Plextor M3P 256GB SATA 3 SSD Review – Absolutely Marvell-ous Performance

REPORT ANALYSIS AND FINAL THOUGHTS

Lopping 2.5mm off the z-height of the M3 Standard’s chassis has made the drive compatible with a wider range of ultrathin laptops. It also ratchets up the visual appeal of the drive a notch. Good looks are appreciated, but it’s the firmware that truly sets this drive apart from the M3S. The firmware upgrade bestowed upon the Pro has given it some truly impressive performance gains over an already impressive M3.

Both the Pro and Standard Plextor M3 SSDs carry a rarely seen 5 year warranty. This is certainly one of those stats that can and does sway consumers when making purchasing decisions. Plextor would prefer to have their offerings thought of as enterprise SSDs given respect to their components, and so they tout their enterprise-grade Marvell controller and premium Japanese NAND flash memory (though it’s actually made in Taiwan). While few servers are probably going to get equipped with M3 Pros, the enterprise grade ethos is good to see. The Japanese company is also happy to point out that they spend 20 hours burning in and testing every SSD they make. As a result, Plextor claims their SSDs have an annualized failure rate of only 0.5%.

When shopping for a new 6gbps SSD, potential buyers are confronted with a vast array of offerings. At the moment, there just aren’t that many controllers on the market. It generally boils down to three different choices: SandForce, Marvell, and Samsung. Since you will only find Samsung controllers in Samsung drives, the rest of the market is composed of only SandForce and Marvell.

It might seem like a prospective SSD buyer would face a scarcity of choice, but it’s actually the opposite. Every controller, NAND, and firmware combination creates a relatively unique offering and performance profile. Plextor was first to market with Toshiba’s new 24nm Toggle flash, and it’s certainly the only Marvell controlled drive using it. Of course, Plextor’s new firmware seems to have wrung every last bit of performance available with that particular combination of controller and flash. But is this the last new product to use the veteran ‘9174? The next Marvell controller, the 88SS9184 is already shipping.

In the end, shoppers will have to pay a premium to get the M3P over the M3S. For enthusiasts seeking the fastest gear available, that premium will most likely be worth it. At this moment, the M3 256GB can be found for as little as $340 while the M3P 256GB is as low as $374. That’s a bit on the steep side, but storage fanatics looking for something both fast and a little unique would do well to check out the M3 Pro.

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9 comments

  1. The Plextor M3P has new Firmware 1.03.

    Why was this not used in your testing? I see version 1.00 was used.

    The M3S aka M3 also has new Firmware 1.04 or 1.03 depending on the drive size.

    • The M3P did very well and was reviewed as received… We will take a look at it with the new firmware and post back if any significant improvements are observed.

      • Christopher Ryan

        There are no observable performance differences between 1.00, 1.01, and 1.03.

        The benches do not reflect this, but the drive was upgraded and more tests were run.

  2. with the 24nm process, shouldn’t it be 4x64gbit dies per package?

  3. Makes one wonder if they could just get their hands on a regular M3 and update the firmware to the newest M3P version if they would get the same performance as the M3P?

  4. nope won’t work its been tried

  5. Valentin Ursache

    i would like to know a comparison between OWC Mercury Accelsior 480GB PCIe SSD and two plextor m3 pro in the same raid 0…i have to choose between this two for my machine, especialy to see the numbers of incompressible data if it’s higher for the 2 plextor in raid 0 than owc’ card

    • On Newegg in Canada, I read this comment about the Plextor M3P 256GB:

      Just received my 2nd Plextor M3 Pro 256GB for some Raid 0 action
      SMOKIN FAST, Installs flawlessly , no Faster sata III SSD on the market
      Everything you need but a SATA Cable comes with mounting plate , screws, software, broke 1004 Reads in CrystalDisk mark just google my nickname for more results. or AMD_Freak

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