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Time To Upgrade: 10 SSDs Between 240 And 256 GB, Rounded Up


PNY is another vendor recognized for its history in the memory market, and now competing in the SSD space as one of SandForce's partners. Borrowing from the XLR8 brand it applies to its enthusiast-class DDR3 modules, the company clearly wants to align itself with the high-end. 

Differentiation is achieved first by dividing its portfolio up between enterprise (Prevail) and consumer (XLR8) brands. Then, PNY splits each again. On the desktop side, we end up with the XLR8 and XLR8 Pro families. Both utilize 25 nm synchronous NAND from IMFT. Presumably, PNY arms its Pro drive with a more aggressive firmware able to boost sequential reads and writes, since its specifications indicate better performance.

Their bundles similarly include simple SATA cables. However, the XLR8 is only backed by three-year warranty coverage, while the XLR8 Pro's protection can be extended to five years simply by registering the drive.

It's a very good thing that PNY offers extra warranty coverage on the XLR8 Pro, since, in our testing, performance matches up with the XLR8 almost exactly in 4 KB random reads, 4 KB random writes, and 128 KB sequential reads.

Ramping up to a queue depth of 16 does see the XLR8 Pro take a small read in sequential reads (somewhere around 25 MB/s). Writing compressible data sequentially also favors the Pro model. But the end result isn't quite as pronounced as each drives spec sheet might have indicated, especially since workloads that apply high queue depths are very rare on the desktop. 

In the context of this review, the difference between XLR8 and XLR8 Pro doesn't matter much. The 240 GB Pro model doesn't seem to be readily available. But what about the 120 GB versions, which can be found pretty easily? With $25 separating them, make your choice based on the importance of five-year warranty coverage versus three, not on a promised performance gain.