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Plextor M7V M.2 2280 256GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


We have recently reviewed the M7V 2.5-inch drive and today it is time for the smaller version in the form of an M.2 2280 module. Where we saw great things from the 2.5-inch version, we should see even better things from this M.2 2280 256GB module as we move away from the 6Gbps SATA3 bottleneck and onto a 10Gbps M.2 connector.

Not only do we get a theoretical higher throughput, we also eliminate the need for SATA power and data cables. The result is a cleaner setup with fewer things in your case and thereby also an improved airflow. Overall, a win-win situation if your system supports the M.2 form factor.

The M.2 modules are also known as the Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) and that is one place where next generation is right in its place. The smaller modules take up far less space in your system, eliminate the need for cables, weigh less, and offer a better performance. There really isn’t an argument against these drives and it will be interesting to see how well the M7V does in this form.

The Plextor M7V series is built around the Marvell 88SS1074B1 SSD controller that, among other things, includes the most recent LDPC technology to guarantee data accuracy. LDPC is the newest development in error correction technology and it has come quite a long way from the early ECC versions and it can effectively improve the overall lifespan of the drive

The controller is paired with 15nm TLC with Toggle NAND from Toshiba. Toshiba NAND is awesome, there is no getting around that and the newest 15nm TLC NAND flash of theirs is able to deliver an impressive program and erase cycle amount of 2000, about double that of previous generations and only a third less than MLC SSDs. That is the makeup for a great drive which on top of that also gives you the full 256GB capacity instead of the often seen 240GB size.

The controller and NAND are again paired with a nice portion of DDR3 cache memory. How much depends on the drive capacity, but this 256GB version comes with 512MB DDR3 cache memory. That’s a very solid base to built upon.

By itself, the Plextor M7v is rated for a sequential performance up to 560MB/s reading and 530MB/s writing. The random performance rating comes in at 98K IOPS reading and 84K IOPS writing. That in itself is pretty good and is highly attributed to the PlexNitro firmware. The exclusive PlexNitro firmware optimizes performance in SLC mode without taking up SSD space, which also is the reason why we have the full 256GB capacity in this drive. Instead of using a part of the TLC NAND as an SLC buffer, Plextor added 1.5GB PlexNitro cache per 128GB capacity – so for this drive it’s 3GB.

If this kind of performance still isn’t enough for you, then you’re in luck and do not need to worry. All Plextor drives support PlexTurbo and so does the M7V series. By using a part of your system memory as a cache drive, the PlexTurbo app can boost the performance over 10 times the normal. This doesn’t just speed up the performance of the drive, it also increases the lifespan. A lot of data is only written temporarily and since that is happening in your system memory, the drive is spared some writes. A win-win situation.

Plextor also includes the PlexVault and PlexCompressor apps. With PlexVault, you can create private spaces without a trace that can store sensitive or confidential files. The only requirement is that you use a Plextor drive. Plextor’s PlexCompressor utilizes custom and smart compression technologies that give the user more storage capacity without impacting user experience and system performance.

Besides the normal SSD features such as NCQ, SMART, and Trim, the M7V also comes with a 128-bit Error Correction Code feature, as mentioned earlier, and Robust Data Hold-out Algorithm are used to ensure data is stored and retrieved without error

Plextor tests its drives very carefully and that includes 48hour sustained read/write tests, 4000 cycles between idle and standby modes, 250 power cycles and 42 days Zero-Error Testing. In return, we get a drive that’s rated with an MTBF of 1.5 million hours, a total bytes written rating of 160TB, and it is backed by a 3-year warranty.

Feature Highlights

  • Durable TLC SSD
  • Equipped with PlexNitro, the performance optimizing buffering technology
  • Uses the latest LDPC technology to guarantee data accuracy
  • Random read/write up to 98K/84K IOPS
  • Supports PlexTurbo, PlexCompressor, and PlexVault
  • Available in 128, 256, and 512 GB capacities
  • TBW up to 80 TB, 160 TB, and 320 TB

Specifications

Packaging and Accessories

The Plextor M7V M.2 module comes in a simple blister package that looks the same as you might be used to from memory modules.

The front has a sticker with all the relevant information from capacity and firmware to manufacturing date and power usage.

Inside the package is the drive itself as well as a screw to mount it, in case your motherboard or adapter didn’t come with one or you simply lost it. Those things happen.

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Bohs Hansen

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