Bait and Switch - The Sad State of SSDs

By Chris Ramseyer on Jun 11, 2014 at 11:45 am CDT

I've been fairly quiet about the Kingston bait and switch fiasco on the V300 but by not taking a stand, others have taken the same approach. If you are not aware, Kingston originally released the V300 SSD with 25nm synchronous NAND flash but a year after the reviews hit the web, changed to 20nm asynchronous NAND flash. Kingston wasn't the first company to pull a bait and switch, OCZ Technology, the former OCZ, once changed the build of materials sheet on an older product from 3Xnm NAND to 25nm NAND. This caused the available user capacity to shrink.

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You can now add PNY to the list of companies playing switcheroo. We recently posted a review of the PNY Optima, giving it a glowing recommendation and praising the new Silicon Motion controller inside.

Today I received an email from a reader that purchased the Optima based on my recommendation. Sadly, the reader didn't receive the same product we reviewed under the Optima label just a few weeks ago.

Hi, I recently bought a PNY Optima 240GB SSD after reading your review on TT.

When I received it, I noticed that it had a SandForce-style firmware revision, "541ABBF0". The firmware version on the printed label read "5.4.1" (not the "N0307A" in the picture from your review), and the 5.6.0 firmware update on PNY's website (which I successfully applied) used the standard SandForce flasher. There does not appear to be a SMI firmware update (or any acknowledgement that such a variant exists) on PNY's website.

I've attached the results of a simple benchmark (on a SATA-II interface, unfortunately).

Anyway, I just thought that I'd let you know that it appears that at least some of the units that PNY is selling is not SMI.

It's quite an accusation but one that PNY confirmed just moments after being asked.

Hi Chris,

As mentioned in the product description of Optima, "The PNY Optima SSD line utilizes multiple qualified controllers to offer the best available solution to our customers."

Yes we did ship some Optima SSD's with SandForce controllers, but only if they meet the minimum advertised performance levels (in most of the benchmark tests, LSI controllers outperform SMI controllers). The readers assumption that PNY has abandoned SMI controllers is wrong as we have been shipping mostly SMI controllers, but also utilizing LSI to fill in the gaps.

Just as Kingston, PNY is using the "advertised specifications" as a tool to justify what most of us would consider nefarious. Sadly, we no longer have faith in PNY or Kingston SSDs as both companies have acted with poor judgment and misled SSD product reviewers, our readers and the buying public. Even though both product changes should meet the advertised specifications, they are not in line with the products we and others tested. Hopefully other companies will not follow their lead.

Please Note: This blog is not edited by TweakTown staff, and may not represent the thoughts or opinions of TweakTown or its editors.

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