M.2 vs mSATA case study – Crucial M500 240GB & Plextor M6e 256GB
This article wasn’t a direct comparison between the two SSDs because they are not even in the same class or price range. I wanted to show you that even if a SSD has the latest and most greatest interface in the world doesn’t mean it’s ultra fast. Also I wanted to clarify some aspects about the M.2 standard and also test the influence of the Ultra M.2 technology from ASRock.
So, what did we learn from our study today? In the case of the Crucial M500 240GB we saw that it doesn’t matter what connector we use when the protocol stays the same, overall the drive is nice and has a good price / performance ratio. You can get the 480GB version for $265 and benefit for the extra storage and increased write speed to 400MB/s, pop into the M.2 slot and you get rid of all the ugly SATA 3 and SATA power cables.
The Plextor M6e really shinned when it was connected to the CPU PCI-E lanes and this is not something good because, at least for now, the ASRock Z97 Extreme6 is the only desktop motherboard with the Ultra M.2 slot. The M6e is in a difference performance class but also in a different price class as the 256GB version costs $220 and the 512GB you can get for $420 (both without the adapter). The price is slightly higher than most high-end SATA 3 SSDs but the performance you get is also much higher. Plextor M6e is the fastest bootable M.2 SSD that you can find in retail and that you can actually afford.
The M.2 standard is very well thought and can support further performance increase from the storage devices, while the SATA 3 cannot. Faster PCI-E 4x controllers for SSDs are already in the works and Intel will allocate PCI-E 3.0 4x lanes for M.2 in the upcoming chipsets. As expected, Intel Z97 chipset and motherboard are just a bridge between Z87 and future Skylake-ready chipsets. In the next generation we will see the real potential of the PCI-Express storage (M.2 & SATA Express), when Intel will also release Rapid Storage Technology (RST) over PCI-E.