You know that joke about the new Indilinx SSD controller? The one that turned out not being an Indilinx controller? Shortly after the OCZ Vertex 4 SSDs were introduced, it became known that the new Indilinx Everest 2 controller was in fact a new generation Marvell controller, for which Indilinx had developed its own firmware and OCZ temporarily had the exclusive rights for. This didn't lead us to change our conclusion of the Vertex 4, as it didn't affect the performance and for many people it was actually a positive development because Marvell is known for its quality and reliability. It did make something else clear, that it was only a matter of time before a new Marvell SSD controller would appear for the other manufacturers.
And that moment is now. Plextor sent us a sample of their new M5 Pro SSD. This SSD is equipped with the new Marvell 88SS9187 controller, successor to the 88SS9174 which you can find in dozens of SSDs. In addition to the new controller, the flash memory is also new. The M5 Pro has flash chips made with 19 nm transistors manufactured by Toshiba. The 128 GB version of the SSD has 256 MB cache, the 256 GB model has 512 MB and the 512 GB model has 768 MB cache. That Plextor named the successor to the M3 Pro the M5 Pro is interesting, perhaps it has something to do with one of its competitor's popular m4 SSD.
As usual, Marvell is not very forthcoming with the specifics about the hardware of the new controller. The 88SS9187 is of course compatible with Serial ATA 600 and supports TRIM. Plextor makes some impressive claims, as the 256 GB and 512 GB versions of the M5 Pro should achieve up to 540 MB/s for reading and up to 450 MB/s for writing. The 128 GB model that we are testing is somewhat slower with 340 MB/s. Plextor includes its standard five year pick-up-and-return warranty, and the SSDs come with a 3.5-inch installation bracket and data migration software. The M5 Pro is 7 mm thick and will therefore fit in thin laptops.
Plextor is not known for adjusting its pricing scheme to increase its competitiveness. The M5 Pro 256 GB and M5 Pro 512 GB have a price-per-gigabyte of around £ 0.84. It's above average, but still better than we've seen previously with Plextor SSDs. The 128 GB model is expensive however, with a price of £1.01 per GB. It is potentially the fastest SSD currently around, and we're about to find out.