For the Plextor M5M 128GB mSATA drive, the user ends up with 119GB that addressable for use. This is similar to the level of overprovisioning we see on SandForce drives after the conversion from GB (1GB byte = 1,000,000,000 bytes) as expressed in hardware storage to GiB (1Gib = 1,073,741,824 bytes) as expressed in virtual storage.
While we haven’t had a ton of mSATA drives come across our desk, the ones that have are pretty much the best you can buy right now. The M5M did an admirable job on all of our tests with performance numbers that were tops in the charts in many instances which was frankly a bit of a surprise given the competition. We saw the specifications of 540MB/s reads and 320MB/s writes for this capacity drive attained in a number of instances and true to our experience with this very capable Marvell 88SS9187 controller.
Plextor has quite a lot of product information on their site and one very interesting piece that we generally don’t see touted by manufacturers is the rigorous testing process they put their drives through which is claimed to be one of the toughest in the industry. They pounded 400 drives with over 500 hours of testing to simulate extreme operating environments in a effort to expose any weaknesses in hardware or software. In addition, they also endured 250 power cycle–cold and warm boot tests and 4000 idle test–sleep and hibernation tests. The latter is important with the new Intel Haswell chips support low power states. Through these exercises they’ve rated their drives to have a 2.4M hour MTBF. The also tout their True Protect technology which ensures data integrity using a128-bit error correction code. Given that the smaller architecture NAND generates more errors, this is a critical piece.
Pricing is right in line with what we’d expect with the 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB drives sporting prices of $74.99, $114.99, and $199.99. That makes the cost per usable GB for the 128GB drive we tested just over $1.00. There aren’t a ton of mSATA drives on the market yet but as more emerge and more and more notebook and Ultrabook computers leverage this small form factor, we’ll see prices drop. Currently, these are limited to 256GB due to the scarce real estate on the PCB and only the 8GB die NAND packages available but the cost of 512GB drives will be out of reach for most anyway.
Legit Bottom Line: Plextor has a pretty impressive line of mSATA drives with their M5M line that is very competitive with other drives on the market today.