PNY XLR8 CS3150-XHS 1TB SSD Review - Cool, Flashy and Powerful

11,500 MB/s has never looked so good, run so cool, or delivered so much performance. PNY's CS3150-XHS takes PCIe Gen5 swag to another level.

Published
Updated
Manufacturer: PNY (M280CS3150XHS-1TB-RB)
7 minutes & 44 seconds read time
TweakTown's Rating: 96%
TweakTown award

The Bottom Line

It's cool, flashy, and powerful - what more could you want?

Pros

  • + Gaming
  • + Throughput
  • + User experience
  • + PS5 compatible

Cons

  • - None

Should you buy it?

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Introduction & Drive Details

As we've seen all along, as it relates to similar class/configured PCIe Gen5 SSDs, what separates them from one another is cooling or lack of cooling. They all have the same hardware being E26 controlled and arrayed with Micron B58R of various speeds, so they all perform similarly if they are on the same firmware revision.

PNY's newest 12,000 MB/s class SSD, the CS3150, is indeed the very same hardware/firmware configuration, being Phison E26 controlled, arrayed with mid-speed Micron B58R 2,000 MT flash, and programmed with Phison's EQFM22.3 firmware (renamed), as is being sold by many of its competitors. With all things being equal, the difference between brand offerings mainly comes down to cooling options.

Ever since Phison's E26-controlled SSDs hit retail channels about 14 months ago, we've seen many different cooling apparatuses, both passive and actively cooled. Most have been successful in that they are effective and run either silently or barely audible. However, some have been a total disaster, sounding like a jet engine as their tiny fans crank away at 11,000 RPM.

PNY's CS3150 series is yet another take on active cooling. It's the first dual fan solution we've seen, and it's nice and compact, unlike most of what we've experienced to date. Additionally, it is the first of its kind we've come across with a super cool RGB option. We really like what PNY has done with its RGB design here. The cooler itself is thermally activated, which is another first. The fans don't spin up until needed, run quietly when they do, and most of all, deliver about the best cooling performance we've encountered so far:

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We ran three back-to-back iterations of CDM x9 sequentials which is enough to push any inadequately cooled PCIe Gen5 SSD into thermal throttling, and the hottest we could get the drive was a cool 55c. Impressive.

The RGB model plugs into a USB 2.0 header and is fully customizable. Plug-in the 9-pin (USB) power connector from the CS3150 RGB heatsink to customize color, lighting effects and fan speeds using PNY's Velocity-X software.

Drive Details

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PNY's fastest SSD to date is available in three configurations and at two capacity points. Variants include Black/White heatsink requiring a 4-pin power connector to power the built-in fans. The RGB model we have in hand requires a 9-pin (USB) power connector to power the built-in fans and control the LEDs. The RGB model is, as mentioned, fully customizable via PNY's Velocity-X software. Get it HERE.

Jon's Test System Specifications

Intel Test System

AMD Test System

Because we at TweakTown like to be first at everything whenever we can, we will present our storage performance results for the test subject on both 14th Gen Intel and 7000 Series AMD platforms going forward for the foreseeable future. Because Intel still delivers the best real-world storage performance, (Look Here), our running chart will continue to be Intel-based until AMD can deliver better real-world storage performance than its rival.

Buy at Amazon

PNY XLR8 CS3150-XHS 1TB NVMe PCIe Gen5 x4 M.2 SSD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$184.99$184.99$184.99
Buy at Newegg
$184.99$184.99$199.99
* Prices last scanned on 6/18/2024 at 8:13 am CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Sony PlayStation 5 - M.2 Storage Expansion

PS5 Read Performance

With Sony's wildly popular PlayStation 5 console now enabled for M.2 NVMe SSDs to be used as fast storage expansion, we are including results for PS5-compatible SSDs we test in our reviews going forward.

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For SSDs that don't have an adequately sized PS5 compatible heatsink or other SSDs where the heatsink provided doesn't fit right and can be removed, we both use and recommend Sabrent's unparalleled PS5 heatsink available HERE.

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We only chart SSDs that can deliver a minimum of 5,500 MB/s read, which is Sony's original recommendation.

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A result here of 6,476 MB/s demonstrates the CS3150 is indeed running on Phison's latest firmware. Were it not, it would not format. With the factory heatsink removed, it can serve competently as PS5 storage expansion when used in conjunction with an aftermarket PS5 heatsink.

Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, Anvil, ATTO

CrystalDiskMark

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We employ CDM as our standard measurement for both sequential throughput and Q1T1 random read. In terms of sequential throughput, we find our test subject fully capable of exceeding quoted up to factory throughput specifications. And with 105 MB/s 4K Q1T1 random read speed, we know it will deliver the goods when it comes to real-world performance.

Anvil's Storage Utilities

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A read score of 13.6K plus here again verifies this drive to be arrayed with mid-speed 2,000 MT B58R flash.

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We employ Anvil's random read test as our standard for measuring max random read IOPS. This test is very accurate as it at its core is Iometer skinned over. We test at QD128. At 1.23 million RR IOPS, our flashy contender again demonstrates it is running on renamed EQFM22.3 firmware. We know this by comparing it with the AORUS Gen5 12000 which was tested on older firmware but is identically configured at its core.

