Photos and Features
Being an M.2 drive, there is only so much to check out both for packaging and for the drive so both of those sections are combined here. The drives box has that standard 2.5/M.2 sized box and is black with a large photo of the drive floating in the middle. The Lexar branding is there along with the model name as the top. They also list the drive length (2280) and that it is a PCIe 3.0 drive running at x4 lanes. The capacity is up on the top edge where the drive hangs and our sample is a 500GB model but they are also available in 250GB and 1TB. They also highlight the 3D NAND in the bottom corner. Around on the back, most of the same information is repeated but they also show that 2100 MB/s read speed claim, and they mention this is a nice upgrade for your laptop or desktop and that is repeated in different languages to fill up most of the space.
Inside the box is a clear plastic clam-shell tray that locks the drive in place in the center to keep it safe. Beyond that, you get a small folded up paper with the warranty and safety information on it and a quick installation guide.
Lexar doesn’t have a flashy gaming focus or even themed brands like WD to color-code their drives. So the NM610 is simple and to the point, just like a Lexar SD card. One side of the drive has a sticker on it and the bottom 2/3 of that sticker is white with a grey/black strip at the top with the Lexar branding on it. The white area has all of the normal stuff like the certification required branding and a part number and serial number including a barcode for the serial. Above that, they do have the drive capacity listed along with the full model name which includes the drive length and that it is a PCIe G3 x4 drive. They make it easy to see exactly what you are working with which should be nice in the future. There isn’t anything like decoding a long product model name trying to figure out a drive's size or to see if it is compatible with your hardware.
The NM610 is one-sided, so the backside of the drive is pure PCB with just a few unused contacts on the back. It does show off that nice flat black PCB color at least. But with the sticker on the other side covering everything and this being on the back and hidden when installed you don’t see it much.
The top side of the NM610 is where all of the action is. With the branding sticker pulled off, we can get a better idea of what Lexar has going on. There are four NAND with N1TTE1B1FEB1 on them and 01951 below that. These are Micron 64L 3D NAND and are TLC. TLC does have a lower lifespan. The NM610 has an MTBF of 1,500,000 which is a touch behind the 1.7 million of the WD Blue but about what you would expect. As for the TBW it depends on the drive capacity, here is the breakdown - 250GB: 125TB, 500GB: 250TB, 1TB: 500TB. Going up to the 1TB from our 500GB model doubles the write count. I am surprised that the drive has 4 NAND chips when a lot os similar drives have been going with higher capacity NAND and fewer chips. The breakdown on our 500GB drive would then be four 128 GB NAND, with the extra three GB on each being overhead for future wear. Having more NAND does mean that they are closer to the controller which can be more heat.
Over on the right side of the drive, near the M.2 connection, the silver chip is the controller. This is the Silicon Motion SM2263XT which is the same controller you will find on drives like the Mushkin Helix-L. It is a DRAM-Less controller which is why we don’t also see any DDR3/4 on the SSD. Going DRAM-less is to keep the cost down and it moves the HMB from on the drive to your system memory. The HMB btw is the Host Memory Buffer which tells your system which is basically a map of where everything on the SSD is located.