Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme review: Speed doesn't have to be expensive

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The Good The Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme is very fast and inexpensive. Its included software and desktop drive-bay converter are useful bonuses.

The Bad The Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme doesn't come with a USB-SATA adapter, or the kitchen sink.

The Bottom Line If you're on a market for a high-end solid-state drive for your computer, be it a PC or a Mac, look no further than the Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme.

Visit for details.

8.3 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Support 10

Fans of the Plextor M5 Pro, prepare to fall in love again! Showcased at CES 2013, its successor, the Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme, is not just faster, it also costs slightly less.

Other than the fact there's no included USB-SATA adapter, which very few SSDs come with, the new M5 Pro Xtreme has nothing else for me to complain about.

If you're looking to replace your computer's existing main storage device, be it a hard drive or a budget SSD, the Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme is an excellent buy, ranking near the top among the best internal drives to date.

Design and features

Drive type 7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard internal drive
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Product dimensions 7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 256GB
Controller Marvell 88SS9187
Flash memory type
Toshiba Toggle NAND
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

The new M5 Pro Xtreme looks almost exactly the same as the M5 Pro. The only difference in its appearance is the model number on the bottom, which is PX-xxxM5Pro (as opposed to PX-xxxM5P of the M5 Pro). The xxx represents the capacities, which are 128GB, 256GB and 512GB.

On the inside, the two drives are also almost identical. Both use the Marvell 88SS9187 controller and the high-end 19nm Toshiba Toggle NAND flash memory. The M5 Pro Xtreme, however, comes with an upgraded version of the flash memory, a new circuitboard design, and the Xtreme version of the firmware. All these should help it offer a random access speed of 100,000 IOPS, compared with 96,000 IOPS of the M5 Pro, and a sequential (data transfer) speed faster than the M5 Pro's.

The M5 Pro Xtreme (left) is almost identical to the M5 Pro.
The M5 Pro Xtreme (left) is almost identical to the M5 Pro. Dong Ngo/CNET

Similar to its predecessor, the Xtreme comes in the 7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard design. The drive supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) and is backward-compatible with previous versions of SATA. The new drive also includes a 3.5-inch drive converter for you to use it with a desktop machine, the way you install a regular desktop hard drive.

And inside the compact package of the Xtreme, similar to the Pro, you'll also find an NTI SSD Utility Suite that includes drive cloning software and backup software. This helps you quickly update your existing computer from a hard drive (or an old SSD) to the new SSD. Unlike a few other SSDs, such as the Monster Digital, the M5 Pro doesn't include a USB-SATA adapter, so you'll have to get one by yourself in case you want to upgrade your laptop. For desktops, you can install the drive as a secondary drive for the cloning process.

And finally, again, similar to its predecessor, the Xtreme SSD also comes with a five-year warranty and offers the some 2.4 million hours of mean time between failure (MTBF), about double that of some other SSDs. This high MTBF means that the drive should have an exceptionally long lifespan.

Cost per gigabyte
During CES, Plextor Managing Director Darlo Perez told me that the M5 Pro Xtreme would be likely more expensive than other high-end SSDs on the market. For this reason, I was pleasantly surprised to find its current street pricing lower than $1 per gigabyte, which is the threshold for considering an SSD as affordable. The 256GB version, for example, is available for less than $250.