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Testbed Configuration

For our today’s SSD test session we put together a system on an Intel H67 based mainboard. This chipset provides support for two SATA 6 Gbit/s ports, which we use to connect the tested SSDs.

Four different SSDs from Plextor is already a pretty interesting review topic. However, since this is the first time we introduce to you the new P5S and M5 pro drives, which we haven’t reviewed before, we decided to increase the number of testing participants for a more in-depth performance analysis. Plextor SSDs will compete against products based on SandForce controller (Intel SSD 520 and Corsair Force GS), new Corsair SSDs on LAMD LM87800 controller (Neutron GTX and Neutron), our irreplaceable OCZ Vertex 4 on Indilinx Everest 2 controller, very impressive proprietary Samsung SSD 830, and Crucial m4 representing the Marvell platform, just like the Plextor solid state drives. Since today we are discussing high-performance and not entry-level products, we chose only SSDs with synchronous flash-memory for our comparison. Corsair Neutron, Crucial m4, Intel SSD 520 and OCZ Vertex 4 use 25 nm memory from IMFT consortium with ONFI-interface. While, Corsair Force GS, Corsair Neutron GTX and Samsung 830 are the drives with Toggle Mode MLC NAND manufactured using 2x-nm process.

Overall our testbed was configured as follows:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.1 GHz, EIST and Turbo Boost turned off);
  • Foxconn H67S mainboard (BIOS A41F1P03);
  • 2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM DIMM 9-9-9-24-1T;
  • Crucial m4 256 GB system disk (CT256M4SSD2);
  • Tested SSDs:
    • Corsair Force GS Series 240 GB (CSSD-F240GBGS-BK, firmware version 5.03);
    • Corsair Neutron GTX 240 GB (CSSD-N240GBGTX-BK, firmware version 2.06);
    • Corsair Neutron 240 GB (CSSD-N240GB3-BK, firmware version 2.06);
    • Crucial m4 256 GB (CT256M4SSD2, firmware version 010G);
    • Intel SSD 520 240 GB (SSDSC2CW240A3K5, firmware version 400i);
    • OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB (VTX4-25SAT3-256G, firmware version 1.5);
    • Plextor M3  256 GB (PX-256M3S, firmware version 1.05);
    • Plextor M3 Pro 256 GB (PX-256M3P, firmware version 1.04);
    • Plextor M5S 256 GB (PX-256M5S, firmware version 1.00);
    • Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB (PX-256M5P, firmware version 1.01);
    • Samsung SSD 830 256 GB (MZ-7PC256D, firmware version CXM03B1Q).
  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver;
    • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver;
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology


Random and Sequential Read/Write

We use CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 benchmark to test the random- and sequential read and write speed. This benchmark is convenient to work with as it can measure the speed of an SSD with both incompressible random and fully compressible recurring data. This feature is important for testing SSDs based on SF-2281/2282 controller, which tries to compress the data before writing it into the flash-memory. So, there are two numbers in the diagrams below that reflect the maximum and minimum SSD speed. The real-life performance of an SSD is going to be in-between those two numbers depending on how effective the controller data compression is.

Note that the performance tests in this section refer to SSDs in their “Fresh Out-of-Box” state (FOB). No degradation could have taken place yet.

The Plextor SSDs are all birds of a feather. They are very fast, including the older M3 and M3 Pro series, and show the same behavior in different benchmarks. We can only single out the M5 Pro which features Marvell’s new controller. It stands out among its cousins as well as competitors and offers a new level of performance indeed. It is among the fastest SSDs in reading and writing with a long request queue, so we have no doubts it is going to make any computer highly responsive and fast in real-life applications.

The M5S series is good, too. Although based on the same hardware components as the Crucial m4, Plextor's affordable drive is substantially faster. Just as we might assume according to the specs, the M5S is indeed close in performance to Plextor's older SSD series, which means that it is a strong mainstream product today.

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