Plextor M6e Black Edition 256GB
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.
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.