PNY's Optima 240GB SATA III SSD is appealing because it offers the promise of blistering SSD performance at the lowest possible price point. PNY markets the Optima as an entry-level SSD that utilizes multiple qualified controllers to offer their customers the best available solution, at the best possible price. We like the price portion of PNY's reasoning, but not the unknown component part of their Optima solution. We recommend you stick with the Optima's 240GB capacity point, which is where we believe you will be assured of an SSD that has great performance, regardless of what controller your particular drive is equipped with.
PNY notes on the Optima's spec sheet that the Optima may be equipped with various types of NAND. The various types of NAND listed are synchronous-mode MLC, SLC, or TLC. We've only seen Optima's equipped with MLC NAND in BGA packages (the good stuff), so we are going to go out on a limb here and say that is probably what you will get when you purchase an Optima. We are not sure why they have listed SLC NAND, because you can rest assured no Optima will ever be outfitted with SLC NAND because it is highly cost prohibitive. We can only hope that they would not use TLC NAND because it has sub-par performance and low endurance, unless it's 3D NAND with an emulated SLC layer (think Samsung 850 EVO). Standard TLC NAND might be palatable at about 20 cents per GB when paired with either a SM2246EN or a SF2281, but other than that, it would be unacceptable.
Now that we have our disclaimers out there, let's get down to business, and see what kind of performance we can get from a two-drive array composed of a pair of 240GB PNY Optima SSDs.
Our Optima's came outfitted with Silicon Motion SM2246EN four-channel controllers, and 20nm IMFT NAND in BGA packages, which we consider the best BOM (Bill Of Materials) option that the Optima is known to ship with.
PNY's Optima SATA III SSD is available in three capacities, 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB. Random read/write performance is listed at up to 60,000/85,000 IOPS. Sequential speed is not provided because of the unfortunate fact that you don't really know what you are going to get as far as the controller goes. As far as we know, the Optima comes with either a four-channel Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller, or an eight-channel Sandforce 2281 controller. At the 240GB capacity point, both controllers deliver comparable performance. However, if you go for a 120GB version and get a Sandforce 2281 equipped drive, sequential write speed with incompressible data (almost all data) will be a lowly 175 MB/s. If you want a 480GB version, there is again a big problem if you are unfortunate enough to get the Sandforce controller. You don't want to get a 480GB model with a Sandforce 2281 controller because of its unreasonably low performance with random 4K QD1 writes (the most important performance metric). My advice is to stick with the 240GB capacity.
PNY's Optima SATA III SSD comes in a 2.5" x 7mm z-height form factor, and ships with a spacer should you need to increase the drive's thickness to 9.5mm. PNY backs the Optima with an industry standard three-year warranty (one-year standard warranty, plus an additional two years if you register the product within 90 days of purchase).
Because this is a RAID review, we are going to focus on performance rather than features. For a more in-depth look at the Optima's feature set, I will refer you to Chris Ramseyer's extensive review of PNY's Optima 240GB SSD.
So, how will our super low-cost Optima array perform up against the big boys? Let's dive in and find out.
PRICING: You can find PNY's Optima (240GB) for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The PNY Optima 240GB retails for $89.99 USD at Amazon USA.
- Page 1 [Introduction, Drive Specifications, Pricing, and Availability]
- Page 2 [Drive Details, Test System Setup, Array Properties]
- Page 3 [Synthetic Benchmarks - ATTO, Anvil Storage Utilities, CrystalDiskMark, & AS SSD]
- Page 4 [Benchmarks (Trace Based OS Volume) - PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7 & PCMark 8]
- Page 5 [Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - Disk Response & Transfer Rates]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - PCMark 8 Extended]
- Page 7 [Final Thoughts]
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