Plextor PX-M3 review: Plextor PX-M3

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The 2.5-inch Plextor M3 solid-state drive (SSD) supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) and helps improve the overall performance of the host computer a great deal. The drive is also comparatively affordable, and comes with a drive bay adapter to also fit in any desktop computer.

The Bad The Plextor M3's performance is slightly slower than some of its peers.

The Bottom Line With good performance and friendly pricing, the Plextor M3 makes a great replacement drive for any laptop or desktop computers.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Service and support 9.0

The Plextor M3 looks exactly the same as the previous model the M2. The new drive also supports SATA 3 but it's now a lot more affordable, costing just around $1.40 per gigabyte, compared with the $1.80 of the previous model.

The only explanation for this is that it's also now slightly slower than the M2 in my testing, though still very fast, performing on par with many other recent SATA 3-based SSDs. That said, it offers a great boost to any computer that moving to a SSD from a regular hard drive.

If you have a computer that's using a hard drive as the boot drive, the Plextor M3 makes a good replacement.

Design and features

Drive type Internal drive
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 128GB, 256GB,
Product dimensions 9.5-mm thick, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 256GB
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

Like the M2 and some other SSDS, such as the SanDisk Ultra, the new Plextor M3 comes in an aluminum case, giving it an expensive look and a sturdy feel.

Unlike the recently reviewed Intel 520 series that's just 7mm thick and can fit in ultrabooks, the M3 is 9.5mm thick. This means it can only fit in standard laptops. The drive also comes with a drive bay adapter so it can replace a standard 3.5-inch desktop hard drive.

In my trials, the Plextor M3 worked with all of the SATA standards, including SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2 (3Gbps), and SATA (1.5Gbps). You will want to use it with a computer that supports at least SATA 2, which most computers do, or SATA 3 if you want to get the most out of its performance, however.

The Plextor M3 is powered by a Marvell 88SS9174 controller, which supports the TRIM command, features Global Wear Leveling, and has a mean time between failures (MTBF) of 1.5 million hours. The drive doesn't have overprovisioning, in which part of its storage space is dedicated to the controller. This explains why it offers a full 256GB (or 128GB) instead of 240GB like drives that have overprovisioning.

Cost per gigabyte
Following the SanDisk Extreme, the Plextor M3 also comes with friendly price tags of around $350 for the 256GB capacity and $185 for the 128GB capacity. This translates into around $1.40 per gigabyte, making them among the most affordable SATA 3-based SSDs on the market. This looks like a new trend in the pricing of SSDs, and hopefully their price will continue to go down. Compared with regular hard drives, though, they're still a lot more expensive.

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