The Great High-end SSD Shootout

Plextor M5 Pro, SanDisk Extreme, Strontium Hawk & Transcend SSD720

Plextor M5 Pro

Controller: Marvell 88SS9187
Memory type: Toggle-Mode MLC NAND (Toshiba)

Japanese firm Plextor is generally well regarded amongst enthusiasts for churning out some of the best Marvell-driven SSDs. The Plextor M5 Pro is the company’s latest flagship and it uses Marvell latest 88SS9187 controller. The M5 Pro has since undergone numerous firmware upgrades since we reviewed it in the second half of last year, and Plextor claims that the latest firmware revision now allows the drive to reach up to 100,000 IOPs. The drive comes packaged with 3.5-inch HDD bay adapter, but no SATA data nor power cables.

The Plextor M5 Pro is almost Zen-like in design, featuring a shiny aluminum cover with the company logo emblazoned proudly in the corner. The drive comes in a 7mm form factor.

Apart from the Crucial M4, the Plextor M5 Pro is the other drive in this shootout to use the new Marvell 88SS9187 controller.


SanDisk Extreme

Controller: LSI SandForce SF-2281
Memory type: Toggle-Mode NAND (SanDisk)

SanDisk is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of flash-memory products and have recently made headways into making SSDs too. The Extreme series is the company’s flagship drive and it uses the tried-and-tested SandForce SF-2281 controller and is paired with Toggle-Mode NAND. The SanDisk Extreme comes as it is with no additional accessories - not even a 3.5-inch HDD bay adapter.

The SanDisk Extreme SSD has a simple design and comes in a 9.5mm thick case.


Strontium Hawk

Controller: LSI SandForce SF-2281
Memory type: Synchronous MLC NAND (Hynix)

Underneath the Strontium stickers and Hawk branding is in fact SK Hynix’s very first foray into the SSD market. For those unfamiliar with the name, SK Hynix is the world’s second largest memory chip maker (behind Samsung). These Hynix drives, rebranded as Strontium Hawks, utilize the SandForce SF-2281 controller and is fitted with who else but Hynix’s own 26nm synchronous MLC NAND memory. The drive comes as it is with no additional accessories.

The Strontium Hawk comes in a striking bright white 7mm thick case.

Naturally, we found Hynix memory chips in the Strontium Hawk.


Transcend SSD720

Controller: LSI SandForce SF-2281
Memory type: Toggle-Mode MLC NAND (SanDisk)

When we reviewed the Transcend SSD720 in the middle of last year, we found it to be a very competent drive with excellent and consistent performance characteristics. The drive uses the familiar SandForce SF-2281 and pairs this with Toggle-Mode NAND memory from SanDisk for the best possible performance. The drive comes with a 3.5-inch HDD bay adapter.

The Transcend SSD720 comes in an Ultrabook-friendly 7mm case.

The Transcend SSD720 uses toggle mode MLC NAND chips from SanDisk.

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