If you are on the hunt for a new M.2 NVMe boot drive and aren’t looking to break the bank, Lexar’s NM610 could fit the bill nicely. It doesn’t feature DRAM, but with performance of over 2.1 GBps and budget-friendly pricing, it’s quite a decent buy at this time.
With its tiny M.2 form factor and a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface, Lexar’s latest SSD to hit the market takes on all these qualities. It falls just short of our list of best SSDs, but Lexar's NM610 is a solid choice that's more than three times faster than a run-of the mill SATA SSD and can easily keep up with reading and editing 4K video files and other key data. An upgrade that replaces Lexar's NM600, the NM610 expands the capacity range to 1TB while shrinking the amount of over-provisioning space to provide more usable capacity.
Lexar NM610 Specifications
|Product||NM610 250GB||NM610 500GB||NM610 1TB|
|Capacity (User / Raw)||250GB / 256GB||500GB / 512GB||1000GB / 1024GB|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3|
|Controller||Silicon Motion SM2263XT||Silicon Motion SM2263XT||Silicon Motion SM2263XT|
|DRAM||DRAMless - HMB||DRAMless - HMB||DRAMless - HMB|
|Memory||Intel 64L TLC||Intel 64L TLC||Intel 64L TLC|
|Sequential Read||2,000 MBps||2,100 MBps||2,100 MBps|
|Sequential Write||1,200 MBps||1,600 MBps||1,600 MBps|
|Random Read||110,000 IOPS||188,000 IOPS||188,000 IOPS|
|Random Write||151,000 IOPS||156,000 IOPS||156,000 IOPS|
|Endurance (TBW)||125 TB||250 TB||500 TB|
Lexar’s NM610 is available in capacities of 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB and is covered by a three-year warranty. Pricing is currently quite competitive with the 1TB model we are reviewing listed for $116 at the time of writing. That's just a few dollars more than popular SATA SSDs and undercuts many of its entry-level competitors.
Lexar over-provisioned the NM610 a bit less than the NM600 it replaces, having 9% set aside for the purpose rather than 13%. This gives the end-user a bit more usable space while providing enough performance over the device's lifetime. Lexar rates the NM610 to hit sequential performance figures of up to 2.1/1.6 GBps read/write and random performance of up to 188,000 / 156,000 IOPS read/write.
The SSD features SMI’s proprietary NANDXtend ECC which is marketing talk for their LDPC ECC hard and soft decoding along with a RAID-like protection scheme that ensures data integrity and reliability over time. This enables the Lexar NM610 to endure up to 125TB of writes per 250GB of storage space over the course of its warranty period.
A Closer Look at the Lexar NM610
Lexar’s NM610 doesn’t feature killer looks, nor a heatsink, but it comes in an M.2 2280 singled sided form factor, meaning all the components are on just one side of the PCB for greater device compatibility. The PCB is also black, which is quite nice looking in contrast to the ugly blue PCB of the Patriot P300 we recently reviewed.
Silicon Motion’s SM2263XT PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3 SSD controller lies at the heart of the Lexar NM610. It is a low power SSD controller with a dual-core ARM Cortex processor powering it. There are four NAND channels and it features a DRAMless architecture. These characteristics mean that it isn’t quite as fast as the company’s top-of-the-line 8-channel DRAM-based SM2262EN, but it has proven itself quite capable in the past for average consumer use.
Rather than use an onboard DRAM cache for accelerating FTL access, which usually helps significantly with responsiveness, the SMI SM2263XT leverages an NVMe feature called Host Memory Buffer (HMB) to use a few MB of the host’s DRAM for the task instead.
Lexar has opted to pair the host controller with Intel’s 64L TLC NAND flash, which interfaces which operates at a rate of about 533-667MT/s. Our 1TB sample features four NAND packages with four 512Gb dies in each, sixteen dies total.
One thing that was a bit surprising, was that, when looking deeper into the Lexar’s power specifications, we found that based on the S.M.A.R.T. data, the NM610 doesn’t support multiple power states like most other NVMe SSDs do. So, it will be in an active state at all times sipping about half a watt at least, even when at idle.