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

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 at a cost!

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

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.

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