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Kioxia Exceria Plus 2TB NVMe SSD Review

Rating: 8.0.

The enthusiast/gamer class Exceria Plus SSD range from Kioxia is the rebranded Toshiba RD500 family, but with a new flagship 2TB model – a capacity unavailable under the previous RD500 guise. Priced around the £400 mark, we put this drive through its paces to see if it is worth buying.

The Exceria Plus drive is built around an 8-channel controller and BiCS4, 96-Layer 3D TLC NAND. The range is made up of three capacities; 500GB, 1TB and the new flagship 2TB drive we are reviewing here.

All three drives have the same Sequential read speed rating of up to 3,400MB/s with write performance differing with capacity so the 500GB drive is rated at up to 2,500MB/s, the 1TB model 2,000MB/s and the 2TB model, 3,200MB/s.

Random 4K performance figures (QD32 T8) for the 2TB model are impressive at up to 680,000 IOPS for reads and up to 620,000 IOPS for writes, with the 1TB model getting the same rating. The entry 500GB model is rated as up to 420,000 IOPS for reads and 570,000 IOPS for writes.

The official TBW endurance rating for the 2TB drive is 800TB and Kioxia back the range with a 5-year warranty.

Physical Specifications:

  • Usable Capacities: 2TB.
  • NAND Components: BiCS4, 96-Layer 3D TLC NAND.
  • NAND Controller:  Toshiba 8-channel (TC58NC1201GST-00-BB).
  • Cache: 2GB DDR4-2666 (SK hynix H5AN8G6NCJ).
  • Interface: PCIe Gen 3 x4, NVMe 1.3c
  • Form Factor: M.2 2280
  • Dimensions: 80.15 x 22.15 x 2.38mm
  • Drive Weight: 10g.

Firmware Version: ECFA10.4.



The Exceria Plus comes in a compact box with an image of the drive on the front, along with a sticker displaying the capacity of the drive. The rear of the box has a description of the drive’s form factor, the fact it uses BiCS Flash, a PCIe Gen 3 x4 interface and has a 5-year warranty.


The Exceria Plus 2TB drive is built on a dual-sided M.2 2280 format. On one side of the PCB sits the 8-channel Toshiba branded controller (coded TC58NC1201GST-00-BB), four 256GB packages of BiCS4, 96-Layer 3D TLC NAND and a cache IC (SK hynix H5AN8G6NCJ, DDR4-2666). The other side of the PCB is home to another cache chip and four more 256GB NAND packages.



The SSD Utility has been given a refresh to go along with the re-branding.  It lets you check on the drive’s capacity, how it’s being used and how much life is left in the SSD. There’s a tuning section with an integrated benchmark so you can see how the drive is running. It also allows for easy implementation of firmware updates and there is a comprehensive help section as well.

For testing, the drives are all wiped and reset to factory settings by HDDerase V4. We try to use free or easily available programs and some real-world testing so you can compare our findings against your own system.
This is a good way to measure potential upgrade benefits.

Main system:
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X, 16GB DDR4-2400, Sapphire R9 390 Nitro and an MSI MPG X570 Gaming Edge Wifi motherboard.

Other drives
Corsair Force MP510 960GB
Crucial P1 1TB
Kingston KC2000 1TB
Patriot Viper VPR100 RGB 1TB
Patriot Viper VPN100 1TB
PNY CS3030 1TB
Seagate FireCuda 510 1TB
Samsung SSD970 PRO 1TB
Samsung SSD960 EVO 1TB
Samsung SSD960 EVO Plus 1TB
Kioxia BG4 1TB
Kioxia XG6 1TB
Western Digital Black SN750 1TB
Western Digital Black SN750 1TB with Heatsink
Western Digital Blue SN550 1TB
Western Digital Black NVMe 1TB

Software:
Atto Disk Benchmark 4.
CrystalMark v6 & 7.0.0.
AS SSD 2.0.
IOMeter.
Futuremark PC Mark 8

All our results were achieved by running each test five times with every configuration this ensures that any glitches are removed from the results. Trim is confirmed as running by typing fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify into the command line. A response of disabledeletenotify =0 confirms TRIM is active.
CrystalDiskMark is a useful benchmark to measure theoretical performance levels of hard drives and SSD’s.


As you might expect from a drive aimed at the upper end of the market, the Kioxia Exceria Plus performs well at a deeper queue depth. From looking at the two benchmark result screens, it seems that the controller has a preference for handling compressible data. Using this type of data sees a boost in the 4K read performance at low to mid queue depths.


At shallow QD of 1, the drives read performance is ok, but the write performance is very good.

 

The latest version of CrystalDiskMark, version 7, includes a couple of profiles that can be used for testing – Peak Performance and Real World. The result screens for these two profiles not only display MB/s results but also IOPS and latency.

Looking at the Peak Performance results for Sequential read/write performance we could confirm the official Sequential read figure of 3,400B/s, with the tested drive producing 3,460.73MB/s but the drive couldn’t quite hit the maximum 3,200MB/s write figure with a test result of 3,153,22MB/s.


