Model: Lexar NM610 1TB M.2 PCIe Solid State Drive
Provided By: Lexar
Lexar has been a trusted name in the storage industry for more than 20 years. The company got its start as a division within Cirrus Logic before being spun off in 1996. Lexar quickly made a name for itself thanks to its USB and ATA controllers as well as its industry-leading memory cards and USB flash drives. In 2006, the company was acquired by Micron and merged with Crucial Technology under the name Lexar Media. Lexar continued to flourish under Micron but, in 2017, its parent company decided to get out of the removable media storage business. The Lexar brand was then acquired and relaunched by Shenzhen Longsys Electronics Co., Ltd. (Longsys) with a new product lineup including memory cards, card readers, USB flash drives and SSDs geared towards professional photographers, videographers and content creators.
One of the latest additions to Lexar's line of solid state drives is the NM610. Designed to elevate your PC experience with faster load times and transfer speeds from boot-up to shut down, this M.2 form factor drive is powered by Silicon Motion's SM2263XT controller and offers features like Low-Density Parity Check (LDPC) error code correction technology to ensure data integrity and reliability. The NM610 is also equipped with up to 1TB of Intel's 64-layer TLC 3D NAND flash as well as an ultra-fast PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 interface to deliver up to 2,100 MB/s read and 1,600 MB/s write speeds.
The NM610 is available in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities. For this review, Lexar sent us the 1TB version of the drive which is capable of delivering up to 2,100 MB/s sequential read and 1,600 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 188,000 random read and 156,000 random write IOPS.
|Lexar NM610 1TB M.2 PCIe Solid State Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the NM610 has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at Lexar's's new PCIe SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the NM610 have what it takes? Can it deliver the performance that we've come to expect from Lexar? Keep reading as we find out.
The NM610 comes in a small, black box. Along with a picture of the drive, the front advertises a number of its key features including its 1TB capacity, PCIe Gen3x4 interface, NVMe 1.3 support and 3D NAND. Inside, you'll find the SSD, a fold out guide containing warranty information, as well as some brief installation instructions.
The NM610 uses the 2280 form factor for M.2 (NGFF) SSDs. It measures 80 x 22 x 2.25 mm and weighs in at 9g. The drive also has an "M key" edge connector which provides PCIe SSDs with up to 4x lanes of bandwidth.
Like the NM600, the NM610 uses Silicon Motion's SM2263XT controller. Designed for cost-effective, small form factor and low power client SSDs, this DRAM-less, PCIe Gen 3 x4 controller is powered by a dual ARM Cortex CPU and offers four channels with up to four chip enables (CE) per channel. The SM2263XT also supports the latest 3D NAND from all major manufacturers and features Silicon Motion’s proprietary NANDXtend error-correcting code (ECC) technology, SRAM ECC and end-to-end data path protection.
For the 1TB version of the NM610, Lexar opted to use Intel's 64-layer TLC 3D NAND flash. Looking at the picture above, you can see that there are four 256GB NAND flash packages on the top of the PCB. Also take note that there is no DRAM cache chip. The NM610's SM2263XT controller takes full advantage of NVMe's Host Memory Buffer feature by using a small portion of the computer's memory to cache the mapping tables.
The test system used in this review is equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU, GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-UD3 motherboard, 32GB (16GB x 2) of Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 memory, Samsung 960 PRO 512GB SSD and a GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 WINDFORCE OC 6G graphics card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 10 Enterprise.
To test the performance of Lexar's NM610 SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark, HD Tach RW, ATTO Disk Benchmark, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro, Anvil's Storage Utilities, Iometer and PCMark 8. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Silicon Power P34A60, Patriot P300, Plextor M9PG Plus, Plextor M9PY Plus, ADATA XPG SX6000 Pro, Western Digital WD Black SN750, Samsung 970 EVO Plus, ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro, Crucial P1, ADATA XPG SX8200, Western Digital WD Black NVMe, Samsung 970 EVO, Samsung 970 PRO, Plextor M9Pe, Plextor M8Se, Patriot Hellfire, ADATA XPG SX8000, Samsung 960 PRO, Toshiba OCZ RD400, Samsung 950 PRO, Samsung 860 QVO, Samsung 860 PRO, Crucial MX500, Plextor M8V, Samsung T5, Crucial BX300, ADATA Ultimate SU900, Plextor S3C, Toshiba OCZ VX500 and ADATA Ultimate SU800.
