Lexar NM620 1TB NVMe SSD Review A Spectacular Fail

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Lexar NM620 1TB Performance Testing

We are moving towards using larger test sizes on our benchmarks, but on several tests, we also used the smaller default-test sizes. This allows us to see the difference between lighter and heavier workloads.

CrystalDiskMark x64

CrystalDiskMark is used as a basic starting point for benchmarks as it is something commonly run by end-users as a sanity check.

Lexar NM620 1TB CrystalDiskMark 1GB
Lexar NM620 1TB CrystalDiskMark 1GB
Lexar NM620 1TB CrystalDiskMark 1GB Chart
Lexar NM620 1TB CrystalDiskMark 1GB Chart

My primary philosophy when reviewing SSDs is to judge them against their own advertising first, and against their market peers second. Starting with CrystalDiskMark, the Lexar NM620 utterly fails on both fronts. Sequential performance of 2284 MB/s and 864 MB/s fall far away from the advertised 3300 MB/s and 3000 MB/s numbers. In the context of the rest of our drives on this graph, the Lexar is dead last for writes and nearly at the bottom for reads.

Lexar NM620 1TB CrystalDiskMark 8GB
Lexar NM620 1TB CrystalDiskMark 8GB
Lexar NM620 1TB CrystalDiskMark 8GB Chart
Lexar NM620 1TB CrystalDiskMark 8GB Chart

Moving to the larger CrystalDiskMark test actually helps read performance a bit, though not enough to meet the Lexar’s own advertised speeds. Write performance remains terrible, though at least it manages to beat the very poorly performing Crucial P2 1TB in that regard.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The ATTO Disk Benchmark has been a staple of drive sequential performance testing for years. ATTO was tested at both 256MB and 8GB file sizes.

Lexar NM620 1TB ATTO 256MB
Lexar NM620 1TB ATTO 256MB
Lexar NM620 1TB ATTO 256MB Chart
Lexar NM620 1TB ATTO 256MB Chart

Keeping to the trend started by CrystalDiskMark, ATTO again shows the Lexar both unable to perform up to its own advertised spec, as well as diving straight down to the bottom of our performance charts. The performance here is even worse than under CrystalDiskMark.

Lexar NM620 1TB ATTO 8GB
Lexar NM620 1TB ATTO 8GB
Lexar NM620 1TB ATTO 8GB Chart
Lexar NM620 1TB ATTO 8GB Chart

At least moving to the larger ATTO test has little effect on the Lexar NM620 1TB, and as a result, in relative read speed rankings, the drive manages to move up a couple of notches. On the other hand, sequential write speed is still riding the bottom of our chart by a large margin. ATTO is also commonly used to show best, or near-best case sequential performance so failing to come close to advertised speeds here is a major miss.

Anvil’s Storage Utilities

Anvil’s Storage Utilities is a comprehensive benchmark that gives us a very in-depth look at the performance of drives tested. This benchmark was run with both a 1GB and 8GB test size.

Lexar NM620 1TB Anvil 1GB
Lexar NM620 1TB Anvil 1GB
Lexar NM620 1TB Anvil 1GB Chart
Lexar NM620 1TB Anvil 1GB Chart

Call me a broken record, but the Lexar NM620 1TB is at the bottom of the chart again. Do not expect it to move far for the rest of the review. Terrible sequential read and write speeds continue to plague the drive, and higher queue depth random performance is not doing the drive any favors either.

Lexar NM620 1TB Anvil 8GB
Lexar NM620 1TB Anvil 8GB
Lexar NM620 1TB Anvil 8GB Chart
Lexar NM620 1TB Anvil 8GB Chart

The best that can be said about the Lexar NM620 is that its performance did not crater when moving to larger test sets. Read speed remains the lowest on our chart, but write speed manages to notch a win versus the Crucial P2.

AS SSD Benchmark

AS SSD Benchmark is another good benchmark for testing SSDs. We run all three tests for our series. Like other utilities, it was run with both the default 1GB as well as a larger 10GB test set.

Lexar NM620 1TB ASSSD 1GB
Lexar NM620 1TB ASSSD 1GB
Lexar NM620 1TB ASSSD 1GB Chart
Lexar NM620 1TB ASSSD 1GB Chart

The Lexar NM620 is at the bottom of our chart again. Poor sequential and random performance, both on read and writes, are responsible for the low scores.

