Plextor M6e Black Edition PCI Express SSD Review, M.2 In The Slot
Introduction and Specifications
Last year, Plextor introduced its M6e family of solid state drives. The drives are / were offered in M.2 and PCI Express flavors, though technically the PCIe-based models were the same M.2 drives parked in a PCIe-to-M.2 adapter card. Regardless of the technicalities involved, the Plextor M6e’s specifications and performance were relatively strong, with peak read speeds topping the 770MB/s mark.
The original Plextor M6e, however, wasn’t much to look at. It featured a basic, green PCB and the M.2 SSD sat right in the middle for all to see. Plextor decided to kick things up a few notches with a new revision of the M6e, dubbed the Black Edition. The upcoming Plextor M6e Black Edition is similar to last year’s model in terms of its underlying technology, but it has been revamped with a new black and red aesthetic that may appeal to modders and gamers in the market for a high performance SSD, that also looks the part.
The M6e Black Edition’s specifications are virtually identical to its predecessor. It has the same Marvell 88SS9183 controller as the original, but the newer Black Edition is capable of up to 105K/100K IOPS for random read/write operations. That’s faster than the M6e, but Plextor says that both devices are capable of the same peak 770 MBs read and 625MBs write speeds in sequential mode (the 128GB model has somewhat lower write speeds). The M6e Black Edition also offers support for PlexTurbo 2.0, which we’ll talk about in a just a bit.
We’ve got the M6e Black Edition pictured with the original M6e to give you a better idea of how the design has been updated and changed. Underneath that big red heatsink and black shroud, the configuration of the M6e Black Edition is similar to the M6e—a Marvell based “gum-stick” M.2 SSD is installed in the PCIe Gen 2x2 card (the upcoming M7e will feature a PCIe x4 adapter, and offer higher peak bandwidth). Though the controller is the same on both M6e drives, the newer Black Edition it outfitted with updated Toshiba NAND. The Black Edition also has a supplemental SATA power connector, should you have a motherboard that doesn’t supply the necessary power through the PCIe slot.
The M6e Black Edition is about 7.1” long and 4.77” high, and only requires a single-slot, despite the relatively wide heatsink. The drive is bootable and Plextor offers a full 5-year warranty. Although the M6e Black Edition looks like some of the uber-expensive, enterprise-class PCIe solid state drives currently on the market, this drive is actually targeted at enthusiasts and gamers. As such, it commands somewhat of a premium over standard SATA drives, but at about $1 a GB (give or take a few cents depending on the mode), the M6e Black Edition isn’t astronomically expensive.
Plextor's PlexTools Software With PlexTurbo 2.0
The Plextor M6e Black Edition shines with large, sequential file transfers, but to kick things up even further, Plextor includes their PlexTools software with the drive, which offers a “Turbo” mode that leverages system memory as a data cache. The Plextools software can also be used for maintenance on the drive (firmware updates, secure erasing and the like). We’ve included a few benchmark scores with PlexTurbo enabled on the pages ahead. As you’ll see, it can have a dramatic impact in some tests, but is less impressive in others.