SATA 6Gb/s has been a bottleneck for SSDs over the past few years, utilizing multiple SSDs in RAID arrays has been best practice to overcome it. Plextor had seen this problem and originally released the M6e early last year in attempt to target the gamer market. While PCIe SSDs were not uncommon, their product is one of the only easy to boot M.2 PCIe SSDs out. There is no need of any special drivers, you just plug and play. By utilizing a PCIe 2.0 x2 connection, the M6e promises speeds that break past the SATA 6Gb/s barrier. Gamers and enthusiasts who wanted faster sequential performance now had a great option to buy.
However, while their target market is the gamer crowd, their product doesn’t reflect that aesthetically. As you can see in our review, the drive and adapter is made out of an OEM green PCB. It isn’t that flashy or cool to look at, put bluntly, it is just boring. Because of this, Plextor’s team decided to go back to the drawing board and create a new edition that reflected what gamers want in their rigs, something that looks cool and goes fast. At CES this year, Plextor unveiled their M6e Black Edition.
This new M.2 PCIe SSD not only has a beefy new heat sink and a black and red theme, the new PCB has a few extra changes and the SSD support’s Plextor’s PlexTurbo RAM caching software. Now, let’s take a deeper look into the M6e Black edition!
PLEXTOR M6E BLACK EDITION SPECIFICATIONS
The M6e Black Edition comes in a PCIe half-height/half-length form factor. On the card is the actual PCIe 2.0 x2 M.2 2280 SSD. It supports TRIM, NCQ, both legacy and UEFI BIOSes, and is rated with an MTBF of 2,400,000. It also supports automatic link power management for L0, L0s and L1 modes. When there is no data transferring the device automatically switches to L0s or L1 mode to save power.
It also features True Protect. True Protect is a combination of 128-bit error correction and Plextor’s exclusive robust data hold-out algorithm data security, and supports AES 256-bit full-drive encryption.
As with the standard M6e, the M6e Black Edition will be available in capacities of 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Speeds are also the same. All models are rated for sequential read speeds of up to 770MB/s, however write varies per capacity ranging from 335MB/s for the 128GB model to 625MB/s for the 512GB model. The 256GB drive we are testing today is rated for up to 580MB/s write. In terms of IOPS, the 128GB model is rated for 96K/83K read/write while the larger capacities are rated for 105K/100K read/write.
On top of everything it also includes support for PlexTurbo 2.0, Plextor’s latest RAM caching solution. It monitors frequently accessed data and stores it into the RAM to increase real-world performance. The amount of memory usable for this feature is now up to 4GB and it features data loss protection in case there is a power failure. Furthermore, it also optimizes writes to the drive so to increase the life of the NAND.
Finally, to back everything up if is covered by a full 5-year warranty.
PRICING AND AVAILABILITY
Now, for pricing. The 128GB model will just be a little over $1/GB, the 256GB will be under $1/GB, and the 512GB will be under $0.90/GB. The M6e Black Edition will be sold exclusively through Newegg.com and will be available early February.
PACKAGING AND COMPONENTS
The packaging is similar to the original M6e, only now it is a black and red theme. The front shows the main features of the drive: the capacity, PlexTurbo compatibility, True Protect and True Speed, and that it is covered by a 5-year warranty.
The back of the box shows all the drive’s specifications from the amount of DRAM per capacity to the speeds each drive are rated for. Furthermore, the drive supports both Linux and Windows operating systems.
Inside the box we can see that the contents are extremely well protected in polyethylene foam. Along with the drive, there is a quick installation guide, VIP card, and a screw to secure the drive in a PCIe slot.
The heat sink on the drive is quite large, overall it helps to cool the SSD about 10C. It and the PCIe bracket both have ventilation holes as well. The red fins are also not straight, looking from the side they are shaped like flames!
Changing the PCB to black wasn’t the only thing they did, it has been redesigned and now has a few extra connections on it. Previously there was not a HDD activity light connection on the M6e, those using it as their boot drive would not be able to utilize the HDD activity light from their case. Another change is the addition of a SATA power connector. This is optional and only there for those who need it to supply extra power when their motherboard’s PCIe lanes will not suffice. Finally, we can see they did away with the ugly red, yellow, and green LEDs in the back of the card and replaced them with some yellow and blue surface mount ones.
Looking over the PCIe M.2 drive, we can see that it is a 2280 form factor. For the drive they are using a total of 8 Toshiba NAND packages, a single Nanya DRAM chip and a single Marvell controller. Overall, it looks just like the standard M6e.
And with no surprise, the Marvell 88SS9183 here is the same controller that was used in the other M6e. While it doesn’t support NVMe, it does support AHCI and booting into an OS without any extra drivers.
Finally we have the DRAM controller cache and the NAND. On this 256GB drive there is 512MB of Nanya DDR3 DRAM. For their choice of NAND flash, Plextor has always stuck with Toshiba, in our M6e Black edition they have used eight packages of Toshiba’s A19 NAND. Each package is 32GB in capacity and a total of 238GB usable space is available to the user after the drive is formatted.