There are many components in a PC that can be upgraded to make it faster, but none are as noticeable in the real world as upgrading a hard drive to a solid state drive. They have come down significantly in price over the last few years, so it’s now cheaper than ever to upgrade your PC. Units in the 120 GiB range still offer low price, excellent cost/benefit ratio, and have enough space to be used as boot drive. Today, we will test the PNY XLR8 120 GiB unit.
The PNY XLR8 can be found in 120 GiB, 240 GiB, and 480 GiB capacities. The model we are analysing today has 128 GiB of memory inside, but is sold as 120 GiB, since 8 GiB is reserved for overprovisioning, used by the garbage collection and wear leveling mechanisms of the unit.
In our tests, we will compare the performance of the PNY XLR8 120 GiB against the Kingston SSDNow V300, with the same capacity, which is one of the best-sellers in the martket.
Figure 1: the two SSDs compared
Before proceeding, we highly suggest that you read our “Anatomy of SSD Units” tutorial, which provides all the background information you need to know about SSDs. Both of the SSDs featured in this review use MLC memory chips.
In the table below we compare the PNY XLR8 120 GiB with the Kingston SSDNow V300 120 GiB. Both units use a SATA-600 interface and are based on the 2.5” form factor.
|Manufacturer||Model||Model #||Nominal Capacity||Thickness||Price|
|PNY||XLR8||SSD9SC120GLA-XLR||120 GiB||9.5 mm||USD 76|
|Kingston||SSDNow V300||SV300S37A/120G||120 GiB||7 mm||USD 65|
We researched the prices on the day that we published this review. In the table below, we provide a more in-depth technical comparison between the two drives.
|PNY XLR8||SandForce SF-2241||None||8x 16 GiB Intel 29F16B08CCME3|
|Kingston SSDNow V300||SandForce SF-2281||None||16x 8 GiB Kingston FT64G08UCT1-8B|
[nextpage title=”The PNY XLR8 120 GiB”]
The PNY XLR8 120 GiB comes in a small box, shown in Figure 2. Along with the SSD unit itself, there is a short SATA cable.
The PNY XLR8 120 GiB features a metal casing. It should do a good job of protecting the internal components. The bottom cover is also made of metal.
Figure 4: the PNY XLR8 120 GiB (underside)
In order to open the device, you have to remove four Phillips screws.
[nextpage title=”Internal Parts”]
The top side of the printed circuit board features four 16 GiB memory chips. Turning the PCB over reveals another four 16 GiB memory chips alongside the controller. Probably, the 240 GiB version just comes with twice the chips, since there are empty spaces for four additional memory chips at each side.
Figure 5: the PNY XLR8 120 GiB PCB
Figure 6: the PNY XLR8 120 GiB PCB (underside)
The controller used by the PNY XLR8 is a SandForce SF-2241.
The NAND flash memory chips are Intel 29F16B08CCME3.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
During our testing procedures, we used the configuration listed below. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the SSD being tested.
- Processor: Core i7-4770K
- Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Extreme4
- Memory: 16 GB G.Skill Sniper (DDR3-1600/PC3-12800), configured at 1,600 MHz
- Boot drive: Kingston HyperX 3K 480 GiB SSD
- Video card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750
- Video resolution: 1920×1080
- Video monitor: Phillips 236VL
- Power supply: Corsair CX500M
- Operating System: Windows 7 Home Basic 64-bit using NTFS File System
We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% can not be considered meaningful. Therefore, when the performance difference between two products is less than 3%, we consider them to have similar performance.
[nextpage title=”Compressible Data Test”]
As you will have gathered from the previous page, we measured the performance of each drive using two different programs: CrystalDiskMark and Iometer.
It is important to note that we connected the SSDs to a SATA-600 port on our motherboard rather than a SATA-300 port, which could cause performance limitations.
We set CrystalDiskMark to “All 0x00 Fill mode” to evaluate the performance of the SSD when dealing with compressible data.
In the sequential read and in the sequential write test, both units presented the same performance level.
In both read and write tests using 512 kiB blocks, the PNY XLR8 120 GiB showed similar performance level as the SSDNow V300 120 GiB.
In the random read test using 4 kiB blocks, the PNY XLR8 120 GiB was 12% slower than the SSDNow V300. In the random write test with 4 kiB blocks, the XLR8 was 9% slower than the V300.
[nextpage title=”Incompressible Data Test”]
For this test, we set CrystalDiskMark to the default mode, which uses incompressible data.
In the sequential read test with incompressible data, the PNY XLR8 was 26% slower than the Kingston SSDNow V300. However, in the sequential write test, the XLR8 was 22% faster than the V300.
Moving on to the random read test using 512 kiB blocks, the PNY XLR8 was 29% slower than the SSDNow V300. Again, in the write test using 512 kiB blocks, the XLR8 120 GiB outperformed the V300 120 GiB by 21%.
In both the random read and write tests using 4 kiB blocks, the PNY XLR8 performed the same way as the SSDNow V300.
Iometer is an open-source benchmark which lets us synthetically test the input and output operations per second of a storage drive. We will be looking specifically at random read and write scores using 4 kiB blocks.
In the random read test using 4 kiB blocks, the SSDNow V300 reached 39% more I/O operations per second than the PNY XLR8 in the read test, and 6% more write operations per second.
Compared to the popular Kingston SSDNow V300 120 GiB SSD, the PNY XLR8 120 GiB performed well. In the test with compressible data, they both performed the same way, but in the test with incompressible data, the XLR8 was slower at read and faster at write operations.
One of the key aspects of both units is the difference in performance between the compressible and incompressible data tests; the drives performed better in write tests when using compressible data. This is because the Sandforce controller rely on data compression to achieve high speeds.
With a slightly higher price tag than its competitor, the PNY XLR8 120 GiB SSD is a good deal if you are interested in an SSD unit with good performance in write-intensive applications.
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