What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

Plextor M6s 256GB SSD Review

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Plextor’s storage division has been on a roll as of late. First it was their M6e, an enticing adaptable PCI-E SSD that combined value and performance into a different form factor. The M6S on the other hand represents an effort to bring that same value quotient to the standard SATA 6Gbps market without sacrificing throughput. That’s a tall order but Plextor may be uniquely placed to deliver just that, despite going up against heavily entrenched competitors like OCZ, Corsair, Sandisk and Crucial.

chart.jpg

While the M6S may be considered a lower end drive by enthusiasts, it offers a good amount of performance for a relatively affordable price. Naturally, drives like Crucial’s MX100 and AData’s SP920 will stand in its way but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Plextor is fighting an uphill battle. On the contrary; its use of 19nm Toggle Mode NAND is something that could prove to be a deciding factor.

top_sm.jpg

Unlike some drives that use red, yellow and other flashy exteriors to distinguish themselves, Plextor takes a no-nonsense approach with a simple full metal chassis. The M6S uses an older 9.5mm form factor instead of the current 7mm standard and it doesn’t come with a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter plate. Thankfully, none of these points are overly worrisome given its more budget orientated nature.

board1_sm.jpg

Instead of the older Marvell 9187 or even a slower 9183, the Plextor M6S uses Marvell's 9188 controller. This four channel controller may only boast half the channels of the older 9187, but it is still a very potent controller. In many ways it can actually be considered the smaller and less expensive brother of the 9189 found inside such drives as the Crucial M550, MX100, and AData SP920 series.

As we saw with the M6e, four channel controllers can offer a ton of potential, leaving the NAND to either make or break overall performance. In this regard Plextor has not gone down the usual ONFi 1 or ONFi 2 NAND 'budget drive' road, nor have they opted for ONFi 3 NAND. Instead they are using the tried and true second generation, 19nm Toshiba Toggle Mode NAND, which is rather surprising to see in a non-OCZ branded entry level drive that has an online asking price of only $145.

board2_sm.jpg

Internally the only real nod to budget constraints that Plextor's team has made is the inclusion of only 8 NAND ICs. However the M6S doesn’t use mega-sized ONFi 3 NAND ICs but rather dual-die NAND. This means that while there are still two NAND chips on each controller channel, every one of these NAND chips houses two independent dies. To put this another way, the Plextor M6S may only have 8 NAND chips, but each of the Marvell 9188's channels is fully populated with 4-way interleaving. This will help optimize full drive performance at proper levels and gives the M6S a leg up over many other 'budget' drives.

Further helping overall performance is the 256GB version of the M6S uses a massive 512MB DDR3 RAM IC for its cache buffer instead of the typical 256MB most similarly sized Marvell drives come equipped with.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Test System & Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Testing a drive is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them onto folder on the drive in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account. There is also the SATA controller on your motherboard and how well it works with SSDs & HDDs to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for drives to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason our test-bed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what you the end user’s experience will be like.

Even when the hardware issues are taken care of the software itself will have a negative or positive impact on the results. As with the hardware end of things, to obtain the absolute best results you do need to tweak your OS setup; however, just like with the hardware solution most people are not going to do this. For this reason our standard OS setup is used. However, except for the Windows 7 load test times we have done our best to eliminate this issue by having the drive tested as a secondary drive. With the main drive being an Intel DC S3700 800GB Solid State Drive.

For synthetic tests we used a combination of the ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HD Tune, Crystal Disk Benchmark, IOMeter, AS-SSD, Anvil Storage Utilities and PCMark 7.

For real world benchmarks we timed how long a single 10GB rar file took to copy to and then from the devices. We also used 10gb of small files (from 100kb to 200MB) with a total 12,000 files in 400 subfolders.

For all testing a Asus P8P67 Deluxe motherboard was used, running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate edition. All drives were tested using AHCI mode using Intel RST 10 drivers.

All tests were run 4 times and average results are represented.

In between each test suite runs (with the exception being IOMeter which was done after every run) the drives are cleaned with either HDDerase, SaniErase or OCZ SSDToolbox and then quick formatted to make sure that they were in optimum condition for the next test suite.

