Plextor M9Pe NVMe SSD review: Far faster than SATA and almost as affordable

Continuing with the company's trend of stylish looks, this new NVMe SSD is also quite cheap for the genre.

Plextor continues to make hay in the enthusiast market with the stylish heat sinks on its NVMe drives. However its latest, the M9Pe, while stylish if you want it to be, is more about performance for the price—as low as 40 cents per gigabyte, which is very affordable for NVMe and lmost as cheap as Intel’s 760p, for which the M9Pe is a more-than-worthy competitor.

NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express. The non-volatile memory is NAND in most cases. Non-volatile means it retains its contents without external power, and 'Express' refers to the PCIe (the lowercase 'e' stands for express) bus that it uses to transfer data. Why do you want it? For write speeds up to six times faster than SATA.

Note: Your motherboard must support NVMe if you want to boot from an NVMe drive, though they will work as secondary storage on any system. Trust us, you want to boot from NVMe.

Design and models

The M9Pe ships in three capacities (256GB, 512GB, and 1TB) and three flavors. The M9PeG M.2 model with heat sync we tested can be had for $122, $221, and $427, respectively. The M9PeY on a PCIe slot adapter card costs $147, $246, and $452, respectively. Finally, the bare (no fancy heat sink) M9PeGN goes for only $110, $210, and $415, respectively. That latter is about $10 less at each capacity than the Intel 760p. All the M9Pe drives use a Marvell 88SS1093 controller and Toshiba 3-bit TLC, BiCS3 layered NAND.

m9peg 03 100746788 cropped Plextor

The M.2/NVMe M9PeG with heat sink that we tested proved a capable performer, and a better writer by far than Intel’s 760p.

We tested the 1TB version of the M9PeG shown above. While the 512GB version should perform almost on a par with the 1TB, you’ll see a significant drop-off in write performance with the 256GB version, because it has fewer channels to spread the writes across. This is not an uncommon phenomenon, though some drives do retain their speed in the lower capacities.

m9pey 04 Plextor

If you don’t have a M.2/NVMe slot, you can opt for the M9PeY, which comes on an adapter card with an attractive and heavy-duty heat sink thrown in for good measure.

The M9PeY shown above is not just for those who lack M.2 slots. It’s also meant to make a statement in gaming systems, with their always-popular transparent panels. We did not test a M9PeY, but based on the product literature and our experience with the M8Pe, there are lights that add to the appeal. 

Despite its relatively low price, the M9Pe is warrantied for a full five years and is rated for 160 TBW for every 256GB of capacity. 10TB is more than the average user will write in a year. If you're still using your M9Pe in 16 years, then Moore’s law will truly be dead and buried.

Performance

Based on the results from the AS SSD throughput test, the M9Pe (turquoise bars below) is a fast SSD, if not on a par with Samsung’s uber-fast 960 Pro (red bars below). Note that it doesn’t suffer as large of a drop-off as the Intel 760p does when it runs out of cache—it tables off at the 700MBps level, where the 760p drops to around 575MBps. You’ll probably see this mild drop-off (we’ve seen much, must worse) occur sooner in the less capacious models of both drives, as the amount of cache is almost universally implemented as a percentage of available NAND, not a set amount.

as ssd IDG

The M9Pe is no barn burner in AS SSD, but it's certainly better than its M8Se predecessor (not shown) which fell apart when the FUA command was issued.

The sequential write numbers below from CrystalDiskMark 5 are extremely optimistic. The M9Pe (red bars below) slows down during long writes, a behavior that CDM doesn’t even hint at.

cdm plextor m9pe IDG

Though hardly on par with the Samsung 960 Pro, the M9Pe will give you that boost in performance you're looking for.

You can see a visual representation below (thanks Microsoft!) of the slowdown that occurs as the cache tops out during a long copy operation. It’s annoying, but not stunningly so, as we’ve seen with some TLC (3-bit NAND) SATA drives. Copy operations of this length are rare for most users, so in day-to-day computing, it won’t affect your satisfaction with the M9Pe. 

plextor m9pe slowdown IDG

As you can see, write performance didn’t sustain at initial levels. Still, 700MBps is a pretty fair pace compared to SATA.

Our 20GB copy times confirmed the slowdown for the M9Pe (turquoise bars below), and also showed the competing Intel 760p (red bars) is far worse.

20gb copies plextor m9pe IDG

Yes, the M9Pe is a bit slower writing that other drives, but it's an absolute champ at writing compared to Intel's 760p.

Conclusion

The M9Pe isn’t the fastest NVMe SSD out there, but it’s certainly a match for the Intel 760p, and it's superior when writing large files. The M9Pe is also one of the most attractive when a heat sink is in play, and super-affordable compared to anything but the aforementioned 760p.

We do, however, recommend that you to go for at least the 512GB model for top performance, if you can afford it.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon L. Jacobi

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?