We also used CrystalDiskMark 7 to test the drive at lower queue depths (where most of the everyday workloads occur) using 1 to 4 threads. The read performance climbs smoothly throughout the tested queue depths and threads.


In the two threaded write test, the performance drops considerably from QD2 to QD4.

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously.

Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.


Kioxia rate the Sequential read/write performance for the 2TB Exceria Plus as up to 3,400MB/s for reads and up to 3,200MB/s for writes. Using the ATTO (version 4) benchmark to test the drive we got result figures that couldn’t quite make those maximum figures, with reads at 3,200MB/s and writes at 3,010MB/s.

 

AS SSD is a great free tool designed just for benching Solid State Drives. It performs an array of sequential read and write tests, as well as random read and write tests with sequential access times over a portion of the drive. AS SSD includes a sub suite of benchmarks with various file pattern algorithms but this is difficult in trying to judge accurate performance figures.


As you might expect for a drive aimed at the enthusiast end of the market, the Kioxia Exceria Plus shows strong performance in the AS SSD benchmark.

IOMeter is another open-source synthetic benchmarking tool which is able to simulate the various loads placed on the hard drive and solid-state drive technology. There are many ways to measure the IOPS performance of a Solid State Drive, so our results will sometimes differ from the manufacturer’s quoted ratings. We do test all drives in exactly the same way, so the results are directly comparable.

We test 128KB Sequential read and write and random read and write 4k tests. The test setup’s for the tests are listed below. Each is run five times.

128KB Sequential Read / Write.
Transfer Request Size: 128KB Span: 8GB Thread(s): 1, Outstanding I/O: 1-32 Test Run: 20 minutes per test

4K Sustained Random Read / Write.
Transfer Request Size: 4KB Span: 80GB Thread(s): 4, Outstanding I/O: 1-32 Test Run: 20 minutes per test

4K Random 70/30 mix Read/Write.
Transfer Request Size: 4KB Span: 80GB Reads: 70% Writes: 30% Thread(s): 4 Outstanding I/O: 2 – 32 Test Run: 20 minutes

With our own Sequential tests, we could confirm the official maximum read/write figures of 3,400MB/s and 3,200MB/s respectively with a read result of 3,488MB/s (QD32) and writes coming in at 3,203MB/s (QD2).

128KB Sequential Read Performance v QD


The Kioxia Exceria Plus shows pretty consistent performance throughout the tested queue depths.

128KB Sequential Write Performance v QD


At a queue depth of 1, the Kioxia Exceria Plus is the fastest PCIe Gen 3 drive we have seen to date. As the queue depth deepens the drive does begin to fall back amongst its competitors but does recover to sit in second place in our results chart at a QD of 32.



The official 4K random read figure for the drive is up to 680,000 IOPS, this figure is from the drive being tested at a QD of 32 using 8 threads. With our 4-threaded tests, we couldn’t get close to this figure, the best we saw was 329,570 IOPS at a QD of 32.  We did a quick test using 8 threads at a QD of 32 and the best we got from the review drive was 517,506 IOPS, still a fair way off the official maximum figure.

4K Random Read v QD Performance


The drive performs best at QDs 2 and 4 but drops away from a good many of its competitors at QD’s 1 and 32.


Kioxia rate the drive at up to 620,000 IOPS for random writes, and once again as with the random read testing we could get nowhere close to this figure with our 4-threaded testing. In our tests, the drive produced a write figure of 261,419 IOPS at a QD of 2. As with the random reads, we did a quick test of the drive at a QD of 32 using 8 threads and got a result of 468,633 IOPS.

4K Random Write v QD Performance


Throughout the tested queue depths, the random write performance isn’t as strong as the random read in comparison to the Kioxia drive’s competitors.


The Exceria Plus displays strong performance in our 70/30 read/write mixed tests.

In our read throughput test, the drive peaked at the end of the test run at 2,784.53MB/s.


In our read throughput test, the drive doesn’t perform as well as many of its market competitors we have tested.


The drive peaked at the 8MB block mark in our write throughput test with a bandwidth of 3,095.41MB/s


While the drive’s performance in our read throughput test was a bit disappointing, the same cannot be said of the write throughput result which is the fastest we’ve seen so far from this class of drive.

The PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark uses a wide-ranging set of real-world traces from popular applications and common tasks to fully test the performance of the fastest modern drives. The benchmark is designed to measure the performance of fast system drives using the SATA bus at the low end and devices connected via PCI Express at the high end.

The goal of the benchmark is to show meaningful real-world performance differences between fast storage technologies such as SATA, NVMe, and Intel’s Optane. The Full System Drive Benchmark uses 23 traces, running 3 passes with each trace. It typically takes an hour to run.

