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

In fact, you can even find the M5 Pro Xtreme for a price less than M5 Pro's at times. The drive seems to be in high demand, however, and its availability, as well as pricing change day by day. Nonetheless, with what it has to offer, the M5 Pro Xtreme is a great deal with less than $1 per gigabyte.

Note that the M5 Pro Xtreme is not the most affordable SSD on the market, but among high-end drives, it's one that costs the least, for now.

The M5 Pro Xtreme comes in a similarly compact package as its processor.
The M5 Pro Xtreme comes in a similarly compact package as its processor. Dong Ngo/CNET

The M5 Pro Xtreme did very well in my testing and it was indeed slightly faster than the M5 Pro. I reviewed the 256GB version of the drive, and while it wasn't the fastest on all counts, it was easily one of the fastest SSDs on the market I've seen. (The drive was tested with version 1.02 of the firmware. Plextor released version 1.03, which promises to further improve the performance, at the time this review was published. Note that the new firmware works with the M5 Pro drive, too, though it won't turn it into the Pro Xtreme).

For sequential performance, I tested the Xtreme both as a secondary drive on a computer for it to show its top performance, and as the main drive that hosts the operating system on the computer. I test SSDs by copying some 50GB of data from one place to another. This test represents real-world experience and always yields a lower output than what vendors claim. This is because vendors tend to test SSDs using benchmark software that doesn't always represent how SSDs are used in the real world.

That said, the Xtreme was still very impressive. When used as a secondary drive, it registered about 270MBps for both writing and reading. When used as the main drive and writing and reading at the same time, it scored 168MBps. Overall it's about the second fastest drive on the market, just a tad slower than the OCZ Vector.

The drive improved the overall performance of the test computer a great deal. The test system took just about 11 seconds to boot up and and less than 5 seconds to shut down, much faster than when it used a standard hard drive as the main storage. Applications also loaded much more quickly. Compared with other SSDs, I could also see that it was slightly faster; for example, heavy applications such as games took a few seconds less to load. Unfortunately it's very hard to quantify the overall improvement in numbers. Still, the M5 Pro Xtreme was indeed one of the fastest SSDs I've seen.

Boot/shutdown scores (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Boot time

Data transfer scores (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As Secondary Drive (Read Only)
As Secondary Drive (Write only)
As OS Drive (Read and Write)
OCZ Vector
Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
Samsung 840 Pro
Corsair Neutron GTX
Plextor M5 Pro
Transcend SSD720
SanDisk Ultra Plus

The M5 Pro Xtreme is easy to recommend as a replacement drive, thanks to its excellent performance and low cost.

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