The Toshiba XG3 SSD is a M.2 NVMe drive which just may be the most powerful SSD on the market….well not really on the market. It isn’t available through consumer sales and can only be found pre-installed in ultrabooks, unless of course you are lucky enough to dig one up on eBay. The downfall of trying to get ones hands on such a OEM/client SSD that is not attained pre-configured in a new system, of course, is that there is no warranty. It is the chance you take and the trade-off for owning the best. On our test bench today is the 1TB capacity Toshiba XG3 M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD and we will be the first to admit that this SSD’s performance was totally unexpected.
The Toshiba XG3 is a NVMe PCIe SSD and may be found within pre-configured ultrabooks, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro, and in capacities of 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB. As a bit of a fair warning, most manufacturers don’t guarantee the model of SSD in use and many Surface Book owners have been disappointed to find a lesser performing Samsung SSD within, rather than Toshiba XG3. For those wondering what NVMe is, it is Non-Volatile Memory Express and enables SSDs to run faster as it reduces the latency of SSDs significantly. If you are unsure of what latency is and how it relates to PC speed, check out this article.
For today’s evaluation, we will compare the XG3 to its true match, the Samsung 950 Pro M.2 NVMe SSD, but get ready for some interesting results as we throw in a number of other SSDs for a great comparison.
Performance for the XG3 is variable, dependent on whether you get your hands on the 2.5″ or M.2 form factor. Reason for this is that, although both rely on the PCIe Gen 3 interface, the notebook version uses only 2 PCIe lanes while the M.2 uses four, allowing for better transfer speeds. The 2.5″ XG3 is capable of 1500MB/s read and 1300MB/s write while the M.2 boosts these speeds to 2400MB/s read and 1500MB/s write. Both are rated at a 5-year lifespan and active power rating for the 2.5″ version is 6W and 7mW low power state while the M.2 is up to 6.4W active and 6mW low power state.
The Toshiba XG3 M.2 SSD is a 2280 (80mm) form factor, and contains a proprietary Toshiba NVMe 4 lane controller, numbered TC58NCP070GSB. This controller follows the codename ‘Fujisan’, is Toshiba IP, and was displayed by OCZ last year at Computex 2015. Clicking on the link will display a photo of the early prototype, then described as the OCZ Revo 400, which looks remarkably similar to the XG3 shown here.
Crystal Disk Info is a great tool for displaying the characteristics and health of storage devices. It displays everything from temperatures, to the number of hours the device has been powered, and even to the extent of informing you of the firmware of the device.
The latest version of Crystal Disk Info is compatible with the NVMe SSDs and the Toshiba XG3 is using PCIe 3 x4 (4 lane) with the NVMe protocol. It is worth mentioning that, unlike the Samsung 950 Pro NVMe SSD, the XG3 does not require any special drivers and works perfectly with Win 10 integrated NVMe drivers. Of note however, best performance is reached by finding the XG3 within the PC Control Panel/Device Manager/Disk Drives/ and turning off Windows write cache buffer flushing under the ‘Properties’ menu of the XG3. If you don’t do this, you will experience very low write performance.