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When it comes to DIY performance upgrades, the two biggest strides have been made in high performance graphics cards, and the mass market adoption of SSDs. While most high performance GPUs still only need a spare PCIe slot, and adequate power, for it to give you a generational boost in performance, SSDs, however, have changed with the recent unveiling of the Intel Z97 and X99 platforms, offering higher performance than before. The new M.2 SSDs, no bigger than a stick of gum, shame even the fastest 2.5 inch SATA units, and unfortunately, don't just "plug in" to older motherboards. That's why the Plextor M6e is such an interesting product to those of us, still hanging on to an "old skool" platform.

Features and Specifications

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The Plextor M6e is essentially, a PCIe Gen2 x2 card with an M.2 slot, and one of the company's M6e M.2 2280 SSDs pre-installed into it from the factory. This allows older systems to use the latest SSD technology, without having to completely replace an older system. We reviewed the bare M.2 2280 version recently, and came away very impressed with the performance for Intel's next generation platforms, and it was priced reasonably against the top end SATA SSDs. So we're eager to see how it does in our "old skool" Intel X58 platform, which will be the subject of our testing.

The adapter itself is a half height card, with a full height bracket attached. LEDs on the back indicate read write states, and the card physically fits into any PCIe Gen2 x2 and above slot, without the need for external power. This version of the M6e comes in three models: 128GB, 256GB (as tested), and 512GB.

Model PX-AG128M6e PX-AG256M6e PX-AG512M6e
Capacity 128GB 256GB 512GB
Buffer
DRAM Cache 256MB DDR3 512MB DDR3 1GB DDR3
Read/Write Speed (Under Windows NTFS)
Sequential Read Speed Up to 770 MB/s* Up to 770 MB/s* Up to 770 MB/s*
Sequential Write Speed Up to 335 MB/s* Up to 580 MB/s* Up to 625 MB/s*
Random Read Speed
(IOPS 4KB)
Up to 96,000* Up to 105,000* Up to 105,000*
Random Write Speed
(IOPS 4KB)
Up to 83,000* Up to 100,000* Up to 100,000*

In terms of performance specs, as indicated above, the adapter seems to provide no added overhead as the specs seem nearly identical to the M.2 2280 version. The PX-AG256Me, which we'll be testing today, is in the middle, in terms of sequential write speed, but all the products have the same top read speeds at 770MB/s, which far exceeds even the highest end SATA SSDs on the market.

The entire series offers a high level of system compatibility with support for all flavours of Windows 7 and up, including various distributions of Linux. TRIM, SMART, NCQ, including 256 bit AES encryption are all part of the list of features.

Plextor offers a full 5 year warranty on the M6e series. Pricing is $159.99 US for 128GB, $269.99 US for the 256GB, and $469.99 US for 512GB.

What's In The Box?

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The Plextor M6e doesn't come with much in the box. But it also isn't needed as the card is a complete plug and play solution, and should be recognized like any other SSD. You'll get basic instructions, including an invitation to their VIP Club.

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Most curious was the inclusion of a slot mounting screw. While most cases are tool free, the Plextor M6e could be potentially carrying  your OS or valuable data. So having it fixed with a screw, might not be a bad idea.

Let's throw the Plextor M6e in an "old skool" rig that we still rely on every day, and see what happens!

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  • Eye4Sli

    Thanks Stephen great info. Q: Can it run on a really old platforms, let's say p55 (LGA1156)? Or what's the oldest start point.. x58?

    Asus P7P55D, I5-750 @4Ghz , GTX 770 OC 4GB (Two PCI x8 Free).

    • Hi @disqus_pr8W7lDANs:disqus,

      We've personally tested down to a Z68 board and a workstation board with a C206 chipset. But I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work in your ASUS LGA1156 board. There's plenty slots and bandwidth, and the BIOS is "old skool" so it shouldn't throw any surprises. The new UEFI BIOS, in our experience, seem to give more grief to controller cards.

      Also, the other cool thing about this product is that, if you do end up with an upgrade down the road, just pull the M.2 SSD out of the socket, and you'll be able to install it directly onto any newer motherboard with that slot, like a Z97 or an X99.

      I think it'd be a pretty nice upgrade since the P7P55D. Especially since it does have the somewhat goofy Marvell SATA controller taking care of SATA3 support. It'll definitely be fast on your setup.

      Does that help you out? 🙂

      -Stephen

      • Eye4Sli

        Definitely helped. Wow, these are certainly exciting news for all owners of motherboards with SATA II only.

        Cheers & thanks for the fast reply.

  • Robert Osorio

    FYI: I installed this card on my Asus P7P55D LE which doesn't have SATA3 ports, so my Samsung 840 has been capped at around 250 MB/s according to CrystalDiskMark. With the Plextor M6e, I'm getting 622 MB/s! Nice upgrade for my old workstation.

    HOWEVER, let me warn you all of a potential pitfall I ran into. My mobo has two x16 slots (I have no x2 slots and the rest are x1 - this card need x2 or you get half the throughput). However if there's a video card plugged into the PRIMARY x16 slot (as there was) then the secondary slot on my mobo defaults to x1 mode. So when I ran my initial benchmarks, I got a very disappointing 350 MB/s. I had to read through the terrible English of my mobo manual to figure out what was wrong. I swapped the cards (put the Plextor in the primary slot, and the video in the secondary). This allowed the Plextor to run in x2, and the video card is running in x4 on the secondary, which is just fine as this is not my gaming system.

    SLo my take on this is that this is a nice SSD upgrade for an older system that doesn't have SATA3 ports - assuming you have a REAL x2 PCI-E slot (or better) available. Check your mobo documentation.

    • Hi Robert!

      Thanks for chiming in on your experience. It's always good to have some first hand experience on different boards/platforms that appear (on the surface) to be compatible. Really great info and thanks for sharing this.

      That particular series of boards, had various PCIe configurations if I recall. For example, the P7P55D Pro, supports x8 on each x16 slot, when both are populated. While your board will drop the second slot to x4. That's still weird that the second x16 slot won't give you at least x4 as per spec...

      1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (single at x16)
      1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (at x4 mode, 2.5GT/s)
      2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots (2.5GT/s)
      3 x PCI

      Out of curiosity, did you go one extra step, and try disabling the JMICRON SATA/PATA controller? It's just as thought since that would utilize resources while active. Wondering if it might not be playing nice.