Just like Crucial, Plextor uses exclusively Marvell controllers. As you may have already guessed, Plextor M3S is already the third SSD generation based on 88SS9174 controller. The previous M2S model is in fact very similar to M3S in terms of the employed hardware components, but has significantly weaker parameters because of the different firmware version.
Just like Corsair, Plextor uses Toshiba memory for their contemporary SSDs, and the new M3S family is built with the newest NAND flash manufactured with 24 nm process, which production started only in the end of last summer.
So, even though all three SSDs reviewed today are based on the same Marvell controller, they are all very unique. I have to stress that uniqueness is a typical trait of all Marvell based solid state drives, which stand out in a very positive way against the background of SandForce based clones. However, the unique hardware inside the Plextor M3S doesn’t really affect its exterior. In fact, it looks like the external casing of the Plextor M3S comes from the same exact factory as the casing for Corsair Performance Pro. The only difference is the anodized coating and a painted Plextor logo. The mechanics of the Corsair and Plextor SSD cases is completely identical.
However, what we find inside the Plextor drive is even more shocking. Corsair Performance Pro and Plextor M3S do not just look the same, but also use a PCB with the same exact layout. Moreover, once we compared with PCB from these two drives with one another we discovered that the PCB inside Corsair SSD is marked as M3S. Therefore, even though Plextor is not a legal maker of the Performance Pro, it did contribute a lot to its development.
However, Plextor M3S uses completely different type of flash memory than Corsair Performance Pro. M3S drives are built with synchronous Toshiba memory with Toggle Mode interface, which chips are designed using 64 Gbit NAND manufactured with the latest 24 nm process. Thr 256 GB Plextor M3S has eight TH58TEG7D2HBA4C chips with four semiconductor flash-memory dies in each. So, Plextor M3S uses 4-way NAND interleaving in each channel.
Other than that, everything in Plextor M3S is pretty predictable. It uses Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2 controller and has 512 MB of cache based on two NANYA NT5CB128M16BP-CG DDR3-1333 SDRAM chips. Note that only 256 and 512 GB models have a 512 MB cache. M3S models with lower storage capacity have a cache of proportionally reduced size.
By using flash memory manufactured with fine technological process Plextor managed to lower the price of the drives. As a result, the M3S lineup including 64, 128, 256 and 512 GB models comes at $1.2-$1.3 per gigabyte of space, which is lower than other SSD models using Marvell controllers. At the same time Plextor SSDs come with extended warranty, while most of the other makers offer only 3 years.