ATTO

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ATTO gives us a clear picture of what transfer sizes a particular SSD favors in terms of QD4 sequential throughput. We chart 128K transfers. At a queue depth of four, the CS3150 1TB favors sequential transfers of 2MB or larger when serving data to the host (reading) and 64K or larger when programming (writing) data.

Real-World Testing: Transfers, 3DMark SSD Gaming Test, PCM10 Storage

Transfer Rates

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Our 100GB data transfer test is not your ordinary 100GB of data; ours is a crushing mix composed of more than 62K files. Write performance, random or sequential, is an infrequent operation, and as such, we do not consider it to be an important performance metric in the consumer space. An example is how many times a game is installed vs. how many times it's played. Although not an important metric, we are nonetheless impressed by our contender delivering the second-best result for a 1TB SSD.

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Unlike programming (writing) data, serving data to the host (reading) is typically an important performance metric as it relates to the consumer space. Again, second best for a 1TB SSD, only exceeded by the 1TB Sabrent Rocket 5, which is arrayed with faster 2,400 MT B58R. Impressive.

3DMark SSD Gaming Test

UL's newest 3DMark SSD Gaming Test is the most comprehensive SSD gaming test ever devised. We consider it superior to testing against games themselves because, as a trace, it is much more consistent than variations that will occur between runs on the actual game itself. This test is the same as running the actual game, just without the inconsistencies inherent to application testing. In short, we believe that this is the world's best way to test an SSDs gaming prowess and accurately compare it against competing SSDs. The 3DMark SSD Gaming Test measures and scores the following:

  • Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
  • Loading Call of Duty Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
  • Loading Overwatch from launch to the main menu.
  • Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
  • Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
  • Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
  • Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
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Gaming is a performance metric that matters to most DIY consumers, especially for the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. Now we've reached the point where results start to matter as they are a direct reflection of user experience. A score of 6,376 is outstanding for a 1TB SSD, again second best to date for a 1TB SSD, with only the Rocket 5 1TB able to deliver slightly more.

Additionally, and worthy of mention here is all E26 controlled SSDs come with Phison's exclusive I/O+ DirectStorage optimized technology baked right in. With it, a properly equipped PC with a DS-optimized game can load up to 60% more data with 99% less CPU utilization. This provides a high level of futureproofing for avid gamers. Do you want the best in gaming storage? This is it right here.

PCM10 Storage Tests

PCMark 10 Storage Test is the most advanced and most accurate real-world consumer storage test ever made. There are four different tests you can choose from; we run two of them. The Full System Drive Benchmark and the Quick System Drive Benchmark. The Full System Drive Benchmark writes 204 GB of data over the duration of the test. These tests directly correlate with mainstream user experience.

PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark

This test writes 204GB data and covers a broad range of common consumer tasks, including booting Windows 10, file transfers, Adobe and Office applications, and startup times for games including Battlefield V, COD Black Ops 4, and Overwatch. Unlike synthetic numbers, this is comprehensive real-world data which is why we use it to rank SSDs in terms of user experience.

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Here, newer firmware makes a massive difference, as demonstrated by our 1TB contender outperforming all similarly configured 2TB and 4TB E26 SSDs running on older firmware. Take note of how much more performance the 1TB CS3150 has over the AORUS Gen5 12000 1TB. Both are sporting the exact same hardware, with the only difference between the two being older firmware vs. new firmware. Impressive.

PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark

The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23 GB of data over the duration of the test.

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More of the same here. Having the newest firmware makes all the difference in the world. The CS3150 1TB beats the AORUS Gen5 12000 by almost 1,000 points and even manages to edge out the higher spec'd 4TB T700, which is running on similar firmware. Excellent.

Final Thoughts

We really like what PNY has done with its XLR8 CS3150 SSD offerings. They've managed to set themselves apart from the plethora of similarly configured competitors by offering a cooling solution that is about the best active solution we've seen to date. Not to mention being programmed with the latest performance-enhancing firmware that makes all the difference in real-world performance and even makes the drive PS5 compatible.

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We rank SSDs in terms of overall user experience (performance where it matters most) as expressed by PCMark 10 storage and 3DMark gaming storage tests. Currently, we consider a user experience score of 15K or more to verify an SSD as a TweakTown Elite performer. With a score of 21,609, PNY's XLR8 CS3150 XHS-1TB is the second-highest-performing 1TB SSD we've encountered to date and, overall, the eighth-highest-performing SSD we've ever tested. Outstanding.

PNY XLR8 CS3150-XHS 1TB SSD Review - Cool, Flashy and Powerful 43

It's one of the best-performing and coolest-looking SSDs in the world, earning our highest award. Editor's Choice.

Photo of product for sale

Performance

95%

Quality

99%

Features

95%

Value

95%

Overall

96%

The Bottom Line

It's cool, flashy, and powerful - what more could you want?

TweakTown award
96%

PNY XLR8 CS3150-XHS 1TB NVMe PCIe Gen5 x4 M.2 SSD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$184.99$184.99$184.99
Buy at Newegg
$184.99$184.99$199.99
* Prices last scanned on 6/18/2024 at 8:13 am CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Jon joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed 100s of new storage products. Jon became a computer enthusiast when Windows XP launched. He was into water cooling and benching ATI video cards with modded drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for more than 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first booted an Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to bring consumer SSD reviews into the spotlight.

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