Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 256GB SSD Review



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By Nimish Sawant /  20 Dec 2013 , 17:52:30

Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme is an update to the older Plextor M5 Pro. The Xtreme was launched quite a while back internationally, but we got our hands on the review unit recently. The M5 Pro and the M5 Pro Xtreme are a very similar in terms of specifications considering both use the same controller and same cache.

Build and Features

Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme has an aluminum brush finish on the front and back

Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme has an aluminum brush finish on the front and back

The Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme has a matte brushed-aluminum finish throughout the SSD package. It has a z-height of 7mm which makes it easy to fit into your notebooks or ultrabooks. Plextor has also bundled a 2.5-inch to 3.5-inch adapter bracket if you are planning to use this drive in your desktop. It weighs a mere 70 grams.

On opening the SSD, you will find the Marvell 88SS9187 controller, which is an 8-channel controller, along with the Toshiba 19nm Toggle NAND chips. There are 8 NAND chips on each side of the PCB. Alongwith the Marvell controller you also have two 256MB Hynix DRAM chips.

The Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme has a Marvell controller and 16x Toshiba 19nm NAND chips

The Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme has a Marvell controller and 16x Toshiba 19nm NAND chips

The major difference between the M5 Pro and M5 Pro Xtreme is in the type of NAND packages used. While the M5 Pro Xtreme uses 16x Toshiba 19nm thin small outlined package (TSOP) NAND, the M5 Pro used 8x Toshiba 19nm ball grid array (BGA) type NAND chips. In the TSOP NAND package, the NAND chip has 48-pins on the shorter sides connecting it to the PCB whereas the ball grid array type NAND packages have the NAND chip surface mounted on the PCB with solder balls on its underside. BGA NAND chips occupy lesser space than the TSOP chips.

The Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme has a z-height of 7mm so that it can be easily fitted within thin notebooks

The Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme has a z-height of 7mm so that it can be easily fitted within thin notebooks

Plextor also bundles the NTI SSD Solution suite which comprises the installation keys for the NTI Echo which is a cloning tool and NTI backup Now EZ installation utility.

Test Setup
Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K
Motherboard: ASRock Z87M Extreme4
RAM: 2 x 4GB GSkill RipjawsX
OS Drive: Intel SSD, 80GB
PSU: Cooler Master 800W Silent Pro Gold
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Crystal Disk Mark 3.0

Crystal Disk Mark allows you to find out sequential as well as random read and write speeds. We kept it on the default mode which uses random data. It also gives you the option to perform sequential and random read and write tests 4KB, 512KB and 4KB with queue depth of 32 data.

ATTO Benchmark

This is the most popular storage benchmarking tool and allow you to check read and write speeds across various transfer sizes and queue depths. ATTO is also a good tool to check for the marketing spiel of SSD makers where they publish sequential read and write speeds on the packaging.

The Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme package states read and write speeds of 540 MB/s and 460MB/s respectively. As seen from the screenshot above write speeds are very close whereas the read speeds exceed the advertised speeds by a slight margin.


AS SSD is a benchmark tool built specifically for SSDs which uses incompressible data and calculates sequential and random read and write speeds and gives an overall score at the end. It also gives you the input/output operations or IOPS for each of those tests which is interesting. Apart from this you can also perform Copy test where it creates test folders for large files simulating ISO, programs and games and measures the transfer speeds and duration.

From the charts above we note that based on overall scores, the Plextor SSD comes in last. But it had the fastest access times. When it came to the IOPS, the Plextor SSD was nowhere close to the advertised 100,000 random read and 86,000 random write IOPS.
PC Mark 7

PC Mark 7 is a complete PC benchmarking solution for Windows 7 having a dedicated Storage test module. It is a collection of workloads that isolate the performance of your PC’s SSD. The Secondary Storage test allows you to test drives other than your system drive. It simulates operations such as importing pictures, gaming, starting applications and so on.

Here again the drive was second only to the Samsung 840 Pro.

Anvil Storage Utilities

Anvil Storage utilities is another versatile SSD benchmark tool which apart from having an inbuilt SSD tool, also allows you the option to tweak the settings. Just like the AS SSD benchmark, you get a read, write and an overall score. The tables are more in-depth as it gives you response time, IOPS, MB read/written and finally the transfer speeds in MB/s. You can perform threaded I/O read and write tests where you can adjust block size as well as the queue depth. We ran the SSD test using 100 per cent incompressible and 46 per cent compression.

Here again we notice that the Plextor SSD hardly is anywhere near the promised 100,000 IOPS. We increased the queue depth with Random read operations and got a better IOPS score.

Verdict and Price in India
The Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme is a speedy drive and we found it second only to the Samsung 840 Pro. But at a price of Rs 19,500, it comes at a cost per GB of Rs 81.9 which is higher than that for the Samsung 840 Pro which is retailing for around Rs 16,000. Although including cloning and backup utilities along with the Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme is thoughtful, we really hope that Plextor comes up with an SSD utility for easily upgrading the firmware and secure erasing the drive. Currently, you need to make a bootable USB or CD/DVD to upgrade the Plextor drive’s firmware which is quite a roundabout way, specially when you have such wonderful utilities from Samsung and Corsair which ease up a lot of tasks. We could not see the IOPS reaching 100,000 in any of our tests, so that claim should be taken with a pinch of salt. We would recommend this drive, only if it offers a better pricing than the Samsung 840 Pro.

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