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.
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.
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
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.