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Toshiba XG6 M.2 NVMe SSD Review: Higher Density and Improved Efficiency

Conclusion

Toshiba’s XG6 is the first M.2 SSD to use the company's latest 96-layer 3D TLC NAND. We welcome the XG6's inherent advantage of faster flash performance with open arms, but this isn’t an SSD you can simply purchase on Amazon or Newegg. Instead, the SSD will make its way into laptops and other embedded systems over the coming months through OEMs and other B2B customers. We were lucky enough to get a test sample in our own hands to show off the performance to the public, but third-party SSD makers will soon build drives based on the same flash.

The Toshiba XG6 performed well in most of our tests. It isn’t an earth-shattering performer like Intel’s Optane-based drives, but it is still impressive. The XG6 attained the second-highest score we have seen from a flash-based SSD in the PCMark 8 test, which is great news for content creators.

Conversely, the drive didn't perform nearly as well in SYSmark 2014 SE. The XG6 beat the Crucial MX500 SATA SSD, but there was a relatively large gap between it and the other mainstream NVMe options. In contrast to PCMark 8, which tests one program at a time, SYSmark’s responsiveness score measures the snappiness of a system while it does multiple different tasks at once. This test isn’t the end-all-be-all measure of performance, but is a great test to show which SSDs can keep up with diverse workloads and which ones could improve. Toshiba has likely tuned the XG6's firmware for a specific customer, but it could use a little more refinement.

The Toshiba XG6 still delivers great real-world results in many common workloads, like our custom file transfer test. The XG6 hit peak sequential speeds of 3.25/3.0 GB/s read/write, and it even provided 1.5/1.6 GB/s of throughput when our synthetic workload spilled outside of the SLC cache. That makes it one of the best TLC SSDs on the market for extended write workloads. We could ask for a larger dynamic SLC cache like Intel's 660p, but the current design is sufficient for most desktop workloads. Toshiba also has the XG5-P, a performance-oriented product for OEMs, which delivers faster sustained write speeds. Toshiba has confirmed that it will also refresh that series with the new 96-layer flash.

The XG6 also proved to be a very efficient drive. The XG6's average of 138 MB/s of throughput-per-watt earns it the title of the most efficient SSD we have tested under load. There is still room to improve, though. The drive consumed 173mW at idle with ASPM enabled, but the Samsung 970 Series and Intel 660P consumed less power under the same conditions.

Overall, the Toshiba XG6 delivered great performance and some of the best efficiency metrics we've seen. The compact M.2 2280 single-sided form factor and support for TCG Pyrite and TCG OPAL 2.01 encryption should make it a popular choice for OEMs, especially those that design business-class laptops. We look forward to seeing these SSDs on our test bench in future laptop and pre-built PC reviews, not to mention the enthusiast-class SSDs that will come to market soon with the same flash.

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  • AgentLozen
    Seems pretty solid. Thanks for the review.
    Reply
  • philipemaciel
    Cons: "seperately"
    Reply
  • rantoc
    Seems like a solid laptop ssd
    Reply
  • Brian_R170
    Why bother to review this model if consumers can't even buy it except in a pre-built system? How many people make their system purchase decisions based on the SSD inside? Outside of boutique stuff, how many OEMs actually list the SSD model in their specifications?

    Plus, any future SSD design based off of this model won't likely have identical specs, so you'd have to retest it anyway.
    Reply
  • stdragon
    I've had three OEM Toshiba NVMe drives fail in less than a year in a Dell.
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    Why is the Intel Optane 905P included on some benchmarks and not on others? It would be nice to have consistency throughout the review. Either have it in all of the benchmarks, or just don't include it at all.

    I understand you may be including results from a previous test on the 905P that may not have had all of the same tests as this XG6. However, it's frustrating to me when I see it one benchmark (I do like that it's included), but then when I want to compare against it on another one, it's not there.

    So I would say if you don't have it for all of the tests, just exclude it from all of them.
    Reply
  • PaulAlcorn
    21275682 said:
    Cons: "seperately"

    Good eye, fixed!
    Reply
  • PaulAlcorn
    21276173 said:
    Why is the Intel Optane 905P included on some benchmarks and not on others? It would be nice to have consistency throughout the review. Either have it in all of the benchmarks, or just don't include it at all.

    I understand you may be including results from a previous test on the 905P that may not have had all of the same tests as this XG6. However, it's frustrating to me when I see it one benchmark (I do like that it's included), but then when I want to compare against it on another one, it's not there.

    So I would say if you don't have it for all of the tests, just exclude it from all of them.

    Thanks for the feedback, it is appreciated. Over the last few months we've changed our test regimen entirely to more accurately reflect real-world use cases, much of this due to reader feedback. We are still in a state of flux somewhat with the current line up of tests as we optimize the suite to focus on the things that matter most, and avoid things that don't. Reader feedback has a big impact on our decisions. In either case, the adjustments have led to a few devices not being included until we can complete backfill testing, but we'll work to rectify that.
    Reply
  • jpe1701
    Where is Chris?
    Reply
  • PaulAlcorn
    21277464 said:
    Where is Chris?

    Chris decided to pursue another opportunity, which is unfortunate but part of the business at times. Sean, who has years of experience testing and reviewing storage, has stepped into the role now.
    Reply