Model: PNY CS2211 480GB Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: PNY Technologies
Provided By: PNY Technologies
PNY Technologies is a global leader within the consumer electronics market. Established in 1985, this New Jersey-based company started out by buying and selling memory chips. As time went on, PNY expanded its operations to include manufacturing new forms of memory and complementary products. Today, the company continues to evolve by delivering a full spectrum of high-quality products. In addition to PC memory upgrades, PNY designs, manufacturers and supplies USB flash drives, memory cards, solid state drives, mobile accessories and NVIDIA graphics cards for the consumer, commercial and OEM markets.
Like many manufacturers, PNY has its sights set on the growing solid-state drive (SSD) market. This winter, the company introduced two new consumer SSDs. Along with the entrylevel, low-cost CS1311, PNY launched its next generation XLR8 series SSD, the CS2211. Designed with gamers and enthusiasts in mind, the CS2211 offers both extreme performance and enhanced durability. Powered by Phison's quad-core, eight-channel PS3110-S10 controller and available with up to 960GB of Toshiba's 15nm MLC NAND flash, the drive is capable of 565 MB/s read and 540 MB/s write speeds for faster boot up times, quicker application launches, and a better overall computing experience. The CS2211 also offers cool, quiet operation and low power consumption for longer battery life.
The CS2211 is available in 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities. For this review, PNY sent us the 480GB version of the drive which is capable of delivering up to 565 MB/s sequential read and 540 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 95,000 random read and write IOPS.
|PNY CS2211 480GB Solid State Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the CS2211 has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at PNY's new SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the CS2211 have what it takes? Keep reading as we find out.
The CS2211 comes in a small, black and white box. Along with a picture of the drive, the front advertises a number of its key features including its 480GB capacity, 2.5-inch form factor, SATA 6Gbps interface and 4 year warranty. The back of the box provides a bit more information regarding its features and specifications.
PNY doesn't include a lot of extras with the CS2211. In addition to the SSD, the box contains a mounting spacer for use with traditional 9.5mm drive bays as well as a small, fold out guide with instructions on how to download, install and activate the included Acronis data migration software.
Like PNY's other SSDs, the CS2211 is very well constructed. The outer casing is made entirely out of metal and is covered by a nice, matte black finish. The top of the drive is also covered by a large black and red sticker which has a textured background and an "XLR8" logo on it
The CS2211 uses Phison's PS3110-S10 controller chip. The PS3110-S10 is powered by a quad-core CPU and supports up to 8 NAND flash channels as well as features like end-to-end data path protection, SmartECC error correction and AES encryption. The controller also supports Device Sleep (DEVSLP) but for whatever reason it is not enabled on the CS2211.
For the CS2211, PNY opted to use Toshiba's 15nm MLC NAND flash. Looking at the pictures above, you can see that there are eight 32GB NAND flash packages on either side of the PCB. The drive also has a single 512MB NANYA DDR3L SDRAM memory chip that is used for caching and garbage collection.
The test system used in this review was an HP 8200 Elite. The computer came equipped with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250312AS 250GB SATA 6 Gb/s hard drive, NVIDIA Quadro FX580 512MB PCIe graphics card and an Intel 82579-LM gigabit network card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Enterprise.
To test the performance of PNY's CS2211 SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3, HD Tach RW 22.214.171.124, ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro 5.00, Anvil's Storage Utilities, Iometer and PCMark 8. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Plextor M6V, Crucial BX200, OCZ Trion 100, Kingston HyperX Savage, Crucial MX200, OCZ Vector 180, Kingston BX100, Samsung 850 EVO M.2, Samsung 850 EVO mSATA, AMD Radeon R7, Silicon Power Slim S80, Samsung SSD 850 EVO, OCZ ARC 100, SanDisk Ultra II, Kingston MX100, SanDisk Extreme Pro, Samsung SSD 850 PRO, Plextor PX-256M6S and Toshiba Q Series Pro.
As I mentioned earlier, the CS2211 is based on Phison's PS3110-S10 controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to PNY, the 480GB CS2211 is capable of reading at 565 MB/s and writing at 540 MB/s when connected to a SATA 6 Gb/s port. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the drive had no problems reaching these speeds in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read and write tests.
