Plextor M3 Pro 256GB SSD preview: Marvell SSD controller in a higher gear

When we reviewed the Plextor M3 256GB SSD earlier this year our verdict was pretty positive. That model is based on the Marvell 88SS9174 controller combined with 24nm Toshiba ToggleFlash NAND chips. Its performance was excellent and the five-year warranty impressive but the price was a bit steep in our opinion.

A lot has happened in the world of SSDs in the months that have passed since then. We've witnessed the arrival of new models such as the OCZ Vertex 4, but also the beginning of a price war. Many popular SSDs such as Crucial's m4 and Intel's new SSD 330 series are in the meantime available for significantly less than £1 per GB.

Plextor has yet to join the price race to the bottom, and instead says it prefers investing in performance and quality. For a short while now the M3 Pro has been available as part of the M3 series, and its specifications indicate improved performance. Hardware.Info tested the 256GB model.

If we concentrate purely on the hardware then there isn't much of a difference between the M3 and the M3 Pro. The new Pro model is also based on the now two-and-a-half-year old Marvel 88SS9174 controller and 24nm Toshiba ToggleFlash chips. The controller is supported by 512MB DRAM cache. The only physical difference is that the M3 Pro is somewhat thinner, at 7mm thick. That allows it to fit into smaller laptops as well.

The main difference can be found in the firmware. Plextor is remaining tightlipped about exactly what has been changed, but the performance - at least in theory - has been increased. For the M3 256GB, Plextor claims 510MB/s read and 260MB/s write speed. For the Pro these values are 540MB/s and 420MB/s, respectively. The random performance should also be increased according to Plextor, from 70k 4k read IOPS to 75k 4k read IOPS. You can read rest of the Plextor M3 Pro 256GB SSD previewed on Hardware.info.