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Plextor S3C (256GB)

PCI Express NVMe drives competence be scooping adult all a excellence in a SSD marketplace these days, yet simple SSD upgrades that contrition your tough expostulate on speed are still a lion’s share of what sells. With that in mind, Plextor is going after a vast slice—entry-level SSDs—with a latest family of drives, a S3 series.

Plextor positively has a fingers in a rarified enthusiast/performance market, too; see, for example, our examination of a Plextor M8SeY (512GB)See a picks for a best M.2 solid-state drives. We reviewed a previous-generation M.2 chronicle of this line in a form of a Plextor S2G (PX-256S2G)See a SSD terminology explainer for some-more on NAND peep types.) Also, a drives in both families are accessible only in reduce capacities. The 2.5-inch S3C is offering in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models, while a M.2-based S3G comes in usually 128GB and 256GB flavors.

Plextor S3C (Box and Drive)

Both drives are SATA 3 drives, so for a S3C it has a limit opening rating that’s mostly customary for a midroad SATA upgrade: 550MB per second for consecutive reads, and 520MB per second for consecutive writes. The ratings for pointless read/write opening are about what you’d expect, during 92,000 IOPS for reads and 79,000 IOPS for writes.

Overall, these are customary opening projections for a TLC-based SSD, so we wouldn’t design too many surprises from this drive, as it’s designed utterly as an ascent for folks looking to step adult from a spinning tough drive. Let’s take a closer look.



Design Features

The S3C representation we’re examining comes in a grand china 2.5-inch bombard with a 7mm Z-height, so it can be popped into any laptop or desktop with a suitable bay. It uses Hynix 14nm TLC NAND peep modules. This form of memory is used in value-minded drives, as it allows for one some-more bit of information per dungeon compared to a former mainstream-standard flash-module type, multi-level-cell (MLC). In short, a TLC proceed allows a association to get some-more storage ability out of a silicon contra MLC. This lowers production costs, and eventually creates a drives reduction expensive.

Generally speaking, of late, TLC NAND has turn SSD makers’ adored form of memory for mainstream/consumer SSDs. It’s quick adequate for many applications, and it is unequivocally affordable in a relations sense. In a box of a S3 array (whether in a S3C or a S3G form), Plextor creates use of a Silicon Motion controller to run a show. (Specifically, it’s a Silicon Motion/SMI SM2254.)

Plextor S3C (Angle View)

To help—in theory—to boost opening a bit, Plextor has enclosed some engaging technologies that we’ll inspect during one during a time. First adult is a caching record called “PlexNitro.” It is baked into a drive’s firmware, so there’s no need to capacitate it manually or implement software. Technologies like PlexNitro are a common underline of TLC drives, in that a controller automatically treats an new apportionment of a expostulate as a pseudo-“SLC” cache for write operations. (SLC, or single-layer-cell, is a reward form of memory that stores one bit per dungeon and so accrues opening advantages from that.) Using such a cache can assistance cover adult TLC’s inherited problems with write operations.

Next adult is PlexTurbo, that is identical to a long-running “Rapid Mode” upheld by Samsung drives. It allows we to use adult to 16GB of complement RAM for caching files and focus data. This kind of record can uncover ostentatious improvements in grave benchmarks, yet a detectable real-world outcome is slight. Still, we like it, and it’s not a bad thing, so prolonged as you’re not regulating mission-critical information and would be put out by losing information parked in RAM cache in a energy failure. Then there’s PlexCompressor, that takes files that haven’t been accessed in a final 30 days and crunches them to save space on a drive. This is a behind-the-scenes process. If we try to entrance these dense files, a application unzips them transparently, and voila, your files are ready.

