Plextor PX-256M3 256GB SSD Review
Real world tests
It has become clear that simply conducting endless benchmarks on SSD drives is pointless. Real users may run a few benchmarks when they first fit their SSD drive, but most users just want a drive that performs well in the real world. They want their drive to work "out of the box" and work fast and smoothly.
Most of the latest SSD drives can deliver very fast sustained reading and writing speeds, but these alone tell you very little about how the drive will perform in the real world.
If you intend to use your SSD as your primary system drive, with an operating system and applications installed and running from the drive, real world performance becomes much more important than just fast sequential read and write speeds.
Real world copy tests
I will now conduct a few real world copy tests. These tests simulate what real people do with their drives. I will be conducting writing tests, using a large single file and a multiple file copy of various file sizes. Then I will round off the tests by copying a folder of MP3 audio files, and also a folder of JPG pictures.
I should point out that this is not a scientific way of measuring performance. These timings were taken with a stop watch; I have however ensured that the reading drive is well able to supply a data stream to our writing drive, which is high enough not to be slowing down the performance of the writing drive.
I will once again be comparing the obtained results with our comparison drives, and will present the results in the form of graphs.
These tests are to simulate a single drive in a PC or laptop. In other words, I will copy a series of files from the Crucial M4 256GB SSD to the tested drive.
Copy tests – 259 MP3 song files (1.36GB total)
The Plextor PX-256M3 is showing the same performance as the Crucial M4, and it can only be described as impressive.
Copy tests – 3,377 JPEG picture files (2.56GB total)
Once again the performance of the Plextor PX-256M3 SSD is impressive.
Windows start-up and closedown
For these tests, I simply used a stop watch and tested the amount of time taken for a full installation of Windows 7 to boot to the desktop, and then timed how long it took for Windows 7 to close down by the normal start menu method.
The timing was started once the BIOS had initialised and reached the “loading OS message”.
Windows 7 boot time
Windows 7 closedown
The differences in startup and shutdown times are very small, and you will probably not notice any difference in real life. Overall the Plextor PX-256M3 SSD is very close to its rivals.
Installing applications is possibly something you don’t do that often. But should you replace your system disk, then you will most likely have to re-install your applications. Most of the SSD drives I have tested up until now are quite slow at installing applications, most likely because their I/O performance was quite limited.
For these tests, we picked some popular applications and copied the entire contents of the CD or DVD media to an Crucial M4 256GB SSD. We did this to make sure that the reading speed of our CD/DVD reader would not hamper the performance of the target drive.
We then installed these applications onto our comparison HDD drives, which were all running mirror image installations of our Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit installation, and timed the amount of time taken to install the application with a stopwatch on each of the drives.
MS Office 2007 Enterprise edition (full install)
MS Office is one of those applications that make you cringe at the thought of re-installing it.
Now let’s see how the Plextor PX-256M3 SSD performs with the installation of MS Office 2007 Enterprise Edition.
The procedure followed was very simple, I copied all the files from the CD to the crucial M4 SSD and the Crucial M4 was used as a source drive for the installation of MS Office 2007
Speed degradation after heavy testing
On this page I will test how the SSD performs after heavy testing and usage.
I now have a new policy as to how I go about testing an SSD. In the past I would deliberately try and get an SSD into a “used state”, by filling the drive several times before starting the tests. This seemed to work quite well up until the SandForce based SSDs appeared, but because of the way the SandForce controller works, it was near impossible to tell if deliberately trying to get a SandForce based SSD into a “used state” had actually worked or not.
A new strategy was required. So now I begin the tests with the SSD in a clean state and allow it to look after itself during the testing period. I start off the tests by running AS SSD benchmark. This gives me the “as new” reading and writing performance of the SSD.
Once all the tests have been completed, the drive is then tested as a system drive, and just used normally for many days which will also includes idle time (which is something I have always done with a review sample). At the end of the period, the drive is filled to capacity and then all files are deleted from the drive and then a “quick format” is performed.
The last test is a rerun of AS SSD benchmark, and the result from the final test is compared with the first run when the SSD was in an “as new” state.
New state 10/03/2012
Used state 21/03/2012
After 21 days of use we can see that Plextor’s True Speed is doing a very good job at keeping the drives performance, the total score in AS SSD is even slightly higher at the end of our test. Overall you won’t notice any difference with daily use.
This concludes our review. To read the final thoughts and conclusion, click the link below….
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