Lexar Play 1TB SSD review: A high performance M.2 2230 SSD for your gaming handheld

A perfect portable pairing.

Lexar Play 1TB SSD
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The Lexar Play is a surprisingly capable M.2 2230 PCIe 4.0 SSD, with good performance and power efficiency. It’s a strong pairing for the Steam Deck, ASUS ROG Ally, and other devices, but only comes at 1TB.


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    Good all-around and sustained performance

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    Relatively power-efficient


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    Only a single capacity available

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Lexar has been surprising us lately with some really interesting products, beginning with the excellent Lexar NM790. Now Lexar is getting into the portables game with the M.2 2230 Lexar Play SSD. Shorter drives like this are perfect for portable gaming devices, some laptops, and other select devices, with the drawback of having to fit a lot of performance into a small package. Such a drive has to be single-sided and optimized for maximum power efficiency. While Lexar surprised with YMTC TLC flash on the NM790, the Play is using the more common Micron TLC flash but with a controller we have not yet reviewed in this form factor or with TLC flash.

Lexar is playing it safe by only offering this drive at the popular 1TB capacity point. This makes it good for PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 host devices alike, and it can be extended to M.2 2242 for the Lenovo Legion Go and other such hosts. At one time there weren’t a lot of options here, but the Lexar Play now enters a crowded marketplace. Luckily, its performance is good and the price is right. This doesn’t always make it the best choice, especially with better drives on the horizon, but it’s a good option that's currently available. If you want TLC flash at 2TB, however, the only current options are the WD SN740 or WD Black SN770M.

Lexar was formerly part of the Micron family, but it was split off and sold to Longsys back in 2017. Things were quiet for a time, but Longsys now appears to be making a more concerted effort to use the Lexar brand for a variety of gaming PC SSDs.

Lexar Play Specifications

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Form FactorM.2 2230
Interface / ProtocolPCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4
ControllerSMI SM2269XT
MemoryMicron 176-Layer TLC (B47R)
Sequential Read5,200 MB/s
Sequential Write4,700 MB/s
Random ReadUp to 780K
Random WriteUp to 800K
Endurance (TBW)600TB

The Lexar Play SSD currently sells for $84.99, and it's only available at 1TB. This is the same price as the Corsair MP600 Mini and slightly less expensive than the Inland TN446, two prominent rivals. The Play is rated for up to 5,200 / 4,700 MB/s for sequential reads and writes and up to 800K random read and write IOPS. That's comparable to other drives in its class. The Lexar Play also has a standard 5-year, 600TBW warranty.

Lexar Play Software and Accessories

Lexar currently does not have any software available for download for its Lexar Play SSD. Previously, Lexar did offer its SSD Dash toolbox, and DataShield for encryption on some drives. We recommend using CrystalDiskInfo and free imaging/cloning software of your choice.

Lexar Play — A Closer Look

The Lexar Play is packaged simply, though it does include an M.2 screw. In most cases the intended host device will have an M.2 screw, but having an extra is a good thing. The drive is single-sided, which is necessary for installation into many devices that use this form factor, like the Steam Deck.

Lexar Play 1TB SSD

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Lexar Play uses SMI’s SM2269XT controller, which is also used in the Adata Atom 50, Adata Legend 850 and 850 Lite, OEM Micron 2400, and the Solidigm P41 Plus. Of these, only the Micron 2400 is also available in the M.2 2230 form factor. The 2400 uses the XTG version of the controller, which is larger at 9.9x11 mm, while the Play’s XTF measures 7.7x11 mm. That makes it a bit smaller in surface area than the common Phison E21T controller, which is 7.5x12 mm. The 2400 has more controller surface area than both to help dissipate heat.

While the E21T has a single primary ARM Cortex-R5 core running at around 1 GHz with a dual-core CoXProcessor, which is also R5 running at a lower clock for efficiency, the SM2269XT is a dual-core R8 design that runs at up to 650 MHz. The R8 has some advantages and also can improve performance by 50% or more per MHz, which means the SM2269XT can match the E21T at a lower clock. However, the R8 tends to be less efficient, so with the same flash we would expect the Lexar Play to pull more power. This can indirectly create more heat, but if the drives are restricted to PCIe 3.0 speeds — as is the case with the Steam Deck — then this is less of a factor.

The two controllers are otherwise similar, but the SM2269XT has superior 4K LDPC to the E21T’s 2K. In practice this doesn't mean much, but it can improve read performance, such as in the case of 4KB random read latency, as error correction is more robust with 4K LDPC. Phison’s newer controllers, which include the E27T that will be used on drives available in the 2230 form factor, also use 4K LDPC. ECC is critical for getting more endurance out of flash as time goes on.


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Shane Downing
Freelance Reviewer

Shane Downing is a Freelance Reviewer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering consumer storage hardware.

  • cyrusfox
    Fair price(≈$85) for a great performing 1TB TLC 2230 drive, nice review, exceptional sustained write performance and efficiency and appears to have plenty of thermal headroom. Plenty of endurance at 600 cycles. if 1TB is big enough a very compelling drive in this storage tier.

    Lexar has always meant quality in my mind, but I have feared that would be tarnished since Micron sold it off to China Longsys. Good to see they are still a premium outfit. Healthy reviews on amazon so far as well.