Finally, a expostulate supports a underline called PlexVault. It gives we a ability to emanate a secure, encrypted assign on a expostulate that’s dark when not mounted, identical to what we knowledge when regulating the iconic TrueCrypt. This is a useful underline if you’re storing supportive information on your SSD, yet we can also usually use TrueCrypt, as it’s still free. That said, technically TrueCrypt has been decommissioned, and a developer doesn’t suggest regulating it. Still, for infrequent lockdowns of personal data, possibly resolution will do nicely. The S3C also supports Plextor’s PlexTool upkeep software, that we’ve lonesome previously in a examination of a Plextor M6e Black Edition PCI Express SSD.

Another engaging underline of a S3C is that, in a 256GB chronicle we tested, as good as a others in a line, it offers a full ability of a granted peep for your storage functions right out of a box. No peep is set aside for upkeep or “overprovisioning,” in that a apportionment of a NANDs are set aside for activation during after times when others “wear” out. It’s a reason given some drives during a given ability indicate tumble a little short; drives we competence design to be, for example, 256GB, mostly ring adult during usually 250GB or 240GB. The additional ability is there, yet we can’t entrance it, given it’s indifferent by a drive’s controller when it needs to pierce information around for maintenance.

The advantage of Plextor’s proceed is that we get some-more effective gigabytes for your dollar. SSDs yet overprovisioning are a difference rather than a rule, so this is a benefit, yet if we overdrive a SSD with writes tough and mostly for a projected lifespan, there competence be a consequence.

Plextor S3C (Top Down)

The S3 array includes a three-year guaranty and has decent altogether continuation ratings: 35TB of writes in a 128GB-capacity version, and 70TB for a 256GB and 512GB ones. These aren’t extravagantly high continuation numbers, yet even a energy user wouldn’t be means to strike those numbers in 3 years (much reduction 10 years), so they are some-more than adequate.

The one transparent thing we didn’t see with a S3C: drive-cloning software. Our usually theory is that given this is a budget-priced drive, Plextor is perplexing to make a package as affordable as probable and leave some illumination between it and some-more reward drives. Indeed, there’s zero in a box with a expostulate detached from a guaranty leaflet, not even a common cosmetic 7mm-to-9.5mm spacer…

Plextor S3C (Box Contents)

All of a module comes as downloads from a Plextor support site. As for a pricing on a S3 series, this was a list-price lineup as we wrote this in Aug 2017, opposite a Plextor S3 line…

   

  

Overall, this is rival pricing for a exam drive, as it undercuts a chimpanzee among budget/midrange SATA SSDs, the Samsung SSD 850 EVOCrucial MX300, that has a 275GB indication that was going for a $99 travel cost when we wrote this in Aug 2017. That indication is one of a favorites among bill SATA SSDs of late.



Performance Testing

Before we get started here, if you’re new to a universe of solid-state drives, a few things are value observant when it comes to performance.

For starters: If you’re upgrading from a customary spinning tough drive, any complicated SSD will be a outrageous improvement, speeding adult foot times and creation programs launch faster. Most of today’s 2.5-inch SSDs make use of a specific interface, SATA 3.0 (also called “6Gbps SATA”), to grasp limit speed contra older, yet still extant, SATA 2 ports, that tip out during 300MB per second. We exam all a SATA SSDs on a SATA 3.0-equipped test-bed PC to uncover their full opening abilities. To get a many speed probable from complicated drives, you’ll need a complement with SATA 3.0 capability, as well.

If your complement is formed on roughly any new Intel chipset (or one of a newer AMD chipsets), it has this interface. Be certain before buying, though. If your complement is well-aged and doesn’t have SATA 3.0 support, there’s little indicate in profitable a reward for a expostulate with a limit probable performance. SATA 3.0-capable drives will work usually excellent with previous-generation SATA ports, and there’s meagre reason to compensate additional for expostulate speed that your complement can’t take advantage of. Any simple stream SSD will work usually as well, in that SATA 3.0-less scenario.


AS-SSD (Sequential Read Write Speeds)

This exam uses a AS-SSD benchmark utility, that (as a name suggests) is designed to exam SSDs, as against to normal spinning tough drives. The consecutive tests magnitude a drive’s ability to review and write vast files. Drive makers mostly quote these speeds, as a fanciful maximum, on a wrapping or in advertising.

