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PNY XLR8 CS3140 SSD Review

Verdict

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The PNY XLR8 CS3140 is a consistently fast performer at a competitive price point, especially at the 1TB sweet spot. Whether you’re making the jump to NVMe Gen 4.0 for the first time, or are looking for a reliable secondary drive in your machine, there’s a lot to like about this model for your money.

Pros

  • Excellent sequential read performance
  • Consistent transfer rates
  • Leading durability

Cons

  • Write speeds are capped on lower capacities
  • Gen 5.0 is basically here

Availability

  • UKRRP: £160
  • USARRP: $109.99

Key Features

  • Phison E18 Controller The Phison PS5018-E18-41 is in use to provide leading Gen 4.0 performance. A perennially popular option, this controller allows for blisteringly fast sequential rates.
  • 96-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory There’s fast on-board memory combined with 1GB DRAM cache allowing for no compromises when compared to DRAM-less models at a similar price point
  • 5-year warranty You’ve got complete peace of mind with the PNY XLR8 CS3140 as it’s covered by half a decade’s manufacturer’s guarantee whether you use it on your PC or PS5.

Introduction

The PNY XLR8 CS3140 is one of the fastest and most consistent Gen 4.0 SSDs that you can slot into your machine in 2022.

Despite the hardware now being in the twilight stages of its life, the value for money here cannot be understated given just how capable this model is. True to the company’s moniker of acceleration, this model is all about speed first and foremost and doesn’t drop the ball when the file sizes become more demanding.

Continue reading to see why the PNY XLR8 CS3140 can be considered one of the best SSDs this year.

Design

  • Available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB configurations
  • Optional heatsinks for PC and PS5 are also sold
  • AES-256 encryption for secure data transfer

The design of the PNY XLR8 CS3140 shouldn’t be too leftfield for any who has seen one of the company’s NVMe drives in the past. Perhaps similarly named and styled after older models in the lineup, the brand’s flagship model stands out from its predecessors with its aggressive black and red styling. 

My review unit keeps things basic; there’s no included motherboard heatsink or PS5 cover here despite those options being available. Looks aside though, the real highlight of the PNY XLR8 CS3140 is the drive’s leading Phison E18 controller, which is easily one of the best you can have to this date. While it’s soon to be replaced by the manufacturer’s upcoming E26 model, there’s nothing slow about the one baked onto the chip here. 

What I appreciate about the PNY XLR8 CS140 is how accommodating it is as a drive. Coming in stock, the single-sided model can easily be slotted into a gaming laptop or compact / small form factor machine. It’s a great pro-consumer move to offer the drive with optimal compatibility options straight out of the box at competitive price points, too. 

PNY XLR8 CS3140 SSD viewed from the side
Image Credit: Trusted Reviews

This extends to the 96-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory and 1GB DDR4 DRAM cache. While I’ve seen cheaper Gen 4.0 models forgo DRAM altogether, such as was the case with the Solidigm P41 Plus, the option to utilise it here really helps the M.2 drive hit the mark. We’ve also encountered models pushing the layer counts to new heights, but with ultimately diminishing returns by comparison, such as with the SK Hynix Platinum P41, whose 1TB variant carries nearly double the asking price. 

What this all means is that you’re looking at maximum possible sequential rates which are nearing the cap of what’s possible on Gen 4.0 NVMe 1.4.

PNY states that this drive is able to deliver up to 7500 MB/s reads and 5650 MB/s writes for my particular configuration. That figure, though, jumps up to a total of 6850 MB/s in 2TB and 4TB variants, so if you’re after the fastest rates, you’ll want to up the size of your storage, here. 

Performance

  • Up to 7500 MB/s and 5650 MB/s read and write respectively
  • Leading performance in-game
  • Proficient file transfers that scale well

In our industry-standard tests, the PNY XLR8 CS3140 proved itself to be one of the more consistent performers on the market, and reads were definitely prioritised over writes here. This is evident in the CrystalDiskMark score of 6,245.11 MB/s reads and 3,635.37 MB/s write. By no means a slouch in the latter department, but not quite blazing the same trail here. 

