Lexar NQ100 480GB Review (Page 2 of 10)

Page 2 - A Closer Look, Test System

The principal side design of the Lexar NQ100 480GB is quite simple with very little text or symbols. The Lexar logo is front and center with the text “Solid State Drive” printed directly below in smaller font. Two blue sideways triangles are seen on the edges pointing inwards. The enclosure is made out of a grey colored plastic shell. The drive measures 69.85mm in length, 100.2mm in width, and 7mm in height, which is pretty standard for a SATA SSD. The NQ100 480GB is also quite light with a mass of 34g.

Flipping over the Lexar NQ100 480GB reveals the backside of the shell. There are no exposed circuit boards, as expected with most SSDs. The drive itself sits between two plastic shells that form the enclosure. The Lexar NQ100 480GB SATA 6Gb/s and power connectors are also visible towards the right side. The white sticker contains many certification logos along with the brand, capacity, serial number, and part number. The storage capacity of this version is 480GB, but the NQ100 also comes in 240GB and 960GB configurations at press time. This drive is manufactured in Taiwan.

The Lexar NQ100 480GB’s shell is held together purely by friction, thus prying it open is the only way to look closer at the drive itself. Please note that removing the enclosure will void the warranty, so open at your own risk. Diving into the actual SSD, we can see a small printed circuit board with various surface-mounted components embedded onto the green glass fiber laminate surface. This, of course, is different than the traditional HDD that contains a spinning platter. You will also notice the board is one-third the size you would normally see in other SSDs, like with many other budget drives out on the market. The brain of this compact board is a Lexar DM928 controller.

The Lexar DM928 is a DRAMless controller that is designed to work with 3D TLC NAND flash memory. Lexar's website does not contain any documentation on their controllers, so this was all the information I was able to find online regarding the DM928. Lexar has mentioned this drive should operate at 0 to 70 degrees Celsius, which should be a wide enough range for most general consumer applications. The maximum read speed is rated at 550 MB/s, while the maximum write transfer speed is not explicitly stated. Instead, it is advertised as “lower”, which is a strange decision on Lexar’s part and not very assuring. Lexar also did not share the IOPS rating. To see how all of this information translates to numbers in our benchmarks, we will pit them against many drives tested in the past to see how this drive compares against budget and mainstream drives in the next seven pages or so.

Paired with the mentioned controller are four NAND flash chips, with two on each side. These chips are Micron's own MT29F1T08EELDEH6-M:D (FBGA code NW987) 3D TLC NAND flash memory, with a capacity of 128GB on each integrated circuit chip. The rated write endurance is listed at 168TB, which equates to approximately 96GB per day for five years. This is pretty good for a budget drive with a fair amount of storage. 32GB out of the 512GB total capacity -- just under 7% -- is provisioned for overhead on the drive controller, so the actual usable space is the advertised 480GB. In the Windows operating system, you will find 447GB of accessible storage. The Lexar NQ100 480GB is backed by a three-year warranty, although this is lower than other budget drives that offer a five-year warranty.

Our test configuration is as follows:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 @ 3.6GHz
Motherboard: MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk
RAM: XPG Spectrix D50 DDR4-3600 2x8GB
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
Chassis: Fractal Design Focus G
Storage: Western Digital Blue SN550 NVMe SSD 1TB, Samsung EVO 970 NVMe SSD 1TB
Power: Corsair CX650M 650W
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro

Compared Hardware:
- Lexar NQ100 480GB
- Patriot P200 512GB
- Crucial BX500 480GB
- Crucial BX500 960GB
- Crucial MX500 500GB
- Gigabyte UD PRO 256GB
- Kingston UV500 240GB

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look, Test System
3. Benchmark: AIDA64 Disk Benchmark
4. Benchmark: ATTO Disk Benchmark
5. Benchmark: Crystal Disk Mark 8.0
6. Benchmark: HD Tach
7. Benchmark: HD Tune Pro 5.70
8. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 10
9. Benchmark: PCMark 10
10. Conclusion