After testing the MyDigitalSSD BP5e 960GB with Phison's S10 controller and Toshiba 15nm triple-level-cell flash, we had high hopes for PNY's CS1311 at 240GB and 480GB. But the BP5e didn't exhibit the odd behavior we saw here today. Rather, MyDigitalSSD's BP5e looked to be a strong contender. For now, we're not sure if the CS1311's issues are related to firmware or its lower capacities. After all, these CS1311s are the first smaller S10-based SSDs with TLC running the new direct-to-die firmware.
At their current prices, PNY's CS1311s break new ground for solid-state storage. We can start looking at flash-based devices as more than just operating system boot drives. At 25 cents per gigabyte, they're affordable for external enclosures, console upgrades and even secondary storage inside your PC, a job once reserved for big mechanical disks. Shoot, prices are so low that some enthusiasts can consider SSDs for high-performance NAS appliances. Most of those applications involve predominantly sequential workloads, where the new direct-to-die algorithm has the largest impact on performance. The included Acronis True Image HD software also makes cloning existing drives much easier; it even works for cloning consoles.
As a PC operating system drive, the CS1311 could perform well enough for some, but it wouldn't be my first choice. The price difference between it and the market-leading Samsung 850 EVO just isn't large enough. PNY has already trimmed what it's asking for the CS1311; however, we want to see it even less expensive. The 850 EVO includes a large software suite, a five-year warranty and class-leading performance. In comparison, the CS1311 doesn't have an official software package, it's limited to three-year warranty coverage and the drive only offers mid-range performance compared to other entry-level SSDs. With less than $20 separating drives in the 512GB category, PNY's CS1311 just doesn't wield the value needed to dethrone the mainstream leader already selling at an entry-level price.
The CS1311 is an attractive Phison S10-based SSD with TLC flash, though. By including Acronis True Image HD, PNY can at least claim one notable differentiator. The company has an excellent reputation for building quality SSDs. It just needs to find a way to compete against Samsung's entrenched 850 EVO using a lower price or more value-add features.