The Lexar NM610 (starts at $57.99 for the 250GB model, $154.99 for the 1TB as tested) is a new internal PCI Express (PCIe) NVMe M.2 solid-state drive from a company better known for its flash-memory cards and portable SSDs. Lexar, once a brand owned by Micron and acquired in 2017 by the Shenzhen-based firm Longsys, now offers three families of internal SSDs that compete at various tiers of performance and for different use cases. The NM610 represents Lexar’s middle of the line, and despite showing some strong 4K random read benchmarks, the drive is a bit too pricey for what it is. It’s not a consistent enough performer in our measures, or in rated specs, to top competing drives like the WD Blue SN550 on value.
The Lexar NM610 is an M.2 Type-2280 (80mm long) PCIe NVMe SSD. It’s based on Intel’s 64-layer triple-level-cell (TLC) NAND flash, and it’s available in three different storage-volume sizes: 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB. (Check out our SSD dejargonizer to make sense of those acronyms, if SSDs aren’t your strong suit.)
Lexar rates the drive to hit a maximum sequential read speed of just 2,100MBps, with sequential write speed topping out at 1,600MBps. In both cases, that is a low ceiling for a four-lane PCIe NVMe drive. By way of comparison, the Kingston A1000, which supports only two PCIe lanes, tops out at around 1,500MBps on reads and 1,000MBps on writes, and there doesn’t seem to be enough of a gulf between that drive and the four-lane Lexar NM610 to explain why the latter has such slow sequential read and write limitations.
Testing the Lexar NM610: So-So Sequential Speeds
We test all of our SATA and PCI Express 3.0 SSDs on PC Labs’ main storage testbed, which is built on an Asus Prime X299 Deluxe motherboard with an Intel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition processor. We use 16GB of DDR4 Corsair Dominator RAM clocked to 3,600MHz, and the system employs an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition as its discrete graphics card.
Next up is a game-launching set, which simulates how quickly a drive can read shallow-depth small random 4K packages; 4K is one of the more commonly used file-block sizes for game installations, though that composition does depend on the title you’re playing. While the three games tested in PCMark 10 are primarily stored in small random 4K, tests from around the web have shown that MMORPGs can more often use the 16K block size, and some games in other genres may tend to employ larger block sizes, from 32K up to 128K. However for the sake of these tests, 4K small random read is the most accurate block-size metric relevant to these three popular FPS titles: Battlefield 5, Overwatch, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
Launching Creative Applications
Here, the drives are put through a very important test for creative types. As anyone who regularly works in programs like Adobe Premiere or Photoshop can tell you, a constant pinch point is the time it takes for these programs to launch. Mind you, these two tests don’t tell the whole story of how a drive will perform for all creative applications. Depending on the complexity of your work and the number of elements in a scene, your software may have to load 3D models, sound files, physics elements, and more; in other words, more than just the program. Still, this is interesting fodder for folks who live and breathe these Adobe apps.
These copy tests are also derived from PCMark 10 traces. While at first these numbers might look low compared to the straight sequential-throughput numbers achieved in benchmarks like Crystal DiskMark 6.0 and AS-SSD, that’s due to the way this score is calculated and the nature of and differences between the source data. If you’re regularly moving files around on your drive from one folder to another, this test is a handy relative throughput measure.
Cost Per Gig Is What It’s All About
At its current pricing, the Lexar NM610 is simply priced out of its class, whether it be on performance, durability, or available software options. And while the drive does outperform its competition at times, it’s too inconsistent between various benchmarks to sit as a strong recommendation in our book, given the shorter warranty and lack of software.
1TB WD Blue SN550, which both undercuts the price point of the M610 by a third, while also offering slightly higher durability ratings and posting performance results that almost universally outrun the NM610 across the board. They’ll likely feel much the same in real-world use, but the NM610, alas, will make your wallet feel lighter, too.
|Internal or External||Internal|
|Interface (Computer Side)||M.2 Type-2280|
|Internal Form Factor||M.2 Type-2280|
|Capacity (Tested)||1 TB|
|Controller Maker||Silicon Motion|
|Bus Type||PCI Express 3.0 x4|
|Rated Maximum Sequential Read||2100 MBps|
|Rated Maximum Sequential Write||1600 MBps|
|Terabytes Written (TBW) Rating||500 TBW|
|Warranty Length||3 years|