Traces used:

  • Booting Windows 10.
  • Adobe Acrobat – starting the application until usable.
  • Adobe Illustrator – starting the application until usable Adobe Premiere Pro – starting the application until usable.
  • Adobe Photoshop – starting the application until usable.
  • Battlefield V – starting the game until the main menu.
  • Call of Duty Black Ops 4 – starting the game until the main menu.
  • Overwatch – starting the game until main menu.
  • Using Adobe After Effects.
  • Using Microsoft Excel.
  • Using Adobe Illustrator.
  • Using Adobe InDesign.
  • Using Microsoft PowerPoint.
  • Using Adobe Photoshop (heavy use).
  • Using Adobe Photoshop (light use).
  • cp1 Copying 4 ISO image files, 20 GB in total, from a secondary drive to the target drive (write test).
  • cp2 Making a copy of the ISO files (read-write test).
  • cp3 Copying the ISO to a secondary drive (read test).
  • cps1Copying 339 JPEG files, 2.37 GB in total, to the target drive (write test).
  • cps2 Making a copy of the JPEG files (read-write test).
  • cps3 Copying the JPEG files to another drive (read test).


The best performance in the creative group of tests was the 586MB/s from the Adobe Photoshop heavy use test trace.


The drive showed strong performance in the Battlefield V game test and the cp1, cp2 and cp3 tests.

For the long term performance stability test, we set the drive up to run a 20-minute 4K random test with a 30% write, 70% read split, at a Queue Depth of 256 over the entire disk. The 2TB Kioxia Exceria Plus averaged 128,630 IOPS for the test with a very good performance stability of 89%.

To test real-life performance of a drive we use a mix of folder/file types and by using the FastCopy utility (which gives a time as well as MB/s result) we record the performance of drive reading from & writing to a 256GB Samsung SSD850 PRO.

We use the following folder/file types:

  • 100GB data file.
  • 60GB iso image.
  • 60GB Steam folder – 29,521 files.
  • 50GB File folder – 28,523 files.
  • 12GB Movie folder – (15 files – 8 @ .MKV, 4 @ .MOV, 3 @ MP4).
  • 10GB Photo folder – (304 files – 171 @ .RAW, 105 @ JPG, 21 @ .CR2, 5 @ .DNG).
  • 10GB Audio folder – (1,483 files – 1479 @ MP3, 4 @ .FLAC files).
  • 5GB (1.5bn pixel) photo.
  • BluRay Movie – 42GB.
  • 21GB 8K Movie demos – (11 demos)
  • 16GB 4K Raw Movie Clips – (9 MP4V files).
  • 4.25GB 3D Printer File Folder – (166 files – 105 @ .STL, 38 @ .FBX, 11 @ .blend, 5 @ .lwo, 4 @ .OBJ, [email protected] .3ds).
  • 1.5GB AutoCAD File Folder (80 files – 60 @ .DWG and 20 @.DXF).


Our real-life file transfer test proved no obstacle for the drive. As always with this test, it’s dealing with the small file sizes in the 60GB Steam, 50GB File and 10GB Audio folders that slows the drive down.

To get a measure of how much faster PCIe NVMe drives are than standard SATA SSDs, we use the same files but transfer to and from a 512GB Toshiba OCZ RD400:


Taking the SATA drive out of the equation allows the Exceria Plus to show what it’s capable of. Our best write performance came with the 8K movie scene folder transfer at 1,411MB/s, as did the best read performance at 2,511MB/s.

The Exceria Plus range of NVMe drives are the fastest of the Kioxia re-branded SSDs. Formally known as the RD500 under Toshiba branding, the range now includes a 2TB flagship drive, a capacity that was previously not available in the line-up. The Exceria Plus uses a combination of an 8-channel controller and BiCS4, 96-Layer 3D TLC NAND and is available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities.

Performance-wise, Kioxia quotes Sequential figures for the 2TB version of the Exceria Plus as up to 3,400MB/s for reads and up to 3,200MB/s for writes. Incidentally, that read figure is the same for all three versions of the drive. The 1TB model is rated as up to 2,000MB/s for writes with the 500GB version slightly faster at 2,500MB/s.

We couldn’t quite hit those maximum figures for the 2TB drive under the ATTO benchmark, with the review drive producing figures of 3,200MB/s for reads and 3,010MB/s for writes. However, with our own Sequential tests, we could confirm the official maximum read/write figures with a read result of 3,488MB/s and a write result of 3,203MB/s.

The random performance of the 2TB model is quoted at up to an impressive 680,000 IOPS and up to 620,000 IOPS for read and writes respectively. These figures are from testing the drive at a QD of 32 using 8 threads. Our standard 4K testing is done with four threads so our results are some way off the official figures. The best read score we saw from our testing was 329,570 IOPs for reads and 261,419 IOPS for writes. We did do some quick testing at a QD of 32 and with 8 threads with the best read result of 517,506 IOPS with writes at 468,633 IOPS.

The SSD Utility management software has also had a bit of a revamp. It has all the tools you need to maintain the drive as it displays lifespan, capacity usage, temperature as well as supporting firmware updates. There’s even a built-in benchmarking tool to run to see how the drive is performing.

We found the 2TB Kioxia Exceria Plus on Span.com for £405.60 (inc VAT) HERE.

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Pros

  • Overall performance.
  • 5-year warranty.

Cons

  • Couldn’t reach the official maximum 4K figures under testing.
  • A bit pricey.

KitGuru says: The Kioxia Exceria Plus uses 96-layer NAND technology which helps give it good overall performance and it also comes with a 5-year warranty. It could do with a slight tweak to the pricing, however, to make it more competitive in its market segment.

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