This is corroborated by AnvilPro, which gave me a combined figure of 20,997.50. As expected from an NVMe SSD running the Phison E18 controller, pushing comfortably past the 20,000 mark here was an easy feat. This is something that other aforementioned drives, and the WD Black SN850, couldn’t quite manage despite comparable read speeds. 

The file transfer times were incredibly quick for the PNY XLR8 CS3140 inside of Windows Explorer, which averaged around 1.9 GB/s, which is right up there with some cutting-edge models. Moving larger games to the drive from a similar spec Gen 4.0 model proved its efficiency, too. 

Consistency is the name of the game here. Although the rates recorded inside Steam’s internal file transfer client weren’t quite as blistering as from the OS itself, they’re still worth praising. Highlights include Guilty Gear: Strive (22.5GB), which made the transition with an average of 1.517 GB/s. By contrast, Mortal Kombat 11 (110GB) was copied across roughly with a rate of 1.447GB/s. That’s no real loss, considering that the latter file is just over 5x the size. 

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Should you buy it?

You want the best of Gen 4.0 at an aggressive price point

We’ve long since considered 1TB to be the sweet spot for M.2 NVMe SSDs and the PNY XLR8 CS3140 certainly holds its own with a humble $109.99 price, and rates that its contemporaries just aren’t matching. You’re also getting a drive that can pull double duty and be slotted into a laptop or PS5, too.

You want what Gen 5.0 drives will offer

There’s no way around it, Gen 5.0 SSDs aren’t far away now since the release of Zen 4 and socket AM5. While the price-to-performance is exceptional here, it’s going to become outdated shortly as the latest drives deliver up to 60% higher rates.

Final Thoughts

The PNY XLR8 CS140 is an excellent Gen 4.0 NVMe SSD in the face of a changing PC landscape. Although it’s soon to outrun, the simple fact of the matter is that this level of performance is still more than enough for today’s games and that’s unlikely to really change any time soon. Console parity being what it is will dictate that titles aren’t going to massively benefit from the jump right away, so your investment isn’t going to fossilise just yet. 

Ultimately, though, it’s the versatility and price point which gives this model an edge over some others I’ve tested recently. You’re getting a leading flagship here without compromise. While some manufacturers have omitted DRAM, excluded encryption, or weaker heatsinks, there really isn’t much more you can ask for in the sub-$110 range. Things do get more expensive when upping the capacity, as expected, so keep that in mind if you’re contemplating the 2TB or 4TB variants.

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How we test

When testing an SSD, we use both synthetic benchmark tests, while also determining file transfers via both Steam and Windows explorer.

We also factor in the likes of price, design and temperature when reaching a final score.

I used the PNY XLR8 CS3140 as my main SSD for gaming for over two weeks.

Played several games as well as conducting the industry-standard tests mentioned above.

FAQs

Is it compatible with the PS5?

Yes, the PNY XLR8 CS3140 SSD can be used with the PS5 console.

Trusted Reviews test data

CrystalDiskMark Read speed
CrystalMarkDisk Write Speed

Full specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
Manufacturer
Storage Capacity
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Release Date
Storage Type
Read Speed
Write Speed

Sustainability

TrustedReviews’ holds the fact that global warming is not a myth as a core value and will continuously endeavor to help protect our planet from harm in its business practices.

As part of this mission, whenever we review a product we send the company a series of questions to help us gauge and make transparent the impact the device has on the environment.

We currently haven’t received answers to the questions on this product, but will update this page the moment we do. You can see a detailed breakdown of the questions we ask and why in our sustainability info page.

Jargon buster

SSD

Known as Solid State Drive, this is a faster form of a memory than a standard hard drive. Results in faster loading times and more ambitious games.

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