PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB PCIe 5.0 NVMe SSD Review – Dual-Fan & ARGB In A Compact Design

Earlier this year, we got our first taste of the latest PCIe Gen5 NVMe SSDs, offering up to 10,000 MB/s read and write capabilities. These drives were first but we knew that faster drives would be entering the market sooner or later as the technology matured. Furthermore, Gen5 platforms are more accessible to a wider range of audiences with the introduction of mainstream AMD & Intel motherboards.

While offering 10 GB/s speeds as a start, SSD manufacturers have quickly started rolling out faster drives by optimizing thermal designs and utilizing enhanced NAND solutions. PNY is also in the race to offer the fastest solutions as soon as they are out in the market and the company has released its new Gen5 drives under the XLR8 brand with a unique cooling solution.

For today’s review, we will be taking a look at the PNY’s XLR8 CS3150 NVMe Gen5 2 TB SSD which is equipped with Phison’s E26 controller and is aiming at the high-end storage segment. This SSD comes at a retail price of $299.99 US which is around where you’d expect 2 TB Gen5 SSD drives to fall.

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB PCIe Gen5 NVMe SSD

The PNY XLR8 CS3150 SSD is part of the high-end XLR8 gaming lineup. The XLR8 family has been around for many years now, mainly serving the gaming graphics segment but has since evolved into other categories with SSDs being among the list.

The PNY XLR8 CS3150 SSDs are based on the NVMe SSD form factor and feature the latest Micron 232-layer TLC NAND flash which offers larger capacities of up to 2 TB, twice the performance of Gen4 drives, & full compliance with Microsoft’s DirectStorage API. The PNY XLR8 CS3150 SSDs are based on the high-end Phison E26 SSD controller which is in use by some of the fastest Gen5 drives at the moment. PNY has pushed the NAND speeds from 1600 MT/s to 2000 MT/s, allowing for higher read and write capabilities.

FEATURES

  • Sequential Read of up to 12,000 MB/s and Write of up to 11,000 MB/s
  • Faster boot-up, rapid application launch, and improved overall system performance
  • Unique dual-fan heatsink with thermal sensor & auto fan control
  • Intuitive SSD temperature monitoring
  • Customize RGB light effect and monitor CS3150 through PNY’s Velocity-X software
  • Backed by a 5-year limited warranty or TBW

As for the specs, the PNY XLR8 CS3150 SSD comes with the standard NVMe 2.0 PCIe Gen 5 x4 interface in the M.2 2280 form factor. The SSDs are currently only available in just two capacities (1 TB & 2 TB) with a rated speed of 12 GB/s (Sequential Read) and 11 GB/s (Sequential Write). The majority of Gen 5 drives available right now peak out at 10 GB/s Read and 9.5 GB/s Write speeds.

PNY XLR8 CS3150 SSD Series:

Usable Capacities 1TB / 2TB
NAND Components 3D Flash Memory
Interface PCIe Gen5 x4 NVMe 2.0
Form Factor M.2 2280
Package Dimensions (L×W×H) 155.9x 55.1x 39.8 mm
Product Dimensions (L×W×H) 76 x 23.5 x 17.5 mm (Max)
Weight 53g
Max Sequential Read* 1TB: up to 11,500 MB/s
2TB:up to 12,000 MB/s
Max Sequential Write* 1TB: up to 8,500 MB/s
2TB:up to 11,000 MB/s
Power Connector for Heatsink Fans 9-pin (USB) Power Connector
PCIe Link Power Management S0/PS1/PS2/PS3/PS4,APST, ASPM, L1.2
Operating Temperature 0°C ~ 70°C
Storage Temperature -40°C ~ 85°C
MTBF 1,600,000 Hours
Error Correction Code LDPC (Low Density Parity Check) ECC Algorithm
Product Health Monitoring Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.)
Performance Optimization TRIM (requires OS support)
Warranty 5-year Limited Warranty

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB PCIe Gen5 NVMe SSD – Unboxing and Closer Look

The PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB SSD comes in a small package. The package is colored black and red and features a picture of the SSD on it.