Processor: Core i5 2500
Motherboard: Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Memory: 8GB Corsair Vengeance LP “blue”
Graphics card: Asus 5550 passive
Hard Drive: Intel DC S3700 800GB, Intel 910 800GB
Power Supply: XFX 850

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB
: 1.33
Intel 520: 400i
SanDisk Extreme 240GB: R211
Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB: M206
Intel 335 180GB: 335
SanDisk Extreme 2 240GB: R1311
Seagate Pro 600: B660
OCZ Vector 150 240GB: 1.2
Angelbird Adler 640GB: AA3.15
Vertex 460 240GB: 1.0
ADATA SP920 512GB: MU01
Intel 7230 240GB: L2010400
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB:DXM06B0Q
Crucial MX100 512GB: MU01
Crucial M550 512GB: MU01
Plextor M6e 256GB: 1.03
Plextor M6s 256GB: 1.03

Samsung MDX controller:
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB- custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

SandForce SF1200 controller:
OCZ Vertex 2 - ONFi 2 NAND

SandForce SF2281 controller:
Intel 520 - custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 NAND

LAMD controller:
Corsair Neutron GTX - Toggle Mode NAND
Seagate 600 Pro - custom firmware w/ Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell 9183 controller:
Plextor M6e 256GB- custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell 9188 controller:
Plextor M6s - Custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell 9187 controller:
Crucial M500 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND
SanDisk Extreme 2 - Custom firmware w/ 19nm eX2 ABL NAND

Marvell 9189 controller:
ADATA SP920 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND
Crucial M550 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND
Crucial MX100 - Custom firmware w/ 128Gbit ONFi 3 NAND

Barefoot 3 controller:
OCZ Vector 150 (M00) - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND
OCZ Vertex 460 (M10) - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND

Novachips NVS3600A controller:
Angelbird Adler - ONFi 2 NAND

Intel X25 G3 controller:
Intel 730 - custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 NAND
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Read Bandwidth / Write Performance

Read Bandwidth


For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with these hard drives. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture. We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and thus we no longer included it. The most important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.

read.jpg


Write Performance


For this benchmark HD Tune Pro was used. To run the write benchmark on a drive, you must first remove all partitions from that drive and then and only then will it allow you to run this test. Unlike some other benchmarking utilities the HD Tune Pro writes across the full area of the drive, thus it easily shows any weakness a drive may have.

write.jpg

The M6s certainly is not at the top of the charts, but the performance it does offer is sure to satisfy first time buyers. It really will only be enthusiasts who notice the 'missing' write performance in some situations.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO Disk Benchmark


The ATTO disk benchmark tests the drives read and write speeds using gradually larger size files. For these tests, the ATTO program was set to run from its smallest to largest value (.5KB to 8192KB) and the total length was set to 256MB. The test program then spits out an extrapolated performance figure in megabytes per second.

atto_r.jpg

atto_w.jpg

The M6S' performance curves are quite good but the higher level write performance lags significantly behind the compeition. Meanwhile, at the all-important small end of the spectrum the difference is really not all that great. This is because the combination of excellent NAND and massive RAM buffer is able to help make up for a slower controller.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Crystal DiskMark / PCMark 7

Crystal DiskMark


Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds; and allows you to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5 and size at 100MB.

cdm_r.jpg

cdm_w.jpg


PCMark 7


While there are numerous suites of tests that make up PCMark 7, only one is pertinent: the HDD Suite. The HDD Suite consists of numerous tests that try and replicate real world drive usage. Everything from how long a simulated virus scan takes to complete, to MS Vista start up time to game load time is tested in these core tests; however we do not consider this anything other than just another suite of synthetic tests. For this reason, while each test is scored individually we have opted to include only the overall score.

pcm7.jpg

Good NAND and extra cache really do go a long way towards helping a controller out and the extra boost of performance these components offer is noticeably helping the M6S overcome its older controller's handicaps. Of course, once the queue depths get deep things do start to go sideways as the controller quickly gets saturated. Thankfully, this drive is meant for the entry level consumer marketplace where users won't usually encounter such scenarios. This is why both the Crystal DiskMark single queue depth and PCMark 7 results are so very, very good.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
AS-SSD / Anvil Storage Utilities Pro

AS-SSD


AS-SSD is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and small 4K read/write speeds as well as 4K file speed at a queue depth of 6. While its primary goal is to accurately test Solid State Drives, it does equally well on all storage mediums it just takes longer to run each test as each test reads or writes 1GB of data.

asd_r.jpg

asd_w.jpg


Anvil Storage Utilities Pro


Much like AS-SSD, Anvil Pro was created to quickly and easily – yet accurately – test your drives. While it is still in the Beta stages it is a versatile and powerful little program. Currently it can test numerous read / write scenarios but two in particular stand out for us: 4K queue depth of 4 and 4K queue depth of 16. A queue depth of four along with 4K sectors can be equated to what most users will experience in an OS scenario while 16 depth will be encountered only by power users and the like. We have also included the 4k queue depth 1 results to help put these two other numbers in their proper perspective. All settings were left in their default states and the test size was set to 1GB.