Lexar NM620 1TB ASSSD 10GB
Lexar NM620 1TB ASSSD 10GB
Lexar NM620 1TB ASSSD 10GB Chart
Lexar NM620 1TB ASSSD 10GB Chart

On the larger AS SSD test, write speed manages to again beat the Crucial P2, but only barely. Read speed continues to search for the bottom of the graph.

SPECworkstation, direct comparisons, thermals, and our conclusion are up next.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Aesthetics
7.0
Performance
3.0
Feature Set
6.0
Value
4.0
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Will has worked in both big enterprise and small business IT since 2001. As a perpetual dabbler, he is always open to new solutions for old problems. That said, his personal IT motto has to be "if it's not broke, don't fix it" so sometimes the old ways are best

15 COMMENTS

  1. Out of curiosity, do we know if this thing is based on some bottom-of-barrel NAND and, while clearly overpriced, doing a decent job of salvaging the situation given what it’s working with; or did Lexar manage to squander some perfectly decent flash chips by handicapping them at the controller?

  2. fuzzyfuzzyfungus,
    I just peeled back the sticker, the NAND is Micron 96L TLC, same as used on a number of very nice PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs. I would wager it is the controller holding this whole setup back, but I have almost zero insight into the controller itself since none of my customary utilities can interrogate it.

  3. So is it now necessary for serious review sites to figure out how to approximate some validation of flash endurance specs?
    And although the NAND in use here is Micron, I trust everyone is aware that Lexar hasn’t been a Micron brand for nearly 4 years now.

  4. Bob Niland,
    I have actually considered writing to drives until they die as an endurance test. However, the logistics of time almost always prevent that from happening. In this drive’s specific case, thanks to the abysmal post-cache write speed it would take 230+ days of continuous writing to reach the rated endurance level, and even on a much faster drive like the Samsung 980 you are looking at amounts of time measured in weeks instead of days. To me, the endurance rating is more like a facet of the warranty; it’s the mileage counter on your car- it exists to limit the warranty, not to enhance it.

  5. Thanks for checking on the NAND. That is not a good sign for their controller and/or firmware.

    A design focused on scraping adequacy out of really awful flash could actually be an interesting and legitimate contender(not as a direct substitute for high performance SSDs; but of interest for less performance critical bulk storage, or in applications that just don’t mechanically or electrically support HDDs); but kneecapping a TB of actually good flash by chasing some NIH internal design rather than being willing to throw Phison or similar a few bucks is just bad.

  6. It’s very well possible the drive is throttling. At 70 degrees it is probably reducing clocks or write operations to keep within thermal budget. The 980 pro and other nvme drives have a heatsink or heatspreader sticker that helps keep them cool.

  7. Mark,
    It is possible the drive is throttling during the initial load when it hit the 70C temp, but not during the rest of benchmarking as the drive was allowed to cool a bit prior to benchmarking. Also, the drive *began* writing at around 850 MB/s, it is not like it had a brief burst at 3300 MB/s and then slowed down, it *started* slow.

  8. Will: …230+ days of continuous writing to reach the rated endurance level…
    I hadn’t run the numbers, but that is not at all surprising, and in this case being a deliberate design decision must be pondered. Even on credible brands, in addition to time, you’re testing to destruction, and tying up some computer. Might be worth a look once in a while.

    On another enthusiast site this week, who list Lexar as a Partner, they ‘tested’ a Lexar SATA SSD in a glowing review …
    … that benched it against an HDD.
    Preserved that ad revenue, I suppose.

  9. Mark,
    You got me *just* paranoid enough about thermal throttling that I re-installed this drive and ran the CDM benchmark again. At no point in the test did the drive pass 62C – I monitored it the entire time – and the results were within the normal run-to-run variance and nearly identical to the results in the review. Also prior to publishing I had done a cursory check on the internet to see what other reviewers found, and over on Storagereview they had an equally terrible result with the drive, so I do not think it is just me!

  10. In my opinion a spectacular fail would be data loss. Do any of these tests actually check the integrity of the data?

  11. Will,
    Thanks for the thorough follow-up! I remembered some ssd’s did have this issue (Samsung 950 pro I believe). Okay clear conclusion then: it’s just a shitty ssd and no amount of cooling will improve the situation. 🙂

  12. Just as an FYI…

    A guy ran a SSD endurance test on a Sheiknak 120GB SSD and it went about 320TB before completely dying after 3 months. A 256GB BX500 went over 1PB before it died after a year. They found that the longer you write on it, the slower it starts to get.

    The Flash is not going to give out on 99.999% of these things before something else goes out like your patience.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHpSIBpvU0A&t=163s

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