Kioxia might not be as recognizable as Western Digital or Samsung, but when you know it used to be called Toshiba Memory, you realize you’re in pretty safe hands. Kioxia tends to focus on the affordable end of the storage market, in fact, we looked at the 2TB Exceria Plus a year ago and were generally impressed with its value proposition. However, Kioxia has yet to offer a fast PCIe 4.0 product, at least not yet.
The Exceria Pro’s main data is sequential reads and writes of 7,300MB/s and 6,400MB/s, which means it can compete with the fastest drives around. Not only that, but Kioxia also offers great value for money, with this 2TB drive priced at just £237. That makes it one of the cheaper next-gen PCIe 4.0 drives at just 12p/GB, although price cuts from other manufacturers do undercut this somewhat.
You do get a very basic drive with no migration software included in the package and no heatsink to speak of. There isn’t even a thin sheet of metal to help dissipate heat. Just the bare drive, with flash and RAM on one side, with a simple sticker on it. It’s barebones, but as long as the performance is up to spec, then we can have no frills.
In terms of core specs, Kioxia uses its own 112-layer TLC BiCS NAND flash as the drive, with 2GB of DDR4 RAM cache, and what appears to be a rebranded Phison E18 controller. This is a controller you’ll find in some of the fastest drives, like the Seagate FireCuda 530 and Kingston Fury Renegade. Still, it’s cheaper than both of these premium offerings.
As ever, you’ll need a PCIe 4.0 platform to get the most out of this drive, whether it’s an AMD Zen 2 or Zen 3 CPU and motherboard, or an 11th or 12th Gen Intel CPU and supporting motherboard. If you’re still using a PCIe 3.0 PC, you can still use this drive, but performance will be limited to 3,500MB/s due to the limitations of the interface. If this is the case, there are also cheaper PCIe 3.0 drives available.
Kioxia Exceria Pro 2TB Specifications
interface: PCIe Gen 4 x4
Format: M.2 2280
Controller: Renamed Phison E18
And not: Kioxia 112-layer BiCS TLC
Rated Sequence Read: 7,300MB/sec
Rated sequence write: 6,400MB/sec
Warranty: 5 years
In theory, this should be one of the fastest drives, citing the best drives for peak reads and writes. In practice, there’s little here to make this drive stand out in numerous benchmarks with reasonable, if unnoticeable, throughput. It’s not a slow drive, not by any means, but it also doesn’t affect the sequential throughput quoted.
The similarly-configured Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus (2022) performed well in every test, and our favorite SSD, the WD Black SN850, is also a better option for those looking for great performance. I also included the recently released WD Black SN770 in the comparison, which offers better real-world performance despite being a DRAM-less drive.
In testing, I also witnessed significant thermal throttling. Running the ATTO benchmark 3 times in quick succession saw a significant drop in throughput. The first run produced data as you would expect, which can be found in the graph above, but by the third run, the performance dropped below 3GB/s instead of the 6GB/s it was originally running. It’s a punishing test that doesn’t necessarily replicate a real-world scenario, but no other drive I’ve looked at recently has suffered from it like this.
I’ve been running these drives lately with no extra cooling to see if they throttle, and for the most part, when they get hot, they don’t have any issues. The problem here is that even with the cooler that came with the motherboard, I still see throttling too eagerly when the temperature reaches 73°C. This may be well below the maximum operating temperature of 85°C, but the throttling is still noticeable.
Given the acceptable (if not totally amazing) performance, and the issue of thermal throttling, it seems logical to check for a firmware update to get the drive functioning properly. This can happen with new drives and is usually easy to fix by downloading the manufacturer’s software to check the status of the SSD and make sure everything is working as expected.
That’s another problem with the Kioxia Exceria Pro – the fantastically titled SSD utility management software doesn’t support Windows 11. Surprisingly, this is 2022, and Windows 11 is no longer brand new. In fact, running the utility offers very limited functionality, with no option to update the drive’s firmware directly.
Overall, the Kioxia Exceria Pro 2TB NVMe SSD has issues, but is generally a reasonable product. The thing is, the PCIe 4.0 SSD market is pretty mature now, and there are better drives out there. For example, the WD Black SN770 is cheaper and offers better real-world performance. There are also faster high-end drives available for roughly the same cash – WD Black SN850 £231 Now.