Sequential speeds are critical if you’re operative with unequivocally vast files for picture or video editing, or we play lots of games with vast levels that take a prolonged time to bucket with normal tough drives. We secure-erase all SSDs before regulating this test.

Plextor S3C (AS-SSD Sequential Reads)

Though Plextor lists this expostulate as being means of 550MB-per-second send rates, it was usually means to pattern 514MB per second in this test, that is distinct as drives occasionally strech their comprehensive limit rate in this real-world benchmark. As we can see above, it’s right in a mix, generally deliberation it is a value-oriented drive. In fact, it was usually a few megabytes per second behind a high-dollar Samsung SSD 850 Pro, so it’s adult there with one of a fastest SATA drives available. So far, so good.

Plextor S3C (AS-SSD Sequential Writes)

The Plextor S3C also hung tough in this benchmark, not distant off a gait of a fastest SATA-based drives we’ve tested of late. If we demeanour during a chart, we can see a fastest SATA opening we’ve seen of late is 500MB per second on this test, so a Plextor S3C isn’t too distant off a mark. Solid, yet again, many of today’s SATA SSDs broach identical performance. So we’ll call this display “good,” yet a list stakes to contest in 2017. Onward…


AS-SSD (4K Read Write Speeds)

This test, also a partial of a SSD-centric AS-SSD benchmark, measures a drive’s ability to trade little files. Often overlooked, 4K performance, utterly 4K write performance, is critical when it comes to foot speed and module launch times.

When booting adult and rising programs, many little files get accessed and edited frequently. The faster your expostulate can write and review these kinds of files (especially energetic couple library, or DLL, files in Windows), a faster your OS will “feel.” Since little files like these get accessed many some-more frequently than vast media or game-level files, a drive’s opening on this exam will have a larger impact on how quick a expostulate feels in bland use.

Plextor S3C (AS-SSD 4K Reads)

The Plextor S3C didn’t perform as good on this pointless review exam as it did in a consecutive test, where it was unequivocally in a hunt. A lot of factors go into a drive’s pointless read/write performance, so it’s formidable to spike down given a Plextor placed as it did, as it could be a flash, a controller, or some multiple of a two. Suffice to say, it was behind many of this rival SATA set with a opening of usually 24MB per second. To be satisfactory to Plextor, however, a Editors’ Choice Crucial MX300 was usually as quick (it had strengths in other areas), so this outcome in and of itself doesn’t make a S3C a bad drive. Still, we’ll be extraordinary to see how it fares in a rest of a tests.

Plextor S3C (AS-SSD 4K Writes)

It looks like a Plextor S3C struggled a bit in this exam as well, as pointless small-file writes are generally a many punishing charge a consumer SSD will endure. Still, we’re astounded to see it finish adult so distant down a roster, in a difficulty by itself. Most drives are somewhere in a 90MB-per-sec operation or so, that means a Plextor S3C has some throwing adult to do.


Anvil’s Storage Utilities

Like AS-SSD, Anvil is an SSD-specific set of drive-benchmarking tests. We’ll news here a Overall Score, that is subsequent from Anvil’s Read and Write scores with a application regulating during default settings (that is, with 100 percent incompressible data). Again, a expostulate was secure-erased before a exam was run.

Plextor S3C (Anvil)

On a one hand, saying a Plextor S3C land in a reduce plot of this benchmark draft isn’t too vast of a surprise, given it’s a value drive. It’s also right subsequent to other obvious entry-level SSDs such as a ho-hum Crucial BX200Toshiba OCZ TL100. So, in a way, a opening is as expected.

On a other hand, a prior drives we mentioned came out good before a S3C. It would have been good if a newer record in a Plextor S3C helped it overtake older-generation drives notwithstanding carrying identical specifications. Instead, it flattering many fell into a approaching opening bucket.