As I mentioned earlier, the NM610 is based on Silicon Motion's SM2263XT controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to Lexar, the 1TB version of the NM610 is capable of reading at 2,100 MB/s and writing at 1,600 MB/s. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the drive had no problems reaching these speeds in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read and write tests.
The NM610 performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 2,100 MB/s and write at 1,689 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 18.104.22.168:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the Lexar NM610's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the NM610 had average read and write speeds of 1759.7 MB/s and 667.9 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 1069.1 MB/s. The screenshot also shows that it uses some sort of SLC caching. The drive starts writing at about 1,450 MB/s and then drops to about 150 MB/s when the write operation exceeds the size of the cache.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the Lexar NM610's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the NM610's read speeds topped out at about 2,059 MB/s and its write speeds at 1,723 MB/s.
AS SSD is a relatively new benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.
HD Tune Pro 5.00:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the Lexar NM610's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The NM610 performed relatively well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 1971.9 MB/s and 790.0 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 547.9 MB/s when reading.
When reading 4KB blocks, the NM610 reached 44,404 IOPS and had an average speed of 173.457 MB/s. The drive was even faster when writing, reaching 51,972 IOPS with an average speed of 203.017 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.
Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the NM610's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The NM610's performance here was similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 1744.50 MB/s and write at 1608.52 MB/s.
The NM610 also performed fairly well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 236.33 MB/s and write at 553.38 MB/s.
According to Lexar, the 1TB NM610 is capable of 188,000 IOPS when reading and 156,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 60,500 random read IOPS and 141,665 random write IOPS. As with most drives, the NM610 performed better at higher queue depths. With four threads and the queue depth set to 32, it reached 218,616 random read IOPS and 203,932 random write IOPS.
PCMark 8 - Storage Test:
PCMark 8 is a complete benchmark for Windows. It includes five benchmark tests, each designed around a specific scenario. The storage benchmark measures drive performance using real-world traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.
PCMark 8 also includes a consistency test which measures the performance consistency and degradation tendency of a storage system. The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state and the recovered state as well as the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state and the recovered state. For this test, we are focusing on the Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace and will look at both the bandwidth and latency of the drive
The NM610'sx performance was hit and miss in this test. During the degradation and steady phases, the drive's bandwidth dropped below 50 MB/s, pushing its latency well above the 700ms mark. The NM610 was able to recover though, jumping back up to 1150 MB/s.
While SSD's offer many benefits, there are some downsides to using flash memory. One of the biggest issues people run into is performance degradation. Over time, an SSD will run out of fresh blocks and will have to write over data the file system has marked as deleted. This procedure is very complicated and can slow an SSD's write speeds considerably.
To fix this problem, most manufacturers have added TRIM support to their SSDs. The TRIM command allows an operating system, such as Windows 10, to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. Using this information, the drive pro-actively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
To test the NM610's TRIM and garbage collection functions, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill 80% of the drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. This had little impact on the NM610's read speed. However, its average writing speed dropped to 153.00 MB/s.
Lexar NM610 - Dirty
To see how well the NM610 could recover, I let the computer sit for about 30 minutes and then reran the test. The drive wasn't able to reach the factory fresh performance shown in our earlier tests. However, its sequential write speed jumped up to 1530.55 MB/s.
Lexar NM610 - After TRIM
Lastly, I used Parted Magic to perform a secure erase on the NM610. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 1908.46 MB/s and 1568.44 MB/s, respectively.
Lexar NM610- Secure Erased
Lexar's NM610 SSD is an excellent choice for the PC enthusiast looking for an easy and affordable way to increase the performance and storage capacity of their desktop or notebook computer. This compact, M.2 form factor SSD is powered by Silicon Motion's SM2263XT controller and is available with up to 1TB of Intel's 64-layer TLC 3D NAND flash. Combine this with a PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 interface and you have a reasonably priced drive capable of delivering up to 3.5x the speed of your average SATA 6Gb/s SSD. In our sequential read and write tests, the 1TB version of the NM610 was able to read at speeds as high as 2,101 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 1,688 MB/s. It also did relatively well in our random write tests, producing more than 141,000 IOPS at low queue depths.
- Available in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities
- PCIe 3.0 x4 interface with NVMe protocol
- Silicon Motion SM2263XT controller
- Equipped with Intel 64-layer TLC 3D NAND
- Good sequential and random read and write performance
- Small M.2 2280 form factor
- Features LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check)
- Shock and vibration resistant with no moving parts
- Reasonably priced
- 3 year warranty
- Write speed drops when SLC cache is full
- Does not support hardware based encryption