Lately, we’ve had a look at a lot of NVMe drives and while they’re awesome, they aren’t for everybody. Plextor‘s S3C is a classic SATA3 2.5-inch drive which makes it highly compatible with almost any system. It is also a more budget-oriented choice, allowing you to get away with a cheaper price or end up with more storage capacity.
Plextor’s S3 series is classic and especially the S3C series which I’m taking a look at today. The drive is a classic 2.5-inch form factor with a 7mm height. That along with the SATA3 interface makes it compatible with almost any system. In many cases, it will even be plug-and-play thanks to easy installation and external drive bays.
The silver casing gives it a sleek appeal which matches most setups, no matter your system’s colour combination. The Plextor logo in one of the corners breaks the monotony a little.
The S3 series has both M.2 and 2.5-inch form factor drives, so you aren’t limited in the event that your ultrabook or netbook only supports M.2 SATA drives. However, we’ll take a closer look at the M.2 version another day. The 2.5-inch model comes in three capacity options: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. There is a slight performance difference between the options with the 512GB performing the best.
With a SATA3 drive, we have some natural limitations such as the 6Gbps interface. That doesn’t mean that we should forget about it, it’s still a great choice. The 256GB model of the Plextor S3C offers up to 550MB/s when reading and up to 510MB/s when writing. The random performance is rated at 90K IOPS reading and 71K IOPS writing.
The performance somewhat depends on the capacity of the drive. The smaller 128GB version is rated at 550MB/s reading and 500MB/s writing. The random performance is rated at 72K and 57K IOPS reading and writing. The largest 512GB model is also the one with the best performance. Here we get up to 550MB/s read and 520MB/s write performance. The random read performance goes up to 92K while the write performance goes up to 79K IOPS.
All of these SSDs look the same, but they aren’t all the same on the insides. Within the Plextor s3C, we find a Silicon Motion (SMI) SM2254 controller and SK Hynix 14nm TLC NAND. The smallest 128GB version features 256MB DDR3 cache while the two larger versions have 512MB DDR3 cache. While the amount of cache is the same as the previous S2 series, the rest of the S3 is different. We get a different controller as well as advancements in NAND fabrication.
Feature-wise, you’ll find everything you need from basics such as Trim, S.M.A.R.T., and NCQ. The S3 series also features LDPC error correction technology for data accuracy and drive reliability.
One of the obvious advantages of Plextor drives over many competitors is the full availability of capacity. You get the full 128GB instead of 120, 256GB instead of 240GB, and 512GB instead of 480GB. Effectively, that means more capacity for same-priced items that do use over-provisioning.
Plextor rates the S3 endurance with 50TB per 128GB capacity. That means the 256GB model I’m testing today has a 100TB TBW rating. The MTBF is rated at 1.5 million hours while Plextor backs the drive with a 3-year warranty.
PlexNitro is the caching technology that is responsible for you getting the full NAND capacity. It is developed especially for TLC SSDs to improve both read and write speeds.
PlexVault is a piece of bonus software, allowing the creation of secured and protected storage space. It creates an encrypted portion, allowing you to keep your private files private. This is particularly useful if you share the system with others and don’t want them snooping through your personal files.
Plexcompressor is another piece of software you get along with this drive. It utilises a custom smart-compression technology to offer more storage capacity with minimal performance impact.
The last piece of software is the PlexTurbo. By using part of your system memory as cache, you’re able to boost the performance to impressive levels. There is a bonus effect to this, being a longer lifetime of your SSD. By using the cache to write to first, the drive has to perform fewer write operations. Write operations are what degrade NAND storage, making the advantage clear. Less writes to your drive, such as temporary data, means more endurance.
Plextor delivers the S3 in a standard SSD box. The front has a bold S3 logo as well as some drive details. At the bottom, we also get a list of the special Plextor features.
There are more details on the back as well as a list of other available capacity models.
Inside is a quick installation guide and the drive itself.
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