Crystal DiskMark (QD32 Testing)

Crystal DiskMark uses incompressible information for testing, that stresses many complicated SSDs utterly a bit given they rest on information application to grasp their limit turn of performance. This sold subtest is designed to replicate a duties of an SSD located inside a Web server, as it’s asked to perform a smattering of little reads, 4K in size. While it’s reading these files, a reserve of 32 superb requests is lined adult (a “queue depth” 32 requests deep). That’s customary of a high-volume Web server, that has to perform requests entrance in during a same time from several clients.

Plextor S3C (Crystal DM 4K Read QD32)

If we looked during this benchmark draft and started during a bottom looking for a Plextor drive, we don’t censure you; again, not a warn given how it achieved in a final few tests. Now, this exam is designed to retaliate an SSD to a limit border possible, and in a approach no reasonable user would muster a S3C. But copiousness of consumer-grade SATA drives achieved during a many aloft level, notwithstanding regulating a same interface and in some cases a identical form of core peep memory. The Samsung SSD 850 EVO, for example, was twice as quick as a Plextor S3C on this test.

On to a write scoring of this test…

Plextor S3C (Crystal DM 4K Writes QD32)

Another predicted placing; a S3C’s measure of 227.2MB per second puts it solidly in a reduce apportionment here, as many SATA drives we’ve tested finished this exam somewhere in a 300MB-per-second range. Given a opening in a review apportionment of this test, though, this outcome isn’t terribly surprising.


PCMark 7 Secondary Storage Test

Our final exam is a PCMark 7 Secondary Storage Test. This holistic hearing simulates bland expostulate accesses in a Windows environment.

Plextor S3C (PCMark 7)

Despite a muted opening in several of a benchmarks, a S3C managed a plain mid-pack chain in this system-wide benchmark. It’s smack-dab in a center of all a other drives, tied with a shining Crucial MX300. It’s still 200 points divided from a king, a Samsung SSD 850 EVO. Still, this is a plain display for a value expostulate such as a S3C, yet there unequivocally isn’t a lot of illumination between a drives in a center of this pack; many are within a domain of blunder of one another.



Conclusion

Overall, a Plextor S3C is a solid-enough simple upgrade, and a protected collect if a pricing is right. But it’s a bit underwhelming in a larger-picture clarity due to a intermediate performance. It’s also tough to get vehement about an entry-level SSD that’s offering only in little capacities, yet if that’s all we need (and many folks need usually these sizes), that’s fine; Plextor need not urge a mainstream capacities it comes in.

The thing is, these days flattering many any mainstream-maker SATA SSD (and copiousness of SSDs from lesser-known ones) “feels” a same to a finish user, so consumers can’t be blamed for selling formed on code recognition, guaranty coverage, and pricing instead of all-out performance. So we’ve seen a competition to a bottom in terms of pricing during a given ability and NAND type, and a S3 array is both a effect and a transparent painting of that. In short: It’s affordable in a relations sense, it’s good adequate for many people, and it covers all a basis an SSD needs to cover.

Plextor S3C (Box)

Now, mind you, it’s not sparkling or sexy, yet Plextor and a Lite-On code are no newbies to this business: They are timeless and reputable, and notwithstanding this drive’s low price, it does offer some engaging record in a forms of PlexCompressor and PlexTurbo. On a flip side, yet we like a fact that it comes with a decent upkeep utility, a miss of cloning module is a demerit. We know that many people will do a purify implement of their OS, anyway, as that’s always better, yet we’d during slightest like to have a option in a box, yet scrounging for freeware or a third-party utility.

As it stands, a S3C is a decent entry-level SSD that caters to folks who usually wish a basic, affordable SSD for their laptop or desktop. For workaday upgrades, it’s usually fine, if not ground-breaking or advancing a product difficulty in any suggestive way. If perfect opening matters and we have a bill flex, though, we’d still go with a Samsung SSD 850 EVO, given it costs usually $10 some-more during this ability point. Performance, in a tests, with that expostulate was clearly a step above, and it comes with a longer warranty. 

Plextor S3C (Rear)

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