SanDisk Extreme II 480GB, Plextor M5 Pro Extreme 256GB and 512GB

3/21/2014 1:41:00 AM

How does Marvell’s 088SS9187 controller fare?

Marvell’s name is seen in all the SanDisk and Plextor drives on this page. SanDisk’s Extreme II moves from a SandForce controller to the Marvell 88SS9187, although it’s been given a boost with SanDisk’s own firmware.

The SanDisk drive’s 19nm MLC NAND chips also have a twist up their sleeves. Around 14 per cent of each chip operates in a simulated SLC mode, which SanDisk calls nCache. It’s designed to work as a write buffer to improve small file performance, and it’s doubled in size since its introduction in the SanDisk Ultra Plus too. It’s all packaged inside a good-looking 7mm enclosure, and the five-year warranty is generous too.

Plextor’s M5 Pro Extreme SSDs were the first drives to make use of the Marvell chip, back in 2012, but the firm has now countered the older controller by loading its 256GB and 512GB models with Toshiba 19nm Toggle Mode NAND. That sounds potentially potent, and both drives look good too, with bright metal enclosures and 7mm form factors. Like the SanDisk drive, a five-year warranty is included too.

Plextor M5 Pro Extreme

The SanDisk Extreme II only slipped from mid-table in our AS SSD results in a single test, and in the sequential read benchmark, it was only 4MB/sec behind the chart-topping Samsung 840 Pro. The SanDisk’s CrystalDiskMark results were similarly midtable in most tests, and its sequential read result was, again, impressive – only the two Samsung Pro drives were quicker. However, nCache doesn’t seem to do much; the Extreme II remained mid-table in most of our small file write benchmarks. In our real-world tests, the Extreme II remained resolutely mid-table too. In PCMark’s pair of tests, it was beaten by a host of Samsung and Toshiba drives, and its 11.99- second boot time was half a second behind the fastest drive.

Sandisk Extreme II 480GB $517.13 inc VAT

Meanwhile, Plextor’s Marvell-based drives returned mixed performance in AS SSD. The two drives hit the top five when reading sequential files, outpacing strong competition from Samsung and Toshiba, and the 256GB version excelled in the 64-queue-depth random read test, with a second-best pace of 368MB/sec. They languished when tasked with 4KB random writes, though, and did little to stand out elsewhere.

Plextor M5 Pro Extreme 256GB $267.71 inc VAT/ 512GB $530.43


The 4KB random write performance remained uncompetitive in CrystalDiskMark but, in the rest of these tests, the two M5 Pros didn’t stray from the mid-field. The 256GB M5 Pro was also the third-fastest booting SSD on test, and its 11.55-second start time easily bested the 512GB model’s 12.47-second result. The M5 Pros were some of the best performers in PCMark 7’s application boot test too, but headed back to the mid-table in PCMark’s gaming benchmark.


Plextor’s M5 Pro drives are among the quickest and most consistent drives on test, but they’re hampered by poor pricing: the 256GB and 512GB models cost 68p and 67p per gigabyte. The SanDisk was similarly afflicted – its 70p-pergigabyte price is one of the highest on test. Even with NAND tweaks, the aging Marvell 88SS9187 controller can’t compete with Samsung’s latest tech.


All these Marvell-controlled drives are rapid performers, but they’re expensive too.

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