Harddrives ain’t the most glamorous of components; no matter how large or fast they get. SSD harddrives have injected a bit of glamour into the market by dramatically increasing performance, but they’re usually dismissed as toys of rich gamin’ playboys. Then one – the Plextor PX256M2S – landed on our desks and we changed our minds; it was wonderful.
Using flash memory – i.e. the kind found in SD cards – Solid State Drives are much faster, smaller, lighter and less power-hungry than their old-school counterparts.
The Plextor is the same size as a standard 2.5″ drive, but weighs a meek 72g – nearly half the weight of a standard 2.5” HDD. It’s also pretty aesthetically pleasing, all smooth and silvery.
Aesthetics aside, the performance speaks for itself, with write speeds of 480MBps and read speeds of around 330MBps.
To achieve that intense throughput the drive uses the latest generation of SATA interface – the 6Gbps, SATA3 kind. That means your motherboard has to support SATA3 to get the full benefits – SATA2 may provide a bottleneck to the breakneck speed of the Plextor.
Of course, if you’re spending around £250 on a hard drive, shopping around for a slightly better motherboard is worth the effort.
Beneath the 256GB model, there are 64GB and 128B versions offering “up to 370MBps” for writing and up to 110MBps for reading.
Whatever the incarnation, however, the drives are fast. A straight-up clone of our 210GB Windows 7 installation onto the drive took 45 seconds to boot the first time – down from 77 on our old 5200RPM harddrive.
After a couple of boot-ups to perfect the file-cacheing, the Plextor fell down to just above 30 seconds – considering 7-10 seconds of that was BIOS time, that’s lightning.
The included software (Acronis TrueImage HD) allows you to easily transfer your existing Windows installation over to the Plextor, although some people have reported slight files errors. Of course, a clean install of Windows will always be the best option, and any problems will be the software – not the outstanding SDD.
While we love the fast boot times, it’ll also work well if you’re looking for a second drive for scratch disks (video or photo editing) or want to use Windows 7’s ReadyBoost feature. Ideally, get two.