Introduction & Drive Details
Lexar is a well-known brand when it comes to CF cards, SD cards, and the like. Now they have decided to get into the NVMe SSD business as one of the first Chinese-owned companies to do so. Lexar's NM700 is Gen3 based, employs Marvell's 88SS1092 8-channel controller and TLC flash of Intel origins. In terms of the controller, we like Lexar's choice of Marvell's 88SS1092 because it has proven that it is capable of being a workload juggernaut and potentially unrivaled for gaming, as evidenced by Plextor's M9P+, which was only recently dethroned by Samsung's 980 Pro and WD Black SN850.
Now, should you be in the market for Lexar's fastest SSD to date, it's not going to be easy to find at the 1TB capacity point, as it appears Amazon only has 256GB and 512GB models for sale. We had to do a lot of searching to find a 1TB model for sale, and the pricing is quite a bit higher than we were hoping to see. We assume the pricing reflects the "Professional" moniker Lexar has donned the NM700 with.
Okay, let's get into the review, keeping in mind that this is Lexar's first stab at the NVMe SSD market.
Sequential read speeds are tops for a Gen3 SSD. Write speed is a bit low, as are quoted maximum random speeds. A 5-year warranty is nice to see, along with a good TBW rating.
The drive is a single-sided design, which we prefer.
Jon's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair Hero VIII Wi-Fi (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 (buy from Amazon)
- Memory: ADATA XPG Z1 DDR4 3800MHz 16GB (buy from Amazon)
- Video Card: Sapphire Radeon RX Vega 64 (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1000 (buy from Amazon)
- Case: InWin X-Frame
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
Lexar SSD Dash
Lexar offers their SSD Dash software. However, if you are in the United States, you likely cannot download it due to ongoing USA/China tech disputes. However, you aren't missing a thing because it's essentially useless without the ability to even update the firmware.
You will be better served with the following free tools:
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM & Anvils
Sequential read speed looks excellent, exceeding factory specs. The rest is not so good, as evidenced by our charts.
Anvil's Storage Utilities
Acceptable write performance here, however, we value read performance most, and this is where the NM700 falls flat. As we mentioned earlier, the NM700 utilizes the same Marvell 88SS1092 controller as Plextor's M9P+, and we had hoped that the NM700 would give us similar results. If we look at the read score, we can pretty much ascertain at this point that's not going to happen.
Max random write performance is in-line with factory specs, but random read performance is way off. We don't chart this category, but it could be the worst random read performance we've seen from a TLC powered NVMe SSD. This is a perfect example of why we test the way we do. SSDs can perform way differently when they are empty.
Synthetic Benchmarks: AS SSD & ATTO
This time, the NM700 can best Plextor's M9P+. However, overall, another lackluster performance considering this is a TLC SSD with onboard DRAM.
Great performance at 512B transfers and close to full speed at 128K transfers.
Real-World Testing: Transfer Rates & Gaming
The 1TB NM700 averages 716 MB/s while transferring our 100GB directory. Excellent.
When serving data to the host, our test subject manages an average of 2,308 MB/s. Again, excellent performance.
Game Level Loading
Gamers take notice. The NM700 can deliver the goods for you.
Real-World Testing: PCMark 10 Storage Tests
PCMark 10 Storage Test is the most advanced and most accurate real-world consumer storage test ever made. There are four different tests you can choose from; we run two of them.
The Full System Drive Benchmark and the Quick System Drive Benchmark. The Full System Drive Benchmark writes 204 GB of data over the duration of the test. The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23 GB of data over the duration of the test. These tests directly correlate with user experience. Of the two tests, we feel that the Quick System Drive Test most accurately replicates a typical user experience.
PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark
These tests matter most because they reflect on user experience while doing normal consumer tasks. We had high hopes that the NM700 would perform much like the M9P+ because they use the same controller, and the M9P+ is the best we've seen from any Gen3 SSD. We don't get what we wanted, not even close.
PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark
This is the test we consider our most important, and the NM700 falls flat.
Lexar is just getting into the NVMe SSD business and, so far, has offered only two models, with the Lexar Professional NM700 being its flagship model. The drive is composed of quality components, as evidenced by its 5-year warranty and endurance rating of 600 TBW. The flash is a bit of a mystery. We are told it is Intel 3D TLC. However, we feel the numbers would be significantly better if the flash was of higher quality.
Our user experience ranking finds the Lexar Professional NM700 down near the bottom of our chart. We had hoped it would deliver a user experience like that of Plextor's M9P+ because they both employ the same Marvell controller.
Lexar's Professional NM700 1TB didn't deliver many highlights, but there are a couple that are noteworthy. Transfer rates for both read and write were surprisingly good, with the NM700 delivering more than many SSDs we consider to be better. Additionally, and for some of you, it may be the most important factor, Lexar's Professional NM700 1TB is one of the better gaming SSDs on the market.
- Transfer Rates
The Bottom Line
Expensive, good at gaming, but below average workload performance.