Model: Plextor PX-256M5P 256GB Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: Plextor
Provided By: Plextor LLC

As one of the biggest names in the storage industry, Plextor doesn't need much of an introduction. For more than a decade, they've produced some of the best optical drives the industry has seen. Known the world over for their quality, performance, and features, these drives have become favorites among consumers and professionals alike. Today, Plextor continues to lead the way by bringing cutting edge storage technologies to market. Along with a vast assortment of high-performance DVD and Blu-ray drives, the company offers NAS devices, external hard drives and a growing number of solid state drives.

Like many other manufacturers, Plextor has set its sights on the growing solid-state drive (SSD) market. This fall, the company launched its  M5 Pro Series SSD. With its Marvell 88SS9187 "Monet" controller, Toshiba 19nm Toggle Mode NAND and enterprise-class features, the M5 Pro was an excellent alternative to the myriad of "SandForce Driven" SSDs on the market. Since then though, we've seen the launch of the Samsung SSD 840 Pro and OCZ Vector, which offer equal, if not superior, performance in a number of areas.

Instead of accepting defeat, Plextor asked their firmware team to push the M5 Pro’s performance even higher. The result was the recently released Xtreme firmware. This update transforms the current M5 Pro into the M5 Pro Xtreme, which Plextor claims is the first truly professional SSD capable of delivering up to 100,000 random read IOPS. The Xtreme firmware also increases the M5 Pro's maximum random write performance up to 88,000 IOPS and boosts its sequential write speed up to 470MB/s.

Plextor M5 Pro Specifications with Xtreme 1.02 Firmware
Model PX-128M5P PX-256M5P PX-512M5P
Capacity 128GB 256GB 512GB
Sequential Read 540MB/s 540MB/s 540MB/s
Sequential Write 340MB/s -> 330MB/s 450MB/s -> 460MB/s 450MB/s -> 470MB/s
4K Random Read 91K IOPS -> 92K IOPS 94K IOPS -> 100K IOPS 94K IOPS -> 100K IOPS
4KB Random Write 82K IOPS 86K IOPS 86K IOPS -> 88K IOPS

As you can see, the improvements offered by the Xtreme firmware don't apply equally to all models. The PX-512M5P gets the biggest increases in performance with the PX-256M5P seeing some, but not all, of those improvements. The PX-128M5P is the odd man out here as it sees a 10 MB/s reduction in its sequential write speed and gets an increase of only 1,000 random read IOPS in return. Not exactly a fair trade if you ask me.

To give you an idea of what to expect from Plextor's new Xtreme firmware, we updated one of our PX-256M5P's and ran it through a series of tests to see how well it performs. Is this update really "extreme" or is it just a bunch of hype? Read on to find out.

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