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
|SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
|9.5-mm thick, 2.5-inch standard
|Capacity of test unit
|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.
With a 13-second boot time, the Plextor M3 totally changed the way the host computer boots up in my test. The machine's overall performance was also greatly improved. Gamers will be happy to see how fast many of their games load. In my case, StarCraft 2 took just a few seconds to start.
Similar to other recent SATA 3-based SSDs, the Plextor M3 did well, though not the best, in sequential write and read performance, which is basically how fast the drive can copy files. When used as a secondary drive, where the SanDisk could show its top performance since it only performed the writing, the M3 scored 222 MBps, slightly faster than the OCZ Agility 3 , but noticeably slower than the previous model, the Plextor M2, which scored 261MBps on the same test.
When used as the boot drive that hosted the operating system and performed both writing and reading at the same time, the Plextor M3's data-transferring performance was reduced to 110MBps, about the average on the chart.
Overall, the M3 performed as I expected. On a side note, while it's just the middle of the herd among SSDs, it will offer the same experience as any other SSDs for users who move to it from a regular hard drive. This is because SSDs generally are so much faster than traditional hard drives, especially in terms of boot/shutdown/wakeup times and application performance, that the differences between themselves are only noticeable to those who've always used SSDs. That said, you should refrain from testing your own SSD since that would effectively use up its program cycles , lowering its lifespan.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|As Secondary Drive
|As OS Drive
Service and support
Plextor backs the M3 up with a five-year warranty, two years longer than what it offers for the M2. When it comes to storage devices, the length of the warranty is the most important factor, and in this case Plextor delivers.
Competitively priced, offering very good performance, and backed by a top warranty time, the Plextor M3 makes a great replacement drive for any laptop or desktop computer.