The front also lists some features such as capacities, the model name, & the cooling design. The back of the package lists nothing essential from a consumer perspective.

The insides of the box are full of foam packaging which keeps the SSD safe and protects it during shipping.

The SSD is the only contents of the package which is fine since you don’t need anything else.

The PNY XLR8 CS3150 is a 2 TB Gen5 SSD with some impressive performance and cooling capabilities that we can’t wait to test out ourselves.

Looking at the front, we can note that the CS3150 XLR8 Gen5 SSDs feature the iconic centered “X” which has been part of the XLR8 GPU lineup. The two fans deliver cooling while a USB connector boots up these fans and the RGB.

The SSD measures 76.0 (L) x 23.50 (W) x 17.5 (H) mm. The front has the Phison E26 controller, the LPDDR4 memory and two of the four NAND Flash dies.

The PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB SSD features 4 GB of LPDDR4-4266 memory as a DRAM cache while the other two NAND Flash (232-layer 3D TLC) devices are packed at the back.

Now talking about the cooling solution itself, the dual-fan design is very unique and compact if we compare it to some of the other Gen5 SSDs that we have tested with super-huge heatsinks.

The main cooling solution sits on the SSD itself and comes with a backplate too, all of which is made out of a metallic block. The CS3150 XLR8 uses a slightly update design from the CS3150 which houses a similar cooling solution minus the microcontroller which is responsible for controlling the fans, and RGB LEDs and lets you monitor additional readings of the drive.

Removing the cooler from the SSD, you are first met with two large thermal pads on the front and the bottom of the SSD.

The top pad has a small cut-out which makes way for a small thermal sensor, which gives you accurate fan temperatures for the E26 controller. This also lets the drive ramp up or down the fan speeds based on temperatures.

A flattened USB cable comes out of the heatsink with enough length to reach the bottom USB ports on the motherboard.

Test Setup

Our test platform for this review consisted of an Intel Core i9-13900K processor which ran at stock clocks on the MSI Z790 ACE motherboard. The platform was coupled with 32 GB of DDR5 memory from G.Skill (Trident Z5/ 16 GB x 2) and the MSI MEG Ai1300P PSU. For graphics, I used the MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM X. This rounds up as a high-end platform for tests with modern-day SSDs. The MSI Z790 ACE specifically houses a single Gen 5.0 x4 NVMe slot that sources its lanes from the Raptor Lake CPU.

Wccftech SSD Test Setup 2023

Processor Intel Core i9-13900K
Motherboard: MSI MEG Z790 ACE
Power Supply: MSI MEG Ai1300P (1300W)
Solid State Drive: MSI Spatium M570 Pro 2 TB Gen 5
Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5
Inland TD510 2 TB Gen 5
Crucial T700 Gen 5 2 TB
AORUS Gen 5 10000 2 TB
Memory: G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5-7400 (2 x 16 GB)
Case: Cooler Master C700M
Video Cards: MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM X
Cooling Solutions: MSI MEG S360 AIO Liquid Cooler
OS: Windows 11 64-bit

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB PCIe Gen5 NVMe SSD Performance Benchmarks

First up, we have the official performance stats for these drives as listed by their manufacturers. You can compare these stats with the rest of the drives I tested in the following chart:

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MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5

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MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5

AS SSD Benchmark

AS SSD Benchmark download is a Windows 10 utility software program that tests the performance of solid-state drives. With its help, you can find out the speed of all installed SSDs and take care of any issues that the tests may reveal. The free app performs three separate tests to provide you with conclusive evidence of your driver’s general behavior while it copies, reads, and writes data.  The app determines the access time of an SSD, along with its speed and performance capabilities

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MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5

ATTO 3.05 Disk Benchmark

As the industry’s leading provider of high-performance storage & network connectivity products, ATTO has created a widely-accepted Disk Benchmark freeware software to help measure storage system performance. As one of the top tools utilized in the industry, Disk Benchmark identifies performance in hard drives, solid-state drives, RAID arrays as well as the host connection to attached storage. Top drive manufacturers, like Hitachi, build and test every drive using the ATTO Disk Benchmark.

