Solid State Drives were said to get popular and it appears, that’s happening. A majority of people though are still clueless as to what an SSD is. There are those who think of them as external drives or larger capacity flash drives. In India, SSDs are not mainstream or as well known as hard disk drives. We don't blame them for not being aware as SSDs are a fairly recent form of storage as compared to hard disk drives.
SSDs use memory chips instead of a moving platter like the ones found in HDDs, thus they are less susceptible to shocks, are virtually silent, and have lower access time and latency. In addition to this, solid state drives are normally found in a 2.5-inch form factor and are extremely light weight and can also fit into your notebook.
Silent and cool
Plextor is a company we haven’t heard about in a while. They were last known for their optical drives, but have dipped in the SSD market and launched a 2.5-inch SSD in three different capacities. We have the largest capacity model, the Plextor PX-256M2S 256 GB SSD for review.
Design and Features
Internal drives are rarely good to look at, but we were surprised by the design of the PX-256M2S, with its stylish brushed metal exterior. The Plextor PX-256M2S 256GB falls under the M2 Series of SSDs, as the latter half of the model number suggests. You can also find 128GB and 64GB models in this series. The drive features a SATA 6 GB/s interface. With hard drives, there’s little worry of SATA2 being a bottleneck, but with an SSD, there’s a good chance that the drive could be faster. Having SATA3 support is a good thing in this case.
Furthermore, the drive features a Marvell 88SS9174 controller chip, and Plextor boasts of sequential read rates up to 480MB/s and sequential write rate up to 330MB/s with this drive. Read on to see if these real world test scores actually live up to the company’s claims.
The drive also features TRIM command which is basically a command that allows an operating system to inform an SSD which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped internally.
256 GB with incredible speed at a cost!
Test Rig Specifications
Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K CPU @ 3.40 GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte P67A-UD3R
Memory: Corsair Dominator GT 4 GB DDR3 (2 x 2 GB)
Hard drive: WD Velociraptor 300 GB
GPU: Palit GTX560 Ti
PSU: Cooler Master 1000W
The Plextor PX-256M2S solid state drive was put through the regular tests undertaken in our labs, which included synthetic tests, as well as real world file transfer speed tests.
To start off, after running each test, the entire rig was completely shut down and restarted, so as to prevent any kind of caching. In addition to this, no application was running in the background and our system was isolated from the network. In the synthetic benchmark tests, we ran SiSoft Sandra and the average write speed recorded was 417 MB/s, which is expected from a high-performance SSD such as this. The random access time noted through the same synthetic test was 60ms.
Real world scores were recorded by running a file transfer test from our Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB to the Plextor SSD. We copied test data sets from the WD drive to the SSD and back. There was also a copy test between partitions in the Plextor SSD.
In this case, we noticed that the WD Velociraptor tends to be a bottleneck while transferring data, so we used a software to generate a data set and directly dump it on the SSD. The write speed noticed on to the Plextor 256GB SSD was 261MB/s for a single file transfer and the assorted file transfer recorded a speed of 334MB/s. The inter partition file transfer tests were done using a real world data transfer test. For the single 4GB, we recorded an average speed of 146MB/s, while the multiple file transfer test notched an average score of 132MB/s.
We tried writing data from the SSD back to the Velociraptor, and noticed a major drop in performance due to the bottleneck. Write tests from the drive were undertaken using the same real world file transfer test and the average speed for a single 4G file transfer seen was 109 MB/s. The multiple 4 GB file transfer came off a little worse with the average speed recorded was 81 MB/s.
Slim and light weight
It’s clear that the Plextor PX-256M2S is an impressive performer. The read, write and copy tests were all way higher than any drive we’ve tested, so far. The inter-copy drive testifies that. Usually, even the fastest of hard drives crawl at 40 - 60 MB/s in inter-partition copy tests, but a score of 146 MB/s takes the SSD to a completely new level
An MRP of Rs. 27,500 makes it an extremely expensive storage solution. It’s definitely not value for money, even if you consider its scorching transfer rates. Anyone building an extreme high-end performance rig wanting the absolute best of performance and reasonable storage capacity should buy this. The only other way to get this kind of performance might be by using RAID on two or more very fast hard drives.
Supports the all-new SATA 6Gb/s Interface: Supports the latest SATA 6Gb/s transfer interface, which allows the transfer of large amounts of data quickly, with sequential read speed up to 480MB/s. Users can read and transfer data in the shortest time possible, and improve work efficiency!. NCQ Optimized HD Reading Mechanism: Boasts NCQ to support the most advanced computing systems. After activating NCQ, users will notice obvious improvements in performance with faster computer loading and data transfers. Instant Restore: Unique “Instant Restore” function - After continuous SSD use, data transfer performance remains “new” despite being in a “dirty state”, overcoming the problem of slower performance after prolonged usage. Server Grade (Marvell) Control Chip: Boasting a server-grade “Marvell 88SS9174” control chip, currently the industry’s most advanced control chip. This chip supports the latest SATA 6Gb/s functions, similar to those used in central processors, thus providing users with the best read/write performance, increasing product lifespan, enhancing data security and stability, and giving you world-class performance! Support TRIM command: Supports the latest “Windows TRIM command”, providing more efficient data wipe-out methods, to overcome the common SSD problem of slower data processing times after long-term usage. Coupled with Plextor’s unique “Instant Restore” function, users can expect more stable performance than from any other brand! 128MB DDR3 Cache Buffer: Boasts a 128MB DDR3 cache serving as a temporal storage buffer, the DDR3 high-speed transfer interface will reduce seek/read/write time of flash memory so that data is transferred more quickly. The large-capacity temporal storage space reduces the possibility of frequently-modified data entering the flash memory system, which prolongs product lifespan. 128MB DDR3 cache buffer also stabilizes SSD for more powerful computing performance! Dynamic Wear Leveling: “Dynamic Wear Leveling” uses the most efficient data allocation method so that data is written into various memory blocks equally. This reduces the number of memory wipe-outs and increases SSD product life span, ensuring that SSD speed does not slow down after long-term usage.
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