The GB Plextor PX-256M2S solid-state drive (SSD) shares the same design and 256GB capacity cap as the Samsung 470. However, it supports the SATA 6Gbps standard and showed noticeable better performance in our testing, enough to justify its $600 price tag.
If you have a high-end laptop, especially one that has a 6Gbps SATA storage controller, the Plextor PX-256M2S will make an excellent replacement for the computer's internal hard drive. If you want to spend about $100 less, the Samsung 470 will also make a decent choice.
Those who are more financially constrained might want to skip these SSDs entirely and go with the Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive, which offers somewhat similar performance, has a top capacity of 500GB, and costs only around $100.
Design and features
|Drive type||2.5-inch SSD|
|Connector options||SATA 3Gbps, SATA 6Gbps|
|Product dimensions||9.5 mm, 2.5-inch standard|
|Capacity of test unit||256GB|
|OSes supported||Windows, Mac, Linux|
Like the Samsung 470, the Plextor PX-256M2S has the same shape, dimensions, and port design as any standard 9.5-millimeter, 2.5-inch internal hard drive. This means it will work in any application where hard drives are used.
The Plextor PX-256M2S, like all SSDs, uses flash memory chips as its storage (as opposed to platters in traditional hard drives), and therefore has no moving parts. This means it uses much less energy and is more resistant to shock and vibration. It's also much lighter than a hard drive of the same size.
Unlike the Samsung 470, which supports the popular SATA 3Gbps standard (SATA2), the Plextor PX-256M2S supports the SATA 6Gbps standard. All generations of SATA share the same port design, however, and the Plextor also works with any SATA2 controller. Currently, only a few high-end laptop and desktop computers support the SATA 6Gbps standard natively. With others you might be able to upgrade to it via a PCIe (PCI Express) add-in card. In that case, make sure that your computer's PCIe slot has 6Gbps or higher bandwidth.
We tried the Plextor PX-256M2S with a few laptops and desktops where other SATA hard dives were used, via SATA2, and it worked well in every case. The operating systems had no problem recognizing the drive and we could install Windows, Linux, and MacOS on it without having to use third-party drivers.
If you want to use the drive with an add-in SATA 6Gbps controller, however, third-party driver software is likely be required.
Cost per gigabyte
The Plextor PX-256M2S is significantly more expensive than traditional hard drives, including the hybrid Momentus XT. At around $600 for just 256GB, the Plextor costs about $2.34 per gigabyte. The Momentus, which is expensive even among traditional and hybrid hard drives, costs less than 10 cents per gigabyte, more than 23 times cheaper.
Even when compared with another SSD, the Plextor is more expensive. The Samsung 470, for example, currently costs around $1.95 per gigabyte.
Note, however, that this comparison of cost per gigabyte between these two types of internal storage options doesn't tell the whole story, as SSDs offer more benefits than traditional platter-based hard drives. Also, among SSDs, the Plextor PX-256M2S is the first we've seen that supports SATA 6Gbps.
We tested the Plextor PX-256M2S in many applications and it did excellently in all of them. We used the Plextor as the main hard drive of the test machine, running Windows 7 64-bit, and performed a variety of tests. Apart from the throughput test, which focuses on drive performance alone, our other tests are designed to judge a computer's performance as a whole. For this reason, the hard drive only plays a small role in the final score, especially in tests designed to gauge the computer's non-storage-intensive performance, such as 3D rendering. Nonetheless, the test machine showed a visible difference thanks to the Plextor PX-256M2S. The drive consistently topped our charts in all tests.
We stacked the Plextor PX-256M2S against the Samsung 470; the Momentus XT, currently the fastest of the platter-based 2.5-inch hard drives; and three other Serial ATA 3Gbps hard drives: a 3.5-inch WD VelociRaptor (300GB, 10,000rpm), a 2.5-inch Fujitsu MHV2120BH (120GB, 5,400rpm), and a 3.5-inch WD Caviar SE16 (500GB, 7,200rpm). For each hard drive, the test system was reimaged with the same operating system, system settings, test software, and data.
In our boot time test, the Plextor was decidedly the fastest, booting in just 29 seconds, even a few seconds ahead of the Samsung 470, which used to be by far the fastest in terms of booting.
In the office performance test, in which we time how long the computer takes to finish a comprehensive set of concurrent tasks, including Word, Excel, and file transferring and compression, the Samsung took first place at just 981 seconds, beating the WD VelociRaptor, a top-tier 3.5-inch hard drive, by a whole 10 seconds. In this test the Samsung 470 took much longer time, at 1,022 seconds.
In a test that involves using iTunes to convert music from MP3 to AAC format, and in the multimedia multitasking test, which gauges the computer's performance as it converts a hi-definition movie from one format to another while iTunes does a heavy job of music conversion in the background, the Plextor PX-256M2S was again the fastest by a noticeable margin.
Even in the Cinebench benchmark, which focuses on 3D rendering, the Plextor helped the computer produce the highest score of the drives we tested.
And finally, in the throughput test, in which we time the speed with which drives copy a large amount of data from one place to another, the Plextor PX-256M2S came in by far the fastest at 93.4MBps, above the Samsung 470's 88.1MBps. Note that in this test the drive has to do both writing and reading at the same time. This means its one-way speed (either read or write) could potentially be doubled in real-life usage.
It's important to note that we tested the Plextor with a SATA 3Gbps controller, as our test machine doesn't support SATA 6Gbps well. This means when you have a system that fully supports SATA 6Gbps, expect the performance to be even better.
Service and support
Plextor backs the PX-256M2S with a 3-year warranty, which is a decent length, similar to the Samsung 470's. When it comes to storage devices, the length of the warranty is the most important factor, and it would be even better if the company offered a 5-year warranty as Seagate does with the Momentus XT.
The Plextor PX-256M2S's hefty price kept us from giving it the Editors' Choice. However, if you have spent a large sum to get a high-end computer that natively supports SATA 6Gbps, we recommend that you spend another, smaller sum to replace its main internal hard drive with the Plextor to get the best possible performance out of your system.