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturer’s RAID controllers, storage controllers, host bus adapters (HBAs), hard drives, and SSD drives, and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

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MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5

Crystal Disk Mark 7.0.0 x64

CrystalDiskMark is a disk benchmark software. It measures sequential reads/writes speed, random 512KB, 4KB, 4KB (Queue Depth=32) reads/writes speed, selects test data (Random, 0Fill, 1Fill),

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MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5

MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5

File Transfer Speeds (100 GB File Size)

To test the maximum average transfer speeds of the drives, I used a 100 GB file to test the limits.

MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5

PCMark 10 Storage Benchmark

The PCMark 10 Storage benchmark is designed to test the performance of SSDs, HDDs, and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 10 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.

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MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5

MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5

Forspoken DirectStorage Benchmark

MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5

Conclusion – T-Force Kicks Off Its Gen5 Journey!

The whole Gen5 SSD ecosystem is relatively new and we are seeing gradual improvements coming with each new product release. So far, most companies have settled down at 12.4 GB/s which is a big improvement over what Gen4 SSDs offer and a 28% improvement over the first iteration of the Gen5 products. Pushing for high-speeds results in the E26 controller and NAND getting a bit toasty and that’s why all manufacturers have put their engineering expertise in heatsink solutions which are some of the biggest we have seen for SSDs yet. Some of these cooling solutions even rival the entry-level CPU heatsinks as demonstrated in reviews by our CPU cooling reviewer & good friend, Albert Thomas.

There are currently three Gen5 solutions you can select from. There are the standard non-heatsink SSDs that come with Graphene pads, there are the pre-installed heatsink variants and then there are heatsink solutions that you can purchase separately. PNY  has introduced its second Gen, Gen 5 SSDs, in the form of the XLR8 CS3150 series with up to 12 GB/s speeds.

Crucial T700 1 TB Gen 5 (Without heatsink)

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 Gen 5 2 TB (Graphene Pad only)

AORUS Gen 5 10000 2 TB (Copper pad only)

Crucial T700 1 TB Gen 5 (With heatsink)

AORUS Gen 5 10000 2 TB (With heatsink)

MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5 (With heatsink)

Team Group T-Force Cardea Z540 Gen 5 2 TB (ASRock Blazing M.2 heatsink)

Inland TD510 2 TB Gen 5 (With fan heatsink)

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5 (With fan heatsink)

AORUS Gen 5 10000 2 TB SSD (With ASRock Blazing M.2 heatsink)

MSI Spatium M570 PRO Frozr 2 TB Gen 5

PNY XLR8 CS3150 2 TB Gen 5. AORUS Gen 5 10000 2 TB

Team Group T-Force CARDEA Z540 2 TB Gen 5

In terms of performance, the PNY XLR8 CS3150 is one of the fastest drives around. The upgraded NAND Flash running at 2000 MT/s, a large 4 GB LPDDR4 cache, and proper cooling drive some insane sequential reads & write speeds out of the box. The power draw was similar to what we’ve noticed on other Gen5 SSDs that we have tested.

The most unique feature of the PNY XLR8 Gen5 SSD is its cooling solution which is compact and looks great too. This is the first Gen5 SSD to feature RGB lighting which can be controlled by users and the microcontroller also allows users to adjust fan speeds so you don’t have to worry about loud noises. The two fans and the accompanying heatsink do a wonderful job keeping this SSD running below 50C even at full loads. Even without the fan, the SSD hardly reaches temps above 60C which is well within its maximum operating temperature. PNY managed to increase the max storage throttle limit to 85C which is impressive. So even if you end up not using the fans, you are hardly going to ever touch those limits and enjoy a throttle-free and fast storage experience.

The CS3150 XLR8 does come at a premium with a $299.99 US price for the 2 TB variant. It’s relatively on the higher price spectrum but the XLR8 series does offer a great cooling solution that besides functionality, also looks great while delivering blazing-fast speeds. With Phison’s upcoming 14 GB/s controllers coming out soon, I can’t wait for PNY to further flex their muscles and offer even faster XLR8 drives in the future.

Products mentioned in this post