anvil_r.jpg

anvil_w.jpg

As you can see, the M6S is about as good as what you could expect from a two year old enthusiast grade controller. This really does highlight exactly how much performance you get for your money these days and so far the M6s is impressing us with a very good price to performance ratio. Remember, in many cases here it is competing with larger 512GB drives which derive additional performance through better NAND interleaving.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
IOMeter

IOMETER


IOMeter is heavily weighted towards the server end of things, and since we here at HWC are more End User centric we will be setting and judging the results of IOMeter a little bit differently than most. To test each drive we ran 5 test runs per HDD (1,4,16,64,128 queue depth) each test having 8 parts, each part lasting 10 min w/ an additional 20 second ramp up. The 8 subparts were set to run 100% random, 80% read 20% write; testing 512b, 1k, 2k,4k,8k,16k,32k,64k size chunks of data. When each test is finished IOMeter spits out a report, in that reports each of the 8 subtests are given a score in I/Os per second. We then take these 8 numbers add them together and divide by 8. This gives us an average score for that particular queue depth that is heavily weighted for single user environments.

iom.jpg

This drive is never intended to be used in workstation environments and it shows. This is fair and reasonable given the low asking price. As such we cannot really hold this poor showing against the M6s.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Windows 7 / ADOBE CS5 LOAD TIME

Windows 7 Start Up with Boot Time A/V Scan Performance


When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. Where Windows 7 has become nearly ubiquitous for solid state drive enthusiasts we have chosen Windows 7 64bit Ultimate as our Operating System. In previous load time tests we would use the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line; this however is no longer the case. We have not only added in a secondary Anti-Virus to load on startup, but also an anti-malware program. We have set Super Anti-Spyware to initiate a quick scan on Windows start-up and the completion of the quick scan will be our new finish line.

boot.jpg


ADOBE CS5 LOAD TIME


Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, and while the latest version is actually pretty decent, when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit faired in the Adobe crucible!

adobe.jpg

The more we test and actually use the M6s the more we are impressed by what Plextor has been able to create. Can the controller use four extra channels? Absolutely. Does the lack of channels directly impact performance? Yes. Does it impact it enough to matter for first time and budget orientated consumers? No. This drive still offers very reasonable performance levels, and while it will never be able to compete with even mainstream SSDs, it doesn’t have to that due to such a low price.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Firefox Performance / Real World Data Transfers

Firefox Portable Offline Performance


Firefox is notorious for being slow on loading tabs in offline mode once the number of pages to be opened grows larger than a dozen or so. We can think of fewer worse case scenarios than having 100 tabs set to reload in offline mode upon Firefox startup, but this is exactly what we have done here.

By having 100 pages open in Firefox portable, setting Firefox to reload the last session upon next session start and then setting it to offline mode, we are able to easily recreate a worst case scenario. Since we are using Firefox portable all files are easily positioned in one location, making it simple to repeat the test as necessary. In order to ensure repetition, before touching the Firefox portable files, we have backed them up into a .rar file and only extracted a copy of it to the test device.


ff.jpg


Real World Data Transfers


No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it cannot really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 10.00GB contiguous file and a folder containing 400 subfolders with a total 12,000 files varying in length from 200mb to 100kb (10.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, using MS RichCopy and logging the performance of the drive. Here is what we found.


copy_lg.jpg

copy_sm.jpg

As expected both deep queue depths and heavy write-only scenarios aren't the M6S's strengths but all things considered such scenarios will be rare for entry level consumers. Also - and more importantly - anyone crossing over from hard drives to this SSD will be impressed.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Partial and Full Drive Performance

Partial and Full Drive Performance


While it is important to know how a drive will perform under optimal conditions, more realistic scenarios are just as important. Knowing if a solid state drive will behave differently when partially or even nearly full than when it is empty is very important information to know. To quickly and accurately show this crucial information we have first filled the drive to 50% capacity and re-tested using both synthetic and real world tests. After the completion of this we then re-test at 75% and 90% of full capacity.

Synthetic Test Results

For our synthetic testing we have opted for our standard PCMark 7 test.

data_pcm7.jpg


Real World Results

For a real world application we have opted for our standard Windows 7 Start Up with Boot Time A/V Scan Performance test.

data_boot.jpg


This is the real weak link of the Plextor M6s as its performance does noticeably drop off as soon as you start filling the drive. The reason for this decline is twofold. Even after all this time, Marvell still needs to optimize performance as the NAND's capacity fills up.

What really impacts full drive performance is the four channel design of the 9188 controller. Even with great interleaving, an extra large cache size, and high performance NAND doing their best to counteract the controller's weakness, its lack of lanes does handicap things.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Latest posts

Twitter

Top