

    • No. I mean GB (gigabytes). Every now and then someone always seems to throw in this same curve which is pretty simple to understand. The total available storage space is 238GB (gigabytes) and can be easily observed by looking at any of the benchmarks that reflect storage space. GiB has absolutely no space in the consumer arena and, actually, should flat out be done away with as it draws a line of confusion that really isn’t necessary. Why lose the understanding of the typical person though right? Thanks for taking the time to read our reports though…appreciated.

      • danwat1234

        I believe it is actually 238GiB formatted capacity. Windows Explorer of course will say that the capacity of the volume is 238GB but it’s a lie because if you convert 250GB into the units of GiB, then it is 238GiB unless it’s a coincidence that formating reduces capacity to 238GB from 250GB.
        Microsoft should really fix Explorer so there won’t be any more confusion, like by using base 10 since there units are base 10.

      • Ethos Evoss

        man what u askin ? that’s been decades that drives has less size after installing and formatting .. this is old school mate

        Base10 Base2 Base10 Base2
        36GB 34.3GB 160GB 152.6GB
        40GB 38.1GB 200GB 190.7GB
        73GB 69.6GB 250GB 238.4GB
        80GB 76.3GB 300GB 286.1GB
        100GB 95.4GB 500GB 476.8GB
        120GB 114.4GB 750GB 715.3GB
        146GB 139.2GB 1000GB 953.7GB

      • danwat1234

        Yes it has less size after formatting and it looks like your conversions from base 10 to base 2 are correct.

        But before formatting, a 1TB drive will have more than 953GiB of total storage and more than 1TB of storage. After formatting it’ll have 1TB or 953GiB of storage.

        The advertised storage of a hard drive is the storage space available after formatting.

        A volume that has 1MB of storage, will have 1.048576MB of storage before formatting, according to the disclaimer on WD’s site. At least I think that is what they mean.

        As used for storage capacity, one megabyte (MB) = one million bytes, one gigabyte (GB) = one billion bytes, and one terabyte (TB) = one trillion bytes. Total accessible capacity varies depending on operating environment. As used for buffer or cache, one megabyte (MB) = 1,048,576 bytes. As used for transfer rate or interface, megabyte per second (MB/s) = one million bytes per second, megabit per second (Mb/s) = one million bits per second, and gigabit per second (Gb/s) = one billion bits per second.

      • Ethos Evoss

        Hi yeah bcos partitioning takes some space MBR or GPT
        And now days win 8 takes even more there is some MB for recovery partition then EFi partition 100MB

        for 1TB is 953,674 MB and windows output is 931 GB

        here is good expl.

        http://knowledge.seagate.com/articles/en_US/FAQ/172191en

  • Casey

    Thanks for the review. I just got one of these because it was the only one sold at my local MSY in Canberra. They’re $239 here in Australia, and worth every cent. I can now use those valuable drive bays in my laptop for storage and have this tiny form factor OS drive. Pity it’s only SATA2 on board though and requires a convertor to get the SATA 3 speeds. I’m sure I won’t notice the difference.

    • Ethos Evoss

      Defo there will be notice .. depend what u will be doing .. if u have only SATA II then u should buy cheapest msata or normal SATA II SSD tho

  • Erol Ozmanguday

    Hi Les,

    I have a Lenovo Y580, with a 64GB caching SSD and 1 TB 5400 HDD. Planning to replace the SSD with bigger volume one for the OS and photo editing programs like Lightroom and Capture NX2, and perhaps might put in a 7200 HDD for storage.

    Of course I want speed, but I also would like stability, reliability. As far as volumes is concerned, my preference goes out to a 480GB mSata module, but perhaps a 240GB / 256GB might also do.

    Money is not an issue up to 512 GB, so what would you recommend in terms of stability (i.o.w. best for data lost protection), Crucial M4 256 / Crucial M500 480GB / Plextor 256 GB / Intel xxx, and still have reasonable speeds?

    Regards,

    Ozmanguday

  • Ethos Evoss

    I just got 2×256 of these nice SSDs .. waiting for SATA adapter to connect second and will be creating RAID 0
    Will be lightning speed !

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