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December 05, 2016

Plextor EX1 Portable SSD Review

By: Low Chern Lin



It's been quite a while since its first debut during Computex 2016 and the waiting game has come to its end, as we managed to get our hands on the actual unit of the Plextor EX1 portable SSD here at Tech Critter's lab - mega thanks to Plextor for the provision of the review unit!

As Plextor has yet to disclose its MSRP, let's have our focus on what kind of performance we can expect from the Plextor EX1 - so, read on!  


Specifications
Performance
Sequential Read Speed**
Up to 550
Sequential Write Speed**
Up to 500
Physical 
Capacity
128GB
Form Factor
Portable SSD
Interface
USB Type C compatible with USB 3.1(Gen 2, 10Gbps), 3.0, 2.0
Power Connector
USB Type C connector for DC 5V input
Data Connector
USB Type C connector
Dimension (L x W x H)
101.2 x 31.6 x 8.7 mm / 3.98 x 1.24 x 0.34 inch
Weight
30g / 1.06oz (Max.)
Color
Gold, Ti-Silver
Environment and Reliability
DC Requirement
DC 5V
MTBF
> 1,500,000 hours
Warranty
5-Year
Compatibility
Operating System Supported
Windows OS / Mac OS / Linux OS / Android OS
Agency Approval
C-Tick, FCC, CE, BSMI, VCCI, KCC, CB
Command Set Support
TRIM, S.M.A.R.T., NCQ, ATA/ATAPI-8
UASP Mode
Supported
Highline Features
Features
LDPC, PlexNitro
Package Contents
Document
Quick Installation Guide
Accessory
USB 3.1 Type C to Type A Cable, Flannel Bag

Unboxing

The Plextor EX1 ships in a simple but elegant box, with the picture of the actual product portrayed at the front of the box and its specifications listed at the back of the box.


The accessories that comes with the Plextor EX1 includes a carry pouch, USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable and a user's guide.


The Plextor EX1 comes in a very compact form factor of 101.2mm x 31.6mm x 8.7mm that can easily fit inside your pocket, capacity of 128GB and up to 512GB, and gold / titanium-silver color variant. 


The Plextor EX1 comes with a USB 3.1 Type-C reversible connector which boasts to take advantage of both the convenience and the high transfer rate of this interface.

Synthetic Benchmark
We've ran a series of commonly used synthetic benchmark software to see if the Plextor EX1 is capable of what's stated in its specs sheet. The test is conducted using both USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 connector so that we're able to identify the difference in performance between both interfaces.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
The most frequently used benchmarking utility by many manufacturers for performance specification. As ATTO Disk Benchmark uses compressible data rather than compressible data, it results in higher benchmark scores. We've run the benchmark with transfer size ranged from 0.5KB to 8192KB and a total length of the test to be 256MB.

(Left: USB 3.0, Right: USB 3.1)


AS SSD Benchmark
Widely used SSD benchmarking utility that uses incompressible data to simulate the worst possible scenario for an SSD and thus giving a much lower sequential read and write speed result than what has been stated by the manufacturer as a result of the heavy workload. 

(Left: USB 3.0, Right: USB 3.1)

CrystalDiskMark
Developed by a Japanese coder that goes by the nickname Hiyohiyo, CrystalDiskMark is one of the most frequent used SSD Benchmark utility to measure SSD's read and write performance. 

USB 3.0

USB 3.1 

Anvil's  Storage Utilities
By far the most complete SSD Benchmark utility available. The Anvil's Storage Utilities not only comes with the standard SSD Benchmark function, it also includes other functions such as endurance testing and threaded I/O read, write and mixed tests and option to configure the compressibility of the test data.

USB 3.0

USB 3.1 

Real World Performance Test: File Transfer Test
For real life performance test, we've conducted a quick and simple file transfer test with the same method as the synthetic benchmark above, using both USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 connector so that we're able to identify the difference in performance between both interfaces.



We've copied the Overwatch game folder between our main drive, an Intel 520 series 240GB SSD and the Plextor EX1 under USB 3.0 interface.The peak speed achieved is around 320 MB/s for both copying task, but the noticeable difference is the average transfer speed which appears to be faster when the game folder is copied from the Plextor EX1 to the main drive. 


As we move with USB 3.1 interface, we can see the similar pattern in peaks speed and average speed for the same copying task. While the task ended earlier by an average of 2 seconds for USB 3.1 interface, the difference in performance is barely noticeable if you're not the kind of user who get their stopwatch ready for each file transfer.

Real World Performance Test: Launching Games

To put the reading performance to the test, we have our copy of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Watch Dogs copied to the Plextor EX1, followed by executing the game from the drive. 


Although the difference is barely noticeable, we can still notice that both titles loads slightly faster into the menu screen when the Plextor EX1 is connected to the USB 3.1 interface.

Verdict
Other than not having the OTG data transfer cable included for the supported OTG feature, there's just nothing else we can find on the downside of the Plextor EX1. Its compact yet solid design, good overall performance and a whopping 5-year limited warranty the Plextor EX1 makes a good travel companion that is worthy to recommend to those who is looking for an alternative for traditional portable hard drive.  

Pros
  • Compact and solid build
  • Very fast transfer speed
  • Supports Android devices via OTG
  • 5-year limited warranty from Plextor
Cons

  • Data transfer cable for OTG has to be purchased separately
 

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