Plex­tor M6e Black Edi­tion 256GB

SUP­PLIER www.ama­zon.co.uk

Custom PC - - LABS TEST / SOLID STATE DRIVES -

When­ever a new dis­rup­tive prod­uct is launched that se­ri­ously out­classes its com­pe­ti­tion, it in­stantly al­ters the land­scape of that mar­ket. It doesn’t mean al­ter­na­tive prod­ucts cease to be­come a worth­while pur­chase, but it of­ten forces them to com­pete in terms of pric­ing and value for money rather than per­for­mance. Any­thing that costs more money than the new killer prod­uct, or even costs the same amount, with­out any in­her­ent ad­van­tage, in­stantly be­comes un­com­pet­i­tive. With SSDs, that new prod­uct is Sam­sung’s 950 Pro, so Plex­tor’s M6e Black Edi­tion, with its price of £220 inc VAT, is now up against some se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion.

The 950 Pro has set a stan­dard against which all other drives will un­doubt­edly be com­pared, thanks to the raw per­for­mance it of­fers, cour­tesy of four PCI-E 3 lanes. If Plex­tor had sig­nif­i­cantly dropped the price of the M6e Black Edi­tion, it would be in with a chance, but it has its work cut out with its price of £220 inc VAT for a 256GB drive, giv­ing it the high­est cost per gi­ga­byte on test.

The M6e ships as a PCI-E add-in card, sport­ing a very at­trac­tive de­sign, with a bright red heavy-duty heatsink on top of a black metal cas­ing over the PCB. Re­move this cas­ing and you’ll see the M6e sit­ting un­derneath it as a stan­dard M.2 de­vice; if you wish, this can be re­moved and placed into a moth­er­board’s M.2 slot.

It comes in three ca­pac­i­ties from 128GB to 512GB, and uses four 500MB/sec PCI-E 2 lanes. It also has the same Marvell 88SS9183 con­troller used in a mul­ti­tude of other SSDs, in­clud­ing the Cru­cial MX200 M.2, and Toshiba 19nm Tog­gle NAND flash mem­ory, which isn’t quite as up to date as the ad­vanced A19nm NAND flash used in many other drives.

With only half the avail­able band­width of a PCI-E 3 de­vice, the M6e Black Edi­tion sits in the same boat as Kingston’s HyperX Preda­tor, and sim­ply can’t match the per­for­mance of In­tel’s 750 Se­ries or Sam­sung’s 950 Pro, which use four PCI-E 3 lanes and the NVMe pro­to­col.

The Plex­tor at least of­fers some rea­son­able 32-queue-depth read and write per­for­mance, with re­sults that sit com­fort­ably be­yond what you can achieve from a SATA SSD. How­ever, its write speeds aren’t as im­pres­sive, only over­tak­ing Sam­sung’s SATAbased 850 Evo by a small mar­gin.

No­tably, the 950 Pro achieves read re­sults that are three times those of the M6e and write re­sults that are twice as high. It’s the same story in the PCMark traces, where the M6e edges slightly ahead of the SATA drives, but only barely, while the lat­est PCI-E 3 drives beat it soundly.

Un­for­tu­nately, the M6e Black Edi­tion’s pric­ing is still stuck in an era when com­pa­nies could charge a sig­nif­i­cant pre­mium for PCI-Elevel per­for­mance, which made sense when it was up against SATA drives, but is im­pos­si­ble to jus­tify next to the Sam­sung 950 Pro. The 256GB M6e model on test costs only £38 less than Sam­sung’s 512GB 950 Pro, and it’s also the only 256GB drive priced over £200. Couple this high cost per gi­ga­byte with mid­dling per­for­mance, and it’s clear you can get a bet­ter deal else­where.

Con­clu­sion

The M6e would have looked im­pres­sive a year ago, when there was less PCI-E com­pe­ti­tion and SATA drives were com­mon­place, but you can now buy cheaper drives that of­fer sig­nif­i­cantly faster per­for­mance.

With the high­est cost per gi­ga­byte on test and mid­dling per­for­mance, the M6e Black Edi­tion is in des­per­ate need of a price cut if it’s go­ing to com­pete with Sam­sung’s lat­est and great­est.

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