The image above wasn't just chosen for eye candy. It shows the current two lowest priced 256GB class SSDs at Newegg, both from PNY. We've looked at nearly all of the XLR8 models, but the PNY Optima is new. I just saw you flinch right through the monitor as it sat in, a 240GB SSD for $89.99 after a $20 mail in rebate. Pretty cool trick huh? Now please, put some clothes on.
The PNY Optima is the first consumer SSD to use the new Silicon Motion controller that we tested an early sample of last year. The early drive used Toshiba Toggle flash and was only a 128GB sample. This should be the world's first review of the SM2246EN controller in 256GB capacity size and with Micron 20nm, 128-bit die flash.
The SMI SM2246EN impressed us when we tested it last year. Its 4-channel design didn't take a lot of power, works with both MLC and future TLC flash, and now supports TCG Opal with AES encryption. The controller uses a 32-bit RISC CPU and has a 64-bit system bus. All of the boxes are checked with this one, features like DEVSLP are present, a technology that reduces power consumption at idle and a requirement for new Ultrabooks.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
PNY lists Optima in three capacity sizes - 120GB, 240GB and 480GB. So far, we've only saw the 240GB model in the wild and that's also the capacity size we're testing today. PNY did state a 480GB drive should hit our office in the next week or so. We can only assume the 480GB will hit retail around the same time and hopefully the 120GB models follows just as quickly.
PNY claims 4K read and write random performance at 60,000 IOPS, but doesn't show sequential performance on the PNY.com website. Newegg shows random reads at 60K IOPS and random writes at 40K IOPS. Newegg also shows sequential read at 510 MB/s and sequential write at 320 MB/s. The low maximum performance numbers may be a concern, but we've seen low numbers before on very good SSDs. This is due to real workload efficiency, not all SSDs perform the same in a mixed workload (read and writes) environment.
Of course not everyone needs blistering fast SSD speeds either. As we've shown in several reviews, power consumption, reliability and low queue depth performance are more important than high queue depth maximum performance numbers that most of us never achieve in our daily activities.
Price is also a concern. Everyone starts off with a budget when shopping for an SSD and the PNY Optima 240GB has an advantage in this area. Did I mention that with the mail in rebate this drive costs $89.99? Newegg also offers free shipping on the Optima so $109.99 with a $20 mail in rebate. All of the people still saying that SSDs are too expensive should pay attention now - your excuses are running out!
Inside the package we found a 7mm to 9.5mm adapter and some packing foam. The accessory package is pretty thin, but we don't care, this drive is cheap by SSD standards. If we need a SATA cable or desktop adapter bracket, the low price means we can pick them up from a third party and still come out ahead.
The warranty is also thin if you don't jump through a few hoops. You get a 1-year warranty right out of the box and need to register your drive for the full three-year warranty. This means your warranty is most likely not transferable to a second party should you sell the drive. We'll check on this and report back in the 480GB model review.