The CS2211 performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 566.2 MB/s and write at 544.0 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 126.96.36.199:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the CS2211's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
PNY CS2211 480GB
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the CS2211 had average read and write speeds of 365.8 MB/s and 345.6 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 224.4 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the CS2211's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the CS2211's read speeds topped out at about 565 MB/s and its write speeds at 546 MB/s.
AS SSD is a relatively new benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.
HD Tune Pro 5.00:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the MX200's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The CS2211 performed very well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 499.3 MB/s and 486.7 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 146.1 MB/s when reading.
When reading 4KB blocks, the CS2211 reached 12,844 IOPS and had an average speed of 50.173 MB/s. The drive was a bit faster when writing, reaching 14,727 IOPS with an average speed of 57.531 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another new benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.
Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the CS2211's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The CS2211's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 539.85 MB/s and write at 518.82 MB/s.
The CS2211 also performed very well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 147.78 MB/s and write at a blazing 336.65 MB/s.
According to PNY, the CS2211 is capable of delivering a maximum of 95,000 IOPS when reading and writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 37,832 random read IOPS and 86,183 random write IOPS. Increasing the queue depth had little impact on the CS2211's random write performance. However, with the queue depth set to 32, the drive was able to reach 91,045 random read IOPS.
Vantage PCMark 8 - Storage Test:
PCMark 8 is a complete benchmark for Windows. It includes five benchmark tests, each designed around a specific scenario. The storage benchmark measures drive performance using real-world traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.
PCMark 8 also includes a consistency test which measures the performance consistency and degradation tendency of a storage system. The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state and the recovered state as well as the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state and the recovered state. For this test, we are focusing on the Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace and will look at both the bandwidth and latency of the drive
The CS2211 did fairly well throughout PCMark's consistency test. While not nearly as fast as the Vector 180, it performed better than both the Kingston Savage and MX200 throughout the degradation and steady state phases. More importantly, the CS2211 had no problems bouncing back during the recover phase.
While SSD's offer many benefits, there are some downsides to using flash memory. One of the biggest issues people run into is performance degradation. Over time, an SSD will run out of fresh blocks and will have to write over data the file system has marked as deleted. This procedure is very complicated and can slow an SSD's write speeds considerably.
To fix this problem, most manufacturers have added TRIM support to their SSDs. The TRIM command allows an operating system, such as Windows 7, to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. Using this information, the drive pro-actively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
To test the CS2211's TRIM and garbage collection functions, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill the entire drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that the CS2211's average read and write speeds dropped to 211.6 MB/s and 257.9 MB/s, respectively.
PNY CS2211 - Dirty
To see how well the CS2211 could recover, I let the computer sit for about 45 minutes and then reran the test. The drive's average read speed climbed up to 326.8 MB/s. However, its read speed lagged behind, averaging out at 292.0 MB/s.
PNY CS2211 - After TRIM
Lastly, I used Parted Magic to perform a secure erase on the CS2211. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 364.2 MB/s and 309.3 MB/s, respectively.
PNY CS2211 - Secure Erased
The CS2211 is the first SSD from PNY to come through the 'Labs and to be honest, they could not have made a better first impression. Targeted at gamers and enthusiasts, PNY's next generation XLR8 series SSD combines Phison's quad-core, eight-channel Phison PS3110-S10 controller and Toshiba's 15nm MLC NAND flash to deliver some truly impressive performance. In our sequential read and write tests, the 480GB version of the CS2211 was able to read at speeds as high as 566 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 544 MB/s. The drive also did very well in our random write tests, producing more than 86,000 IOPS at low queue depths.
Of course, impressive performance isn't the only thing the CS2211 has to offer. In addition to it having a four year warranty, the drive offers support for TRIM, background garbage collection, secure erase and various power management features. That being said, the CS2211 does not support Device Sleep (DEVSLP) or hardware based encryption. This probably isn't an issue if you're looking for an SSD for your workstation or gaming rig. However, these are things you may want to keep in mind if the CS2211 is going in a laptop or data security is a concern.
- Available in 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities
- Phison PS3110-S10 controller
- Excellent sequential read and write speeds
- Very good random read and write performance
- Performs equally well with compressible and incompressible data
- SATA 6Gb/s interface
- Good looking and well constructed design
- Includes 9.5mm adapter and Acronis data migration software
- Reasonably priced
- 4 year warranty
- Does not support hardware based encryption
- Does not support DEVSLP